WaPo: CRT a ‘Phony’ Issue to Enrage Americans, GOP a ‘Party of Thugs’

New York City school kids listen as Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio introduces the next schools
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

Republicans create “phony” issues such as Critical Race Theory (CRT) to “enrage” Americans, according to a recent Washington Post piece which claimed conservatives “encourage thuggery” and must show a willingness “to be rude and crude” in order to establish bona fides, with right-wing criticisms of “friendly, old uncle Joe [Biden]” deemed “almost incidental” to the “pleasure in flouting norms of polite behavior.”

The essay, titled “The party of thugs,” and published by Post columnist Paul Waldman last week, began by claiming the GOP has become “even more of a party of thugs” since President Biden’s election.

“In 2020, Joe Biden repeatedly insisted that once Donald Trump departed office the Republican Party would become more reasonable,” Waldman wrote. 

“Instead, it has become even more of a party of thugs, where basic norms of polite behavior are held in contempt,” he added.

Quoting an earlier Post essay detailing the continued public support for former President Trump alongside “crude” criticism of President Biden, Waldman claimed the latter “can see it for himself” when driving down the street.

“[I]n states both red and blue, and almost all across the country — anti-Biden signs are cropping up as well, frequently with angry and profane insults,” the essay read. 

Waldman also criticized conservatives for a recent popular “Let’s go, Brandon” slogan, which originated after an NBC Sports reporter awkwardly attempted to run cover for the president as she absurdly twisted the the crowd’s “F*ck Joe Biden” chant live on the air, claiming it could be repeated comically “in contexts where swearing is still considered inappropriate.” 

“It’s sort of like when a newspaper writes ‘f—’ — the meaning has been communicated, but the paper can say it didn’t actually swear,” he wrote.

Deeming the “recent acceleration of anger directed at Biden” on social media “striking,” he claimed the president “became the choice of Democratic primary voters in 2020 precisely because they believed he would be the least offensive candidate” in the eyes of independent and even some Republican voters.

Waldman also urged readers to imagine what Republicans across the country would do “if the president was Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris?”

Stating that President Biden “hasn’t been easy to hate,” he argued much of the rage on the right “comes from conservatives’ belief that they are being displaced [and] that society’s proper hierarchies are being undermined.” 

However, Waldman wrote, the “friendly” president is not responsible for the anger toward him. 

“Biden himself can’t be a symbol of that displacement,” he said. “He’s friendly, old Uncle Joe.” 

“He isn’t up with the latest lingo on race and gender, and like 44 of his 45 predecessors, he’s a White man,” he added.

He also said it was a “struggle” to clearly define criticisms of President Biden.

“Which is why the conservative propaganda apparatus has struggled to define their attacks on Biden,” he said. 

“[T]he best they can come up with is that he’s incapacitated and senile, leaving other sinister forces to pull the strings,” he added.

President Joe Biden leans forward as he talkss to reporters upon arrival at the White House in Washington, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

President Joe Biden leans forward as he talks to reporters upon arrival at the White House in Washington, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Describing signs and chants critical of the president as a “means for conservatives to communicate with one another” their “pleasure in flouting norms of polite behavior,” Walden claimed that, “Biden himself is almost incidental. ”

This is now considered by many to be the way you establish your conservative bona fides. Your commitment to low taxes or light regulations is not nearly enough; you have to show that you’re willing to be rude and crude. Can you give offense, can you make people cringe, can you do your part to make our politics as mean and unpleasant as possible? That’s what will get you attention and praise. 

The problem, according to Waldman, is the “thuggishness” of these “thugs” has become “part of a feedback loop running back and forth between the mass and the elite.”

“Republican members of Congress monitor conservative media to see what their constituents are seeing and saying, then they echo it back to them,” he asserted. “That in turn validates thuggishness as an approach to politics, encouraging the rank and file to go even further.”

“[I]n many cases, those conservative elites actively work to create and encourage thuggery,” he added. 

One example Waldman provided, without citing any evidence, was the supposed creation by conservatives of “phony” issues such as CRT to incite the masses. 

“They create a phony ‘issue’ such as critical race theory, work to get people as enraged as possible, then when that rage erupts in threats and intimidation of school personnel and board members, they defend it and celebrate its potential to yield them political benefits,” he wrote.

Patti Hidalgo Menders speaks out against board actions during a Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) board meeting in Ashburn, Virginia on October 12, 2021. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

However, progressive blogger claimed that such practices are not new for Republicans, alleging that the 2008 election of a “black man” caused them to “vibrate with fury” for years.

“[T]he election of a Black man in 2008 made Republicans vibrate with fury for eight years,” he wrote, adding that after the Trump presidency, “almost no one in the GOP acts as though there’s value in conducting political debates like adults.”

The heart of Trump’s appeal, according to Waldman, was his “liberating” Republicans by allowing for their “worst selves” to manifest.

“[President Trump] told Republicans that being polite was for suckers and losers, liberating them to let their worst selves come out loud and proud,” he wrote. “Every bigot, bully, sexual harasser and lunkheaded goon seemed to gravitate to his cause, recognizing a kindred spirit.”

Despite some “polite and courtly” Republicans in office, “everyone knows” the party currently stands in contradistinction to such values.

“If you want to express your kinship with Republican voters, you insult the weak, you defend the indefensible, you celebrate violence, you give offense for its own sake,” he wrote.

“That these impulses are still so powerful even with the relatively inoffensive Biden leading the country and Trump on the sidelines should make us frightened for what is to come,” he added. 

Waldman concluded by considering a scenario whereby former President Trump loses to Democrat nominee such as Harris or “someone else who isn’t a White man.”

“The degree of rage that outcome would produce on the right is almost unimaginable,” he warned. “And vulgar signs in people’s front yards will be just the beginning.”

Waldman was not alone in depicting the those issues concerning parents, such as CRT curriculum, as a non-issue.

Despite the essay’s premise that criticism of the president and his policies is virtually unjustified, recent polls suggest otherwise.

On Sunday, a new poll showed 71 percent of Americans — including a near majority of Democrats — ”believe the country is on the wrong track, indicating they’ve lost confidence in President Biden. 

In addition, President Biden’s 11-point drop in averaged approval ratings over his first three quarters in office marks the most significant decline in approval during the same point in any presidency since 1953, according to Gallup.

Also this month, according to Rasmussen Reports, a stunning 58 percent of voters say President Biden is not up to the job of being president.

Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein


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