I watch a lot of older episodes of the Daily Show, Colbert, and Real Time, as well as talk shows like Leno and Letterman, and comparing those shows to today, it does seem to me that Trump is getting much less guff. And I wonder why that is? Well first, let me know if my premise is even correct. Maybe I’m mistaken and Trump is attacked more by Democrats and liberal celebrities. Second, if you accept the premise, could it be because Trump is so obviously corrupt and awful that you don’t need to do much besides report the daily outrages? Or is Trump actually less harmful than Bush was, a case which I think can be made given that all Bush did was get us into a disastrous war and presided over the worst economic crisis since 1929. All Trump has done is disgrace the Oval Office daily. Or maybe, have Democrats learned that the relentless, almost juvenile attacks on Bush maybe didn’t really do anything, that it was better to just let Bush hang himself with the rope he was given? Shrill Democratic attacks didn’t do anything to beat Bush in 2004, but Bush himself arguably cost Republicans the government in 2006 and 2008. Are Democrats going a little easier because they know there’s no point expending energy all saying the same things over and over?
You really slathered on the verbiage there, made your point hard to parse, but I daresay you’re right that 's it not necessary to attack Trump in the sense of having to seek out weaknesses and exploit them, since the guy says and does stupid things on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis and simple ridicule will do.
Possibly there are more attacks on the supporters of Trump than there were on the supporters of Bush43.
Nice well-poisoning, though, describing attacks on Bush as “relentless, almost juvenile”. He wasn’t as cartoonishly bad as Trump, but there was plenty about him to criticize.
Maybe because the situation is so bat-shit crazy that they don’t feel like making fun of Trump is funny. We all have friends or acquaintances that we can rag on, because we know deep down we share the common morality or at least, sanity, but you don’t see people making light of someone with mental disabilities. Most educated people are in shock and are pinching themselves on a daily basis to try to keep waking up form this depressing world where Trump or republicans somehow have any supporters at this point. So it’s more of a this guy is so bad it’s not even worth it to tell some PC joke about some serious shit he just did and laugh.
When Bush tried to rub Merkel’s shoulders it was the kind of faux pas that’s good for a laugh. Trump threatening nuclear war over twitter was not.
Either I’m living in Bizarro world or I’ve got really bad memory.
I think that as a leftist, there is a certain amount of regret over how we treated Bush. Largely because we had already reached the bottom of the rhetorical well so there was nothing left when Trump came around. Bush is Evil and Bush is Hitler were thrown around pretty easily so they lost much of their impact when Trump came around and perhaps deserved those epithets. So true concerns about Trump sounded like “We have substantive policy disagreements and don’t want him to win.” which is what was meant during the Bush era.
Uh, no. “Bush is Hitler” showed up on a few protest signs and in a few rants by partisans, and got enormous pushback. A lot of folks, myself included, learned about Godwin’s Law because of these few incidents. One of Jon Stewart’s most famous bits was about this issue:
My memory is that leftists in general did not make these comparisons for Bush, and pushed back hard against those that did.
Under Trump it’s different: the behaviors that signal an inclination to and a rise of fascism are there.
What keeps Trump from being Hitler isn’t Trump, it’s us. That wasn’t the case with Bush.
(I’m curious if someone better at search engines than I am can search this board for comparisons between Bush and Hitler; it’d be instructive, and perhaps show me I’m wrong).
Oh boy. Searching for these comparisons is complicated by the ways in which Bush’s granddad enabled Nazi Germany’s rise to power. You gotta be specific to exclude those.
Anyway, this story is representative of what I remember:
So yeah: some leftist nobodies made the comparisons. Republicans jumped on these comparisons and made hay out of them. Most leftists repudiated them.
I can remember quite a few Bush-Hitler comparisons at the rallies and protests I attended. “Genocide” was thrown around pretty often as well. They seemed fairly ubiquitous. I don’t recall a lot of senior leadership saying it other than Bob Byrd, but I don’t remember paying attention either. I only remember Byrd because he was my Senator. I certainly don’t remember it only being the fringe, but maybe that’s because I was with the fringe, so saw them as more mainstream than they were.
I won’t claim to be a comprehensive media watcher, but based on my limited viewing, I suspect your premise is wrong.
I never watched Leno, but my understanding is that he rarely made political jokes, and Fallon is apparently following in that tradition. Letterman was a little more political, but I always had the sense he was a moderate traditional Republican, so although he sometimes mocked W’s gaffes and dumb comments, he rarely attacked his political positions. Letterman left late night before the 2016, but we know how he feels about Trump as president:
Colbert satirized Bush and the Republicans brutally but subtlely on The Colbert Report, and The Daily Show took him on too, but had time for other subjects, including the occasional stupid Democrat.
But in the Trump era, he dominates everything. As Letterman’s successor on the Late Show, Colbert has dedicated practically all of every monologue since November 2016 to Trump’s latest shenanigans, and Seth Myers has done the same with “A Closer Look” almost every night.
I never watch the Jimmies, but even if Fallon mostly leaves him alone, I’ve heard Kimmel take a few jabs at Trump.
And virtually every cold open of SNL for the past two years has poked Trump (reviving Alec Baldwin’s career.)
As I said, my media consumption is relatively limited, and may just be limited in the opposite direction to the OP’s, but I don’t get the sense that Trump is treated more lightly by comedians and the media than W was.
If he’d made a grab 'em by the pussy remark like Donny Two-scoops, not so funny. You reap what you sow.
There you go – your own question answered. If conservatives/Republicans say the kinds of obvious things you just said – and many of them do – Dems don’t need to say it.
Although personally my explanation of the relative dearth of commentary about Trump is this persistent mental image I have of many observers just staring at this dumpster fire in stunned, speechless, open-mouthed amazement.
For instance, if one wanted to make the point that the man suffers from genuine clinical narcissistic personality disorder, one need only observe that not only is everything he says about him, but he literally refers to himself as a “genius”, claims that he understands all issues “better than anyone”, and reveals through his comically inept words and actions that he understands virtually nothing at all. It’s a level of oblivion that would never have been written into a comical movie script because it would be considered cartoonish and not believable. So what is there to say? This dumpster fire is its own self-parody. Really, there are no words.
I think your comparison meter is broken.
I think he is holding it upside down.
Bush was funny, Trump is scary. Also you can’t really ridicule someone as outlandish as Trump, because he is a walking onion article.
Having said that, I think Trump makes the left angry in ways Bush didn’t. Bush upset the left, but he didn’t enrage and mobilize us the way Trump does.
So from what I’m seeing, Bush made the left laugh and get angry, but Trump makes the left enraged and organized.
We all disagreed with virtually everything W did. His boneheaded tax cuts, his military misadventures, his attempting to put Harriet Myers on the Supreme Court. But at no time did I ever think for a minute that Bush was a criminal or a grifter or a bigot. I never thought that he wasn’t acting on what he thought was the best course for the country. Sure, he was an idiot. But he didn’t slack off and watch television and tweet all day long. He took the job seriously. He read his briefings. He didn’t appoint people dedicated to destroying the agencies to which the were chosen to lead. Yes he was criticized but those were policy disagreements, not character assassinations. To contrast, you can’t attack Donald’s character, he hasn’t any to attack. You can’t attack his work ethic, he has none. You can’t attack his principles, he has none. Every atom of his body is pure unadulterated evil. There’s no comparing how these two were treated because they are completely different species.
This is my recollection as well.
I also believe that whether or not you agreed with him, Bush had the best interests of the country at heart. I suffer no similar illusions about Trump, who will happily burn the country to the ground if it helps him out personally even just a little bit.
Ah yes, the rhetoric. How foolishly we squandered!
“The worst thing about this,” opined the man with a blowtorch to his testicles, “is that I screamed so loudly when they were merely breaking my ribs with a bat.”
I reserve the right to withhold judgement until 2020.