To cleanse the palate, the fact that some Trump critics were trying (not very successfully) to get this obvious, and funny, joke going this morning on social media as another Trump Outrage™ is proof positive that we’re in a post-Khan feeding frenzy. The “feeding frenzy” narrative is that something has finally snapped, Trump has come unglued, and every other sentence out of his mouth at this point will necessarily contain something objectionable. (Another element of the feeding frenzy is questioning openly whether Trump might be mental, a theme that’s begun to creep into op-ed sections and even news coverage.) You know it’s bad when a #NeverTrumper like myself feels obliged to defend him twice in one day from lame attacks.
Even the transcript makes me laugh but in the midst of a feeding frenzy no soundbite is so goofy that it can safely be ruled out as further evidence of Trump’s toxic narcissism — at least until you watch the clip below, where it’s clear he’s kidding. Damon Linker wonders what’s really impelling the frenzy onward:
I wonder what exactly my colleagues in the media think they’re doing with their effusions of bilious Trump hate. Doing their civic duty to take him down? Making sure all of America knows how offensive Trump really is? Or are they really not thinking at all and just impulsively giving vent to passionately held moral convictions in a public forum with like-minded compatriots?…
Trump was able to take over the GOP this year because millions of Republican voters felt ignored — disenfranchised — by both parties. When hundreds of journalists and other members of the country’s political and intellectual elite close ranks, denouncing Trump in unison and in lockstep, attempting to excommunicate him from the political conversation, the voters who consider Trump their voice feel denounced and excommunicated, too.
It often seems that a lot of the country’s most prominent journalists and intellectuals would love nothing so much as to be able to make these voters vanish, or shame them back into silence. That, I’m afraid, is a fantasy.
Lots of Trumpers have complained, with some reason, that the media’s antipathy to him is as much a case of class-based groupthink as it is principled opposition. I think the timing is contributing to more intense scrutiny right now too, though. Clinton is climbing in the polls after the convention; Trump’s bickering with the Khans is a unique opportunity to reinforce the Democrats’ message that he’s indecent and unpatriotic. There’s a sense that the campaign might have reached a tipping point in which swing voters who used to be leaning Trump are wavering and could tip the other way with a hard nudge. The “any weapon to hand” approach in attacking Trump is designed to be that nudge, I think, even when it’s obviously unfair, as it is here. A literal feeding frenzy begins when there’s blood in the water. That’s where we are politically, with blood in the water, at least until Wikileaks follows through on its next round of Hillary leaks.
Just to prove my point that parts of the media are taking this way too seriously, here’s WaPo lamenting that a “humanizing exchange” with the mother of a crying infant was sadly undone by the nominee when he insisted on having the baby removed. Groan. That’s the first clip below; the second is of Trump, upon being presented with a supporter’s Purple Heart as a gift, saying, “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier.” I … am going to let you make up your own minds about that one. Even as a joke, probably not the best joke on a day when the NYT is running this.
As baby cries during rally, Trump first says "I love babies," then "Kidding, you can get the baby out of here." https://t.co/FhVeiFAelU
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) August 2, 2016
Video: Trump after getting Purple Heart from vet: "I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier" pic.twitter.com/kU73qWybw9
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) August 2, 2016