I think it is fair to say that we may be entering a dangerous phase in American politics when cautious and seasoned, albeit partisan, political analysts and reporters begin to wonder aloud whether their political opponents secretly want their adversaries dead.
Some appear to think that it is inconceivable that the dangerous and casual manner in which the Secret Service has comported itself in recent years, putting the life of the President of the United States in jeopardy, could be a legitimate concern to Barack Obama’s political opponents.
That is what Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank apparently believes. In a Friday appearance on MSNBC, Milbank reassured the hosts of The Cycle that 2014’s political environment is not as favorable to Republicans as many would have you believe. He added that GOP candidates have largely been reduced to stoking undue fears in the electorate on everything from the threat posed by ISIS to the spread of Ebola.
Among the fears Milbank suggests the GOP is aggravating for political gain are concerns that the Secret Service is underperforming.
“They’re even making a campaign issue of the Secret Service,” The Post columnist said, “saying things are so bad that even the President of the United States, the President of the United States we would like to remove from office by the way, is not being adequately protected by the Secret Service.”
First, what a shocking and offensive insinuation to make. Yes, Republicans (and Democrats, I’d venture) can oppose a president of the opposite party and also not want any harm to come to them. Second, the suggestion that voicing concerns about the increasingly apparent incompetence in the Secret Service amounts to fear mongering is just as insulting.
In only the last few weeks, a disturbed individual jumped the White House fence and made it deep into the president’s home before being subdued. That intrusion has resulted in the erecting of an entirely new fence around “The People’s House.” Days later, reporters uncovered that Obama was allowed to enter a closed elevator with an individual who had an unsecured handgun on his person — an episode the Secret Service failed to disclose to the White House. For the love of God, the Secret Service’s director resigned in disgrace just nine days ago.
How stupid does Dana Milbank think MSNBC’s viewers really are?
Milbank was, unfortunately, not the only news outlet to echo the toxic charge that Republicans would not be all that upset if harm were to come to Obama. In the pages of The New York Times, reporter Peter Baker marveled over the fact that the GOP is apparently “showing concern for the president’s safety, even while criticizing him.”
The article suggests that even Obama should be “wary” of Hill Republicans showing distress over threats to the president’s wellbeing, and wondered if inquiries into the efficacy of the Secret Service was not a ruse designed to reduce voter confidence in the federal government ahead of the midterm elections.
This is all evidence of a cancerous partisanship, one which Democrats would easily recognize in Republicans but somehow fail to see manifested in themselves. If people like Milbank have grown so hateful of their political opponents that they cannot even recognize humanity in them anymore, they do their readers a disservice by continuing to serve in an analyst’s role; their judgment has grown too clouded, their sense of prudence overpowered by animosity.
For everyone’s sake, maybe it is time for Milbank and others who share this venomous opinion to take a breather.