April 14th, 2021


Chaos and the commentariat

Bob Tyrrell

By Bob Tyrrell

Published May 11, 2017

Chaos and the commentariat
It is probably too early in our 45th president's tenure to evaluate how his critics, both those on the left and those on the right, are appraising him. His critics on the right, such as Bill Kristol and George F. Will, have calmed their criticisms down a bit; and, of course, their criticisms are relatively chaste.

At least they have abstained from speaking of President Donald Trump in terms that conjure up images of oral sex and incest — not that I can imagine Bill or George resorting to such luridness, even in commenting on Hillary Clinton or former President Barack Obama.

A conservative audience simply does not tolerate such stuff, and it is a conservative audience to which Bill and George still appeal.

The American left is another matter.

Already, the wits of the left have employed references to oral sex and even incest in joking about our president. I cannot recall any other president suffering such public ribaldry — even President Abraham Lincoln, and he had among his critics that forerunner of the modern American entertainment industry, John Wilkes Booth.

Just last week, such comic geniuses as Bill Maher and Stephen Colbert cracked har-hars about Trump and his daughter, which is a little inconsistent.

So far as I can tell, both were grievously distressed upon hearing of the president's locker room braggadocio with former "Access Hollywood" host Billy Bush, though the boasts were taped years ago and clandestinely.

I doubt the president would talk that way today, even in private. But Maher and Colbert talk that way in public, and they get a lot of laughs from their audience. That is inconsistency to the point of bizarreness.

The left is increasingly bizarre. Do you remember the kind of things that its commentators were saying about Obama? They remarked on his pants and claimed to suffer the raptures from his rhetoric, and much more. They were actually eager to speak in public of his inscrutable effect on them.

Remember MSNBC's Chris Matthews telling Keith Olbermann back in 2008 that upon hearing one or another of Obama's solemnities: "I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often." Maybe Matthews' bethrilled leg came after hearing one of Obama's equally bizarre declarations, such as "we are the ones we have been waiting for," or something about "the rise of the oceans" and the moment when "our planet began to heal" or at least feel a lot better.

Or how about the time David Brooks informed the New Republic, "I remember distinctly an image of — we were sitting on his couches, and I was looking at is pant leg and his perfectly creased pant, and I'm thinking, a) he's going to be president and b) he'll be a very good president." It's a good thing Obama was not wearing pantyhose? My guess is Brooks still thinks Obama was a very good president.

And then there was the time a columnist wrote: "Many spiritually advanced people I know ... identify Obama as a Lightworker, that rare kind of attuned being who has the ability to lead us not merely to new foreign policies or health care plans or whatnot, but who can actually help usher in a new way of being on the planet ." But the columnist was writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, so maybe it does not matter.

So, to return to my point about conservative critics and critics on the left, they are very different, and apparently, they speak to very different audiences. I think that what makes them different is that the values of the conservatives are relatively constant. What was beyond the pale yesterday is likely to be beyond the pale tomorrow. With the audience of the left and its commentariat, all is chaos. Today, they make lewd jokes about the president that are not funny. The jokes are merely shocking, and the dolts in the audience respond with laughter — but not amused laughter. Ask a leftist what is so funny about oral sex and my guess is he would have no plausible answer, nor would he have a plausible explanation for the idiotic reactions of Matthews and Brooks to the equally idiotic statements of Obama. The world of the left is in chaos.

You might recall that I said as much some years ago in a book happily titled "The Death of Liberalism." The evidence keeps coming in.

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R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator, a political and cultural monthly, which has been published since 1967. He's also the author of several books.