The Democrats are addicted to spin, and it’s only getting worse. Ever since Trump’s ascendance, they seem to have fully embraced the role of party of the straw man argument. Any misdemeanor gaffe by Trump is instantly upgraded into an imagined capital offense and debated as such by left-wing mouthpieces in the media. When the president proposes an expensive, strategically worthless Bastille Day-style military parade, for example, the reaction is automatic.
It’s hardly a shocker that Donald Trump is focusing his presidential energies on parades. For decades, his name has been synonymous with pageantry and ostentation, so it comes as no surprise that his proclivity for ruffles and flourishes has followed him into the White House. Even less surprising, however, has been the hysterical, overblown response from the Left.
“A military parade like this — one that is unduly focused on a single person — is what authoritarian regimes do, not democracies,” said Rep. Adam Smith, one of the leading House Democrats, clearly doing his best to associate Trump with the likes of Kim Jong-un.
Of course, Smith and fellow wolf-crying Democrats know that any such parade wouldn’t be “focused on a single person” like the spectacles of North Korea. It’s an insult to the predominantly Republican military for liberals to even suggest such a possibility. The problem is that those on the Left can no longer help themselves. They have simply become incapable of making nuanced critiques of questionable decisions by the president or raising prudent concerns about White House policies. Their knee-jerk reaction is to exaggerate and demonize Trump to the point where they appear flat-out ridiculous to any of us who haven’t sipped their Kool-Aid.
This worsening Democratic tendency has been showcased over and over during the last year and a half. Recall the apoplexy after Trump, following his nomination, said he alone could fix the country’s problems. This was a rather banal statement by The Donald’s standards, an egotist’s way of saying he’s the right man for the job. Nonetheless, the Left hyperbolized it to point where one could be forgiven for assuming that the Republican nominee had just sworn to dissolve the republic and claim the title of American Caesar.
Or take a more recent example, when Trump joked to an Ohio audience that it would be no big deal to call his opponents in Congress treasonous (“Why not?”). Democrats could have responded by rightfully complaining that a president, when domestic tensions are this high, shouldn’t kid around about treason. Instead, however, instincts kicked in and they attacked the inappropriate quip as if it were a pre-meditated accusation made in total seriousness.
Apart from appearing ludicrous in public, Democratic leadership is damaging its long-term political prospects every time they resort to straw man tactics. As they hack away at the Russian stooge or the aspiring Pol Pot, the real President Trump remains relatively unscathed. Meanwhile, that president is transforming from an inexperienced blowhard to a seasoned commander-in-chief. In other words, the Left is missing golden opportunities to damage him when he is most vulnerable.
What’s more, by being so nakedly disingenuous, the Democrats are risking what is arguably their greatest strategic advantage: domination of most mainstream media. For the time being, it is clear that major outlets are still often happy to parrot left-wing talking points. Respective headlines from The New York Times and CNN after the Ohio speech proclaimed “Trump Accuses Democrats of Treason”and, more absurdly, “Donald Trump Thinks Not Clapping for Him is ‘Treasonous.’” With this degree of media influence, it’s hard to blame Democrats for getting overconfident when shaping narratives. What they may be ignoring, however, is the limit of public credulity.
Trump’s State of the Union speech was well received by Independents and even many Democratic voters, indicating that the battle for American hearts and minds is far from decided. If events shift the public’s faith in favor of the president (say after the Russia investigation comes to naught), his “fake news” narrative could prevail, leaving the disarmed Dems face-to-face with an existential crisis. Media outlets in that scenario will either have to cease being flagrantly biased for the Left or lose their mainstream status and any remaining pretense of objectivity.
The solution for Democrats should be obvious. Rather than posturing as a contrived #Resistance to a phantom dictator, Democratic leadership should strive to maintain its party as a dignified and disciplined opposition to this often erratic White House. If Trump turns out to be the inept leader they believe him to be, Democrats by 2020 could appear as the badly needed adults in the room. On the other hand, if they continue to scream hysterically about an imaginary daemon-president, it is likely that, by election time, the public will think the only rooms they belong in should have padded walls.
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