A major event that would damage Barack Obama’s presidency as much as Hurricane Katrina did George W. Bush’s is a white whale for conservatives, suggests Brian Beutler: They’re constantly, eagerly scanning the horizon for it, but they’ll never see it. Beutler finds it hard to imagine that any Democratic president would have his or her own Katrina, since Dems have made responding to natural disasters a high priority. Not so the pro-small government, austerity-driven Republicans, who are “ideologically ill-suited to meet [that] challenge.”
Plenty of journalists saw Hillary Clinton’s Thursday speech on Donald Trump and white nationalists as an attempt to further separate the GOP nominee from Republicans who aren’t #NeverTrump but are leery of voting for him. Kevin Drum of Mother Jones “propose[d] a different explanation”: that Hillary “was giving the press permission to talk about Donald Trump's racism." But Esquire’s Charles Pierce has no confidence that pundits and reporters will deal properly with the racism issue. The media, Pierce says, have "normalized [the] candidate" who "normalized hate groups."
This past January, Donald Trump said, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose any voters.” A rough counterpart to that remark came Wednesday from Eric Levitz, who wrote that a Trump presidency would be so dreadful that “it would be reasonable for the average voter to prefer Hillary Clinton, even if she really did order the murder of Vince Foster.”
Once upon a time, the right had (some) reason to complain about media bias, acknowledges Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall, but these days, not so much. According to Marshall, when conservatives back in the day “went about creating their own counter-establishment,” what they built wasn’t a normal mirror image, but a funhouse-mirror image. For example, "Fox News [was] the supposed antidote to the 'liberal media'. Of course, Fox is 'conservative' in a way that the mid-century elite media simply never was. And with generations of ref-playing what had been a vaguely establishment liberal national press ceased almost entirely to be so."
Former MSNBC pundit Wolffe is now a columnist for the U.S. edition of the left-wing British newspaper The Guardian. This past Tuesday, he declared that “we already have a winner in the 2016 election…Someone the pundits wrote off long ago…An unconventional politician… His name is Barack Obama. And he can thank the freak show that is Donald Trump’s Republican party for restoring his stature as a unifying, national leader with a moderated and mature approach to a complex and unstable world.”
Plenty of Republicans have been lamenting their party’s nomination of “the one guy who cannot beat the historically unpopular Hillary Clinton,” but Gary Legum thinks they’re assuming facts not in evidence. In a Friday article, Legum indicated that Hillary would have been a prohibitive favorite against anyone the GOP might have chosen. He opined that the Republicans’ so-called deep bench was a mirage and argued, "For the GOP to nominate someone capable of beating Hillary Clinton in 2016, it would have had to have been a completely different GOP since at least 1992. And if that GOP existed, Clinton would not be a weak and unpopular figure, because she would not have spent 25 years being hit with every ridiculous charge under the sun."
The Republican Party needs to be soundly thrashed, or maybe even euthanized, believes Esquire’s Pierce, who wrote in a Friday post that “it long has been the duty of the Democratic Party to the nation to beat the crazy out of the Republican Party until it no longer behaves like a lunatic asylum. The opportunity to do this…never has been as wide and gleaming as it is right now." In Pierce’s view, Donald Trump took advantage of an ideologically intoxicated GOP: "Modern conservatism has proven to be not a philosophy, but a huge dose of badly manufactured absinthe. It squats in an intellectual hovel now, waiting for its next fix, while a public madman filches its tattered banner and runs around wiping his ass with it…Trump doesn't need an intervention. His party does."
There’s a famous line attributed to Henry Kissinger about the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s: “It's a pity they can't both lose.” Left-wing Washington Monthly blogger David Atkins adapted Kissinger’s quip for his Tuesday post about whether “vicious, ignorant megalomaniac” Donald Trump is “more contemptible” than “steely-eyed devotee of Ayn Rand” Paul Ryan.
Recently, both Vox’s Zack Beauchamp and New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait have argued that ideological conservatism isn’t (and never has been) the major reason for Republican electoral success, and that those who consistently vote GOP because they believe in small government and low taxes are greatly outnumbered by those who do so because they’re racists.
In a few months, Barack Obama will become the fifth post-World War II president to serve two full terms. The Washington Monthly’s Martin Longman thinks Obama tops the other four in terms of “popularity and moral credibility,” as indicated not only by the positive reception Obama got for his Wednesday-night DNC speech boosting Hillary Clinton, but by the public’s curiosity beforehand about what he’d have to say. In a Thursday post, Longman contrasted Obama with the other two-termers at their last convention as POTUS.
One of NewsBusters’ most prominent readers, Rush Limbaugh, gave us a shout-out Monday during his radio program as he reflected on his success and longevity (next Monday, The Rush Limbaugh Show marks its 28th anniversary in national syndication). Limbaugh discussed a Sunday NB post which centered on a Washington Monthly blogger’s allegations that he has left a “sick stain” and a “loathsome legacy,” and that he has “removed all traces of logic, reason, decency, civility and compassion from the party of Abraham Lincoln.” In citing our post, Rush called NewsBusters “one of our favorite websites…part of the show prep” before commenting on the origins of his show as well as on blogger D. R. Tucker’s invective.
Paul Krugman claimed recently that the Republican party “went over the edge…when supply-side economics became [its] official doctrine.” The Washington Monthly’s D.R. Tucker reveres Krugman, but he has a different choice for “the moment when the GOP truly lost it”: August 1, 1988, when Rush Limbaugh’s radio show went national. Tucker argued that Limbaugh has "removed all traces of logic, reason, decency, civility and compassion from the party of Abraham Lincoln."
By the sheer size of his audience, many millions of Americans have disagreed, answering "Yes" to Time magazine's question on the cover in 1995: "Is Rush Limbaugh Good for America?" Of course liberals say no.