Donald Trump is on the ropes, ratings at Fox are down, corporate PACs are cutting off dead-ender defenders of the occupant of the Oval Office, major technology companies have kicked Trump off their platforms, and Beltway-based media have discovered – big time – the terror threat posed by militia groups.
Our television screens are filled with mug shots of guys who look like they were sired in the sex scene from the movie “Deliverance.”
How does the right — or, more accurately, wrong — wing plan to regroup with President-elect Joe Biden assuming office in a week, and Democrats taking control of the United States Senate the moment Kamala Harris becomes Vice President?
Several approaches are being sent up the flagpole or sent out on the airwaves or in email fundraising blasts. Which do you think will endure?
“Contrition is #$%&?@!”
The immortal words of Nixon press assistant Ron Ziegler appear to have been embraced by Trump. Texas-bound on Tuesday morning, Trump claimed his remarks to a pre-insurrection riot were “totally appropriate.”
He also tried to equate the coup attempt at the U.S. Capitol with summer demonstrations at the East Precinct station in Seattle and the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse one hundred and eighty miles to the south.
In Trump’s words: “If you look at what other people have said, politicians at a high level about the riots during the summer, the horrible riots in Portland and Seattle and various other places, that was the real problem.”
“The left is dividing America”
After two months of claiming the November 3rd election was “stolen,” or indulging Trump’s fantasies, the incumbent’s defenders are now washing hands, Pilate-like, for their role in the insurrection. Their claim? Democrats are dividing America.
“Over fifty million Americans believe the election was stolen,” Representative Jim Jordan, R‑Ohio, recent Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, intoned on December 4th. “I’ve never said this election was stolen,” Jordan told colleagues Tuesday in the House Rules Committee.
Deposed Fox News mouth Bill O’Reilly has tweeted: “The latest impeachment fiasco is hurting the country, causing even more hatred, and Democrats don’t even care, do they?” Or, in the words of Newt Gingrich: “The left has to learn that they can’t suppress the voices of seventy-four million people,” referring to the Trump vote in November. Eighty-one million Americans voted for Joe Biden, folks rarely mentioned on conservative media..
Round up the usual targets
Fox appears to be going into opposition mode, as it did when Barack Obama and Joe Biden were in office. Progressive House members from “The Squad” are being depicted as the powers behind Biden. When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sharply put down a hostile question, she was described as out of control.
Of impeachment, says Gingrich:
“The will of the American people has to be subordinated to the will of Pelosi. Trump has to be impeached to stop him from running again. Pelosi fears the American people might pick him if they were allowed to.”
Fox is relentlessly claiming that its competition – CNN in particular – plans to go soft on the Biden administration, even as its host conduct one softball interview after another with Republican members of Congress.
The all-purpose word: Hypocrisy
The constant theme of right wing media, even when Trump was riding high, is that we’re getting picked up. At the infamous January 6th rally, Representative Mo Brooks, R‑Alabama, declared: “Today is the day American patriots are taking down names and kicking ass.” Rudy Giuliani called for “trial by combat.”
Brooks and Representative Paul Gosar, R‑Arizona, tried to gin up attendance in advance of the rally. Yet, Trump and his pilot fish are claiming that they are being persecuted, as Big Tech is dousing disinformation and deleting death threats.
“Unrestrained Tech Titans Target Conservatives,” said a headline this morning on Fox News. Or Trump addressing suspension of his Twitter account, describing it as “a continuation of the greatest witch hunt in the history of politics.”
“I think it’s causing tremendous anger,” added Trump.
When threats are made, blame the other side
From the Bill O’Reilly spin zone comes this explanation of the U.S. Capitol insurrection: “How the left’s hatred infected the right.”
Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson have picked up the theme, that four years of attacks on Trump spared the fires on Capitol Hill last Wednesday.
The theme has also been picked up locally by KTTH pundit Rantz, who blames all violence on the left, and by the Facebook page of State Representative Jenny Graham, R‑Spokane, who often makes unintelligent statements. Graham, who has linked to conspiracy theories, has redoubled her Seattle bashing.
Ersatz appeals for peace
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy refused for two months to acknowledge that 81 million Americans elected Biden as President.
Even after the Capitol was trashed, he voted against certifying the electoral votes from Arizona, along with more than half the House Republican caucus.
Yet, there was McCarthy, putting in a post-insurrection phone call to Biden appealing for peace. The Reverend Franklin Graham has been Trump’s leading shill in the evangelical community and depicted both Democratic Senate candidates in Georgia as godless baby-killers.
Graham’s reaction to the insurrection? Without mentioning the attacks on Capitol Police, he has celebrated National Law Enforcement Day.
He has called for a reconciliation meeting between the President-elect and the President who still denies losing. “Thank you, President Donald Trump, for your conciliatory words to the nation last night,” Graham tweeted after Trump read a script more than a day after the trashing.
“Let’s come together… on our knees,” said Graham, who has been running late night television ads inviting Seattleites to come to God.
What to make of this?
Republican officials accept no responsibility for actions they helped trigger last week. They are retreating behind tested themes, e.g. we’re being picked on, to rally the believers. They will quickly pivot to attacks on Biden and the competent crew of people he has picked to staff the Executive Branch.
“Those who sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind,” Winston Churchill said memorably, halfway through World War II.
That certainly seems to be happening.
Still, there are armed and dangerous people out there, and a formidable propaganda machine. The wrong will right itself. The damage it has caused to America goes far beyond broken windows and trashed U.S. Capitol offices.
And it is not going away.