A curious gap in the Democrat-media critique of Donald Trump
If you're against the establishment, they will try to destroy you.
—Tulsi Gabbard, former Democrat House member, Hawaii's 2nd District
One of the main strategies of the Democrats and their "news" media allies is to feature "Republicans" such as Liz Cheney, Mitt Romney, George Will, Jonah Goldberg, Stephen Hayes, members of the "Lincoln Project," and others who oppose Donald Trump. The idea is, apparently, that if even these "Republicans" oppose Trump, he surely must be beyond the pale — a curious argument by people who have in the past despised precisely these "Republicans." Whatever happened to "the enemy of my enemy is my friend"?
It is, of course, the right of the Democrat party and "news" media to feature Trump's "Republican" opponents. However, there is one essential feature of these arguments that is conspicuous by its absence — namely, the question about their possible motives. Instead, Cheney, Romney, and the others are treated like divine oracles whose motives are obviously as pure as William Wordsworth's "light that never was on sea or land." The question of whether their own ambitions play a role in their opposition to Trump is not raised.
This reluctance to question the motives of the Trump critics is all the more conspicuous because the Democrat party and the "news" media regularly question the motives of Democrats who oppose their own party agenda. On Nov. 1, 2021, CNN White House correspondent John Harwood tweeted frustration that Joe Manchin had "halted" the "infrastructure" process because he was trying "to damage" Biden while he attends the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Ronald Brownstein chipped in that Harwood had it "exactly right" and wondered out loud whether Manchin just "want[s] it all to burn." Cori Bush, invoking the always useful trope, stated that "Manchin opposes Biden's Build Back Better Act (BBB) because he "doesn't care about black people." On Oct. 21, 2021, Hank Stephenson, in an article on Politico titled "What's Kyrsten Sinema Up To? It's Pretty Obvious," opined that Sinema is driven by "pure ambition ... to hold office in a purple state." On Oct 21, 2021, Howie Klein of the Huffington Post suggested that Sinema is a "psycho" that is "worse than Manchin." On Nov. 21, 2021, Peter Wade of Rolling Stone wrote that Sinema and Manchin were "obstructing" Biden's bill because they are "raking in" GOP cash. On Nov. 21, 2021, Axios reports that Rashida Tlaib fears that Manchin and Sinema are guided by folks that don't have the best interests of the American people in mind."
It couldn't be that Manchin simply objects to BBB's massive spending in a time of rapidly increasing inflation. It has to be that he wants to damage Biden and burn it all down or because he doesn't care about black people or because he is bought by wealthy Republican donors. It couldn't be that Kyrsten Sinema simply wants to represent her divided electorate in a purple state (which, one would have thought, is precisely what she is expected to do in a representative democracy). She must be a "narcissist" and a "psycho" to oppose Biden's transparently beneficent BBB. Finally, what could be more obvious than that, unlike Rashida Talib, who wants to release all of the inmates in America's prisons onto the streets by 2025, neither of them "has the best interests of the American people in mind"?
Since the Democrats and "news" media regularly question the motives of critics of the Democrat party agenda, why they do not question the motives of Trump critics? It is not difficult to imagine what these might be. For example, Liz Cheney, who, with her father Dick Cheney, was despised by the left for the Iraq war and Halliburton connections, was deified as soon as she came out against Trump. Her possible personal motivations could not be more obvious: when Trump knocked Jeb Bush out of the Republican primaries in 2016, he knocked out the next Bush-Cheney presidential ticket with Jeb on top of the ticket and Liz on the bottom (a possible stepping stone to the presidency itself for Liz down the road).
Similarly, when George Conway, the husband of Kellyanne Conway, came out with the Lincoln Project strongly against Trump, the "Democrats" and their allies in the "news" media were thrilled. Of course, they all knew that George, unlike the evil woman, is the ethical one in the marriage. That was, of course, before the underage sex scandal and the accusations of grifting at the revered Lincoln Project came to light. The exhalations of the evil Mitt Romney, who once sinned by keeping "binders full of women" imprisoned for his personal use in his home while running against Barack Obama for the presidency, and who, as Candy Crowley pointed out, had also sinned even earlier by making $250 million in the market, suddenly became the bellows of divinity. One could go one with virtually all of the "Republican" Trump critics. Each may have his own motives for opposing Trump. But how does one explain the widespread "Republican" opposition to Trump?
In 2016, Hoover Institution senior fellow Victor David Hanson expressed astonishment that many "Republicans" opposed Trump even as Trump campaigned on the promise to do what they had said they wanted to do. It is important, in understanding such "Republican" Trump critics, that Trump ran against not just the Democrats in 2016. He ran against the "Washington establishment" (swamp), which, unfortunately, includes a plethora of both "Republicans" and "Democrats." Thus, when Trump won in 2016 and immediately began keeping his promises, he exposed the establishment "Republicans" who, for example, regularly give lip service to securing the southern border but would not think of hurting their own bottom lines by actually doing it if elected. The danger to establishment "Republicans" was not that Trump would not keep his promises. It was that he would, thereby showing that all the little emperors in both party establishments, as it is said, "had no clothes." This is precisely what Trump proceeded to do in his four years in office, thereby making many in his own party look bad by doing what they had promised to do but never did.
If the Democrats and their allies in the "news" media wish to provide a fair appraisal of the "Republican" Trump critics, they would have to examine their possible motives. However, that will not happen since the Democrats and their allies in the "news" media are determined, at least for the current election cycle, to deify them.
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