Jonah Goldberg, Principled Conservative© and proud member of the Party of Personal Responsibility©, wants you to know who’s really to blame for Trump’s pure awfulness (“The courts, and Stephen Colbert, are enabling Trump’s violations of the norms,” LA Times, 5/9/2017):
[T]he big problem with violating democratic norms — the unwritten customs and practices even political opponents traditionally abide by — is that once you’ve done it, everybody wants to do it too. When the people most offended by Trump’s violations indulge in similar behavior, they not only contribute to the problem, they create incentives for Trump and his biggest supporters to keep doing it.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say the loudest of Trump’s supporters—the morons at Fox News, Breitbart “writers,” Twitter trolls and white supremacists and every other brand of deplorable that wears the epithet as a badge of honor—would still be huge assholes regardless of how polite liberals were to them. Know how I know that? Because that’s how they were before Trump even came on the scene.
You see, it’s Republicans and right-wing media that created and enabled an environment in which a Trump could grow, ripen, and rot—figures like him don’t just appear out of thin air. If Republican voters hated so much of what he said and who he was, he wouldn’t be our fucking president right now, Jonah. But go ahead; tell me why Colbert’s blowjob joke gives Trump license as leader of the free world to tweet like a ten-year-old boy who just discovered 4chan:
Colbert’s animus toward Trump’s crudeness got the better of him. Suffice it to say that if you want to condemn a president for his incivility, you squander some credibility when you describe the president of the United State in a lewd act with a foreign dictator.
Goldberg would have a point if, say, Barack Obama made the comment in a public space. Obama has in part banked his reputation on being calm, cool, and collected, even under pressure, lest the media get a chance to run another “Obama’s an angry black man!” piece of sensationalism. But Colbert isn’t a politician. He’s a comedian. And he took a shot at a quality Trump values in himself: his manliness. His cultivation of the image as the ultimate alpha male. Colbert attempted to deflate that by saying he’s so enthralled with Putin that he submissively sucks his dick.
Regardless of how lewd or offensive you find Colbert’s joke, Goldberg isn’t really the person best qualified to critique Colbert as an “enabler” of Trump. That’s because Goldberg had some very odd things to say about Jimmy Kimmel’s speech on health care (“The Dangers of Empathy,” National Review, 5/5/2017):
[B]ecause I am a father, I could empathize with late-night host Jimmy Kimmel’s story about his son’s birth. His story is almost surely more harrowing than my story, but that doesn’t matter. Empathy is the ability to feel what someone else is feeling.
Empathy is different than sympathy or compassion. Sympathy is when you feel sorry for someone. Compassion is when you do something about it.
But empathy is something else…
Adolf Hitler was a master of empathy — for ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland, Austria, and elsewhere. The cause of nationalist empathy for the German tribe triggered profound moral blindness for the plight, and even the humanity, of Jews, Gypsies, and Slavs.
From 0 to Godwin in less than 60 seconds. Impressive, Jonah, impressive. It must take nerves of steel to watch Jimmy Kimmel recall the frightening story of his son’s birth, and how Kimmel is gravely concerned about what the potential repeal of Obamacare could do to hundreds of thousands if not millions of children whose parents are not as financially fortunate as Kimmel is, and come to the conclusion that he’s being emotionally manipulative in a similar fashion to Hitler.
If you want to criticize people who condemn the president for his incivility for being uncivil, Jonah, you lose some street cred when you compare a late night show host’s emotional story to Hitler’s Final Solution.