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.”
Ronald Reagan’s admirers called him the Great Communicator, but to his detractors he was more like the Great Demonizer, crystallizing hostility toward groups ranging from the poor to left-wing protesters at UC Berkeley. In a Sunday post, Esquire's Pierce argued that Donald Trump has a similar talent for focusing outrage, and because of it, he’s attracting the same kind of supporters that Reagan did.
Over the past few days, a great many left-wing commentators have weighed in on Antonin Scalia-related issues, especially Scalia’s judicial legacy and Republicans’ refusal to consider anyone President Obama might nominate to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. Highlights have included Slate's Dahlia Lithwick remarking that "sometimes it seemed [Scalia] worked overtime to earn your hate. He gloried in it. He wrote cruel, demeaning things about whole groups of Americans”; Salon's Amanda Marcotte alleging that Republicans won't consider any Obama nominees for the SCOTUS vacancy because "the conservative base has never accepted that a black Democrat could be a legitimately elected President”; and Esquire's Charles Pierce suggesting that Scalia be succeeded on the Court by Anita Hill.
Just over a year ago, actress-liberal activist Ashley Judd opined that Hillary Clinton “might be the most overqualified candidate we've had since…Thomas Jefferson or George Washington.” Pierce was a bit more restrained in a Sunday post, asserting that Hillary “might be the most qualified presidential candidate that we've seen since James Monroe,” who was first elected POTUS two hundred years ago this coming fall.
Pierce lamented that Hillary’s chops as a campaigner don’t measure up to her credentials for the highest office: “She's an outsider by birth and an insider by resume. It would take a formidable politician to be able to use both of those qualities to maximum advantage. (If she combined her background with her husband's natural political skillz, we'd likely wake up next November to find her Empress Of The Universe.) And she is not that pol. Not yet, anyway.”
Many of the lefty writers who analyzed Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate at the Venetian suggested that had the event been promoted as if it were a Vegas show, the marquee might have read “Fright Night,” or perhaps “Be Afraid…Be Very Afraid,” given how much the candidates hyped the threat of jihadist terrorism.
When it comes to global warming, Esquire’s Charles Pierce implies, it’s now conservative Republicans and a few hidebound Democrats versus pretty much everyone and everything else, including the world’s non-human animals and its plant life. Meanwhile, New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait opined that the Paris climate deal was “probably the [Obama] administration’s most important accomplishment."
“There'll be scary ghost stories,” sang Andy Williams on a Christmas album of long, long ago. In a Monday post, Esquire’s Pierce suggested that “ghost stories” of a sort -- “obvious lies,” as he also put it -- have become part and parcel of Republican campaigning, and that “as with so many things, this all began with Ronald Reagan.”
Pierce argued that Donald Trump is “the logical end product of almost 40 years of conservative politics. Reagan was as full of crap as the Christmas goose, and in the same way that Trump and [Ben] Carson are. Trump has dancing Muslims. Reagan had the fictitious welfare queen in Chicago…Trump has weaponized Reagan's fabulism and that seems to make a difference to some people. But nothing that has happened in this campaign, up to and including the latest spasm of outright bigotry and fear-mongering, is new in the recent history of Republican politics. It always is the person who tells the best ghost stories who wins.”
The heyday of patent medicine, medicine shows, and related phenomena has been over for more than a century, right? Yes and no, implied Esquire's Pierce in a Thursday post. While it’s true that (for example) Coca-Cola no longer is sold as a cure for impotence, political snake oil, Pierce asserted, has become the chief product of the Republican party.
Pierce’s peg was Ben Carson’s involvement with Mannatech, but as far as the GOP angle was concerned, “the process began with Ronald Reagan, the greatest patent-medicine salesman of them all. It was he who marketed the economic snake-oil with a wink and a smile…It was he who gulled the country with tales of Sandinistas driving jeeps across the Rio Grande, and dangerous Cuban adventurism in Grenada, while Marines were being slaughtered in their barracks. He was the best show in town.”
Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio put media bias on the front burner at CNBC’s Republican presidential debate, but conservatives and liberals differed sharply on whether what was in the pot smelled appetizing. Several lefty bloggers turned up their noses at the idea that in last night’s event and in general, the media favor Democrats.
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."
Not long before Joe Biden announced that he wouldn’t run for president, he drove Esquire's Pierce up a high wall (think the Green Monster) by saying, “I still have a lot of Republican friends. I don't think my chief enemy is the Republican party…I actually like Dick Cheney, for real. I think he's a decent man."
Pierce opined that Biden’s comments on Cheney were disqualifying (“Anyone who thinks Dick Cheney is a decent man does not have the judgment to cut his own meat, let alone lead the Democratic party”) and asserted, “Decent men do not oversee the outing of covert CIA agents. Decent men do not help deceive their country into a war and then walk away with the profits… Dick Cheney is the closest thing that American democracy has produced to a Goering.”
Esquire’s Charles Pierce seemingly would like a time machine to take him back a quarter-century so he could advise the Tom Foley/George Mitchell-era Democratic party. Failing that, Pierce wishes today’s Dems would at last act on his idea to persuade the American people that the Republican party is “thoroughly, deeply, banana-sandwich loony,” thereby “beat[ing] the crazy out of [the GOP] so the country can get moving again.”
“Republican extremism should have been the most fundamental campaign issue for every Democratic candidate for every elected office since about 1991,” argued Pierce in a Friday post. “The mockery and ridicule should have been loud and relentless. It was the only way to break both the grip of the prion disease, and break through the solid bubble of disinformation, anti-facts, and utter bullshit that has sustained the Republican base over the past 25 years.”