This author can take no credit for the above snappy headline: It’s verbatim from Politico on February 13, in the wake of the Senate’s impeachment trial.
As Politico explained, Democrats are torn between the Biden administration’s desire for Congress to get moving on its agenda and the Democratic base’s “loathing” of the former president. And so far, at least, the base loathers are getting what they want: The Democrats just can’t quit hating on Donald Trump.
Indeed, it’s that loathing that could yet consume Democrats in 2021—and perhaps beyond. As the article detailed, Democrats are working on a “road map to deal with Trump after the trial,” which might include “an effort to obtain Trump’s financial records,” a revocation of “his post-presidential privileges,” and the enacting of legislation “strengthening Congress’s powers to ensure that future presidents are forced to abide by stricter rules for responding to subpoenas, divesting from businesses and not hiring family members.”
We can note that these steps are fraught for Democrats, as any new rules would, of course, apply to them as well; and so one wonders, for example, how Hunter Biden would react to laws about full disclosure or a crackdown on nepotism.
Still, if the Trump-loathing Democratic base—including both high-dollar donors in Manhattan and low-dollar donors with an ActBlue account—wants Democratic pols to keep going after Trump, they probably will.
We might recall that a mirroring situation happened back in 1998, as the Republican base demanded the impeachment of Bill Clinton; cooler Republican heads could see that impeachment wasn’t going to work, although the GOP faithful—notably egged on by a new star on a new news channel, Sean Hannity—demanded it. And so impeachment went forward, despite national polls showing the country 2:1 opposed.
The result was a Republican fiasco in the 1998 midterm elections; what should have been big GOP gains turned into small GOP losses. In fact, that was the year that Chuck Schumer defeated a Republican incumbent; he’s been gracing the U.S. Senate ever since. Yet even after that electoral debacle, the Clinton impeachment effort slogged forward, leading to the same ineffective outcome that we just saw with Trump.
Indeed, for more than two decades, any news or accusation about Bill and Hillary Clinton has been a surefire way to get the Republican base riled up. And so now, today, Trump and his family have become to Democrats what the Clintons have been to Republicans.
As New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin wrote recently of Democrats, “Nothing unites their party like hating Trump. It’s the glue that holds them together and prevents the factions from breaking into civil war.” In other words, if Trump didn’t exist, unity-minded Democrats might have to invent him.
We can also add that the Democrats’ ally, the Main Stream Media, wants the same thing: more anti-Trump. Why? MSMers loathe Trump, too, of course—and also, not unimportantly, they know that audacious loathing on Trump is good for business. Yes, liberals and leftists are avidly, even capitalistically, united in the chase for more clicks, higher ratings, and the profits that flow therefrom.
Interestingly, Trump himself has always been hip to the MSM’s anti-Trump neediness: Speaking of cable news, he said in 2017, “Without me, their ratings are going down the tubes.” Then, adding a typically Trumpian jab aimed at the newspaper that was interviewing him, he noted, “Without me, the New York Times will indeed be, not the failing New York Times, but the failed New York Times.”
In fact, the Times, having assumed an ardently anti-Trump activist posture, is far from failing. Its circulation has surged over the last four years, hitting a record seven million paid digital subscribers in 2020. In other words, “thanks” to Trump, the Times is doing better than ever, and so it’s in its obvious commercial interest to find a way to keep that lucrative fervor going.
We might also consider what’s happened to CNN: After a profitable presidential term of Trump-bashing, the network’s ratings fell 44 percent in January, as Trump departed from the White House. (CNN’s ratings soared during impeachment, which will only make the rest of February all the colder for the cabler, leaving it yearning for the warmth of the anti-Trump sun.)
And it’s also true, of course, that Twitter is less happening since it booted off Trump.
So you see, all this time, Trump and the Democrats/MSM have been what political scientists call objective allies. Yes, they are enemies, and yet, at the same time, they are, in a way, allies. That is, they prop each other up, each assuring the other of the prominence they both crave.
Amusingly, this frenemy relationship has come at the expense of . . . Joe Biden. For instance, on February 9—a full three weeks into Biden’s presidency—Trump was the subject of the long lead story in Politico’s “Playbook,” one of those Beltway tipsheets about what’s hot in Powertown. Yup, Trump was still leading the D.C. political news, despite the fact that the 46th president is in the White House, and the 45th president is in Florida. Strange!
As Laura Ingraham says of the permanently Trump-obsessed pundit class, “These people need to join a 12-step program—to quit Trump.”
So yes, the MSM will go chasing after stories about Trump for many years to come. And his family, too: the MSM doesn’t want to quit Melania, Don Jr., Ivanka, and all the rest. This continued anti-Trumpery won’t be pleasant for the ex-president and his family, and yet it could leave the Biden administration curiously eclipsed. In addition, of course, a continued Democratic focus on investigations and muckraking provides the GOP with plenty of opportunity for counterpunching.
But in the meantime, the MSM, having enjoyed the bonanza of Trump-phobia, is on the hunt for its next devil figure—and has found one, for sure. On February 8, Mediaite’s Leia Idliby took note of the MSM’s fascination with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the first-term lawmaker from Georgia. The headline: “MSNBC and CNN’s Nonstop Coverage of Marjorie Taylor Greene is Not Exposing a Crackpot. It Risks Turning Her Into the Next Trump.”
Idliby made no secret of her disdain for Greene, and yet she also displayed her disgust with a media that would turn a minor figure in Washington, D.C., into a major figure in the national news. Greene has little or no power in Congress, having been stripped of her committee assignments, and yet as Idliby put it, “Greene has been unavoidable these past weeks. It’s reached the point that when one switches on CNN or MSNBC at any given time, her name will come up within the hour.”
Idliby continued: “And it’s not just cable news—the obsession with Georgia’s QAnon supporting representative has leaked into the entertainment world — transforming her into the latest target for late night shows also in need of their next Trump.“
As the wise would say to the MSM, if the MSM were interested in wisdom, Be careful what you wish for.