Editor's note: This commentary first appeared in The Morning Call, a publication of The Political Forum.
Just over three years ago, we wrote a piece explaining how the political establishment - the Democrats and the media, in particular - had …
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Just over three years ago, we wrote a piece explaining how the political establishment - the Democrats and the media, in particular - had helped create the conditions that enabled Donald Trump's rise to political prominence. We put it this way:
We think it's important to point out that the difference between the Democratic/media establishment and the boy who cried wolf is that the latter did so because he wanted "to amuse himself," which is to say that he made up the wolf, at least initially. The same cannot be said for our friends in the Democratic party and the mainstream press. They weren't joking about Mitt Romney. They weren't joking about Ronald Reagan - or the Georges Bush, or any of the Republicans they have labeled racist/sexist/homophobic. They meant it. Unlike the little shepherd boy, they actually believed that they saw wolves, EVERY SINGLE TIME.
The liberal establishment takes it as indisputable fact that the contemporary Republican party is built on the "Southern Strategy" first employed by Nixon, but exploited effectively ever since. The Republicans, they sincerely believe, are the majority party in Congress today and are at least nominally competitive in presidential campaigns because they exploit "white rage" in the South and have done so since the passage of the Civil Rights Acts. Moreover, they believe that the Republicans appeal to white racists by using loaded but coded terms like "states' rights," thus managing to acquire and maintain power through racism.
As you might have guessed, we thought of all of this over the last couple of days, after the announcement that John McCain had died.
The political establishment's reaction to McCain's death is supposed to be touching and bipartisan and inspiring.
But from where we sit, the whole thing just stinks. It's insulting to McCain's memory. It's insulting to Republican voters. And it's insulting - precisely as intended - to supporters of the current president. Indeed, the simple fact of the matter is that to many in our political class, everything in the world is now nothing more than a cudgel to attack Donald Trump - even the passing of a longtime Senator and war hero.
Now, to be fair, Trump has earned a little beating where John McCain is concerned. His unpleasantness to McCain - and McCain's to him - is well documented. But whatever grief Trump might have earned, it can hardly be justified coming from the likes of those delivering it. Ten years ago, McCain was the most evil and vile man God ever made. He was a racist and a sexist and master manipulator. The New York Times, which now praises the late Senator effusively, flat out fabricated a story about a "possible" affair between McCain and an attractive blonde woman (lobbyist Vicki Iseman), presumably because it could.
Consider, as well, the case of John Lewis, the civil rights hero and longtime Congressman from North Carolina. On Sunday, Lewis called McCain "a warrior for peace" who will be missed by millions of people around the world. But back in 2008, Lewis compared McCain to George Wallace and accused him of creating a "climate of hate."
The whole thing is absurd, but it might, at least, be tolerable, if it were all done in pursuit of healing and bringing the country together and correcting past mistakes. But that's not what this is all about. Rather, this is about abusing a dead man's memory to attack the current president and to try to embarrass and shame his supporters.
Writing at National Review Online, Jim Geraghty suggests that "You could measure the coverage of McCain by who he was being contrasted with at that moment - against Bush in 2000 he was a hero, against Barack Obama in 2008 he was a villain, and against Trump in 2016 he was a hero again."
There is truth in this, of course, but there is also more to it.
The comparison to Trump is particularly irksome because it is so brazen. The things they say about Trump are exactly the things they said about McCain, only now we're supposed to believe them because they say so.
Look how far you've fallen, they sneer at Republican voters, from a decorated war hero to to that guy. It's so cheap and so patently transparent that it merely serves to exacerbate the dislike and the distrust that produced Trump in the first place. Three years into the Trump era, and these people have learned nothing.
Trump's behavior toward McCain spoke/speaks for itself - and not in a way that flatters the president. The political class' insistence on overkill serves not only to cheapen the true tributes to McCain, but also to undermine its own credibility to Trump's benefit.
It's astonishing, frankly, how they manage to do this time and again and how terribly they're distorting our political climate in the process.
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