As I said the other day, there is nothing good about the Trump administration, but it is allowing us to witness assumptions we’ve made about conservatives in this country for years actually be tested in real-time. And so The New York Times delivers in rapid-fire succession one right-wing blowhard explaining the formula another right-wing blowhard would follow to a tee the very next day (“If Liberals Hate Him, Then Trump Must Be Doing Something Right,” The New York Times, 5/12/2017):
[C]onservatism, with its belief in ordered liberty, is being eclipsed by something different: Loathing those who loathe the president. Rabid anti-anti-Trumpism.
Here is how it works: Rather than defend President Trump’s specific actions, his conservative champions change the subject to (1) the biased “fake news” media, (2) over-the-top liberals, (3) hypocrites on the left, (4) anyone else victimizing Mr. Trump or his supporters and (5) whataboutism, as in “What about Obama?” “What about Clinton?”
For the anti-anti-Trump pundit, whatever the allegation against Mr. Trump, whatever his blunders or foibles, the other side is always worse.
But the real heart of anti-anti-Trumpism is the delight in the frustration and anger of his opponents. Mr. Trump’s base is unlikely to hold him either to promises or tangible achievements, because conservative politics is now less about ideas or accomplishments than it is about making the right enemies cry out in anguish.
That’s from Charlie Sykes, a right-wing blowhard who made his living as the Rush Limbaugh of Wisconsin. But since he took on Trump, his rabid fan base deserted him, and now he’s left occasionally writing for The New York Times and contributing to MSNBC. Which means Sykes for years fed a paranoid audience on the lie that liberals are the biggest existential threat to America. Regardless, Sykes’s credentials means he’s qualified to make the diagnosis, even though it’s one liberals have made of conservatives for years: conservatives would hack off their own limbs if they thought it would make liberals cry.
Isn’t it fitting, then, that Erick Erickson, a self-proclaimed libertarian and a one-time #NeverTrumper (or, you know, just your typical right-wing pundit) followed the formula Sykes laid out on the very same day. First Erickson starts with some low-level concern trolling (“The Fantasy of Impeachment,” The New York Times, 5/12/2017):
I have long had concerns about President Trump. He can contradict himself within separate clauses of a single sentence, then lie about the contradiction. He lacks the depth of knowledge a president should have and seems far more concerned with what people on TV say about him than what is happening around him.
But let’s be realistic. Though the firing looks bad, it was also reasonable.
And from here, Erickson doesn’t so much defend Trump’s decision to fire Comey so much as he chastises liberals for their audacity at having a negative reaction to it:
Though they are criticizing his firing now, Democrats were calling for Mr. Comey’s head after he reopened the Clinton email investigation late in the campaign last year. If he was so bad then, is he really so good now?
Underlying liberals’ calls for impeachment is the belief that Mr. Comey’s firing will squelch the F.B.I.’s investigation into Russian campaign meddling. But there are good reasons to think that the inquiry won’t be affected. The F.B.I.’s interim leader, Andrew McCabe, vowed on Thursday that the investigation would continue apace. Likewise, the Senate will have to confirm Mr. Trump’s nominee to replace Mr. Comey, and Republicans seem determined to keep the bureau independent.
Wow! The interim leader said the investigation would continue, which means it 100% has to, no takesies-backsies. And Republicans will keep the FBI independent, so tweets like this:
shouldn’t be of concern, even though that means Trump is considering replacing Comey with a Republican senator. Very independent, indeed.
And we’re back to trolling, anti-anti Trump style:
Instead of engaging in conspiracy theories about President Trump’s Russian connections, liberals would be better served demanding that Congress exercise its powers of the purse and investigation to ensure honesty and integrity in the confirmation of a new F.B.I. director and in the operation of the agency.
Even though Democrats are the minority party, so it really just depends on Republicans getting someone whom they all agree on, Rick.
It’s not often that we get one right-winger explaining the duplicitous rhetorical strategies that another right-winger will employ on the very same day, so when we get ’em, we should cherish ’em.