Forget the Norms

Of course I’m disappointed with the SCOTUS ruling upholding Trump Muslim travel ban. But I can’t help but remember that President Obama, having nominated a moderate to the Supreme Court, did nothing to fight the Congress that stole the nomination from him. Even if he sincerely believed there was no way Trump was going to beat Clinton, why would he have thought that a Republican Congress would be any less obstructionist to Clinton than to him? I realize there’s a lot to be said for maintaining “norms,” but where are those “norms” now?

We can’t look to courts to save us and America. The Right has done too good a job of getting its people appointed to the courts. And it’s also the case that we can no longer look to “norms” to save us.

For a long time the reality has been that Democrats, on the whole, respected the norms while Republicans did not. The Right has counted on the indulgence of the Left to continue to undermine democracy. When I say “indulgence” I mean the reluctance of elected Democrats to firmly counter nonsense like Mitch McConnell’s refusal to allow the Senate to consider the Merrick Garland nomination.

So time and time again, Republicans behave badly, and Nancy Pelosi gets in front of a camera and sputters about it, but nothing is done. Somebody has to follow the norms or everything falls apart. So the Left remains unilaterally disarmed.

At this point it’s gotten so bad that even George Will is telling people not to vote for Republicans. David Brooks got his ossified brain out of the attic and coaxed it into a few thoughts about the difference between conservatism and the Republican Party. Whether either of these, um, people realize the degree to which they helped create the current crisis is unlikely, but at least they seem to have found a line they couldn’t cross.

They must feel like people who spent their lives saving for and building their dream house, but then realizing too late they foolishly built on a flood plain. And it’s all washing away.

I was at least gratified to read an article at the Weekly Standard, of all places, that acknowledges the Right played a role in breaking down the norms. After quoting an article at the Federalist in which some whackjob seriously suggested taking liberal scalps. From the Federalist:

So, back to scalping thing. When you make that long trek to the reservation the leftists have set up for you—and make that trek you will—what memories do you want to take with you? When living in the liberal utopian nightmare of 57 genders and government control over everything in your life, you will want to have been a Lakota. You’ll want to know, to remember, even just cherish the knowledge that, one day, you rode out onto the plains and made them feel pain.

To which the Weekly Standard writer answered (to my astonishment),

I would tell you, Fred Thompson-style, that this sort of talk will eventually get someone killed, but perhaps you’ve forgotten about Heather Heyer. You shouldn’t have.

No, none of us should have. Blood is already in the streets. We must not forget that.

After I published yesterday’s blog post about civility, Charles Pierce wrote this:

For the benefit of those people also living in Fred Hiatt’s Land Without History: abortion providers have been stalked. Their children have been stalked. Their places of business have been vandalized. And, lest we forget, doctors who perform abortions have been fucking killed! They’ve been gunned down in their clinics, in their kitchens, and in their churches. They have not been allowed to live peaceably with their families, Fred, you addlepated Beltway thooleramawn. They haven’t been allowed to live at all. I’m no expert, but I’m fairly sure that a bullet in the head is far more uncivil than a complementary fucking cheese plate. What is wrong with these people?

I’m old enough to remember the raucous town halls of 2010, when the AstroTurfed forces of the Tea Party shouted down members of Congress while men with automatic weapons strolled around the perimeter of arenas in which the President of the United States was speaking. I’m old enough to remember when N. Leroy Gingrich, Definer of Civilization’s Rules and Leader (Perhaps) of The Civilizing Forces, was working out his Universal Lexicography of Insult for the benefit of a party that ate it up with an entrenching tool. Newt also emerged on the electric Twitter machine over the weekend, leaping to SarahHuck’s defense, and that was nearly enough to make me give up English as a hobby.

You know who would’ve been baffled by this sudden debate over “civility”? Samuel Adams and John Hancock, that’s who. They were a helluva lot less civil to the crew of the Dartmouth than Stephanie Wilkinson was to the Sanders party, and the citizens of Boston did not comp Thomas Hutchinson to a cheese plate when they ran his sorry ass across the pond. And, who knows, maybe if Elliott Abrams had been chased out of a few DC bistros in the 1980s, Archbishop Oscar Romero and four American nuns would still be alive.

This debate is stupid. It’s also dangerously beside the point.

The Democratic Party has been in a state of pathological denial about the dangers we face from right-wing extremism. They still seem to think a little better messaging and a couple of successful elections cycles will put everything back, right as rain. Most of ’em probably still don’t get it, Maxine Waters being an exception.

Note that both Pelosi and Schumer have, in effect, told Rep. Waters to chill. Waters is being blasted because she called for the public shaming of Trump officials. She didn’t call for violence.

Paul Waldman wrote,

Just over three years after Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president claiming that Mexican immigrants are rapists and criminals, then proceeded to cut a swath of resentment, anger and hate across America, we’ve all become terribly concerned that a Democrat here or there has been uncivil to the people who work for this least civil of presidents. I can almost hear the cackles of glee from the White House.

It’s as though I stood outside your door for years blasting death metal through gigantic speakers at 150 decibels, and when you finally shouted, “Hey, keep it down!” I demanded that the police arrest you for disturbing the peace. Have we gone nuts?

Of course, the reason the Left gets penalized for incivility and the Right does not for much worse is that the Right punches down, but the Left punches up. We make the establishment nervous.

Update: Milo Yiannopoulos Encourages Vigilantes to Start ‘Gunning Journalists Down’