CHICAGO — With about two months to go until the 2018 midterm elections, we’re assured of the following menu in our diet of news.
Total Trump, Trump 24/7. Trump, Manafort, Trump, Mueller, Trump.
President Donald Trump unleashes his brutal Twitter thumbs, and the Democratic Media Complex rises to meet those thumbs of his.
But with all the focus on Trump, something is being missed:
The American left is devouring itself with emotion.
You can see it in the clubbing of a liberal by the hard left in Portland, Oregon, for the sin of carrying an American flag.
Or in the reporting of that heartbreaking story from San Bernardino, California, of the husband of a pregnant woman arrested by those cruel federal immigration authorities.
And you can see the signs of it as former CIA Director John Brennan, drone-master, becomes the left’s Sir Galahad in their battle against their dragon.
These are signs, not data. But signs are there to be read. They point to the left’s gorging on wild emotion; and violence, both rhetorical and physical, is unleashed as the midterms grow near.
The other day in Portland, Paul Welch, 38, a cook and liberal Bernie Sanders supporter, carried an American flag in an anti-fascist protest. He told the Portland Oregonian/Oregonlive that he didn’t like the political right appropriating the flag.
But black-clad and masked antifa thugs — the violent shock troops of the left — told him to drop the flag, telling him that it was a symbol of fascism. He refused. A video that has gone viral shows what happened next. He was beaten to the ground with a club. Welch was hospitalized with a 3-inch gash and suffered a concussion.
“My bones turned to Jell-O and I just went down,” Welch said. “I remember thinking there was a very good chance that I could be beaten to death.”
Yet Democratic leaders won’t be pressed on it. The midterms are approaching. Power is at stake.
And what of that emotional story of the poor pregnant woman on her way to the hospital to deliver a child? Her husband, a Mexican immigrant in the country illegally, was arrested by federal ICE agents. Many media outlets offered this up, emotionally, as evidence of Republican cruelty.
“ICE Officers Arrested a Man Driving His Pregnant Wife to the Hospital for a C-Section,” shrieked the headlines on news sites and cable TV news.
BuzzFeed offered a tearful subhead: “’He had to wait for his son for so long, and someone just took him away,” she said.
Hearing the shorthand story on the radio in the car, I couldn’t help but picture the heartbreak: the woman weeping, the husband hauled away by thuggish federal cops and shouting “My son! My son!” as the baby was being born.
It turned out that the husband, Joel Arrona-Lara, was wanted for murder. Mexico had asked he be arrested. He allegedly beat a man to death. Yet even when the media learned that fact, it was underplayed. Why? Because cruelty was the point of the story.
And who wants to get in the way of emotion when a story about immigration policy is being told?
But the most amazing sign is the elevation of former CIA boss John Brennan to hero status. He’s publicly and repeatedly accused Trump of treason in dealing with the Russians. Treason is a capital crime, a death penalty offense, yet Brennan offers no proof. Trump stripped Brennan of his security clearance, a perk used in Washington to financial advantage, and this has been characterized by many in the Democratic Media Complex as an attempt to silence Brennan. That’s demonstrably untrue. Brennan hasn’t been silenced, only magnified. Trump relishes this kind of thing. Trump eagerly drags Brennan into the mud pits.
Trump would rather distract from special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s team winning a conviction Tuesday of Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, on eight tax and bank fraud counts and the guilty plea of his former fixer Michael Cohen.
Yet in the more hysterical, juvenile and emotional punditry about Brennan being silenced, a statement from Sen. Richard Burr, the North Carolina Republican and chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was ignored.
“Director Brennan’s recent statements purport to know as fact that the Trump campaign colluded with a foreign power. If Director Brennan’s statement is based on intelligence he received while still leading the CIA, why didn’t he include it in the Intelligence Community Assessment released in 2017? If his statement is based on intelligence he has seen since leaving office, it constitutes an intelligence breach.”
In a round of television news interviews on Sunday, Brennan lashed out at Trump. Brennan has the right to speak his mind, to write op-eds for The New York Times, to be paid for his speech from MSNBC.
The interviewers used Brennan as a cudgel to achieve their goal, a beating administered to Trump. That didn’t bother me.
What did is that in the interviews I watched, Burr’s statement was avoided. And Brennan wasn’t asked about his history of lying to Congress on drone strikes and other matters.
The TV talking heads didn’t want to ruin the emotional content of their shows.
For decades, the American left and their handmaidens in the Democratic Media Complex viewed the “intelligence community” with proper suspicion and fear. Yet now, as the left reaches for power, Brennan is elevated. And as they become the statists, they stoke emotion.
With the midterms approaching, emotion overwhelms any sober discussion of policy. Emotion is everything. Emotion is its own reason.
It is how people are herded and led.
Kass writes for the Chicago Tribune: @john_kass.