Liz Cheney is going down this week. The third-ranking House Republican has had the audacity to call out the former president on his election “Big Lie” and she’s paying for it. But that may not be the only thing that has done her in with her party colleagues.
A radio listener recently explained to me via email that this true conservative was finished because she was caught live on camera with a “fist bump” for our new Democrat President Joe Biden on his way into House Chambers for his address to the nation.
Roll that one around for a while.
A COVID-time handshake, a simple human act of social grace. No, that fist bump was the act of a traitor.
Before you laugh, ask former Florida Republican Gov. Charlie Crist what happened to him after he hugged then-Democratic President Barack Obama. The pictures, once the kind of thing that would reflect and be easily accepted as decent diplomacy, were successfully turned into campaign weapons.
This is the toxic world we live in now.
The whole political landscape has become a minefield. No one in or seeking advancement in politics can operate normally anymore. It’s a world of fear, always a worry about innocuous behavior that will end up as fuel for opposition research. You know it’s coming, you just don’t know when.
Another case in point: Gov. Dan McKee said no thanks to a fundraiser that was scheduled this week. When he learned the event co-host was most recently the co-chairman of the 2020 Rhode Island Trump campaign, he immediately knew he was a sitting duck for a Democratic primary opponent exploiting his attendance.
Seth Magaziner, the Democrat state treasurer who has made a general obvious nuisance of himself as he appears everywhere like the Rhode Island political Flat Stanley running too early and nonstop for governor in 2022, would have his ad people scrounge for the “money” photo and pounce on the hypocrisy of McKee, who had the nerve to be in the same space accepting support from a hyper-Trumper.
Nellie Gorbea, the Democrat secretary of state and another likely gubernatorial candidate who to her credit has so far stayed in her current elected lane, would probably try to be nicer. For five minutes. And then her campaign would pile on because, well, it would have to.
It’s not new that politics is hardball. It’s always been a negative ad campaign that brings the hammer in a tight political race, from the local town council all the way up to the presidency. While there’s always been a degree of hand-wringing about negative politics, the unfortunate consensus is that it works.
In the old days, the voters said they hated it, not so much anymore.
Now the base demands it. Yes, certainly the Trump base. But don’t kid yourself. It’s the extreme left base too.
How long this environment lasts is anybody’s guess. To say it runs with and it will burn out over Donald Trump’s lifeline is likely a narrow view.
It may improve when one by one the majority of people, including those in both bases, wake up one morning with a sudden hollow sick recognition that its elected class is almost exclusively addicted to a steady diet of accusation and cheap shots. And that now we are too and it’s killing us.
When we are finally starved for some nutritious politics that resembles thoughtful vision and discourse, perhaps we will make a life change and order it.
Maybe that’s when we lose our appetite for the unhealthy snack known as the “gotcha.”
Dan Yorke is the PM Drive Host on 99.7/AM 630 WPRO, Dan Yorke State of Mind weekends on MyRITV/Fox Providence and owns communications/crisis consulting firm DYCOMM LLC.