A “gut check time” for American democracy

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Washington Post writer Jennifer Rubin has had it with the narrative that both parties are equally at fault for shoving politics into the gutter.

“I think we need to avoid any kind of false equivalence here,” she said on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell Wednesday. “It’s not simply the political environment is bad. It is certainly not the case that both sides are responsible.”

She blames President Trump and the Republicans.

“There is only one party here who has called for physical violence either in rallies or cheered at a congressman who body-slammed a reporter,” she told Ali Velshi, who was subbing for O’Donnell.

Rubin is a conservative who authors the Post’s “Right Turn” blog. But she’s been sharply critical of the Trump-helmed GOP.

“There’s only one party that is making xenophobia and bigotry really the core argument going down the stretch,” she said. “There’s only one candidate, one political figure, who has used the Stalinist term ‘enemy of the people.’”

There’s only one party that is making xenophobia and bigotry really the core argument going down the stretch. There’s only one candidate, one political figure, who has used the Stalinist term ‘enemy of the people.’ – Jennifer RubinClick To Tweet

Rubin agreed that everybody wants to be fair-minded but added, “we should be accurate above all and this is the rhetoric that Donald Trump perfected. This is the rhetoric he used to get himself elected. This is the rhetoric he’s returned to it as an election is coming forward and he should accept responsibility for what he has done.”

She came on the show after the story broke that explosive devices were sent to several prime targets of Trump’s verbal ire, including former President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and CNN.

The number of pipe bombs has grown to at least 10, all meant for people Trump considers sworn enemies.

Rubin hastened to acknowledge that nobody says the president is behind whoever is sending the bombs. “But we should at least, at this point, pause and say that he has contributed to this atrocious climate and that when these things happen, people who are a little bit off, or more than a little bit off, will take matters into their own hands.”

At a Wednesday night rally in Wisconsin, Trump, as he had earlier in the day, paid lip-service to civility, political peace, and unity, before slamming the media for its “endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories.”

Trump backed off his usual full-throated demagoguery, smirking, “We’re all behaving very well” and pointing out that he wasn’t “yelling.” Trump mocked that he was “trying to be nice.”

The crowd chuckled knowingly.

GOP Senate candidate Lea Vukmir warmed up the faithful before the president’s advent. When she mentioned Hillary Clinton, the throng started chanting “Lock her up!”

Here was Vukmir’s chance for her John McCain moment. “I can’t trust Obama,” a woman said to the 2008 GOP presidential nominee at a rally. “I have read about him, and he’s not, he’s not — he’s an Arab.”

McCain shook his head, took the microphone from her and said, “No ma’am. He’s a decent family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign is all about.”

But as choruses of “Lock her up! Lock her up!” rang around her ears, Vukmir just paused, nodded, and grinned, before getting on with her speech. She praised Trump and panned her Democratic opponent, Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, New York City ad executive and TV commentator Donny Deutsch came on The Beat with Ari Melber to gab about GOP campaign commercials.

The guest didn’t mince words. “If you’re an American and you’re not repulsed by the racism, the xenophobia….you don’t understand what this country is built on.”

If you’re an American and you’re not repulsed by the racism, the xenophobia … you don’t understand what this country is built on. – Donny DeutschClick To Tweet

He described some of the Republican TV ads as “xenophobic” and “racist.” He said they were “disgusting and…repulsive” and rooted in “hate- and fear-mongering.”

But Deutsch said the election was bigger than ads and bigger than Trump. “It’s [about] who we are….[Sen.] Kamala Harris [D-California] is talking about this. This now is a gut check for who we are.

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Berry Craig
Berry Craig of Mayfield is a professor emeritus of history at West Kentucky Community College in Paducah and an author of five books on the Civil War in Kentucky. The last one, published by the University Press of Kentucky, is Kentucky’s Rebel Press: Pro-Confederate Media in the Civil War. His critically-acclaimed Kentucky Confederates: Secession, Civil War, and the Jackson Purchase, also from the University Press, has been reprinted in paperback.