A case study in the madness of crowds

Days before former President Donald Trump left the White House, CNN opinion writer Daniel Dale sat down to “pick the most notable lies” from his presidency, a task he likened to “trying to pick the most notable pieces of junk from the town dump.” He assured readers that he was “qualified for the dirty job” because he had “fact checked every word uttered by this President from his inauguration day in January 2017 until September 2020 – when the daily number of lies got so unmanageably high that I had to start taking a pass on some of his remarks to preserve my health.”

What precisely did Dale think Trump was lying about? The first item on his list was that he had lied about the weather on his inauguration day, telling a crowd that the rain “just never came” until he finished talking and went inside, at which point “it poured.” 

He went on to cite Trump’s statement that the coronavirus was under control, SharpieGate, the Boy Scout flap, and Trump’s remark that Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) supported al Qaeda. He concluded, of course, with Trump’s insistence that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen. 

Following Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis’ indictment of Trump last month, New York Times’ columnist Maureen Dowd wrote,

If there were any justice in the world, Donald Trump would have taken the Mug Shot of Dorian Gray.

As with Oscar Wilde’s charismatic and amoral narcissist, the Picture of Donald Trump should have been a ‘foul parody,’ a reflection of what the chancer has done with his life. It should have shown Trump’s corroding soul rather than his truculent face.

It should have revealed a man so cynical and depraved that he is willing to smash our nation’s soul — our democracy — and destroy faith in our institutions. All this simply to avoid being called a loser.

‘Through some strange quickening of inner life the leprosies of sin were slowly eating the thing away,’ Wilde wrote of Dorian’s portrait. ‘The rotting of a corpse in a watery grave was not so fearful.’


Then there are the conservative anti-Trumpers. In July, after comparing Trump’s behavior to the more sinister impulses of Napoleon, the Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan described an interaction she’d had with a Trump supporter (and former office holder) at a then-recent party in New York. She wrote:

He quickly made his way to me to speak of his hero. He referred to the Abraham Accords and the economy and said: ‘Surely you can admit he was a good president.’ 

He was all wound up, so I spoke slowly. “I will tell you what he is: He is a bad man. I know it, and if I were a less courteous person, I would say that you know it, too.” 

He was startled, didn’t reply, and literally took a step back. Because, I think, he does know it. But doesn’t ever expect it to be said. 

I cite these pieces because they are typical of the “analysis” that passes for the truth in the media’s coverage of Donald Trump. At least Dale tried to come up with some reasons for his denigration of the outgoing president. 

But, in the end, all three fail to explain why Trump is dangerous, why he’s a depraved madman who is “willing to smash our nation’s soul — our democracy.” The lack of specifics and the unfounded contempt in these pieces show just how vast the reality gap has become between the media’s portrayal of Trump vs. Biden. 

Yes, Trump is a flawed man. At times, his conduct has been decidedly unpresidential. Most Republicans will readily admit that Trump is prone to exaggeration and that his behavior is sometimes boorish and infantile. 

But his obvious patriotism and his clear record of achievements are among the strongest of any U.S. president. There was never anything dangerous about his policies. Despite his Grand Canyon-sized ego, he always put America first.

Contrast that with the Biden administration. In addition to the tangible decline of the U.S. in the past three years, and mounting evidence of Biden’s complicity in his family’s alleged overseas pay-to-play business, the man is deteriorating before our very eyes. And no one, not even the journalists whose job it is to hold our public servants accountable, is willing to call it out.

In a Tuesday editorial, The Wall Street Journal’s Barton Swaim points out that Biden’s deficiencies are very different – and far more dangerous – than Trump’s.  The painful truth, he writes, is that Biden’s “personal culpabilities and political liabilities are what any normal, uninvested person would call grave.” (Scott wrote about this editorial earlier here.)

Mr. Biden’s cringe-making decline is on display nearly every time he appears in public; examples are too many, and too painful, to describe. His diminished state might be funny in a novel or a movie, but in the real world it’s a continuing invitation to bad actors to engage in devilry and expect no consequence. And yet with a tiny number of unremarkable exceptions, Democratic politicos say nothing.

Journalists have conspired with the Democratic Party to revile Trump for eight years. The constant repetition of their propaganda has made it appear as the truth. The result could be a case study in the madness of crowds. 

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