Gianforte: Body slamming to victory
If there was any doubt that Donald Trump took Republicans into “another moral realm,” said Charles Blow in The New York Times, it ended with last week’s election victory of Greg Gianforte. The Montana tech millionaire won a special election to fill his state’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, just one day after he assaulted reporter Ben Jacobs of The Guardian. When Jacobs asked Gianforte how he stood on his party’s unpopular health-care bill, the Republican grabbed Jacobs by the throat, slammed him into the ground, and punched him, shouting: “I’m sick and tired of this!” The astonishing attack, recorded on audio and witnessed by a Fox News camera crew, left Jacobs bruised and needing new glasses. Though charged with misde meanor assault, Gianforte refused to apologize until after winning the election, and many prominent conservatives actually praised him for giving a “snowflake” reporter a beating. Radio host Rush Limbaugh hailed the “manly, studly” candidate for taking down a “pajama boy journalist,” while Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) said the attack wasn’t “appropriate behavior...unless the reporter deserved it.”
There should be no “gray area” here, said Mona Charen in NationalReview.com. “You either up hold certain basic standards of decency or you don’t.” Alas, with Trump in the Oval Office, many conservatives have grown so used to “defending the indefensible” that they have completely lost their moral compass. Beating up people you don’t like is not what real men do, said Josh Barro in BusinessInsider.com, but the kind of angry, emasculated men who voted for Trump are thrilled by “cruel dominance displays” over liberals, women, journalists, and so-called elitists. As a result, Republicans either cheer or pretend not to notice when Trump and Gianforte display all the swaggering immaturity of “a junior varsity high school football player.”
We are entering into uncharted territory, said Brian Beutler in NewRepublic.com. Trump’s success has taught Republicans “they will face no consequences for poor or unprincipled behavior.” They no longer see themselves as playing by the old rules—and they just write off criticism of even physical assaults as “the impotent complaints of political losers.” Congratulations, my fellow Republicans, said Jonah Goldberg in National Review.com. By rallying around Gianforte, you just gave President Trump one more vote in the House. “What did you have to give up?” All credibility in “condemning political violence” in the future.