The GOP debate was one very long Kabuki play on fear, racial and religious strife and resentment, whether on Islam or immigration. Each candidate took full advantage of their time to discredit the other contenders using every lie and fear tactic they could muster.
Jeb! Bush, whom many in the mainstream press were quick to congratulate for a strong showing, actually may have done himself in by going on a full frontal assault on a Donald Trump who was ready and willing to throw his success in the polls and the gigantic waste that were Bush’ brother’s wars.
“You’re a tough guy Jeb, I’m at 42 and you’re at 3.”
And, indeed, in post-debate polling, as has been the trend, Trump was deemed the winner by viewers.
But who made Trump? Given the inordinate amount of press he has generated, to the point where he has hardly needed to dip into his coffers for advertising, one must point to a mainstream press that has been, on the whole, unwilling to cover the races evenly, with analyses of both right and left, engaging in wishful thinking and declaring winners those it likes, rather than those the public has been choosing in polling.
Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders has managed these things:
- Of all the primary candidates, Sanders garnered the most new Twitter followers on the night of the debate.
- Sanders won the endorsement of one of the largest unions (with 700 thousand members), the Communication Workers of America.
- Sanders made another fundraising milestone, raising his 2 millionth contribution the day after the GOP debate
But do any of these milestones reached by Sanders get any coverage in the press? Nope! In “Trump Gets 23 Times as Much Coverage as Sanders,” John Nichols of The Nation writes:
The key is not to neglect Trump, but rather to provide more and better coverage of the whole of the 2016 campaign.
That’s not what we’ve been served up now, or is it?
While The New York Times did report on Hillary Clinton’s pandering to fear, it was in the context of Clinton “No Longer Considers Trump a Laughing Matter,” but if you read the piece, you will find a statement by Clinton to rally attendees in Iowa:
But Mrs. Clinton also strove to recognize something stirring in the electorate that Mr. Trump had clearly tapped into. “It’s O.K., it’s O.K. to be afraid,” she said. “When bad things happen, it does cause anxiety and fear,”
How is that not engaging in the same behavior, stoking fears, rather than calmly analyzing the situation for what it is, calling for calm and waiting for the FBI to finish its investigation of the San Bernadino attack? But she didn’t.
Yesterday, FBI Chief James Comey made the rounds, announcing that the FBI had not found any evidence that the couple who attacked Inland Regional Center were members of any terrorist cell or that they had been in touch with any ISIS leaders. This then brings us back to the original suspicion which was that the attack might well be a mix of workplace dispute and radicalization.
Meanwhile… Bernie Sanders did what he always has done: stand with those who are oppressed, unjustly vilified. He spent time with fellow Progressive Caucus member, Keith Ellison and other American Muslims at an interfaith roundtable:
As David Cay Johnston writes in “America: Home of the Wimp?” for Al Jazeera America:
“The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is a pipsqueak. It has no capacity to occupy a single inch of American soil and never will. It is no military threat to America or Europe. All it can do is recruit foolish people to harry us with violent crimes that have no military significance.”
He is right. In America, more Americans die each day from the actions of home-grown terrorists in places like Colorado and Charleston. San Bernadino, it turns out, was only slightly different in that the murders were perpetrated by a Muslim couple that was not a part of a terrorist cell. Muslim plus gun, unlike what our politicians are telling us, does not necessarily mean terrorism. This is what our leaders should be driving home in their speeches, rather than hate-filled rhetoric that is driving violent people to attack Muslim Americans on America’s streets, mosques, schools and in their businesses. Anyone who doesn’t call for reason should be tuned out. As it is, there is deep dissatisfaction with the mainstream media and its warped coverage of the news and the candidates, including the sensationalism in covering the attack in San Bernadino, culminating in the stampede we all witnessed when the press marched into the attackers’ home. The ugliness we are seeing is mostly manufactured by power-hungry, and self-serving politicians, completely out of proportion with reality.