By Dave Simpson, Cowboy State Daily columnist
It was getting a little boring here at Camp Quarantine the other day, so I decided to light things up on Facebook, posting this:
“Let’s just pray that Coronavirus isn’t as virulent and incurable as Trump Hate.”
Most of my Facebook pals thought Old Dave hit the nail on the head.
“It’s unbelievable, Dave,” a friend from Nebraska replied. “Absolutely unbelievable. And you can’t reason with it. It is hate at it’s lowest form!”
A Wyoming friend said, “It’s like flying in a plane and hoping the pilot fails.”
“They just can’t let it go,” replied a relative from Ohio, “even in a time of crisis.”
An editor friend from Nebraska said she just finished reading an article in “The Atlantic” magazine. She had “never read anything from there before, and I won’t waste my time doing it again. Just hate Trump junk.”
The jury, however, was by no means unanimous in its verdict. The loyal opposition was awake, and ready for a fight.
A former neighbor from Illinois accused Old Dave of “media hate,” to which, in some instances, I have to plead guilty. I have noticed that being a White House reporter these days doesn’t just involve asking tough questions, but also arguing with the president, interrupting him, and refusing to stop talking when he tries to move on to the next question. You’ve noticed that too, right?
One of the best publishers I ever worked for said it’s perfectly all right for reporters to be skeptical of those in power. In fact, it’s their job. But it isn’t all right for reporters to be cynical. There’s a difference.
I recall President Barack Obama telling a reporter who persisted with followup questions that, “I didn’t come here for a debate!” and maybe Trump should do that. (He won’t.) Press conferences these days sound more like episodes of “The Bickersons.”
My Illinois neighbor finished by calling Trump “the Hindenburg president,” full of gas, and prone to explosions.
Ouch. (But funny.)
Another Illinois friend questioned my use of “Trump Hate,” asking if I begrudge those who merely ask questions. Does that make one a hater? he asked.
Having worked in the news biz for a while, I do not think asking questions makes one a hater. However, when almost every action taken by a president is met, in many venues, with vociferous contempt – tune in “Morning Joe” if you doubt me – I believe that cynicism and hate are rampant. When questions become heated arguments, the true leanings of the questioner become clear. I recall a reporter caught on tape, shortly after Trump was elected, hoping his plane would crash.
I see hate when the opposing party in Congress does everything possible to hold up cabinet appointments, when Maxine Waters urges Democrats to get in the faces of Trump supporters in stores and at gas stations, and when a guy wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat gets a soft drink dumped on his head. I see hate when, unbelievably, Nancy Pelosi petulantly, childishly rips up Trump’s State of the Union speech, for all to see.
And just last weekend, in a tweet, President Obama’s White House photographer Pete Souza reportedly called Trump “a pathetic human being,” and said, “(blank) you potus.” (Potus is the too-cool-for-school Washington term for president of the United States.) Nine thousand people reportedly re-tweeted his foul-mouthed tweet in agreement.
Yup. That’s hate. I may not be able to precisely define it, but know it when I see it.
A friend in Florida said it’s the “drumbeat” of criticism that makes this different. But a friend in Norway said calling it a drumbeat just makes us “numb” to Trump’s “lies.”
I replied, “It’s a matter of intensity. The level of opposition to this president is something we haven’t seen before.”
Overall, it was an action-packed way to spend a day of social distancing, with political distance often outdistancing the physical distance (even between Wyoming and Norway).
Lately, people keep saying “we’re all in this together,” but I have my doubts. Because I have no doubt at all that Trump Hate is alive and well.
I rest my case, Your Honor.
Dave Simpson can be contacted at email@example.com