Republicans’ position in the 2020 midterms is so precarious they are now labeling the Democrats who stormed Washington last weekend to protest Brett Kavanaugh as a “mob” that must be corralled, according to a story Tuesday in the Washington Post.
In “’An angry mob’: Republicans work to recast Democratic protests as out-of-control anarchy,” Post reporters and Robert Costa wrote: “Weeks ahead of the midterm elections, Republicans have cast the Trump resistance movement as “an angry mob,” a term used by many of them to describe a faceless amalgamation of forces that they say threaten the country’s order and, they hope, energize their voters.”
Trump and the GOP “firmly control Congress and the White House” – Republicans hold a mere 51-49 edge in the Senate – and have “massive financial and media infrastructure behind them.” It is not clear what is meant by “media infrastructure,” but “media” Trump has not been “behind him” at any point.
As recently as late-July, the Examiner reported on a study that said 92 percent of the coverage of Trump has been negative – three times the rate of coverage of former President Obama. And in June, the Post itself published a piece saying coverage of Trump had not been harsh enough, in which it quoted a Jeb Bush campaign official saying, “Here’s the thing: If the leader of the country is lying 100 percent of the time, then the coverage of his comments needs to be 100 percent negative.”
The Viser-Costa story then says, “But in an effort to flip the midterm elections form a referendum on the unpopular president, they are casting themselves as defenders of the barricades.”
Trump’s approval rating reached 51 percent last week on the Rasmussen daily presidential tracking poll. His strongly approve v. strongly disapprove measurement is now down to -1 – 38 percent to 39 percent – and these represent his best polling numbers since March of last year.
But in the end, this is Nixonian politics, the Post concluded – stoking fear of the unknown among the silent majority.
The “characterization” of Democrats as mobs in the streets “evokes fear of an unknown and out-of-control mass of people, and it taps into grievances about the nation’s fast-moving cultural and demographic shifts that Republicans say are working against them,” Viser and Costa wrote. “With its emphasis on the impact on traditional values and white voters, particularly men, it strikes the same notes as earlier Trump-fanned attention to immigrants, MS-13 gang members and African American football players protesting police treatment of young black men.”
Instead of hippies and peaceniks, “This time, the GOP’s foil is composed of leftists, elitists and feminists, of academics and celebrities, of Trump nemesis Michael Avenatti, philanthropist George Soros and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who has called for the president’s impeachment.”
Why this approach? “This turn toward a culture war is also a tacit admission that many of the issues that Republicans had sought to run on, from tax cuts to the upbeat state of the economy, have not been enough to fan GOP voters’ enthusiasm and counter an electrified Democratic stalemate.”
It does not mention that a CNN poll in mid-September found nearly 70 percent of Americans rate the economy as “good” or better and more than a quarter say it is “very good,” the highest such reading since June 2000.
The Post says the “groundwork to cast Democrats as angry and out-of-control has been months in the making.” After White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was “denied service” at a restaurant in Lexington, Va., (she was thrown out) and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielson was harassed out of a restaurant in Washington, D.C., “Republicans cast Democrats as overreacting and unable to withhold their animus toward Trump.”
The story did admit there is good reason for Republicans to talk about this. After Ted Cruz and his wife were driven out of a restaurant by angry protesters, he had the biggest fundraising day of the year without even putting out an appeal.
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