Welcome to another edition of “Why Today’s Political Culture Is Particularly Insufferable.”
In today’s Washington Post, the paper checks in with the former president Bill Clinton and his supporters at a Clinton Foundation event in Marrakesh, Morocco:
Later Wednesday, in a 20-minute gaggle with reporters here, [Mo] Ibrahim [a billionaire Sudanese-British telecommunications entrepreneur and philanthropist], attributed the media attention on the Clinton Foundation to the “polarized” state of U.S. politics and suggested it was part of a witch hunt to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy. “If Saudi money goes to help poor farmers in Tanzania, isn’t that a wonderful thing?” Ibrahim asked reporters. “It just begs the question, was that fair scrutiny or is that a political assassination process?”
Reporting by major newspapers and news groups like the New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters, etc., gets labeled “political assassination.”
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Post, the newspaper finds it newsworthy that Pamela Geller didn’t feel the need to apologize after hosting a Mohammed cartoon event that was attacked by two aspiring jihadists.
In other words, reporting about what the Clintons have been doing, and how they’ve made their money in the past few years, is deemed “political assassination,” while an actual assassination attempt is treated as some sort of natural response to an inexcusable provocation.
Look, I get that it’s baked into the human condition that we value “our guys” more than “their guys” and that we all hate to see “our guys” getting criticism. But today’s political culture — particularly the subculture that surrounds the Clintons! — is full of people who believe that any criticism of “their guys” is the worst outrage ever, one of history’s great tragedies, an abomination, etc. Meanwhile, no criticism of the other side is ever out of bounds; “hey, politics ain’t beanbag,” and so on. Asked about his lie that Romney didn’t pay taxes, Harry Reid shrugs and says, “Romney didn’t win, did he?”
Push this mentality far enough, and you end up insisting that anything my guys do is okay, and anything your guys do is immoral, unethical, illegal, and deserving of expulsion from public life. (One might argue that’s what we’re seeing on college campuses. The very presence of Christina Hoff Summers on a college campus is an unacceptable provocation and outrage, but a professor physically assaulting a pro-life 16-year-old is just an unavoidable reaction to an obvious unacceptable “hate.”)
After a while, you begin to realize you’re trying to reason with crazy people. Yes, if you think the news desks of the New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters, and other media groups all got together in a conspiratorial effort to harm Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency, you’re off your rocker, I don’t care how much money you have.
Why can we not have reasonable, respectful public discourse? Because a lot of the participants are more or less . . . well, “cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs,” to use the technical term.