A leftover from yesterday via Newsbusters. Sunny Hostin seems to think righties pointing to how O’s Border Patrol handled themselves are driven by pure whataboutism, i.e. “If Obama was allowed to do bad stuff, Trump should be allowed to do bad stuff too.” But that’s not it. Not for all righties, at least.
It’s not a matter of letting Trump behave badly so long as Obama behaved badly in the same way. It’s a matter of questioning whether lefties sincerely believe the behavior in question is bad. They’re the ones being inconsistent when it comes to using tear-gas on people across the border who are throwing rocks, for instance, not the right. And that double standard, that Trump shouldn’t be allowed to do “bad stuff” but Obama should, has pernicious consequences. Read David French on this from a few days ago if you haven’t yet:
[Obama] was a peace president who ordered ten times more drone strikes than George W. Bush. He was the peace president who left office with American boots on the ground in Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq, and scattered across North Africa. His administration refueled Saudi jets to enable the indiscriminate Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen. Oh, and he droned American citizens abroad without even a nod to due process…
I’d argue that both conservative and liberal media outlets had an interest in amplifying Obama’s progressive credentials and advancing a fundamentally flawed narrative about the nature and character of his presidency. Exaggerating his progressive virtue (or vice) kept partisans engaged. It kept ramping up the stakes of our political conflicts, and it contributed immensely to the Flight 93 mentality that dominates politics today…
By failing to provide perspective, the media creates a sense of outrage when none is justified and inoculates the public against injustice when injustice is real. The Left looks at the tear gas on the border and believes norms are being violated when they’re not. The Right looks at critical reporting about Trump and starts to presume that it’s illegitimate, even if the facts are egregious.
“I don’t care what Obama did. I care what Trump is doing right here right now,” as Hostin puts it, is a sure way to reduce the audience for a policy dispute to pure red/blue tribalism and harden your opposition. At least pretend that you’re very belatedly and opportunistically troubled by the actions of a politician in whom you’re no longer invested if you want to make people on the other side consider that their own guy’s actions in that vein might be troubling.
But Hostin can’t, and I don’t think it’s necessarily because of rank tribalism. She’s looking at the big picture of policy differences between Trump and Obama and concluding that O’s entitled to a little more of the bitter because he provided more of the sweet. He signed DACA, didn’t he? He spent eight years calling for amnesty for illegals. Surely, in that context, a right-thinking liberal can give him a little leeway on tear-gassing rock-throwers and detaining unaccompanied minors in chicken-wire cages. Trump opposes amnesty (except for DREAMers!), separates migrant children from their parents, and wants a big wall to seal the border. He likes when the border is enforced. He offers nothing sweet to lefties so he’s entitled to nothing bitter. All that logic does, though, is bring you back to French’s point. What ratio of sweet frilly speeches about peace to embittering drone strikes would it have taken to get the left really angry at Obama? If tear gas is an atrocity, it’s an atrocity whether or not it comes paired with DACA, no?
In lieu of an exit question, here’s a fun clip of the panel having a complete meltdown today over whose anger at Putin is sincere and whose isn’t. (It gets going a few minutes in.) Bear in mind that Abby Huntsman’s and Meghan McCain’s dads are/were major influencers over America’s relationship with the tsar.
WHAT WERE TRUMP'S BUSINESS DEALINGS WITH RUSSIA? Pres. Trump defended his actions pursuing a business deal in Russia, calling it "very legal & very cool" and saying that he "lightly looked at doing a building somewhere in Russia." We discuss. https://t.co/f8u2wc159S pic.twitter.com/R96sZSTE8H
— The View (@TheView) November 30, 2018