They’re calling it the feel-good romantic hit of the summer, or at least of the Democratic convention. Bill Clinton’s long, granular tribute to Hillary Rodham Clinton had several liberal pundits swooning. Dahlia Lithwick of Slate wrote that it was during this speech that “for the first time…most of us met” Hillary, whom “we have all been following and misunderstanding and cartooning for decades now.” Rebecca Traister of New York magazine gave Bill big props for reminiscing about how Hillary turned him on: "One of the roadblocks for women is objectification and sexualization, but when it comes to Hillary Clinton, whose ambition and brains have long rendered her bloodless in the American imagination, hearing her described as an object of desire could feel corrective and bizarrely just. So he did it."
There’s the entertaining kind of irascible old guy (e.g., Grampa Simpson) and there’s the scary kind, which several liberal pundits thought they beheld Monday night as they watched Rudy Giuliani speak at the Republican convention. Talking Points Memo editor and publisher Josh Marshall remarked that “ever since the late and great Molly Ivins quipped that she thought Pat Buchanan's speech at the 1992 GOP convention sounded better in the original German it's been sort of a parlor trick to compare a 'hot' Republican speech to one from this or that fascist dictator. But this speech was really febrile and unhinged." Fred Kaplan of Slate claimed that Giuliani “spew[ed]…rank nonsense” and “delved into the shallowest realm of Trump’s attack on Obama’s (or Obama-Clinton’s) counterterrorism policies—the refusal to call our enemy by their name."
Much like Phil Mickelson took a big early lead in the British Open, Esquire’s Charles Pierce has taken a big rhetorical-excess lead in early blogging about Donald Trump’s VP pick, Indiana governor Mike Pence, calling him a “very strange and completely unreconstructed wingnut” whose paper trail contains “a rich deposit of sweet crude crazy.” Kevin Drum of Mother Jones described Pence as "not especially bright or quick on his feet, which means he might have trouble defending Trump's frequent idiocies and backflips. It should be fun to watch him squirm.”
Plenty of liberals who detest Donald Trump nonetheless thought Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s recent blasts at Trump were “ill-advised,” as Ginsburg herself eventually admitted they were. Some left-wingers, however, were down with RBG and believed that it was ridiculous to criticize her for getting political. Daily Kos writer Armando asserted that the SCOTUS “has acted politically through out [sic] its history, and particularly since the conservative Republican branch of the Court gained ascendancy in the last 30 years." Esquire’s Charles Pierce commented, "We are now at the end of a 30-year process in which a well-financed conservative infrastructure restructured the federal court system from top to bottom, seeding it with reliable judges who supported dubious interpretations of laws…[Ginsburg has] seen what's happened to the courts first-hand, and she is right to warn us that a Trump administration is just as likely to put the gardener at Mar-A-Lago on the bench as not."
Bill Clinton’s personal conduct has exasperated liberals for roughly as long as his political success has exhilarated them. While some of them dismissed his get-together with attorney general Loretta Lynch as trivial, others saw it as yet another of his potentially damaging, impulse-driven unforced errors. Esquire’s Charles Pierce called the meeting “stupid and reckless” and fumed, “For the second presidential campaign in a row, Hillary Rodham Clinton is afflicted with a husband who can't make a political move any more without breaking the china across the room.”
Showing the continuing conflation of big-time sports journalism and liberal activism, Howard Bryant's “Ali Everlasting” tribute for ESPN Magazine used the boxing legend as a tool to condemn American racism and inequality Meanwhile at Sports Illustrated, lefty journalist Charles Pierce bashed the former Cuban embargo for "shredding" the Cuban economy:
Esquire magazine writer Charles Pierce must be in a state of panic after the events following yesterday's Donald Trump rally in San Jose, California when anti-Trump protesters violently attacked Trump supporters. Last week Pierce wrote that such attacks only help Trump and that has him extremely worried. Unfortunately for him even some his fellow liberal journalists such as Emmett Rensin, who was today suspended from Vox, still haven't got a clue on just how incredibly counter-productive such riots are.
A lot of big-time journalists believe they speak truth to power, but according to Esquire’s Charles Pierce, the attitude of the elite media toward presidents and certain presidential nominees is pretty much the opposite: “giddiness in the face of power.” Because of that longstanding state of affairs, suggested Pierce in a Tuesday post, “a fully armed and operational bullshit station” better known as Donald Trump might be the next POTUS.
Pierce conceded that Democrats John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton benefited from credulous and even reverent coverage, but he devoted much more space to how Republicans had been similarly advantaged. He claimed that “the real precedent for the helplessness of the elite political press” was its treatment of Ronald Reagan, stating that Reagan's "constant disengagement from the truth were chalked up to his lifetime as a 'storyteller,' his love for 'parables,' and, very late in his term, his advancing age...The elite political press simply was not prepared to call the man a liar. It would not have been sporting. It would have been against The Rules."
Leading off Monday's All In on MSNBC, host Chris Hayes and his fellow panelists giggled their way through a discussion about the possible collapse of the Never Trump movement to the point that they predicted that the push by conservatives to not support the billionaire frontrunner is on a "slow death march" to accepting and backing his nomination.
Esquire's Charles Pierce unleashed on Paul Ryan on MSNBC's All In on Monday during a panel discussion on a possible presidential bid by the House speaker: "I think he's as ambitious as Satan. I think he doesn't want to go out in the country where he was already deemed not worthy of the vice presidency, and try to run for president. But if they offer him the crown, he would loathe to lay his hands off it. So, yeah, I think he's running."
Conservatives and liberals often agree that the media have played an outsized role in making Donald Trump the Republican presidential frontrunner but differ about how they’ve done it. (Here’s a view from the right.) Lefty Esquire blogger Pierce argues that the list of offenders in this regard is long; in fact, it includes every journalist who’s failed to point out over the last few decades that the GOP has been going out of its mind.
“You know who in the media really created He, Trump? Anyone who laughed at Ronald Reagan's casual relationship with the truth and with empirical reality,” declared Pierce in a Monday post. “Anyone who draped [George W. Bush] in a toga after 9/11. Anyone who cast Newt Gingrich as a serious man of ideas. Anyone who cast Paul Ryan as an economic savant…Anyone who watched the conservative movement, the only animating force the Republican party has, drive the party further and deeper into madness…Trump merely has taken the bark off ideas that were treated as legitimate for far too long by far too many people.”
On two occasions Thursday night during the opening panel segment of MSNBC’s The Last Word, liberals Charles Pierce of Esquire and MSNBC’s Joy Reid mocked radio talk show host and Resurgent writer Erick Erickson for leading the anti-Donald Trump movement when he himself is “quite the vulgarian” like Trump.