For eight long years, Republicans and conservatives endured Barack Obama blaming George W. Bush for every problem he encountered, whether it was related to the economy, terrorism, or foreign policy. Every blunder and failure led to finger-pointing at “the previous administration” and the “mess” they “inherited.”
Obama supporters easily fell into the trap of saying, “Well, what about Bush?” whenever they faced criticism. It’s an easy way to deflect attention from the shortcomings of your guy but it’s not a valid defense, nor is it a valid excuse.
Many of my conservative friends are upset the mainstream media is going balls to the wall when reporting on Donald Trump. Digging in, working hard and leaving no stone unturned because the President is no longer Barack Obama. It is a valid gripe. The media allowed President Obama to get away with behavior they’d never tolerate with Donald Trump.
A perfect example of the press going soft on Obama was the Justice Department reading through Associated Press phone records and the disgraceful act of labeling Fox News journalist James Rosen a co-conspirator in an Espionage Act investigation.
Yes, the media covered it and there was a fleeting sense of outrage but no constant pressing of the issue, even after Attorney General Eric Holder was caught lying about his role in the scandal. Journalists didn’t threaten a boycott of the White House Correspondents Dinner. Chuck Todd never once mentioned James Rosen on Twitter. But he said this about Trump:
This not a laughing matter. I'm sorry, delegitimizing the press is unAmerican
— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) February 16, 2017
With respect to the media, there are several questions to ask and answer:
- Should conservatives be skeptical of the press? Yes.
- Should the mainstream media be called out when necessary? Absolutely.
- Are members of the mainstream media behaving like hypocrites in how they cover Trump vs. Obama? Of course.
- Should past media hypocrisy and malfeasance be used to excuse Donald Trump for anything? Absolutely not.
Unfortunately, question 4 is answered, “Yes!” by many people without consciously thinking it through. They do it, however, with their actions.
The firing of James Comey is a perfect example how many conservatives avoided the issue of Trump’s action by focusing on the media reaction.
“The media is freaking out over something he’s got every right to do!” Nobody in the press outside of hyper-partisan commentators argued Trump lacked authority to fire Comey. The questions raised about Trump’s motives were valid.
On the campaign trail, Trump praised Comey for his actions, particularly the “Comey letter” as it related to the Clinton email investigation. He then claimed he was firing Comey because of his poor handling of that same inquiry. Two days after firing Comey, Trump reversed himself saying he was going to fire him regardless of the recommendation of the Deputy Attorney General.
The press reacted the way they did because Trump’s official reason for firing Comey (it was spelled out in his letter and by his aides to the press) turned out to be bunk. The press merely reacted to a complete 180-degree turn, and the reaction and criticism that followed were well-deserved.
Trump used his aides and Rod Rosenstein as cover and didn’t care one bit he left them to twist in the wind. If President Obama did something similar, conservatives would lose their minds and rightly so. Instead, so many conservatives jumped in to defend Trump with the straw man argument that he had every right to fire Comey and so “who cares what reason he gave?”
It is a similar phenomenon when comparing the behavior of both Presidents.
Trump is impetuous, prone to running his mouth at inopportune times, lies with ease, and can’t get out of his own way which is a good reason why his legislative agenda is sitting there like horse droppings on a Manhattan street during a hot day. The same people, however, never see fit to criticize Trump. They’re more concerned with saying, “Well, what about Barack Obama?”
What about him? He is no longer the President of the United States.
I find it infuriating when people use the Obama standard to measure Trump.
Conservatives will argue Obama was a worse President than Jimmy Carter. That’s one hell of a benchmark. Many conservatives seem too content to measure Trump to the standards of Obama.
If Trump screws up, he screws up. Comparing him to Barack Obama doesn’t make up for his failure. In fact, it spotlights Trump’s incompetence by arguing what he’s doing is no worse than Obama’s behavior.
Conservatives should beware of lowering their standards for a man who only a few years ago was writing checks to Hillary Clinton.
Donald Trump has no core beliefs. He is an opportunist. He doesn’t deserve loyalty from people involved in the conservative movement for decades. He certainly should not have his behavior excused by saying, “Well what about _________?”