The New York Times took a witheringly anti-Trump, anti-Bush, anti-Reagan stand on the front page of the Sunday Review. Veteran liberal journalist Michael Tomasky contributed, “No More Fear – Has political scaremongering lost its magic?” By “scaremongering,” Tomasky is talking about the Republican Party’s traditional tough stand against terrorism. Contributor Kevin Baker went further, falsely stating that "race-baiting" Ronald Reagan had launched his campaign at “an all-white gathering” in Mississippi.
Republican politicians, more than their Democratic counterparts, tend to campaign on anti-Washington themes. That’s kind of odd, suggests Michael Tomasky, given that one of Washington’s quintessential institutions, Congress, helps the GOP by playing a crucial role in obscuring the American people’s fondness for liberal socioeconomic policies.
“If Congress is what you see when you see America,” wrote Tomasky in a Tuesday column, “then you see a place where roughly half—no, more than half—of the people think that raising the minimum wage is radical, or that health care is a privilege you have to earn, or that climate change is a fantasy…Out in the real country, only crackpots think these things…But the crackpot community is dramatically overrepresented in Washington and skews the way all these things are discussed and described on shows like Morning Joe.”
Scatology has typically been out of bounds in mainstream-media political commentary. (Not in all political commentary, of course. For example, actor John Cusack once called former actor Ronald Reagan “a criminal who used the Constitution as toilet paper.”) Nonetheless, Michael Tomasky went there in a Wednesday column trashing Senate Republicans for refusing to consider any Supreme Court nomination made by President Obama.
“I feel pretty confident that if the situation were precisely reversed, the Democrats would be going through the process,” argued Tomasky. “At the end of the day, a majority of them would presumably vote against a conservative, balance-tilting nominee in a presidential election year. So, you might say, it amounts to the same thing…No. It doesn’t amount to the same thing. One approach is called respecting the Constitution. The other approach is called taking a shit on the Constitution.”
Sunday’s MediaBuzz on the Fox News Channel (FNC) had a slew of media storylines to discuss from the past week and in one segment, host Howard Kurtz teamed with GOP strategist Mercedes Schalpp and the Daily Beast’s Betsy Woodruff to lambaste MSNBC’s Hardball host Chris Matthews for his fawning interview with Hillary Clinton on Tuesday that featured droves of softballs.
Several weeks ago, there was an Internet meme about whether it would have been ethical to kill the infant Adolf Hitler. Michael Tomasky poses a (somewhat) less-weighty back-in-time question: Could the Republican party’s current Donald Trump problem have been avoided?
Tomasky suggests that it could have been, but instead, during Bill Clinton’s first term in the White House, GOPers “played footsie with the then-burgeoning far-right militia movements in the run-up to the [Oklahoma City] bombing…Fringe elements never properly denounced then are now, under Trump, becoming an in-broad-daylight part of the Republican coalition.” In part because of that long-ago malignant neglect, Tomasky argues, “The Republican Party of Trump is becoming a white-identity party, like the far-right parties of Europe."
If frontrunner Donald Trump or currently surging Ted Cruz gets the 2016 Republican presidential nod, it may have a strange sort of bipartisan effect, according to Tomasky, who in a Wednesday column asserted that GOP bigwigs “despise” both Cruz and Trump to the extent that they’d “actually prefer” presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to win the general election.
“No one’s ever going to say that publicly,” acknowledged Tomasky. “But half a lifetime of covering these people has taught me a few things about how they think…Intra-party personal hatred is much more visceral than inter-party personal hatred. The prospect of someone they hate in their own party having more power than they have is like the bitterest, foulest bowl of hemlock these people can drink.”
It’s often noted that Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections, just as Democrats had lost five of six before that. Dems snapped out of it thanks to a Bill Clinton-led tack towards the center, but Michael Tomasky predicts that the GOP will stay to the right in 2016, thereby extending its slump.
After Michael Dukakis’s defeat in 1988, observed Tomasky in a Tuesday piece, Democrats at last could “say to themselves, OK, we’re screwed unless we change. Welfare reform? Free trade?...Whatever, man…The question for the Republicans is, is this 1988 or 1992? I think it’s 1988, because they haven’t yet lost that third one [in a row]. It’s the third one that drives it home. Especially if it’s to you know who.”
Though Michael Tomasky is not a psychiatrist or a psychologist, he has a (liberal) layman’s curiosity about the workings of the human brain and mind which causes him to wonder how Ben Carson can be a “brilliant” surgeon but “an across-the-board nincompoop” when it comes to politics.
In a Monday column, Tomasky wrote, “Usually, if a man (or woman) is a good and knowledgeable and sure-footed doctor, or lawyer or department chair or any other position that could have been attained only through repeated displays of excellence and probity…[h]e or she might be right wing or left wing…but [he or she] won’t be an idiot…But Carson is a political idiot…From science to foreign policy to the Constitution to virtually any political or historical or policy topic on which he chooses to speak, he says something that has no basis in real-world fact.”
Since even some conservatives thought that Hillary Clinton won Thursday’s Benghazi hearing, it stands to reason that lefty bloggers would be happy with the way things turned out.
In fact, not all of them waited until the hearing was over. Early in the afternoon, when Clinton still had several hours of testimony before her, Talking Points Memo editor and publisher Josh Marshall observed that “Hillary…looks poised; [Republicans are] radiating spittle.” As the hearings rounded third and headed for home, Esquire’s Charles Pierce sniped, “This was a performance piece for the people residing within the conservative media bubble…who already are too smart to be fooled by the Hildebeast and her alleged facts because Mark Levin has told them that they are too smart to be so fooled."
Speaking with fill-in host Alex Wagner on the Friday edition of MSNBC’s All In, Hardball host Chris Matthews and Daily Beast columnist Michael Tomasky continued the liberal media’s narrative of sudden respect for the soon-to-be resigning House Speaker John Boehner, lamenting that the “revolutionary” wing of the Republican Party had carried out a “mutiny” against “a rock-ribbed conservative.”
Among the insights: Fiorina "has a notable facility for delivering answers that thrill conservatives but fall apart under close examination"; a discussion of childhood vaccines showed that the party is "fervid, claustrophobic, recklessly insinuating, and, at the same time, utterly timid when it comes to extremism in its own ranks”; and the GOP as a whole is "wedded to the tenets of [George W.] Bushism — rabid, debt-financed, regressive tax-cutting, reflexive hostility to regulation, and a pervasive anti-intellectualism."
The debate rages on as to whether Donald Trump represents the essence of the Republican party. Very broadly speaking, conservatives say he doesn’t and liberals say he does. One liberal, Michael Tomasky, claims that Trump, despite his left-of-center positions on several fiscal and economic issues, nonetheless embodies the “two qualities more than any others [that] have driven conservatism in our time.”
The first quality, wrote Tomasky in the September 24 issue of The New York Review of Books, “is cultural and racial resentment…The second is what we might call spectacle—the unrelenting push toward a rhetorical style ever more gladiatorial and ever more outraged…Trump is conservative resentment and spectacle made flesh.”