The sorry state of political discourse right now, in five Bernie Sanders tweetsTo Phillips, what Sanders tweeted is as bad as what Trump tweeted on Saturday -- if not worse.
Let's start with the tweets, which Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) (and/or his staff) fired off late Monday morning:Let's start with the tweets, which Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) (and/or his staff) fired off late Monday morning:
President Trump cannot continue to lie, lie, lie. It diminishes the office of the president and our standing in the world. https://t.co/V8cRvX4ttv— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) March 6, 2017
... This is the state of our political discourse right now. Political norms -- like, don't accuse the president of the United States of lying without evidence, or don't accuse the former president of the United States of wiretapping your phones without evidence -- have been eviscerated. There are no rules right now in politics about what you can/can't should/shouldn't say..
... this ultra-tense Democrat-Trump relationship is more than just he-said, she-said politics. Because Senate Democrats can require 60 votes to approve any piece of legislation, they have leverage over Trump and congressional Republicans, who only have 52 members in the Senate. Trump needs at least a handful of Democrats to help him the repeal and replacement of Obamacare. And his plan to restructure the tax code. Or pass a $1 trillion infrastructure package.Not a single Trump Cabinet nominee was successfully blocked by Democrats, but never mind. Phillips point seems to be that Democrats shouldn't be mean to Trump and other Republicans because Republicans -- who for years have shown absolutely zero interest in compromising with Democrats -- might not be able to reach a compromise with Democrats now. That would largely be because of the mean L-word Bernie Sanders and others on the Democratic side used!
Right now, the exact opposite is happening: Democrats are blocking Trump in historic ways, like stalling committee hearings for key Cabinet posts or threatening to filibuster his Supreme Court nominee.
Phillips acknowledges that the desire to utter a harsh word or two might be a tad understandable under the present circumstances. She even cites the concerns of her colleague Cillizza, who's usually a knee-jerk bothsidesist:
Democrats will argue it's Trump who has torn up all the rules and sent Democrats' into resistance overdrive. Since becoming president, he's tweeted several eyebrow-raising claims about widespread voter fraud or potentially earth-shattering wire tapping of his phones. He's refused to provide any evidence to back those claims up, and he and the White House are demanding Congress investigate it.However:
... Trump is on the edge of being a conspiracy-theory president, writes The Fix's Chris Cillizza. The charge that President Obama tapped Trump Tower, in particular, takes his presidency "onto a road with no centerlines or guardrails," writes The Post's Karen Tumulty....
Here's the problem with using the "L" word in politics, though. To say someone's lying suggests you know they don't believe what they're saying either.Oh. So it's okay for the current president of the United States to libel his predecessor if he does it sincerely. It's fine if he makes no effort to ascertain the truth before leveling charges because he really, really means it. The same is true when Trump charges Democrats with a massive conspiracy to inflate Hillary Clinton's popular-vote total using unqualified voters: If Trump is in earnest when he says that happened, it's totally cool that he's accused party operatives of committing literally millions of felonies, and the accused should just bite their tongues.
It's possible Trump believes the allegations he's making,
... And that's why we in the media are careful not to call Trump a "liar." But top Democrats like Sanders feel no such hesitation. In their mind, the president has become so unhinged they have no choice but to accuse him of lying "shamelessly;" political discourse be damned.Yes, it's Sanders who's doing the damage to political discourse in America today. And despite he occasional tut-tutting, Phillips's response to Trump's discourse boils down to: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
This is both-sides-do-it-but-Dems-are-worse-ism at a level even Cillizza himself rarely attains. Bravo, Abby.