Rep Bodyslam

Yes, this really does say something about today’s Republican party.

Josh Barro:

Republicans used to claim to favor the rule of law.

Yet what happened when a Republican candidate for Congress in Montana was accused of body-slamming a reporter and cited for misdemeanor assault?

The conservative commentator Laura Ingraham wanted to know why he went crying to the police.

“Did anyone get his lunch money stolen today and then run to tell the recess monitor?” she tweeted.

Of course, this is what the police are for: They investigate crimes and enforce laws, so we don’t have to get into physical altercations with Republican candidates who really don’t want to discuss the Congressional Budget Office’s score for the Republican healthcare bill.

Calling the police when a man grabs you by the throat and slams you to the floor, as witnesses have described — while you and he are both at work and he is a candidate for Congress — is what an adult does in a civilized society.

Yet, as Kevin Glass notes, “conservatives” in the Trump era tend to think not like adults, but high-school boys, vaunting the sort of ideal of masculinity that might be imagined by a socially maladjusted 15-year-old and tolerating in our political leaders the sort of behavior that a guidance counselor would never accept.

Republicans are a party that now celebrates the bully who steals lunch money because, hey, at least he’s not the nerd who gets his lunch money stolen.

A party for the sort of men who call themselves “alpha males” without irony or accuracy. A party for the sort of women who think it’s cool and strong when men get into bar fights.

A party that celebrates not just cruelty, but juvenile cruelty. [emphasis mine]

This is even worse than a regression to the old, sexist ways. There was a time when chauvinistic ideas about masculinity were, at least among adults, supposed to be paired with ideas about men’s duties and responsibilities.

Yet here we are, with a Republican president who calls himself “the most militaristic person”despite avoiding the Vietnam War on account of bone spurs. A Republican president who takes credit for others’ successes and no blame for his failures. A Republican president who fires the FBI director because of an investigation into any wrongdoing of his associates and then blames his press secretary for people getting mad about it.

Will Bunch:

To the contrary, a politician physically attacking a reporter asking him a tough question is the sadly predictable next step in an ongoing assault on press freedom that’s been slowly smoldering for nearly 50 years — one that has seen gasoline poured on its  flaming embers over the last two years…

And now this monstrosity in Montana. Not sweeping, Orwellian “Big Brother”-style censorship. But disgusting brownshirt-type stuff — cops, security guards, assorted goons and now a politician himself administering fascist-flavored beatdowns.

Hatred of journalists has become as much a part of the atmosphere for American conservatives as the toxic radio waves that bombard us daily with Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. And now it’s sparking into actual violence. Why now? Some of it looks like old-fashioned intimidation tactics (although most journalists I know are not easily intimidated). More importantly, this push for a war footing between the political right and U.S. journalism is about the only thing left that’s sustaining modern conservatism during Trump’s disastrous reign.

Turn to any mainstream media source right now — TV news that isn’t Fox, or your hometown newspaper — and you’ll see stories about incompetencecorruptionscandal and out-and-out lying from the White House. To the conservative movement, that truth is so devastating that their reality just has to be something else:  A war between Team Trump and “incompetent, dishonest people.”

Distrust of the media has flowed through the bloodstream of conservatism since the early 1970s when a president named Nixon farmed out that task to his vice president Spiro Agnew, and it metastasized during the rise of an “alternative facts” culture on AM talk radio and the Fox News Channel. But Trump has taken this cancer on our political discourse to Stage IV, calling journalists “the enemy of the American people”and threatening to make it easier to sue the media and to investigate “leaks,” a coded threat to jail more journalists who dare to expose the things that our delusion strongman in the Oval Office doesn’t want people to know.

What is truly sad, scary, and pathetic is the number of Republicans explicitly and implicitly approving this behavior.  This is all good authoritarian regimes (Turkey, Russia, etc.), but, damn it this is not how a real democracy operates.  Shame, shame, shame on them for holding the value of political party above the actual values of democracy.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

6 Responses to Rep Bodyslam

  1. rgbact says:

    I feel good knowing liberals feel a gay elitist’s opinion on males in America is really important. Maybe we can win 70% of the straight white male vote soon..

    • Steve Greene says:

      That’s pretty hard core identity politics– apparently only straight white men from rural America are allowed to make any observations about masculinity in America.

      • rgbact says:

        Sure he can. Just saying, he’s almost a posterchild for why those rural types are block voting Republican now… I’m glad he’s such a national liberal voice on men issues.

        Seriously, no liberal is voting against the Democrat that bodyslams Sean Hannity, These hardcore partisan journalists need to realize they aren’t in the safe DC/NYC bubble anymore.

      • Steve Greene says:

        1) They won’t defend the bodyslam. 2) Hannity does not exactly equal the Guardian. I don’t advocate him being bodyslammed, but he’s a “journalist” like I’m a basketball player.

  2. R. Jenrette says:

    New Congressman Gianforte’s (R-MT) temper tantrum behavior, so extreme to the situation he was in, begs further investigation of his history. Surely a man with such fragile temper control has had other opportunities to unleash his hate of other humans he perceives as lesser beings.
    How ironic that a Fox News crew was in the room to bear witness to the reporter’s account of what happened.

  3. ohwilleke says:

    Don’t forget his Russian financial ties and his speeches declaring that it is unChristian to retire (ever).

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