PBS NewsHour / YouTube Public shaming of Trump officials sparks...
PBS NewsHour / YouTube

The New York Times has taken some of the most valuable editorial space in the world today and turned it over to Christopher Buskirk. Who is he? According to the Times blurb,

Christopher Buskirk (@thechrisbuskirk) is editor and publisher of the journal American Greatness, a co-author of “American Greatness: How Conservatism, Inc. Missed the 2016 Election and What the D.C. Establishment Needs to Learn,” and a contributing opinion writer.

Mr. Buskirk is warning Democrats and everyone else Let’s Not Throw the Word Treason Around — Democratic politicians should stop acting like internet trolls.

Not surprisingly, Mr. Buskirk’s column does NOT have the option of commenting on it available. It’s a shame — because it’s a master class in projection and concern trolling, right from the opening remarks.

When they talk about President Trump, why are so many Democratic politicians talking about treason? Whatever they may truly believe, why are they letting their inflammatory rhetoric become decoupled from the facts?

By doing so, they are setting the country on a dangerous, unpredictable trajectory that could lead to a crisis of political legitimacy. And by indulging their own worst instincts, these Democrats are guilty of fomenting the extreme, intemperate rhetoric for which they have consistently criticized the president.

Shorter version: everything is the Democrat’s fault and they’re mean — Conservatism’s universal theory of blame.

Mr. Buskirk is a little late to the party if he is only now worried about inflammatory rhetoric becoming uncoupled from facts. That’s a capsule description of conservative talk radio for decades. He doubtless hasn’t had time to watch FOX lately either.

David Neiwert at Orcinus has a descriptive term for the kind of speech coming out of right wing media: eliminationism.

American journalist David Neiwert argued in 2009 that eliminationist rhetoric is becoming increasingly mainstream within the American right wing, fueled in large part by the extremist discourse found on conservative blogs and talk radio, which may provoke a resurgence of lone wolf terrorism.[3]

Mr. Buskirk is concerned that Democrats have gone too far.

What’s worrying is that Democrats appear not just to oppose the president’s policies, but also the man and, increasingly, the process that put him in office. Crying treason and hounding the president’s staffers and supporters out of public spaces using bully-boy tactics is poisonous.”

David Newert has a video you should see Mr. Buskirk, if you are worried about bully-boy tactics and people who are destroying our institutions. (NSFW, language, violence.)

I suspect that Mr. Buskirk is trying to do a controlled burn in hopes of stopping the spread of the Trumpster Fire threatening conservatism everywhere. Mr Buskirk is attempting to make the charge of treason look like a purely partisan position with no basis in fact. Good luck with that.

Never mind that there are people in the greater public as well as in the Republican Party who have been openly worrying about it, or that is starting to gain traction among Trump’s own base. Never mind the number of Russian connections that keep turning up in the Trump campaign and the Trump administration.

When Trump himself tweets out that his own people eagerly met with Russians in Trump Tower to get negative information on Hillary Clinton, when he attacks our allies while cozying up to Putin, when he breaks up long-standing trade relationships in a way that benefits Russia… it takes a special kind of blindness to not even consider the “T” word.

But that’s conservatism in a nutshell: the ability to believe regardless of the facts. Conservatism can never fail; it can only be failed.

Our intelligence agencies have been emphatic that Russia interfered with our election, and that they continue to attack us via information warfare, hacking, and weaponized social media. Our allies have confirmed this, along with attacks on them as well. Republican indifference — encouragement even — makes this a bigger scandal than just Trump.

That makes Buskirk’s concluding paragraph even more mind-bogglingly egregious:

What to do? Mr. Trump’s opponents must accept that they lost a free, fair and open election. There is no evidence of anything anyone but the most cloistered partisan could call treason. Dispense with conspiracy theories and fantasies about gaining power by any means other than the ballot box. Stop the frivolous accusations of treason. And then set about the hard work of persuading the American people and earning their votes.

emphasis added

The proper response from the NY Times when Buskirk submitted this should have been derisive laughter and “Don’t call us — we’ll call you.” It’s not merely opinion — it’s downright counterfactual. The fundamental mendacity on display in this piece devalues everything else in the Times. There’s no need for the Gray Lady to run this, not when it’s stock fare in the conservative wing-nut-o-verse.

What’s next? A sober discussion of the need to give the QAnon story serious consideration?

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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