Send Home the Clowns

I've been a huge fan of Morning Joe for years. But I can't watch it anymore, because of the fawning attitude that Joe Scarborough is taking with that political cartoon of a candidate, Donald Trump. I applaud the early decision by the editors of HuffPost to put all the Trump coverage exactly where it belongs, in the Entertainment section. This is no small difference of opinion. This matters. If we accept a bully like Trump as a legitimate candidate, but fail to call him out for his reliance on name calling as a substitute for thought, we are putting a tacit stamp of approval, and asking for more of the same in elections to come.

I'd like to know exactly when it was that we all decided, as a culture, that it was perfectly fine for adults to act like schoolyard bullies when talking about politics? There has been a coarsening of our political speech where once we used discipline and manners to engage each other in discussion on public media, and now there is no cost to be paid by Donald Trump and others like him, for engaging in the politics of the typical schoolyard bully.

Everyone knows about schoolyard bullies. They make personal attacks on others based on their appearance. They mock other people in public as a way of making themselves, by comparison, seem better and smarter and superior in every way. They don't make rational arguments, they just attack for the fun of it, because they are driven to attack by their own sad lack of self-esteem.

Teachers don't allow bullies to roam freely in their classrooms or their playgrounds. Children who exhibit the exact same behavior as Donald Trump get sent to the principal's office. They certainly aren't made President of the Student Council. Yet Joe Scarborough continues to treat Donald Trump as if he's an ordinary politician, just because he is leading in the polls. I'd like to ask Joe Scarborough's kids if they are allowed to talk about their school friends the way Trump talks about his opponents. Are they allowed to talk that way to their parents? If not, why not?

What I'd like Mr. Scarborough and others who are treating Trump as if he's engaging in normal politics to realize is this; they bear some responsibility for an environment where this can only get worse. If this childish, buffoonish, and bullying behavior becomes the new normal, it will be at least partly because pundits accepted it as part of the legitimate political process. Shame on them. And shame on us for watching it for entertainment. Government is not a show. It's a life and death business, and it's time we sent home the clowns.