I’m not the first one to use that phrase in the current environment, but that six-year-old debate wouldn’t even be noteworthy today, given the antics of the current president and his foes. It’s pretty clear from social media that the president’s crudity and personal attacks are not a flaw in his presidency, but one of its high points. Many conservatives are thrilled to have someone who isn’t playing by Marquess of Queensbury rules.
Many leftists—including folks who have shouted down conservative speakers on college campuses—now argue that Donald Trump’s administration is such a fundamental threat to our democratic order that it’s OK to harass members of his administration. “(I)f you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd,” said U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles.
Although some Democrats castigated Waters, most people on both sides instinctively point to the other side as an example why it’s OK that “our” side did something uncivil. It even has a term: “whataboutism.” And conservative backers of Trump routinely chide “Never Trumpers” for trying to hold the president up to traditional standards of decency.