New York Times reporter Jonathan Martin carried unconcealed contempt for the Republican Party to his story in Saturday’s edition (coauthored with Nicholas Fandos): “A Defeated Trump Creates a State of Confusion Among G.O.P. Leaders.” The text box worked in an extremist label from the story’s text: “Single term made clear what the far right stands against.”
The opening paragraph of the news story was just a string of insults about the former president and his party.
Republican lawmakers are passing voting restrictions to pacify right-wing activists still gripped by former President Donald J. Trump’s lie that a largely favorable election was rigged against them. G.O.P. leaders are lashing out in Trumpian fashion at businesses, baseball and the news media to appeal to many of the same conservatives and voters. And debates over the size and scope of government have been overshadowed by the sort of culture war clashes that the tabloid king relished.
This is the party Mr. Trump has remade.
So Republicans have embraced fights over seemingly small-bore issues to make a larger argument: By emphasizing the withdrawal from publication of a handful of racially insensitive Dr. Seuss books; the rights of transgender people; and the willingness of large institutions or corporations like Major League Baseball and Coca-Cola to side with Democrats on voting rights, the right is attempting to portray a nation in the grip of elites obsessed with identity politics.
That highlighted bit above (“in the grip of elites obsessed with identity politics”) certainly sounds like the current iteration of the New York Times.
It’s a strikingly different approach from the last time Democrats had full control of government, in 2009 and 2010, when conservatives harnessed the Great Recession to stoke anger about President Barack Obama and federal spending on their way to sweeping midterm gains. But Mr. Biden, a white political veteran, is not much of a foil for the party’s far-right base and is unlikely to grow more polarizing with the country at large.
Martin and Fandos noted Republican political advantages on the immigration issue, then suggested the party’s stand was pure cynicism.
With much to gain from blaming the issue on Democrats, Republicans have all but abandoned a comprehensive immigration agreement, despite the pleadings of the business lobby.
They really let the Republicans have it on their alleged obsession with “culture war” issues — as if Democrats haven’t made symbols out of identity politics and transgender rights, while looking for “systematic racism” and “white supremacy” in every corner.
Republicans have sought to stoke those fears, wielding liberal positions on issues like policing or transgender rights as culture war bludgeons, even if it means dispensing with some conservative values. In Arkansas this week, a drive by conservative legislators to make it illegal for transgender children to receive gender-affirming medication or surgery drew a veto from Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican….
The shifting culture of the G.O.P. is on clear display in Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis is emerging as presidential timber, almost entirely because he has weaponized news coverage critical of his handling of the coronavirus.
Mr. DeSantis’s actual response to the crisis is not what delights conservatives; rather, it’s how he bristles at skeptical coverage, just as Mr. Trump did when he was excoriating the “fake news.” The most recent example came this week when “60 Minutes” aired a segment that suggested Mr. DeSantis had improperly made Publix grocery stores, which are ubiquitous in Florida, distributors of the coronavirus vaccine after the company contributed $100,000 to him.
Fellow reporter Patricia Mazzei’s non-flattering profile of Gov. DeSantis at least softly suggested the 60 Minutes hit on the Florida governor was flawed. And DeSantis’s success in Florida in balancing safety and the economy is indeed central to his appeal, no matter how much the paper would prefer to evade the issue.
Mr. DeSantis did not cooperate with CBS for the piece. But with the sympathy of other Republicans, he cried foul about the segment after it ran and was rewarded with a coveted prime-time interview on Fox News to expound on his grievance.