I could throw out many more examples of this kind of journalistic dysfunction, and not from hacks like Harwood but from otherwise responsible people like Lizza. So what’s going on here? I believe liberals are motivated these days less by hatred of Republicans—that’s just part of their DNA—and more by shame, combined with the first tingles of panic.

Liberals were once more reasonable because they were once far more confident. They’d lived through the triangulation of the Clintons, they were coming of professional age in the final wreckage of the Bush years, and they were huffing all that talk about Permanent Democratic Majorities and other nonsense inspired by the media’s obsessive Obama messianism.

The death-dealing Bush-Cheney Republicans were finally vanquished by a no-kidding professor and his coterie of earnest grad-student assistants. While it wouldn’t be perfect, it would the Most Transparent, Most Ethical, Most Awesome administration, full of all that self-actualizing nonsense that even DC liberals, with all their affected faux cynicism, really want to believe in, not least because it makes them feel better about themselves.

Today, liberals are facing a failed administration that has done things that in any other world they would find appalling. (Imagine the size of the media establishment’s collective aneurysm if George Bush had presided over an intentional airstrike on a hospital. Talk about “stuff happening.”) Between the failures of the Obama administration and the looming coronation of Hillary Clinton, they need to convince themselves, and to try to convince other Americans, that things could always be worse and that even the most reasonable Republicans are completely nuts.