Did Democrats cry wolf so many times before Trump that no one hears or heeds them now?That’s a question being asked with increasing frequency, though mostly in conservative circles and publications. An essay by Jonah Goldberg in National Review in late July had this headline: “How the Media’s History of Smearing Republicans Now Helps Trump.”In Commentary, Noah Rothman has repeatedly examined this subject. He wrote back in March that when “honorable and decent men” like McCain and Romney “are reflexively dubbed racists simply for opposing Democratic policies, the result is a G.O.P. electorate that doesn’t listen to admonitions when the genuine article is in their midst.”“Today,” he added, “they point and shout ‘racist’ into the void, but Democrats only have themselves to blame for the fact that so many on the right are no longer listening.”I think he’s being more than a bit disingenuous about the potential receptiveness of the right — or the left — to anything that the other side says in this polarized, partisan age. There hasn’t been all that much listening for some time.Also, the Democratic condemnations of McCain and Romney weren’t as widespread and operatic as the ones of Trump.And this is a two-way street. Republicans paint a broad spectrum of Democrats as socialist kooks, and Obama has been as strong a magnet for hyperbole as any politician in my lifetime. Let us not forget Dinesh D’Souza’s 2010 book “The Roots of Obama’s Rage,” or Newt Gingrich’s assertion that “only if you understand Kenyan, anticolonial behavior” can you grasp Obama’s method of governing, or Trump’s insistence that Obama produce his American birth certificate.The sad truth is that we conduct the bulk of our political debate in a key of near-hysteria. And this renders complaints of discrepant urgency, about politicians of different recklessness, into one big, ignorable mush of partisan rancor.
Both sides are awful, so what can you do?
Bruni does go on to say that Republicans are attacking Trump, so maybe, maybe the characterization of him by Democrats has some small merit, but that's as far as he's willing to go. Being mean to Mitt Romney after all is what created Trump, apparently.
That's a nice argument if you're a puerile child, but out here in reality when Trump is repeatedly saying how he'll round up and deport millions of people, at some point the blame for Trump's rancid rhetoric has to be assigned to Trump, as well as the party that nominated him.
And that's the blame Bruni is trying to dodge.