In the spirit of spreading culpability for the GOP’s meltdown as thin as possible, The Daily Beast recently served up a new theory that lays blame for Donald Trump at the feet of liberal commentators.... The argument is that overheated liberal denunciations of past Republican standard-bearers desensitized conservative and independent voters to the kind of criticism that should’ve been reserved for a uniquely menacing figure like Trump.Yes, that's right -- Trump is our fault because we mocked Romney in language so strong, so hurtful, so out of proportion, that Republicans permanently lost the ability to make independent value judgments.
“He was frequently called a ‘bully,’ ‘anti-immigrant,’ ‘racist,’ ‘stupid,’ and ‘unfit’ to be president,” complained Karol Markowicz in a piece that received wide acclaim on the anti-Trump right. “I’m referring, obviously, to the terrifying Mitt Romney.”
This argument is flawed in many ways, but here's the principal flaw: If this is the effect of insults in politics, then why haven't Democrats chosen a sociopath in every presidential election cycle of the past quarter-century? After all, going back at least to Michael Dukakis in 1988, every Democratic nominee has been smeared relentlessly with words far worse than "stupid" and "unfit." Yet Democrats haven't nominated whoever would be the equivalent of Trump on the left.
Bill Clinton was accused of murder, rape, and drug dealing -- and Democrats responded to the trauma of hearing that by nominating stolid old Al Gore. John Kerry was accused of treason -- and Democrats responded by nominating calm, cerebral policy wonk Barack Obama. Obama was called a terrorist sympathizer, a fake citizen, and a gay drug addict, and Democrats responded to that by nominating ... another policy wonk who's the embodiment of her party's Establishment.
Hey, Karol, how come we don't fly off the handle when you insult us?
Oh, sorry -- Ms. Markowicz informs us that our candidates aren't subjected to a insulting attacks at all:
Lest you imagine all presidential candidates get this kind of media treatment, well, not quite. Barack Obama wasn’t stupid when he said there were 57 states. He wasn’t racist when he listened to Pastor Jeremiah Wright’s sermons for 20 years. He wasn’t insane when he said he would lower the oceans. He wasn’t unfit when he said he would end the Iraq war on the very day he took office. He continually got the benefit of the doubt that Republicans never get from the press.I didn't make this quote up -- Markowicz is actually saying that Obama faced no harsh criticism in the 2008 campaign.
I won't go all the way through her list, but I'll take one of the less obvious examples: It's not just that Obama was mocked (by Andrew Malcolm, then an L.A. Times columnist, among others) for a slip of the tongue in which he said he'd been to 57 states on the campaign trail in 2008 -- he was also accused by Pam Geller and others on the right of actually referring to the 57 member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. That notion that "57 states" was an OIC reference was so persistent that Congressman Louis Gohmert brought it up on the floor of the House in 2011.
Somehow, after that, this year we didn't nominate a overgrown toddler with rage disorder. Is that kind of restraint really so hard, Republicans?
UPDATE: They're still busting on Obama for that slip eight years later.
At least she didn't say it was a coded shout-out to Muslims.