Via the Free Beacon, there sure are a lot of down-the-middle CNN news folks struggling with the claim that some lefty protesters crossed the line into mobbishness over the last few weeks. If they’re eager to deflect blame from ideological allies, they’d be smarter to do what Max Boot does in the clip below: Throw a little “tu quoque” at the president. Trump’s had mobbish moments of his own. Throw those in his face and wash your hands of the Kavanaugh hordes’ behavior.
I don’t think “both sides do it” logic will cut it for most liberals (or most conservatives) in this case, though. The Kavanaugh war started as a political inferno but ended as a moral litmus test, tangled up in #MeToo and due process. Ideological allies became moral allies. As such, to Democrats on the Committee, someone whose ideology is “virtuous” should naturally get more benefit of the doubt in their moral behavior than an adherent of “vice” should. Mazie Hirono made that point explicitly a few weeks ago, in fact. If you believe the Kavanaugh protesters acted in a righteous cause, as nearly the entirety of the media does, it’s hard conceptually to attach a pejorative term like “mob” to them irrespective of their actual tactics. (At least in Brooke Baldwin’s case. Don Lemon’s always been a bit more upfront with his views.) Asking them to acknowledge that people whom they know to be Good, acting passionately on a belief that they share themselves, behaved badly is loading a lot of cognitive dissonance onto them. Barring indisputable evidence of actual violence, the press will bend over backwards to frame their behavior in terms of standard protest. I’m not even sure it’s a matter of conscious bias.
Lemon goes further than that, though. Watch the entire clip if you have time, but if not then at least watch the last three minutes or so. He’s essentially arguing that it’s impossible to behave like a “mob” towards an elected official (short of actual illegality), or at least an elected official whom Lemon disagrees with. If you’re a public servant and the people want to petition you for a redress of their grievances, everything qualifies as legitimate protest up to and including forms of we-know-where-to-find-you intimidation. Chase them out of restaurants, show up at their homes, hammer on the doors of the Supreme Court. Maybe threats are okay too, so long as they fall short of the constitutional threshold of “true threats.” Politicians sign up for this, at least in the Don Lemon worldview. It’s hard to think of a worse baseline for political discourse than “anything short of criminal behavior is fair game,” particularly among people who spend so much of their time scolding their enemies about incivility and particularly when both sides know that baseline would be drawn differently for right-wing protesters. But this, again, is a lesson of the Kavanaugh saga: The rules are different for the Good People.