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Why Are Conservatives Angry? Because the President Wants to Anger Them.



Morning Jolt with Jim Geraghty NRO

 One more point to add to yesterday’s piece about how Obama’s style fuels Trump’s rise . . .

Another big reason Republicans are angry is because they have a president who embraces a political strategy of deliberately and consistently enraging conservatives. Major Garrett detailed the White House’s calculated effort to be controversial and provocative in 2014:  (emphasis added)

This is the White House theory of “Stray Voltage.” It is the brainchild of former White House Senior Adviser David Plouffe, whose methods loom large long after his departure. The theory goes like this:



 Controversy sparks attention, attention provokes conversation, and conversation embeds previously unknown or marginalized ideas in the public consciousness.

Mickey Kaus characterizes the approach as “gaslighting” -- giving your opponent a legitimate reason to get angry, then turning around and pointing to their anger as evidence they’re unhinged, obsessed, incapable of governing responsibly, et cetera.

President Obama made clear he refuses to be a lame duck; instead, the passage of the 2014 midterms only liberated him from worrying about what the public thinks.

An executive-order amnesty, enacting an Iran deal opposed by a bipartisan majority of the Senate, even renaming Mount McKinley -- Obama’s charging ahead with everything that was too controversial before Obama’s reelection campaign or the midterm elections. Two years after negotiating the end of 18 percent of the Bush tax cuts -- about $624 billion -- Obama proposed $320 billion in new tax hikes. The White House later indicated the president was “very interested” in exploring the option of raising taxes through executive action.

Free community college? Hey, it’s never going to become law, so why not propose it and make Republicans look mean for not enacting it? Goofing around with a selfie stick? Go right ahead. Chewing gum at an international summit? Hey, what are they going to do, impeach him?

In this atmosphere, it’s no wonder Republicans are furious. A midterm election victory that was supposed to constrain President Obama’s ability to enact his agenda has only emboldened and liberated him.

Most Republican presidential candidates find themselves caught between their anger at the president’s constant provocations and blatant disregard for the Constitution’s separation of powers and the limited number of acceptable ways to show that anger. The insanely imbalanced media landscape ensures that almost any expression of Democratic anger is portrayed as justified (or ignored if it’s too obviously outrageous) while almost any Republican expression of anger is portrayed as irrational, deep-seated hatred.

If Hillary Clinton compares Republicans to “terrorist groups” or suggests they want to round up people and put them in “boxcars,” it’s a one-day controversy at most.

Meanwhile, if Joe Wilson yells out “you lie” when the president lies during an address to Congress, it’s the only thing anyone remembers about him. When Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito mouthed “not true” in response to President Obama’s attack on the decision at the State of the Union Address, the New York Times lamented Alito “broke with decorum.” (Mischaracterizing the Citizens United decision and denouncing the court justices sitting in the front row breaks from decorum, too.)

If anything, President Obama’s denunciation of his opposition is only getting fiercer and more incendiary. Thursday night, as the country recoiled from a horrific shooting at an Oregon community college, President Obama rushed to the cameras to contend that those who opposed with his preferred gun-control laws bore some of the responsibility.

“This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America,” Obama said. “We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction.”

Imagine if President Bush’s first address after the 9/11 attacks denounced President Clinton and his supporters for not taking al-Qaeda seriously for the previous years, and that the rise of al-Qaeda was a “political choice” and that the deaths were a result of “our inaction.”

Sunday, in response to Obama’s declaration that the NRA and its supporters as a whole bear responsibility for shootings, Trump called the president “a great divider” and declared, “The gun laws have nothing to do with this. This isn’t guns. This is about really mental illness.”

Conservatives see a late-term president eager to finish the job of “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” Allies like Israel get abandoned, enemies like Iran get embraced. The wealthy are demonized, while egregious scandals at the Veterans’ Administration, Office of Personnel Management, and Health and Human Services are ignored or swept under the rug. Ferguson and the shooting of Trayvon Martin get presidential attention, but Kathryn Steinle’s murder by an illegal immigrant in San Francisco is largely ignored because it doesn’t fit the administration’s narrative.

Many Republicans feel hated by their president, and they return the sentiment. Whether or not they believe in Obama’s Hawaiian birth, they increasingly agree with Rudy Giuliani’s sentiment, “[Obama] doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.” In Trump, these voters finally have a candidate who expresses that disdain as directly and passionately as they feel it.

Time will tell whether the Obama strategy of relentless provocation worked by driving the GOP to extreme antagonism that repelled a majority of the electorate -- or whether he will have just riled up his opposition to the state of victorious determination.

For all the talk about Trump peaking, this morning Quinnipiac finds him still leading among registered Republicans in Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania. (He also has the highest “would not support” scores in those states among Republicans -- 29 percent in Ohio and in Florida, 31 percent in Pennsylvania.)

Out of 585 Police Shootings, 24 Were of Unarmed Black Men

Fred Siegel:

The Black Lives Matter movement, financed, in part, by billionaire George Soros, rebuffed the Democratic Party’s attempts to win its formal favor--even though the resolution put the Democrats on record as supporting “the hands up, don’t shoot” mythology that emerged from the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. On the anniversary of Brown’s death, the Washington Post published a long article finding that the “vast majority” of the 585 people killed by the police during the first seven months of 2015 were armed with deadly weapons. Moreover, most were white or Hispanic. Just 24 were unarmed black men. Nonetheless, a virulent anti-police campaign ensued after Ferguson, leading police in cities such as Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Cincinnati to back off from enforcement. St. Louis police chief Sam Dotson calls this “The Ferguson Effect.”

People are driven by their belief systems -- and those belief systems could very well be based on myths.

Sympathy or Disapproval for Parents of Misbehaving Small Children?

Jazz Shaw, lamenting parents who can’t control their small children:

No, in the end it’s really just the clueless parents with the screaming, off the leash children. The same goes for other non-hotel situations. If you are going to a restaurant where they have cloth napkins and a wine list, don’t bring your kids unless you’ve figured out how to have them behave like little ladies and gentlemen. If I go to McDonald’s and get annoyed at screaming children, shame on me. Planes have pretty much the same rules. If you can’t manage your children, do us all a favor and stay off of planes unless your kid is on the way to have emergency organ transplant surgery. If it’s a vacation, suck it up and drive. (And don’t tell me you can’t drive to Europe. Your kid doesn’t need to go to Europe.)

It seems quite strange to hear this complaint in the same culture where people will literally dial 911 if mom and dad aren’t behaving sufficiently like “helicopter parents”:

Stories are mounting of people calling the cops on parents who let their older kids attempt a bit of independence. The parents are suddenly subjected to arrests, regular visits from Child Protective Services, a media storm and in one case, losing a job because of the attention. Their children become afraid to step outside, and so do they. These parents are charged with being neglectful, even though they have thoughtfully made the decision that their children are capable of accomplishing these tasks safely.

Yes, parents ought to do their best to keep their kids behaving properly in public places. (In private, too!) But while I used to grumble when I saw kids being loud and manic sitting next to me in coach on the airliner, parenthood has forced a lot of understanding and sympathy into me.

Most parents are doing the best they can in a job that most people will agree is one of life’s toughest. Toddlers, like Terminators, can’t be bargained with -- or at least not easily. They can’t be reasoned with. They don’t feel pity or remorse and sometimes not even fear. And they absolutely will not stop, ever, until they get a cookie. If your child starts screaming in a public place -- “DAD! HE’S BREATHING ON ME! MAKE HIM STOP BREATHING ON ME!” -- you have very limited options to restore order. If you start screaming, too, you’ll get even more disapproving looks.

This year’s NR cruise was one of the first times my boys had to behave well in public for long stretches – surrounded by other adults, NR cruise-goers, my colleagues, and so on. Believe me, I had a burst of pride when both boys behaved like little gentlemen in Seattle’s Pink Door restaurant, which is not designed for kids, although the staff bent over backwards to make the boys feel welcome. I’d say they behaved well about 90 percent of the time, which was pretty great considering the time-zone difference and all of the other complications. The exceptions were more cranky pouting than public meltdowns and tantrums. But I know the day will come when they don’t behave well in public -- and that’s just part of the process of parenting.

You’ll find lot of discussions of the ups and downs of fatherhood in Heavy Lifting, out later this month.

ADDENDA: Almost everyone forgot that President Obama established an “atrocities prevention board” back in 2011. Elliott Abrams remembers, and assesses its utter failure.

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Why Are Conservatives Angry? Because the President Wants to Anger Them.
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