Talking Points Memo
In a Thursday post, Talking Points Memo editor and publisher Josh Marshall previewed the Republican convention. He was especially upset that the first night of the convention reportedly will center on “a new rehashing and re-exploitation of the 2012 terror attack in Benghazi…The Benghazi 'scandal' itself has been a four year running gob of hate and derp sticky enough to grab on to it an almost limitless number of conspiracy theories, bogus hearings and almost all the residue 'stab in the back' revanchism available on the American hard right, which is quite a lot…It is also fundamentally based on a series of lies about what happened almost four years ago.”
It was “friggin’ obvious” that Hillary Clinton wasn’t going to face criminal charges related to her private email server, and the media dropped the ball by not making that clear, argued Talking Points Memo editor and publisher Marshall in a Tuesday post. “Given what we knew, criminal charges weren't even in the realm of reasonable consideration,” he stated. “You could find this out with just a little bit of reporting, speaking to former federal prosecutors, legal experts, really anyone knowledgable [sic] about the relevant law and past practice.” Nonetheless, “tens of millions of ordinary Republican voters were actually convinced not only that Clinton should be charged with something…but that it was likely or even certain to happen.”
Though the Brexit debate didn’t break down along ideological lines, some liberal writers focused their morning-after scorn on pro-Leave conservatives. Talking Points Memo editor and publisher Josh Marshall wrote that American conservatives rooted for Brexit because of “the same turn back…the clock to glory nonsense that animates Trumpism…American conservative glee [over Brexit] is just a retreat to the tribalism at the core [of] its nature.” The Washington Monthly’s Martin Longman thinks Brexit further decreases the chance of a Trump win: “There’s a lot of speculation that something similar could happen here in America in our presidential election. But giving the American people a few months to witness the shitstorm created by this right-wing tantrum in England probably makes that less likely than ever.”
The boy who cried “Wolf!” eventually had a serious credibility problem. Now, according to Talking Points Memo editor and publisher Josh Marshall, so do anti-Donald Trump conservatives as a result of the right’s frequent over-the-top allegations regarding President Obama. Marshall thinks it’s fair for conservatives (or anyone) to call Trump a “demagogue and potential strongman,” but argued in a Monday post that “when you're saying Obama is a ‘tyrant’ you've basically flushed your credibility for ominous 'dictator rising' warnings about Trump down the drain.”
As for wariness of Trump among members of the staunchly righty House Freedom Caucus, Marshall finds it odd: “In the beginning was the Freedom Caucus. And then the Freedom Caucus became flesh and walked among us. And his name was Donald Trump…It will be a profound struggle or at least take several working groups for the Freedom Caucus to figure out why they're actually against Trump. Since he embodies everything they've ever stood for.”
“True fact,” “filled to capacity,” “ATM machine.” To this list of redundancies, Talking Points Memo editor and publisher Marshall might add “conservative general-election challenger to Donald Trump.” Regarding what righty activists might do if Trump gets the Republican nomination, Marshall contended in a Friday post that “if you run a 'movement conservative' against Trump, it gets pretty hard to see where you can find any real points of contrast on any significant issues” other than trade policy.
Marshall asserted that “the real differences” between Trump and movement conservatives “seem to be interrelated but threefold. One: Trump just isn't a member of the club. Two: Trump is too boorish, vulgar and authoritarian even if his broad issue agenda is broadly similar to our own. Three: He didn't used to believe this stuff. So he's an either an opportunist or a phony.” But all of that, opined Marshall, matters to only a “tiny smattering of voters.”
The last two midterm elections have yielded big Republican congressional gains, yet most conservatives who cheered those developments now jeer at Donald Trump. That’s inconsistent thinking on their part, suggests Talking Points Memo editor and publisher Marshall.
“Trump is very little different from the average candidate Republicans elected in 2010 and 2014, in terms of radical views and extreme rhetoric,” wrote Marshall in a Saturday post. “All Trump's done is take the actual GOP issue package, turn it up to eleven and put it on a high speed collision course with RNC headquarters smack in the middle of presidential election year.” (Props to Marshall for that This Is Spinal Tap-Mad Max mixed metaphor.)
Former PBS fixture Moyers recently touched on Ted Cruz’s Canadian birth, but not with an eye toward whether or not Cruz is eligible for the presidency. Rather, it was to contrast Canada-born hockey enforcer John Scott with Cruz, who’s “another kind of enforcer.” Each has a large and enthusiastic following: fans voted the journeyman Scott into this year’s NHL All-Star game, and Cruz, of course, won the Iowa Republican caucuses.
Otherwise, though, Moyers and co-writer Gail Ablow contend that Scott is “a nice guy,” “humble,” and “a team player” while Cruz is a “brute” with “malice in [his] swagger,” a “Crusader Warrior” with a “forked tongue” who thinks that he’s “a new Messiah” and President Obama is “the Anti-Christ.”
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.
A lot of people (not all of them liberals) consider Donald Trump a demagogue, but Talking Points Memo editor and publisher Marshall thinks Trump is as much of a collaborator as he is a leader. In Marshall’s telling, Trump’s invective derives in large part from an audience that’s been primed by Fox News’s nonstop emission of “hate, lies, nonsense and febrile fear.”
Robin Williams’s first album was called Reality…What a Concept. More than one lefty blogger implied that Unreality…What a Concept would have been a fitting title for Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate.
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."
“Keep your eyes on the prize” is a phrase widely associated with the civil-rights movement, but Talking Points Memo editor and publisher Josh Marshall implies that it’d be a good one for liberals to keep in mind regarding gun control. In this case, the prize would be, in Marshall’s words, “a society where there were radically fewer guns, where buying a gun meant getting a license…where you had to carry insurance to own a weapon (like you do with a car and most everything else), etc.”