16 A gift opens the way
and ushers the giver into the presence of the great.
… said every corrupt politician ever.
■ Robert Tracinski, writing at the Federalist, wonders: What If You Can’t Normalize Donald Trump — Because He’s Already Normal? "Normalization" is kind of a recent thing, an asymmetrically deployed weapon:
But most of the campaign against “normalizing” is about normalizing
Trump. Jimmy Fallon got in trouble for “normalizing” Trump during the
election. People have published agonized thinkpieces about it. Even the New
York Times, now in trouble for normalizing, has fretted about normalization. The upshot of it all
is that apparently we need to stay outraged. All the time. About everything. At
the maximum level.
This serves an obvious goal of maintaining partisan discipline. The charge of “normalizing” is a guard against anyone in the Democratic Party apparatus or in the mainstream media—but I repeat myself—accepting Trump’s legitimacy as president on even the smallest of issues. We’re at the point where White House Christmas displays are now treated like a partisan litmus test. You are required to hate them, because they are associated with Trump.
Trump is a horrible liar, in at least two senses of "horrible": not only (1) that he lies a lot, but also (2) he's very bad at it. Most pols are "better", but only in sense (2).
■ At Reason, David Harsanyi offers journalistic advice: Newspapers Shouldn't Act Like Super PACs.
This week, The New York Times editorial board took over
the paper's opinion section Twitter account, which has 650,000
followers, "to urge the Senate to reject a tax bill that hurts the
middle class & the nation's fiscal health." To facilitate this,
it tweeted out the phone number of moderate Republican Maine Sen.
Susan Collins and implored its followers to call her and demand that
she vote against the GOP's bill. In others words, the board was
indistinguishable from any of the well-funded partisan groups it
whines about in editorials all the time.
Perhaps I'm overlooking some instance of similar politicking, but I don't think I've ever seen a major newspaper engage in that kind of partisan activism—not even on an editorial page. The Times editorial board isn't merely contending, "Boy, that Republican bill is going to kill children!" It's imploring people on social media—most of whom don't even subscribe to the paper or live in Maine—to inundate a senator with calls in order to sink a reform bill it dislikes. (It's worth pointing out that most of the hyperbolic contentions The Times make regarding the bill are either untrue or misleading, but that's another story.)
I think the NYT position on Citizens United is now: "It's awful that private citizens have the same right to weigh in on politics in the same way that we do."
We have been drenched in “whataboutism” and hypocrisy-policing for a while now. But it’s mutating into something different. People are just inventing standards on the fly. Watching people slap together rationalizations to explain why their pervert or cad shouldn’t be held to the same standard as our pervert or cad is exhausting. At times, it’s like listening John Candy explain why he should get the top bunk or Captain Kirk teaching the mob how to play Fizzbin.
Best practice for blog bloviators: don't join a tribe.