You Can’t Complain About Liberal Media Bias Again, Ever

Without fail, every day I post about the Russian government’s propaganda campaign to influence voters, I am told:

“There’s no evidence of a single changed vote.”

When I clarify I never claimed a vote was physically altered, they counter:

“There’s no proof of a single voter changing their vote because of it.”

If propaganda and misleading information have no effect on voters, then all political campaigns, dishonest advertising, and even the “liberal media bias” has no effect whatsoever, on anyone. This also means that logically-speaking, all campaign finance laws are moot, since they needlessly try to avoid something that has no effect on voters.

Right?

The featured photo above is beyond ironic, in that case.

So, don’t ever complain about bias again, ever. If you do, I’m going to ask you:

“Is there evidence of a single changed vote?”

When you object to the question, I’m going to clarify:

“There’s no proof of a single voter changing their vote because of ‘fake news.'”

If this is true, what are you worried about then?

Hey Frederica Wilson, the Death of a Soldier is No Laughing Matter

In a way, you have to pity Frederica Wilson.  As a thoroughly undistinguished member of Congress, she’s had to resort to all sorts of hijinks to grab the spotlight–such as when she inserted herself into the Travon Martin case, inflaming an already tense situation with race-baiting rhetoric and calls to imprison George Zimmerman before there was even a trial.  Then there’s her choice of headwear–those weird, sequined cowboy hats that look as if they came from a Halloween costume or a drag show (take your pick).  Long ago, Wilson must have made the calculation that if people of District 24 didn’t even know her name, they’d at least remember her as that loudmouth with the funny fashion sense, so what the hell I’ll vote for her.

Wilson also calls attention to herself by glomming on to someone more famous, kind of like a Twitter troll who subtweets a celebrity in the hopes of going viral.  So when Donald Trump got elected, she saw the perfect opportunity to gain some brush-by notoriety by proclaiming that she would not attend his inauguration.  Never mind that this idea wasn’t even original–dozens of other Democrats beat her to the punch–so long as she cobbled together a few headlines, Wilson could claim a victory for her district without having to actually do anything.

Which leads us to today, and Wilson’s war of words with the president over the condolence call he made to the widow of La David Johnson, who was killed in Niger along with three other American soldiers.  Wilson, who said she was present when Trump made the call and overheard the conversation, accused the president of being flippant and insensitive, and promptly ran with her claim to any reporter who would listen.  Given the news media’s obsession with making Trump look bad, they lapped up the story like Alex the dog with a bowl full of Stroh’s, and Wilson has been a cable news fixture ever since.

Lost in this back and forth, however, is any consideration for Johnson’s widow, Myeshia, and her children.  Seeing his death played out in the media for political advantage has to be heartbreaking enough–but somehow, incredibly, Frederica Johnson has made it even worse.  Now she’s playing it for laughs, as you can see in the clip below:

 

What’s ironic here is that the only reason Wilson engages in this shtick is that she wants the White House to follow her every word.  Getting to be a rock star for five minutes is her goal.  And she seems to be having the time of her life now that the cameras following her around.  As for La David Johnson and his grieving family, they’ve served their purpose.  Never forget, though, Donald Trump is the insensitive one.

By the way, in the briefing that Wilson found so amusing, White House chief of staff John Kelley took the occasion to correct the Congresswoman’s characterization of the condolence call:

“I was stunned when I came to work yesterday morning and brokenhearted at what I saw a member of Congress doing,” Kelly told reporters of Wilson during the White House press briefing. “A member of Congress who listened in on a phone call from the president of the United States to a young wife, and in his way tried to express that opinion that he’s a brave man, a fallen hero. He knew what he was getting himself into because he enlisted. There’s no reason to enlist. He enlisted, and he was where he wanted to be, exactly where he wanted to be with exactly the people he wanted to be with when his life was taken.”

Kelly continued, “That was the message. That was the message that was transmitted.”

Kelly also related what it’s like to lose a loved one, because he knows from personal experience.  His own son was killed during combat in Afghanistan.

“Let me tell you what my best friend, Joe Dunford, told me, because he was my casualty officer,” Kelly said he told Trump about how to deliver condolences to grieving families.

“He said, ‘Kel, he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what he was getting into by joining that one percent. He knew what the possibilities were, because we’re at war,'” Kelly said.

“And when he died, in the four cases we’re talking about in Niger and my son’s case in Afghanistan, when he died, he was surrounded by the best men on this Earth, his friends,” Kelly said. “That’s what the president tried to say to four families the other day.”

Absolutely hilarious, right?

Frederica Wilson is a disgrace.

A Bad Time to Play He Said/She Said

It’s a sad commentary on our times that something as simple and straightforward as a condolence call can be politicized, but here we are.  Democrat representative Frederica Wilson of Florida’s 24th District, has accused Donald Trump for being insensitive to the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who was one of four U.S. soldiers killed during a terrorist ambush in Niger on October 4.  According to Wilson, when the president called Myeshia Johnson to offer his sympathies at the loss of her husband, he told her, “He knew what he signed up for, but when it happens, it hurts anyway.”

“Yeah, he said that,” Wilson said. “So insensitive. He should have not have said that. He shouldn’t have said it.”

The president called about 4:45 p.m. and spoke to Johnson’s pregnant widow, Myeshia Johnson, for about five minutes. She is a mother to Johnson’s surviving 2-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter. The conversation happened before Johnson’s remains arrived at Miami International Airport on a commercial Delta Airlines flight.

It wasn’t the first time Wilson had called out Trump for being callous about Johnson’s death.

Wilson criticized Trump for failing to acknowledge Johnson’s death after he was left behind during the evacuation. It took nearly two days to find his body in the Republic of Niger’s desert. Johnson’s body made it to the U.S. on Oct. 7 when Trump was playing golf with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

So it’s pretty obvious that Wilson was already locked and loaded when she met with Johnson’s window as her husband’s remains were returned home for burial.  Claiming that she was with Mrs. Johnson when the call came, Wilson took things even further when later she told CNN that the widow “broke down” upon hearing Trump’s remarks and that the president “didn’t even know” Johnson’s name.

Trump, meanwhile, denied Wilson’s story this morning when he tweeted out:

To which Wilson responded:

I have proof, too.  This man is a sick man.

None of that proof has been forthcoming—but does it really matter?  The president of the United States and a congresswoman are basically playing a game of he said/she said over the body of a fallen American soldier.  Under what circumstances would this ever be appropriate?

Trump, for his part, probably said exactly what Wilson claims—but it’s also highly doubtful that her charactization of his words is accurate.  In his mind, the president probably meant to praise the bravery of Sgt. Johnson who, in spite of knowing all the risks, chose to serve his country in the military.  Wilson, meanwhile, being the partisan Democrat she is, seized an opportunity to make political hay out of the issue, just as she seized on the death of Trayvon Martin years ago.  She chose to cast the president’s choice of words in the worst possible light, because that’s what Democrats do.  Trump should know better than to take that bait—but he did it anyway, like he almost always does.

Myeshia Johnson, meanwhile, is still a widow, and her children will still grow up without their father.  All the bickering won’t change that one damned bit—but seeing her loss played out in the press like this will make it more painful.

Perhaps Congresswoman Wilson and President Trump should keep that in mind before bashing each other again.

Puerto Rico, Politics and Perspective

Defending Donald Trump can be a dirty job, but then politics is a dirty game.  Much like with the Bog of Eternal Stench, so much as dipping a toe in it puts the stink on a person forever–which is why it amazes me that so many seem so willing to politicize everything.  It’s as if the chattering class just stepped whole and sweating from a desert highway Port-o-let in the middle of July, took a big whiff and decided that they’d like the rest of the country to smell the same way.  Even more inexplicable is why guys like me feel the need to comment on it, but that’s a story for another day.  Suffice it to say that somebody’s gotta do it–so pardon me while I splash some Old Spice on a bandana, wrap it around my face and take my turn with the chum bucket.  Like Quint told Sheriff Brody in Jaws, this isn’t going to be pleasant.

Regarding Puerto Rico…

President Trump has been getting a lot of blowback for his tweets about San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, which have–in true Trumpian style–basically called her an incompetent ingrate for her very public criticism of the aid and recovery efforts being coordinated by the federal government after Hurricane Maria.  Let me preface by saying that the blowback, as with many a Trump tweet, is not undeserved.  The president most certainly has a tendency to bring gasoline to a fire–but lest we forget, his enemies are often the pyromaniacs who strike the match in the first place.  And while it’s true, as my Resurgent bro Peter Heck suggests, that the crisis would be better handled with the kind of quiet, dignified leadership of a George W, Bush, Trump’s reactive tendencies serve at least one valuable purpose:  they disrupt the leftist narrative.

Intrigued?  Then follow me down the rabbit hole for a few moments and consider the following points:

  • Trump isn’t wrong about Mayor Yulín Cruz.  It’s no secret that the Democrats–and by extension, the media–have been itching to turn Hurricane Maria into Trump’s Katrina.  Never mind that most of what the media peddled as the federal government’s bungling of the Katrina response in New Orleans was a myth.  It was a very successful myth, which cemented George W.Bush as a callous man who–in the immortal blather of Kayne West–didn’t care about black people.  Since the federal response to Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma were largely successful, the media couldn’t make any political hay there.  But with Puerto Rico an unprecedented disaster, the Dems saw a chance and so they took it.  Kurt Schlicter summed it up neatly with this tweet:

In other words, this wasn’t political until Yulín Cruz made it political.  She fired the first shot.  The media, with their relentless coverage of Trump punching back, inadvertently made that crystal clear and undermined their own narrative.

As if to underscore the point, Yulín Cruz talked to CNN’s Anderson Cooper wearing–of all things–a shirt emblazoned with the words “HELP US, WE ARE DYING.”

Unless that’s the name of a punk band that opened up for the Ramones back in ’82, that shirt had to be custom made for the occasion–and, as Twitchy points out with its roundup of #Shirtgate, on an island where almost nobody has power it would be awfully hard to have that printed locally.  That can only mean that Yulín Cruz coordinated that particular stunt with partisans off-island in a deliberate attempt to make the administration look bad.  Nice to know that in the middle of a humanitarian crisis, she has her priorities straight.

Again, something that would have not gotten near the attention had Trump not raised a stink about it.

  • The aid is sitting on the docks in Puerto Rico.  Getting it out to the people–that’s another challenge.  From all accounts, the federal government–and this is probably the first time I’ve ever written this–has been Johnny-on-the-spot in getting its part of the job done.  The docks are filled with supplies.  Nuclear submarines are moored and using their reactors to generate electric power.  Trucks are standing by.  The problem?  Truck drivers aren’t showing up:

Speaking today exclusively and live from Puerto Rico, is Puerto Rican born and raised, Colonel Michael A. Valle (”Torch”), Commander, 101st Air and Space Operations Group, and Director of the Joint Air Component Coordination Element, 1st Air Force, responsible for Hurricane Maria relief efforts in the U.S. commonwealth with a population of more than 3 million. Since the ‘apocalyptic’ Cat 4 storm tore into the spine of Puerto Rico on September 20, Col. Valle has been both duty and blood bound to help.

Col. Valle is a firsthand witness of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) response supporting FEMA in Puerto Rico, and as a Puerto Rican himself with family members living in the devastation, his passion for the people is second to none. “It’s just not true,” Col. Valle says of the major disconnect today between the perception of a lack of response from Washington verses what is really going on on the ground. “I have family here. My parents’ home is here. My uncles, aunts, cousins, are all here. As a Puerto Rican, I can tell you that the problem has nothing to do with the U.S. military, FEMA, or the DoD.”

“The aid is getting to Puerto Rico. The problem is distribution. The federal government has sent us a lot of help; moving those supplies, in particular, fuel, is the issue right now,” says Col. Valle. Until power can be restored, generators are critical for hospitals and shelter facilities and more. But, and it’s a big but, they can’t get the fuel to run the generators.

They have the generators, water, food, medicine, and fuel on the ground, yet the supplies are not moving across the island as quickly as they’re needed.

“It’s a lack of drivers for the transport trucks, the 18 wheelers. Supplies we have. Trucks we have. There are ships full of supplies, backed up in the ports, waiting to have a vehicle to unload into. However, only 20% of the truck drivers show up to work. These are private citizens in Puerto Rico, paid by companies that are contracted by the government,” says Col. Valle.

Why are only 20% of drivers showing up?  I can think of a lot of good reasons.  The roads are heavily damaged.  Drivers can’t get to the ports.  Most people are staying close to their families.  And drivers may also fear being ambushed by thieves and killed for their cargo.  Then there’s this, which neither the Democrats nor Mayor Yulín Cruz care to mention:

Is any of that Trump’s fault?  No, but the media would prefer to ignore that and have people think Trump’s incompetence is to blame.  Again, something that could have turned into conventional wisdom had the narrative been allowed to take hold, as it did in Katrina.

Also left unmentioned is that in their quest to damage the Trump administration, the Dems and their willing servants in the media are besmirching the first responders, aid workers and military personnel who are all working around the clock trying to save lives–all for the purpose of scoring a few cheap political points.  Intemperate as Trump’s remarks were, his insults were directed at politicians, and nobody much cares about their feelings.

Bottom line, none of this is helpful—not to the people desperately in need of assistance, nor to those who are trying to provide it.  But if the Democrats want to point to this as a failure of Trump’s leadership, their cries would ring less hollow if they bothered to show some leadership of their own.

Kat Timpf Fights Water With Fire





Fox News host and National Review Online contributor Kat Timpf has spent a lot of time chronicling the insanity of political correctness, particularly on college campuses.  Yesterday, however, some of that left-wing nuttery came at her in a very personal way when she was attacked by a total stranger at a campaign event:

 

 

 

 

 

Sadly, yes.  There’s a certain segment of political “activists” who not only assault people at random, they see themselves as entirely justified in doing so.  That’s because, in their twisted view, people like Kat–indeed, anyone who doesn’t think the same as they do and has the chutzpah to speak up about their opinions–are the enemy, and deserving of punishment.  Sometimes that means getting doused with water.  Other times, it’s getting your head bashed in with a bike lock.  Either way, conscience or empathy doesn’t fit into the equation because the assailant really believes you have it coming.  And what’s really scary is how many people actually think this way.

But how did we get here?

Well, let’s see.  Maybe it has something to do with the left wing in this country screaming about how the president conspired with the Russians to steal the election from Hillary Clinton.  Or how the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare will kill millions of people.  Or how those who stand against abortion really just want to keep women down, and those with deeply-held religious beliefs are just using them as an excuse to hate on the LQBTQ community.  Those same Saul Alinsky tactics of personalizing the political and ascribing the worst motives to the opposition have taken their toll–and with social media cranking up the crazy every minute of every day, is it any wonder that people can so easily demonize those who think differently?

Then there’s the Jackass factor, wherein dingbats with no accomplishments To speak of seek their own fifteen minutes of fame by doing something stupid (bonus points if it involves a celebrity of some kind) and then catching it on camera.  This desire to become a viral sensation is what led a couple of Antifa morons to attack Andrew Bolt, an conservative Australian writer and TV personality.  Unfortunately for them, it didn’t quite work out as the goons had hoped:

I generally eschew the term “butthurt,” but in this case I’ll make an exception.

Alas, not all of us are Andrew Bolt–and most of us, when sucker punched, are stunned that a fellow human being could do such a thing.  You can sense that in how Kat Timpf recounts her own experience:  too shocked to react in the moment, then incensed at being so helpless.  That’s what makes violence so insidious.  Choosing to rise above it, however, takes guts and determination–the same kind that Kat is showing here.  Sure, the gutless weevil with the water bottle may have stopped her from speaking that night, but if he thinks he’s going to shut her up, he has another thing coming.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Way We Were





Supreme Court Justice and Washington fixture Ruth Bader Ginsburg hit the bright lights last Saturday night and saw a play about her late colleague and friend Antonin Scalia.  Ginsburg, who has been on the high court since 1993 after being appointed as an associate justice by President Bill Clinton, took some time to tell the audience about her views on DC culture, specifically her optimism that the country would be okay “over the long haul.”

“My hope is in my lifetime we will get back to the way it was,” Ginsburg said about the partisan divide in Washington, D.C.

I’m sure that the sentiment behind Ginsburg’s statement was noble.  She was known to have a warm relationship with Scalia, who was her polar opposite when it came to judicial philosophy, and proved though her own example that people can be close friends even when their politics are on different ends of the spectrum.  The two were known to have frequent debates over policy, and yet somehow were capable of knocking a drink back together at the end of the day.  In that respect, I completely agree with Ginsburg’s lament over the polarized mood in Washington, which has infected the larger culture as well–and I also have a sincere wish that more people could discuss politics without resorting to personal attacks.

But that whole business about the way it was?  That may have been good for the DC establishment, but for the rest of the country it wasn’t working so hot.  Democrats and Republicans working together may sound nice, but it also brought us a steadily expanding federal government, crushing regulations and a $20 trillion national debt.  That’s hardly an argument for bipartisanship.

As to the rancor that has developed over the left-right divide, Ginsburg also doesn’t stop to consider the Court’s own role in creating that anger.  Abortion, for example, became the law of the land by judicial fiat back in 1973, but did nothing to settle the issue in peoples’ hearts and minds–and has since become such a cornerstone of Democrat politics that it has pushed the party from “safe, legal and rare” to the extreme of “anytime, anywhere and for any reason.”  Democrats who don’t toe that line are quickly shown the door, and worse yet–they insist that taxpayers fund abortions through Planned Parenthood.  If you’re missing that good old-fashioned DC comity, I can think of few things that have undermined it more than Roe v. Wade.

Then there’s how the Court has taken it upon itself to become a super legislature, rewriting laws passed by Congress–you know, the people’s representatives–in order to suit its own policy preferences.  Remember that time John Roberts (appointed by George W. Bush no less) twisted jurisprudence into a Gordian knot so that he could interpret the Obamacare mandate as a tax, even when the drafters of the law said explicitly that it wasn’t?  Or later, when Roberts rewrote the law again to allow federal exchanges to step in for states that refused to establish them, even though Obamacare had no provision for doing so?  I don’t know where the Court thought it had the authority to do that, because it sure as hell isn’t in the Constitution.  And yet Ginsburg went along with it, taking power away from voters who had no recourse.  That sort of thing tends to make people mad, in case she was wondering.

I could go on and on with may other examples of judicial overreach, but you get the idea.  If Ginsburg really wants to go back to the good old days of mutual respect, she’ll probably have to reconsider her own judicial activism.

Maybe the Dogs Don’t Like It

There’a a parable you sometimes hear in marketing and public relations classes that goes something like this:  A dog food company just released a new premium product line, complete with an advertising blitz to introduce the public to the new brand of kibble.  Veterinarians worked for years perfecting the recipe, which is a perfect combination of vitamins, minerals and proteins to ensure a healthy and happy pet.  Graphic designers created beautiful packaging, and the mascot–a talking dog with a sassy streak–is the cutest darn thing that you’ve ever seen.

There’s just one problem.  Sales are dismal.  Even after sinking millions into the launch and with brand awareness at an unprecedented high, stores can’t move the product to save their lives.  The whole thing looks to be headed for a massive write-down.  But why?

An emergency meeting of the marketing team is called.  There, the company CEO demands answers.  Everyone agrees that the campaign was brilliant, hit all the right marks, couldn’t miss.  Even after an hour of debate, they’re completely stumped.  That’s when a lowly intern quietly raises her hand, and asks to speak.

“What is it?” The CEO snaps.

“Well,” the intern replies, “I took one of the free samples home and gave some to my chihuahuas.”

“And?”

“They didn’t like it.”

Sinking slowly into his big conference room chair, the CEO nods his head slowly, as the horrible realization sinks in.

The dogs don’t like it.

Mystery solved.

I’ve often thought of the story while contemplating why the Democrat Party has been having so much trouble with voters lately.  Even though the GOP hasn’t exactly been a model of competence, they’ve somehow managed to do to the Dems what Clubber Lang did to Apollo Creed in Rocky III, leaving them electorally bereft and with nothing to do but find creative uses for the f-bomb at union rallies.  That’s because most analysis of Democrat woes tends to focus on the messaging:  If only we said this or said that, people would see that we’re really the better choice and come running back to us.  But I always thought the problem had more to do with what the party was selling–specifically, bloated government programs that exacerbate the problems they’re supposed to solve, and upending all the societal norms that make America, well, America.

In other words, it’s not the packaging.  It’s the product.

And the voters don’t like it.

Then again, I’m just an internet blogger, so what do I know?  The experts–guys like Josh Barro–seem to think it’s not as bad as all that for the Dems, and that with a little tweaking they can regain some of their mojo.  In his latest Business Insider column, he says that it’s all just a matter of being less judgy:

As I see it, Democrats’ problem isn’t that they’re on the wrong side of policy issues. It’s that they’re too ready to bother too many ordinary people about too many of their personal choices.

The nice thing. . .is that Democrats can fix it without moving substantially on policy. They just have to become less annoying.

Examples?  Barro cites a’plenty:

Liberals want you to know that you should eat less meat so as to contribute less to global warming. They’re concerned that your diet is too high in sodium and saturated fat. They’re upset that the beef in your hamburger was factory-farmed.

They think the name of your favorite football team is racist. Or even if you hate the Washington Redskins, they have a long list of other reasons that football is problematic.

The SUV you bought because it was easier to install car seats in doesn’t get good enough gas mileage. Why don’t you have an electric car?

The gender-reveal party you held for your most recent child inaccurately conflated gender with biological sex. (“Cutting into a pink or blue cake seems innocent enough — but honestly, it’s not,” Marie Claire warned earlier this month.)

You don’t ride the subway because you have that gas-guzzling car, but if you did, the way you would sit on it would be sexist.

No item in your life is too big or too small for this variety of liberal busybodying. On the one hand, the viral video you found amusing was actually a manifestation of the patriarchy. On the other hand, you actually have an irresponsibly large number of carbon-emitting children.

All this scolding — this messaging that you should feel guilty about aspects of your life that you didn’t think were anyone else’s business — leads to a weird outcome when you go to vote in November.

Who can argue with that?  Basically, Barro is saying that the modern incarnation of the Democrat Party is a lot less like the peace-love-dope hippies from the 60s and more like Dana Carvey’s Church Lady from Saturday Night Live.  You can almost hear them muttering, after every sin against their pieties, “Isn’t that special?”

Where Barro goes wrong, however, is his assumption that the Democrats could become winners again if they just gave up on being so prissy about this stuff.  First of all, I don’t believe that the American public is as hunky-dory with progressive policy as Barro thinks (see the dog food example above).  Secondly, he doesn’t seem to realize that all the progressive overreach that he bemoans isn’t a bug of the progressive mindset, it’s a feature–and a rather fundamental one at that.

That’s because progressivism, by its very nature, has no limiting principle.  Progress can only be measured by moving forward–so if the movement stops moving, it dies.  That’s why you have so much nitpicking over small ball non-issues like the names of football teams, or not having pink and blue cakes at baby showers:  So much of the big-ticket civil rights battle has already been won, the progs have to latch on to some other crusade–even if it’s patently ridiculous–in order to feel relevant.  And once those battles are won, they’ll have to move on to another.  Like a great white shark that suffocates if it stops swimming, the progressive movement will always be searching for the next opportunity to scold society for whatever -ism needs to be vanquished next.

Good luck with getting them to stop that.

In Defense of Whataboutism

Donald Trump, Jr. gets caught in what appears to be a sleazy attempt to use Russian sources to get dirt on Hillary Clinton ahead of the 2016 election. Democrats scream about treason, even though evidence that a crime has been committed is thin to nonexistent–but with the media tying itself into knots trying to connect the Trump administration with Russian skullduggery, it looks bad, bad, bad.

To which Trump defenders say, “Well, what about the time Hillary tried to coordinate with Ukraine to get dirt on Trump?  Or when she gave away 20% of America’s uranium reserves to Vladimir Putin, and then the Clinton Foundation got a $20 million donation from Russian-backed interests?”

The difference:  DJT, Jr. has been dominating the news cycle since the story broke.  The Hillary stuff?  Nary a mention from the mainstream media.

Then there was that time during the election, when the infamous Access Hollywood tape got leaked and “grab ’em by the p*ssy” because yet another meme parents would rather not have to explain to their kids.  That came on top of Alicia Machado, the Miss Universe turned gun moll who accused Donald Trump of fat shaming her, which Hillary extrapolated to mean that Trump hates all women.  Again, no matter how you sliced it, it looked bad, bad, bad.

To which Trump apologists said, “Well, what about the horrible way Bill Clinton treated women?  Hillary not only stood by him, she actively set out to destroy any woman who accused her husband of sexual misconduct!”

The difference:  The news media spent endless hours replaying the tape, and treated the accusations of Machado–a woman who once threatened to kill a Venezuelan judge when her boyfriend was indicted for attempted murder–without the slightest bit of skepticism.

I could go on and on here, but you probably get the picture.  Every time Donald Trump gets accused of something deplorable–and, let’s face it, occasionally the accusation has merit–his allies will fire back with something even worse that the president’s enemies did.  This “whataboutism” has been the subject of some debate lately, with concerns on how this line of argument is corrupting our politics and the culture.  Ben Shapiro, in particular, makes an eloquent point when he writes:

[Moral relativism] is the dangerous form of “whataboutism,” and also the most common. This is the actual message underlying Trump’s tweet: Hillary got away with it, so why shouldn’t I be able to get away with it? This ignores two facts: first, Hillary most certainly did not get away with it in the minds of the American public, which is why she’s not in the White House; second, wrong is wrong. The Right now engages in a fantasy whereby the Left’s dishonesty somehow justifies conservative dishonesty — hey, if Hillary’s corrupt, what’s the big problem with the Trump campaign soliciting information from the Russian government?

In this case, whataboutism is itself dishonesty — it’s pretending to care about the sins of the Left in order to justify the sins of the Right. It actually throws into sharp relief the hypocrisy of the Right: we complained endlessly and justifiably about Loretta Lynch meeting secretly with Bill Clinton, but we’re fine with Donald Trump Jr. meeting secretly with Natalia Veselnitskaya; we ripped President Obama’s “flexibility” hot mic moment, but we’re fine with President Trump saying that America has killed people just like Putin; we correctly targeted Clinton over Chinagate, but now we’re happy to use Chinagate as an excuse to avoid talking about Russiagate. This isn’t conservative. It’s not even moral. Kindergarteners learn that “but he did it, too” isn’t an excuse for bad behavior.

This is absolutely correct.  It also speaks to a hallmark trait of the conservative movement, in that it has historically elevated principle above party, and laid down markers that have guided conservative policy:  the innate value of human life that stands in opposition to abortion, the liberty of the individual that stands in opposition to big government, the rule of law that applies to the powerful and the powerless alike.  Conservatives always had an expectation that their leaders not only espoused these principles, but actually believed in them as well, and would conduct themselves accordingly.

But has the Trump era changed all that?  At first glance, you can see how it would be easy to get that idea.  Donald Trump, as a candidate and as president, has completely upended what we’ve always thought of as traditional conservatism and somehow managed to engender a fierce loyalty among his supporters, even as some unsavory facts have come to light.  Imbroglios that would have caused voters to desert your typical Republican have seemingly made Trump stronger, and made his voters dig in with one “what about?” excuse after another.  What gives?  Have traditional conservatives abandoned their principles entirely in favor of Trumpism?

Long term, I don’t know the answer to that–but I don’t think so.  Conservatives still live their lives according to their principles, which they find and reenforce through family, faith and community, and that will remain so no matter who’s running things in Washington.  Their embrace and defense of Trump is more a reaction to the corrupt media and political establishments, which are telling the public that the president represents a unique danger to American democracy, while at the same time diverting attention away from the festering swamp of corruption that has stuffed the halls of Congress with shysters, saddled the country with mountains of debt, and sustained a political class that sees itself as above the rules.  When they see Trump accused of all manner of malfeasance, while blatant malfeasance is excused and ignored elsewhere, they quickly conclude that the game is rigged just like Trump said it was–and when they see him getting screwed over, it only reminds conservatives of how everything they hold dear has been given the shaft by the media and the popular culture.  Supporting Trump by pointing out that hypocrisy is the best way conservatives know how to give them all the middle finger.  It’s very punk rock–and in many ways, quite refreshing.

It also, hopefully, has the potential to shift the media climate away from a biased model and over to something fair.  I have to believe, stupid and stubborn as they are, that eventually the media will figure out that the more they try to damage Donald Trump, the stronger he’ll become.  At that point, perhaps they’ll try the obvious and actually resort to reporting without favor–and the public will start hating them less.  In the meanwhile, for every accusation they hurl Trump’s way, there will almost certainly be an example of how Democrats under Obama did much, much worse and nobody in the media seemed to care.  So why should the public care now?

Leveling the playing field would go a long way towards curing that attitude, and the moral relativism that incubates it.