I for one was thrilled to see American journalists, especially those who inhabit the left side of the spectrum, rediscover facts. Now I suspect that it was just a mirage. For all their ostentatious love of facts, the media and Democratic politicians have yielded to raw emotion and have gotten mired in speculation.
Recently, the story of Russian influence or collusion with the Trump campaign fell apart. The facts did not support it.
Andrew McCarthy explains:
Now that we’re supposed to believe there was no real investigation of Trump and his campaign, what else can we conclude but that there was no real evidence of collusion between the campaign and Russia . . . which makes sense, since Russia did not actually hack the election, so the purported objective of the collusion never existed.
Now, however, Donald Trump has stepped on his own creditable performance before Congress last week. He tweeted out that the former President Obama had wire-tapped him or his campaign. And did not provide any evidence for the claim. For those who care about facts, the absence of creditable evidence does not mean that there is none. It means that we know of none. The absence does not prove or disprove the claim.
Yet, speculation has proliferated, like a conflagration that has gotten completely out of control. For a rundown of the details, see this article by Stephen Hayes in the Weekly Standard.
I will not try to wend my way through the charges and countercharges, but will only note that they are not based on fact. If we care about facts we do best to suspend judgment and also to suspend disbelief.
In any event, as has often been pointed out on this blog, Donald Trump did not come down to us from the moon. Someone laid the groundwork for the Trump administration. It is well and good to say that Trump has a tenuous grip on decorum, but it is also true that his predecessor set the standard.
Of course, no one in the media blinked when Obama was riding roughshod over traditional standards for presidential behavior. Or when his administration used the IRS to inhibit the free speech of his political opponents. Or when his Justice Department made journalist James Rosen a “criminal co-conspirator” and got access to his personal emails and phone records. Of course, no one had a problem with this.
When Trump breeches decorum, the same media bursts into an emotional frenzy that does not bespeak journalistic objectivity. It’s all drama, all the time.
Matt Lewis analyzes it in the Daily Beast.
The truth is that Barack Obama bears a lot of responsibility for destroying what had been acceptable standards—the destruction of which ultimately made possible Donald Trump’s ascendancy. While Obama now poses as a defender of decorum, tradition, and protocol, he (in a much subtler way) flouted convention.
One has pointed out that Donald Trump was not the most qualified candidate for the American presidency. But, to be fair and objective, one has also noted that Barack Obama was not qualified in any sense of the term. The Obama presidency defined qualification downward, making it coincide with charisma, and nothing else:
This [Barack Obama] is a guy who, in not even a single term as a U.S. senator before running for the highest office in the land, accomplished little but did try to filibuster Sam Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court, and supported a “poison pill” to kill immigration reform. Who ran as a celebrity, helping pave the way for the sort of hero worship that President Trump’s fans now employ.
Think Donald Trump is an undignified reality star? Yeah, remember the time that Obama gave an interview to a YouTube star who drinks cereal out of a bathtub? Cultural degradation doesn’t just happen overnight.
As for Trump’s divisiveness, here too Obama paved the way. After all, Trump took over a severely divided nation. He has not, dare we say, united us, but he did not cause the divisions:
He [Obama] won office at a time when America felt like it was already coming apart, and given the opportunity to be a true post-partisan leader who could unite the country, chose instead to run a highly partisan and ideological presidency. That began with his choice of the divisive issue of health care reform as his landmark legislation—Obamacare being Obama’s original sin—using every means necessary to pass it on a party-line vote. And he frequently resorted to unilateral decisions outside the scope of his constitutional authority. Sound familiar?
Again, we and many others have often noted that President Obama was anything but truthful. Of course, his lies were treated by the press as higher truths:
Do you think President Trump was the first politician to have a casual relationship with the truth? Then answer this: Who said, “If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor” and that ISIS is the “JV team”?
Lewis recommends that before considering that Barack Obama could do no wrong, we should recognize that much of what the media is accusing Trump of doing was done by his predecessor:
By turning his term into a never-ending, eight-year campaign, Obama established a non-traditional presidency which begat an even more non-traditional president as his successor. He will open even more previously-locked doors by continuing his tradition of ignoring tradition.
Hastened by those who should know better, the erosion and devolution of discourse is already finding easy footholds in an already-surreal Trump Presidency. The reverberations, sadly, could echo far beyond the four or eight years of the current administration and tinge Presidential politics for a generation or more.