I regret to inform you that America’s decrepit media commentators are once again attempting to play a game of rope-a-dope with Republican voters. This time around, their choice is Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin, who has experienced increased media attention of late as a potentially less divisive alternative for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024, compared to the supposedly more controversial potential of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
The Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty writes:
There are plenty of Democrats who believe the man who campaigned as a sunny suburban dad in a zippered vest is really a Trump in fleece clothing. But Virginia — which was trending blue until his victory — is clearly warming up to Youngkin. His poll numbers have turned positive, and disapproval has shown a significant drop.
The reason I’d like to see him — or someone like him — make a serious run for president has more to do with an existential crisis that faces our democracy. It is crucial that this country have a healthy two-party system. Someone must test the proposition that there are still enough sane Republicans out there to create a path to the nomination for a candidate who offers himself as an alternative, rather than an amplification, of the worst aspects of Trumpism.
Republican voters will recognize this for what it is: a silly game. It is particularly silly coming from the opinion pages of the Washington Post, whose role in the run up to Youngkin’s election was to act as the mouthpiece for the out-of-touch flailing of Democrat Terry McAuliffe, who closed his campaign dancing on stage with reviled teachers’ union head Randi Weingarten. In column after column, the Post decried Youngkin as a phony, duplicitous, racist, antisemitic, book-banning extremist — and just as bad as Trump on a litany of issues.
The Post endorsed McAuliffe. But Youngkin beat him handily. Now they would like to pretend that Youngkin today is different than the Youngkin of eight months ago — that he’s grown in office somehow, that the media would consider him a more reasonable and respectable alternative to other conservative candidates.
No one with a brain will buy this, not for a second. “If only the crazy GOP would nominate [X reasonable Republican]” is a siren song that morphs into, “Surprise! It turns out he’s crazy too!” the instant said Republican is nominated. Suddenly it turns out that the more moderate Republican is also pro-life and pro-gun, believes in borders and tax cuts — and there he goes using that Critical Race Theory bogeyman as a racist dogwhistle! And the reasonable becomes radical overnight.
You can see that already in the lines of questioning pursued on CBS’s Face the Nation, where Youngkin appeared on Sunday.
On issue after issue, Youngkin was essentially asked to defend the idea he’s not a radical extremist or to criticize other members of his party as radical extremists. There is no Republican who will receive positive treatment by the press unless they are domesticated lapdogs or useful idiots for the priorities of the left.
The nomination of Trump in 2016 indicated that Republican voters finally recognized this game for what it is. Having seen the savage treatment of their ticket in 2012, GOP voters decided they were done playing nice or even trying to win the Washington Post to their side. And as I’ve noted in the past regarding the media’s attacks on the misogyny, heartlessness and extremism of the likes of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan: if you cry wolf long enough, you lack the vocabulary when the actual beast shows up.
In Youngkin’s case, he could actually be a formidable national candidate with many positive attributes and an ability to reach beyond the traditional party coalitions. And as soon as he was a threat to win, the media would depict him as the unthinkable: worse than Trump.
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