Esquire’s Pierce doesn’t exactly minimize the State Department e-mail story, but he’s much more upset about Hillary’s failure to fully understand that she’s a wacko magnet: “For going on 30 years, she has been the target of every strange conspiracy theory…Just in the past six years, she's watched the Benghazi, Benghazi! BENGHAZI! dreamscape blossom lushly with the wilder flora planted in the public mind by the seedpod that is the brain of Darrell Issa...She had to know what [the e-mail story] would mean because she's lived her whole life under The Clinton Rules, by which every glitch is a crime, and every blunder is a conspiracy.”
Tom Johnson covers mostly websites (e.g., Salon, Talking Points Memo, Daily Kos) for NewsBusters. He blogged frequently for the site from 2005 until 2007 and has been a regular contributor since 2011. From 1989 until 2002, he was an entertainment analyst for the Media Research Center and its spinoff, the Parents Television Council. From July 2004 until June 2005, he monitored National Public Radio for the MRC. He is a graduate of the University of Arizona.
New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait argues that “Inhofe’s argument was breathtakingly devoid of a factual or logical grasp of its subject matter” and remarks that while “the design of environmental regulation, or the appropriate balance between economic cost and clean air, is a subject on which reasonable people can disagree…the modern Republican party (as opposed to the one of a generation ago) is structurally incapable of reasonable disagreement or calculus. Cranks like Inhofe have veto power.”
The Washington Monthly’s Martin Longman argues that Republican base voters routinely wind up hurting the party’s center-right presidential nominee because he feels he has to throw them one or more bones: “Poppy [George H. W. Bush] didn’t really need to promise no new taxes, but it was a broken promise that cost him dearly. [John] McCain overcompensated for his weakness with the base by giving us Sarah Palin. And, in his contorted efforts to speak to a base that had become completely unmoored from terrestrial reality, [Mitt] Romney set the land-speed record for lying by a human being.”
The writer-at-large for New York magazine identifies Carson as the latest of the Republican party’s three “Great Black Presidential Hopes,” but argues that Carson is more significant than Alan Keyes or Herman Cain because he’d be running “in the context of both restrictive voting laws and the retro civil-rights jurisprudence of the John Roberts” Supreme Court. Rich also claims that “Carson lends credence to the right’s continued effort to sanitize and rewrite America’s racial history to absolve the GOP of any responsibility for injustices then or now.”
Well before Obama moved into the White House, he believed his presidency would have “the potential for shifting the national paradigm” to the left as Reagan’s moved it to the right, and Brian Beutler contends that such a shift still could happen if “the economy’s rapid growth in recent quarters” continues.
John Cassidy calls the Wisconsin governor “an odious politician whose ascension to the Presidency would be a disaster” but admits, “For all his awfulness, Walker is a serious contender. We’d better get used to it.”
Apropos of President Obama’s refusal to use the terms “Islamic extremism” or “radical Islam,” Saletan opines, “If we’re going to start calling out religious and political groups for extremism, we could start at home with Republicans. Too many of them spew animus. Too many foment sectarianism. Too many sit by, or make excuses, as others appeal to tribalism. If Obama were to treat them the way they say he should treat Islam—holding the entire faith accountable for its ugliest followers—they’d squeal nonstop about slander and demagogy. They’re lucky that’s not his style.”
Jonathan Chait, Paul Waldman, and Amanda Marcotte each discuss how the Wisconsin governor and probable presidential candidate has responded to recent questions about issues including evolution, Obama’s religious beliefs, and Obama’s patriotism, as well as how his answers might play with the “paranoid” Republican base that thinks, in Waldman’s words, that “Obama is The Other, an alien presence occupying an office he doesn't deserve.”
Toobin, of the New Yorker and CNN, argues that while Giuliani’s “I do not believe that the President loves America” comments were “simply incorrect,” it was more important to understand that they were “not principally meant as assertions of fact.” Rather, they were “meant to tap into a deep wellspring of American political thought, one defined by the Columbia historian Richard Hofstadter five decades ago...Hofstadter described ‘the paranoid style in American politics,’ which he said was characterized by ‘heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy.’”
Bush seems not to share what Ed Kilgore calls the “vengeful rage about the alleged persecution of good conservative Christian folk” and what Peter Beinart describes as “the sense of Christian victimhood and superiority that lurks just below the surface in today’s GOP.”
Vox writer Max Fisher argues that Obama “has veered so far into downplaying Islamist extremism that he appears at times to refuse to acknowledge its existence at all, or has referred to it as violent extremism. While he has correctly identified economic and political factors that give rise to extremism, he has appeared to downplay or outright deny an awkward but important fact: religion plays an important role as well.”
Esquire’s Pierce writes that the judge who just ruled against President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, as well as many other conservatives on the federal bench, are “moving silently within the judicial underbrush, their camouflage nearly perfect, invisible until the strike and deadly when they do.”
The American Prospect’s Paul Waldman argues that “anti-intellectualism has often been an effective way for Republicans to stir up class resentment while distracting from economic issues. It says to voters…[d]on't aim your disgruntlement at Wall Street, or corporations that don't pay taxes, or the people who want to keep wages low and make unions a memory. Point it in a different direction, at college professors and intellectuals (and Hollywood, while you're at it).”
Nicole Hemmer argues that right-wingers trash the so-called objective media with an eye toward “making room for their own explicitly ideological” outlets “like Fox News, Breitbart, and talk radio…In an era when ideologues increasingly choose their own facts, the partisan policing of accuracy threatens to do in factuality altogether.”
And where is the Media Research Center in this article?
In her Talking Points Memo column, Marcotte writes that King v. Burwell itself is ridiculous but par for the course: “Exploiting the obsessions and fantasies of rightwing cranks…has [been] the standard operating procedure of conservative leadership for decades now. But that the Supreme Court is elevating this kind of talk radio madness to the highest court in the land takes this to another level.”
Sonia Saraiya suggests that Stewart “is one of the most influential political figures of our era” and claims that “as difficult as it has been to advance a progressive agenda over the last 16 years, it would likely have been impossible without Stewart’s ability to connect to millions of viewers and remind them that they weren’t alone in hoping for something better.”
Ken Auletta reports that Williams had agreed to a suspension but “wanted a declaration by NBC that he would return as an evening-news anchor.” NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke, “torn between wanting to take a hard line and feeling compassion for Williams,” sought Brokaw’s counsel regarding the matter. After Brokaw said he was “concerned about the effects of Williams’s actions on the reputation of the rank and file in the news division,” Burke decided to make the suspension “non-negotiable.”
New York magazine pundit Rich admits the anchor badly mishandled the flap over his Iraq-war tall tale but dismisses much conservative criticism of Williams: “They view him as Exhibit A of a lying left-wing mainstream media conspiracy…But neither in public nor private have I ever seen or heard Brian Williams express any partisan political opinion.”
Max Fisher writes that Obama’s comment was “so banal it could be an after-school special. That it has provoked national controversy goes to show that there is still a mainstream thread of thought in America that Islam is an inherently violent religion, that the world's 1.6 billion Muslims are somehow different, and that non-Muslims are superior human beings.”
Jon Perr of Daily Kos writes that Walker, like the Republican base, “believes his Democratic foes aren't just wrong, but unambiguously evil...He talks and fights tough, which for the right wing is not a means but an end in itself.”