I continue to be struck by the hysterical style of liberal denunciation. The New York Times editorial page today is full of invective.
Charles Blow calls foul on Donald Trump's efforts to present a more mainstream image: “The intolerance, bigorty and narcassism are not so easily alterable.” And further: “One of Trump's greatest flaws—putting aside for a moment his utter vileness and ignorance of virtually every issue—is that he simply can't stop being himself.” That seems decisive.
Then there's the reliable Paul Krugman. In the course of a convoluted argument about how Republicans benefit from the media's attempts to be unbiased, Krugman has this to say: Paul Ryan enjoys “a reputation as a policy wonk, committed to fiscal responsibility, that is utterly incomprehensible if you look at the slapdash, fundamentally dishonest policy documents he actually puts out.”
Krugman has been denouncing people for years now, and in entirely predictable ways. If you happen to see the world differently than Paul Krugman does, then you are “utterly corrupt” and “hopelessly ignorant,” if not “cynically dishonest.”
Given the fact that the regular opinion writers for our nation's establishment liberal paper so often indulge in denunciation, I find it more than a little odd that everyone is hysterical about Donald Trump's intemperate rhetoric. When Trump says that Obama is “clueless” or that our country is being run by “very, very stupid people,” he sounds to me like Paul Krugman, minus the verbal drapery that often mimics argument. Krugman's column today could be reduced to a Trumpian tweet without loss of nuance: “Responsible people need to unite to snuff out conservatism. Instead, media play chump to corrupt, dishonest, and vile Republican politicians. Sad!”
Which is why I wonder that people wonder that our political culture has produced someone like Donald Trump.
R. R. Reno is editor of First Things.