Are all Democratic protesters a mob? Nah, of course not. Were those scumbags who chased Ted Cruz and his wife out of a restaurant a mob? Certainly. Is this a mob? You betcha.
The hallmark of a mob is its intent to intimidate. Sophists would tell you that all political protests aim to intimidate. If 100,000 people show up on the Mall to support a particular cause, that’s a form of intimidation: It’s a message to legislators that there’ll be consequences if they don’t follow a certain course of action. Which is true — electoral consequences. Not physical consequences.
Is this protest in action, or is it a mob?
Colleague Peter Doocy rpts a GOP senator says senators have had death threats texted to their person phones. Calls that "unusual." Also says some senators who flew home after Kavanaugh vote were accompanied by police for protection
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) October 6, 2018
The more a “protest” transgresses traditional boundaries, the more likely it is to be seen as intimidating, the more the word “mob” fits. When you show up at a politician’s home or descend on him during a meal to show him that he’ll have no peace anywhere; when you call his personal phone to let him know that you can find him wherever he tries to hide; when you hammer on the doors of the Supreme Court to show those inside that you’d be willing to break them down to get at them, that’s a mob. The message in every case is the same: There’s no place you can go, even temporarily, that we can’t reach you. All three tactics aim to frighten by showing that certain rules of civil discourse no longer apply, which implies that other, even more basic rules of civility might no longer apply either. I wouldn’t call the following a “mob,” exactly, but the attempts to invade Kennedy’s personal space are another small way of making him physically uncomfortable and left to wonder how safe he might be if cops weren’t around:
This is what the U.S. Capitol was like today as I walked to the Senate floor for the vote on Judge Kavanaugh. pic.twitter.com/Xtmji8hpZF
— John Kennedy (@SenJohnKennedy) October 5, 2018
The reason Democrats and their media buddies like Brooke Baldwin are on alert today for “mob” rhetoric by Republicans is because the word has gone out that this is a message being used by Republican pols and consultants to get righty voters stirred up for the midterms. Which is true to some degree, it should be said: Not only did Trump warn fans of the left’s angry mob a few days ago, he was chattering about Antifa in addresses to supporters weeks before the Kavanaugh confirmation process went into a ditch. But not every use of the term is strategic. Matt Lewis is completely in earnest in the clip below in complaining about mob behavior, as are the many grassroots righties who’ve complained about it over the last few weeks. When the media is convinced that Republicans are “pouncing,” though, they feel obliged to treat the underlying objection as though it’s offered in bad faith. Hence Baldwin’s exaggerated reaction in the clip.
Want to know why the word “mob” comes so easily lately to Republicans’ lips? It’s not just the transgressive nature of the protests or cynical midterm messaging. It’s the fact that we recently concluded three weeks of Democrats insisting that someone should be pronounced presumptively guilty of attempted rape based on an accusation that couldn’t be corroborated by anyone, including the alleged victim’s close childhood friend. The “Hirono standard,” as Lindsey Graham called it, is the original “mob” sin here. All liberal protest tactics are viewed by the right through that lens. If Baldwin doesn’t like the word “mob” being thrown around, she should consider that Senate Dems have now branded Kavanaugh a would-be teenaged rapist with nothing but an accusation to support the claim. Has she reacted this way to any lefties who have made that claim on her show lately?
Exit question via Mary Katharine Ham: If Republicans were engaged in the tactics described above, would they be called a “mob” by the media?