Far above us and far away, our betters continue to have a very strange conversion in which things we Children of the Lesser Blogs have been saying for fucking years is poached and passed off as bleeding-edge, state-of-the-art insight into our parlous times.
One such exchange took place at Slate Magazine recently in which Slate Group's chairman and editor-in-chief, Jacob Weisberg, gives an advanced seminar in How To Interview Andrew Sullivan Without Mentioning That Liberals Were Right About The Right All Along.
First, butter him up like a slice of challa bread French toast:
Jacob Weisberg: This was a fantastic piece. I think it’s one of the most important things written about the phenomenon of Trump. But the really striking thing about it is that you see Trump not just as a dangerous politician or as a demagogue, but a threat to the survival of American democracy.
Yes, it is possible that by some metric I do not understand, other than the tens of thousands of words Liberals have written about the Rise of Trump since the day he descended the Escalator of Greatness into our lives, and other than the millions of words Liberals have written since the dawn of blogging about the descent of the Republican Party into fascist madness, Andrew Sullivan's very-very-very-late-to-the-party May 2, 2016 column may be "one of the most important things written about the phenomenon of Trump".
Sure. Go with that.
But this next bit? This next bit is fucking hilarious...
Ladies and gentlemen, Congressman Joe Wilson![Weisberg]: ...You and I hear in everything Donald Trump says that he is the would-be dictator. That those are his instincts. Why do so many of his supporters not hear that monarchical tone in his speech?[Sullivan]: Well, I think some of them do and like it. And some of them just don’t take him seriously. There’s something that I’ve noticed in people who support him is just that they will say they support him, but then they say, “Well, I don’t really think he’s going to be able to do all those things he says.”...[Weisberg]: When you use these terms like un-American, undemocratic, neo-fascist, you’re really picking up on something that is new with Trump in modern American politics, which is violence and the threat of violence as part of the campaign. Talk about how Trump has brought violence into American politics in a way that isn’t precedented.[Sullivan]: We’ve had plenty of rowdy and difficult public meetings in the history of American politics. Goodness knows, extraordinary levels. And in modern times, too. But the one thing you’ve also always had when a protester stands up, or a heckler tries to shut something down, the speaker, whoever he or she is, and whatever office they’re running for, will generally say something like this: I respect your views. This is a free country. You can air this. But please, allow me to respond. And if they don’t respond, or if they start being cantankerous, they say, Well look, we’re going to ask security to come and take you away. And that is what we have as a civil democratic norm. And what he says in contrast is, Look at this person. What a disgusting person this is. I would like—and I’m directly quoting—to punch that person in the face. I want that person to be carried out on a stretcher as in the old days. I want violence inflicted upon people who are protesting or heckling me.That is an extraordinarily new thing in American politics...
Ladies and gentlemen, the Never Ending "Arm Yourself Against The Kenyan Tyrant" NRA freak show!
Ladies and gentleman, Congressman Michael Grimm!
But maybe Mr. Sullivan is right, even if his timeline is conveniently wrong.
Maybe the GOP only went barking mad after the Kenyan Usurper stole their White House and turned it over the Muslim Brotherhood, the New Black Panthers and Teh Gays,
But then how would you explain...
Ladies and gentlemen, Senator Jesse Helms from 1994!
And, of course, ladies and gentlemen, The Dixie Chicks!"Mr. Clinton better watch out if he comes down here," the newspaper quoted Helms as saying. "He'd better have a bodyguard."The President, asked about Helms' remarks during a White House news conference, called them "unwise and inappropriate." While asserting his authority in matters of foreign affairs, he said that it is up to Republicans to decide who will speak for them."The President oversees the foreign policy of the United States and the Republicans will decide in whom they will repose their trust and confidence," Clinton said.It was a vintage performance for Helms, a conservative ideologue who has built a career based on pugnacious rhetoric and flamboyant attacks. But his critique of Clinton prompted soul-searching among some Republicans who fear that Helms, by his intemperate remarks, will bolster Democratic charges that the GOP is a party of extremists.
And that's not even touching on abortion clinic bombings, right-wing-crazytalk-made-manifest in Oklahoma City, or America's long, tragic history of lynching by state-sponsored terrorist organizations.
So sadly no, Andrew this is not "an extraordinarily new thing in American politics". In fact, if you ever bothered to leave your Beltway terrarium you would find that this is a very old thing in America politics. We fought a bloody civil war over it. We fought a century-long Civil Rights cold war over it. And for about 40 years now, they leaders of the Republican party have been methodically refining and cultivating America's unique witch's brew of racism and fascism to seize and hold political power.
In fact...wait...I can see the outline of one more example slowly rising from the mists of forgetfulness...
It appears to be from the...Sunday Times of London on...September 16, 2001...
OMG, Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Andrew Sullivan!
The middle part of the country - the great red zone that voted for Bush - is clearly ready for war. The decadent left in its enclaves on the coasts is not dead -and may well mount a fifth column.
Of course, I'm sure we all remember how swiftly and completely Mr. Sullivan was shunned and sidelined after that. How terribly his career suffered and how no one would be his friend anymore.
Because that's our civil democratic norm.