Monday, June 08, 2020


In the course of defending Mitt Romney's honor, Politico's Tim Alberta expresses a widely shared opinion: that the attacks on Romney in the 2012 campaign are somehow responsible for the GOP electorate's decision to nominate Donald Trump four years later.

I don't imagine Alberta saw my response, but I reminded him that Bill and Hillary Clinton were accused of murder and drug dealing; John Kerry was accused of being an unfit member of the U.S. military during the period when he won several Purple Hearts; and Barack Obama was accused of being a secret Muslim socialist who despises America and lied about his birthplace to become president. The Romney-to-Trump argument is that Republican voters said to themselves, "Well, if you're going to accuse a decent candidate of being morally unfit, then we might as well nominate someone who actually is morally unfit." But Democratic candidates are routinely accused of moral unfitness, and our response this year was to nominate ... Joe Biden, while Republicans, eight long years after that Romney campaign, are sticking with the pussy-grabbing, rule-of-law-abhorring financial criminal and congenital liar.

It's odd that Alberta blames us for Trump because here he is at Politico describing brutal assaults from Fox News on Republicans who acknowledge racism in America:
“Tonight I turned on the news and am heartbroken,” Nikki Haley tweeted on May 30, five days after [George] Floyd’s killing and four days into the intensifying demonstrations. “It’s important to understand that the death of George Floyd was personal and painful for many. In order to heal, it needs to be personal and painful for everyone.”

The sentiment was not at first glance controversial. Here was a popular Republican, arguing, in the Biblical tradition of loving one’s neighbor as thyself, that real progress depends on the unafflicted feeling afflicted. It was a benign cry for empathy and understanding.

But that’s not what everybody heard.

“Wait a second,” frowned Fox News host Tucker Carlson, after reading Haley’s tweet aloud on his June 1 prime-time show. “You may be wondering: How am I ‘personally responsible’ for the behavior of a Minneapolis police officer? I’ve never even been to Minneapolis, you may think to yourself. And why is some politician telling me I'm required to be upset about it?”

Carlson shook his head. “Those are all good questions. Nikki Haley did not answer those questions. Explaining is not her strong suit; that would require thinking. What Nikki Haley does best is moral blackmail.”

This was not Carlson merely settling some personal vendetta with Haley. The Fox News firebreather also savaged other “so-called conservative leaders” during that same monologue, denouncing Vice President Mike Pence and former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, among others, for their public remarks over the weekend. Their crime? Acknowledging the continuing scourge of racism in America.

The clip of Carlson rebuking Haley rocketed around the GOP universe. By Tuesday morning, it was the subject of obsession inside the smaller galaxy of those Republicans preparing for a run at the presidency in 2024. For some it was reassuring, a sign that Fox News wouldn’t get wobbly even if some elements of the right did; for others it was a shot across the bow, a clear warning that even the most casual questioning of conservative law-and-order dogma would be punished.
Do you know why Republican voters chose Trump in 2016? It wasn't our fault. It was Fox's fault. Fox has always been like this. The attitude of Fox has always been "No enemies on the right." Fox's goal has been to give its audience the reddest meat, and to insist that Republican politicians do the same. Of course Trump, or some figure like him, was inevitable. (And it would inevitably be Trump, who dished out red meat as a recurring guest on Fox & Friends.)

Democrats didn't turn Republicans amoral and bloodthirsty -- years of bloodthirsty right-wing rhetoric did that.

Don't blame us, Tim. The call to savagery came from inside the house.

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