It is common for political observers today to say that political discourse is at an all-time low. This might be an exaggeration: The Civil War and the Alexander Hamilton-Aaron Burr duel of 1804 are two examples of far worse breakdowns in discourse. However, one can more reasonably argue that political discourse has never been as sophomoric as it is today. Several fights between Donald Trump and his staunchest critics in the Democratic Party and the news media demonstrate this perfectly.
The Left’s Witch Hunt
During the campaign, Trump’s opponents could legitimately argue that Trump was soft on Russia and had a creepy affection for Vladimir Putin. Since the election, those criticisms have gone away… for the most part. And some of Trump’s own actions have helped mitigate them.
However, every once and while, the Trump from the campaign reemerges. One minute he’s singing Putin’s praises to Bill O’Reilly or questioning the value of NATO. The next, the Navy is lobbing Tomahawks into Putin’s allied Syrian airbases, shooting down Syrian jets, or selling Patriot missile batteries to Poland.
However, Democrats quickly became the main reason why Trump’s views on Russia and Russia’s election meddling have remained an issue. The left was not content to label Trump a useful idiot for Putin, who seems not to care that one of our largest geopolitical rivals stuck its nose in our election. Democrats have gone much farther, running with a collusion narrative that simply does not exist except in the heads of conspiracy theorists.
With the low bar of collusion to clear, Trump has been able to limit any potential political damage he would otherwise have suffered.
Recently, Democrats took another controversy and somehow managed to make themselves look like the crazy ones. After a Twitter fracas involving MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski, 25 Democrats have sponsored a bill to create a panel that would look into whether Trump should be removed from office via the 25th Amendment.
Putting aside the Democrats bizarre desire to see a President Mike Pence aside, this is just foolish. Trump is in no way physically or mentally incapacitated, and there is no justification for invoking the 25th Amendment.
The War With The Media
Even more cartoonish is the relationship between the president and the news media. In an incident that may now be even more infamous than “covfefe,” on Sunday morning, Trump sent out this tweet:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 2, 2017
Trump, once again, did something legitimately worthy of criticism. This tweet was juvenile, beneath the dignity of the office of the President of the United States. Most of us would also say it would be undignified if Obama had tweeted out a GIF of himself tackling Fox News or Rush Limbaugh. Obama doing interviews with people who ate Fruit Loops out of a bathtub was similarly unbecoming of the office.
But, once again, Trump’s harshest critics could not contain themselves.
Instead of offering a cool, calm, and collected response, the media utterly beclowned itself. The tweet was said to incite violence against journalists, and was going to get somebody killed. CNN host Brian Stelter also argued that the tweet was against Twitter’s terms of service.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) July 2, 2017
The Presidents’s Twitter account may do a lot of awful things, but inciting violence is not one of them.
Escalating the Meme War
Even with the network’s over-reaction, CNN was still clearly in the right over Trump tweet. However, CNN promptly threw any moral superiority it had left out the window.
CNN Journalist Andrew Kazcynski hunted down the anonymous Reddit user who created the GIF. After CNN called his home and emailed him, the user had to purge his online content. He also publicly apologized before speaking with reporters. Then, CNN’s corporate executives edited Kazcynski’s story, adding that the network reserved “the right to publish his identity” if the user resumed his prior bad conduct.
In other words, CNN went from saying the President is inciting violence to essentially blackmailing a guy on the internet. He committed the sin of making a GIF that made fun of CNN.
To compound CNN’s misadventures, it is possible they threatened the wrong guy in the first place.
Race To The Bottom
It seems that Trump and his most ardent opponents are having a competition among themselves to see who can be the most absurd.
There are plenty of things Trump does and says that are worthy of criticism. However, his opponents always seem to overreach. They view themselves as heroically standing up to a bully, but they can be just as petty and infantile.
Neither Trump nor the media are good for the well-being of the country, as we spend most of our time debating anything other than actual governance.