Grading Republicans on a curve

Hillary Clinton’s weakness yesterday morning at the 9-11 memorial — a result of pneumonia, doctors say — occasioned more prolonged fainting spells among friends since Andrew Sullivan turned himself hoarse after Barack Obama’s first debate performance in 2012. Liberals are a sad lot. Where our opponents snarl, straighten their ties, and shout at us across dinner tables, we cower and hope they don’t wrinkle the napkins. “Basket of deplorables,” while not the most euphonious of phrases, is better than I thought Hillary Clinton was capable of. She also happens to be correct: forty percent of Trump’s supporters believe blacks are lazier than whites. Instead of covering their faces, her supporters should hurl these facts back at relatives.

Don’t like to hear it? Don’t vote for Trump.

We graded Reagan on a curve when he burbled about trees and air pollution. We graded him on a curve during Iran Contra on the grounds that he was too dim to know what was going on around him. We graded W on a curve for the whole 2000 campaign when he didn’t know Utah from Uzbekistan, but Al Gore knew too much stuff and what fun was he, anyway? We graded Republicans on a curve when they attached themselves to the remnants of American apartheid, when they played footsie with the militias out west and with the heirs to the White Citizens Councils in the South. We graded them on a curve every time they won a campaign behind Karl Rove or Lee Atwater or the late Terry Dolan back in the 1970s. We talked about how they were “reaching out” to disillusioned white voters who’d suffered in the changing economy, as though African-American workers didn’t get slugged harder than anyone else by deindustrialization….

…They have followed movement conservatism to the point where they can ignore science and promote creationism and supply side economic foolishness simply because they can sell it to the same audiences that gobble up the red meat that’s been marinating since George Wallace ran for president. Because they are graded on a curve, they can still claim to be shocked when the purist product of all of that work hijacks the nomination and gives the entire game away. Of course, Trump has been graded on a curve. If the electorate hadn’t graded modern conservatism on an intellectual curve, it would’ve flunked out of Human College decades ago.

I could add to Charles Pierce’s catalog of inanity the fiction that the Republican “bench” last summer was the “deepest” since Salman Chase William Seward ran against Abe Lincoln when its collective IQ was smaller than my shoe size. To mention these facts on television is to risk getting yanked off the air with a giant cartoon cane. Ta-Nehisi Coates:

For much of this campaign journalists have attacked Hillary Clinton for being evasive and avoiding hard questioning from their ranks. And then the second Clinton is forthright and says something revealing, she is attacked—not for the substance of what she’s said—but simply for having said it. This hypocrisy carries a chilling implicit message: Lie to me. Lie to the country. Lie to everyone.

The gross part? I know people who say The Media has persecuted Donald Trump for speaking the truth about Muslims and Mexicans. We can’t even agree on the facts.

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