Meacham: Trump 'Coddles His Base at a Dangerous Level'

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Cross posted to the MRC's NewsBusters blog

Appearing as a guest on Saturday's AM Joy, MSNBC contributor Jon Meacham took many swipes at President Donald Trump and conservatives as he invoked Charles Lindbergh's Nazi sympathizer movement of the World War II era, and declared that conservative activists are in an "alternate reality" while liberals are "taking the science seriously."

He also complained that China is being "scapegoated" and asserted that President Trump "coddles his base in a dangerous way" instead of learning in office like previous Presidents, and laughably denied that a "preexisting view" of the President was coloring his criticisms.

At 10:13 a.m. Eastern, after showing clips of some right-leaning protesters who have been pushing to remove restrictions imposed during the pandemic, host Joy Reid brought aboard her guest and likened some of the protesters to "zombies" as she began by posing:

JOY REID: A lot of people said it looked like a zombie movie. Zombie directors also think so, too, sort of like a scene out of the Walking Dead or whatever.

JON MEACHAM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, exactly.

REID: What is this rage that these protesters -- one of them is running for office … What is it that they're trying to channel here? Is this sort of neoconfederacy? And what the hell does that have to do with a pandemic?

Meacham invoked the Alien and Sedition Acts against immigrants passed in the 1790s, and soon brought up Lindbergh and Nazi sympathizers as he also portrayed conservatives as defying facts and science:

MEACHAM: You have some folks on the right who are sensing that this is some global force, and they don't like things that are outside their borders. "America First" was a phrase that was used by Charles Lindbergh and the Nazi sympathizers in 1939, 1940, 1941 -- it became President Trump's rallying cry...

And on the left, you have people who are seeing that this pandemic has revealed these enormous holes in our social safety net. … but here's the difference: The folks who are worried about the safety net are taking the science seriously -- they're taking the facts seriously. And the folks on the right who are storming offices and talking about liberation seem to be living in an alternate reality where science doesn't matter.

In spite of all the evidence of fault by China for the coronavirus pandemic, he soon complained about "scapegoating" of China: "There are forces in the country today who, in their hierarchy of interests, have decided that opening the economy quickly and that scapegoating globalism, China, Democratic governors -- finding a 'them'..."

Later in his analysis, he fretted over President Trump's recent defense of gun rights, took another swipe at conservatives as not having "science" on their side, and denied being motivated by a "preexisting view" of the President:

MEACHAM: When you look at those pictures -- when you look at people talking about liberation -- the President of the United States talking about liberation and then bringing guns into it, for God's sake, that's passion. That's appetite. That's ideology. That's not reason and consideration and a kind of balance about "What do the facts tell us?" And this is not, to be clear, a partisan point. I'm not reflexively acting because of a preexisting view of the President. One of the tragedies of the era is that the President manages to fulfill every time one's preexisting view of him.

Meacham has a history of being so biased against President Trump that in 2016 he hinted that he would prefer to vote for dog feces over candidate Trump.

The MSNBC contributor and former Newsweek editor concluded by listing examples of past Presidents learning on the job and evolving, suggesting that President Ronald Reagan was wrong to call the Soviet Union an "Evil Empire," and then complained about the current President:

MEACHAM: So you have these moments in our history where Presidents have challenged their bases -- not simply coddled them -- and learned from the experience. And in this case, the President continues to simply coddle his base at a dangerous level and almost willfully doesn't want to learn on the job.

Host Reid agreed, declaring that the President just wants what will improve his television ratings.

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Saturday, April 18, AM Joy on MSNBC:

JOY REID: I want to put back up this photo that went viral of those Ohio protesters. A lot of people said it looked like a zombie movie. Zombie directors also think so, too, sort of like a scene out of the Walking Dead or whatever.

JON MEACHAM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, exactly.

REID: What is this rage that these protesters -- one of them is running for office … What is it that they're trying to channel here? Is this sort of neoconfederacy? And what the hell does that have to do with a pandemic?

MEACHAM: That is a great question. It is the vernacular of fear. (Attorney) General (Keith) Ellison just used that term. We have two tributaries in American life. We have a tributary of hope -- of building of a journey toward a perfect union despite our manifest faults. And we have a tributary of fear, which is: They are coming for us. And there's always been a "they." There's been a "they" since the 1790s when John Adams and the Federalists passed the Alien and Sedition Acts which gave the President of the United States power to deport immigrants that he just deemed to be undesirable and to shut down the press.

(…)

You have some folks on the right who are sensing that this is some global force, and they don't like things that are outside their borders. "America First" was a phrase that was used by Charles Lindbergh and the Nazi sympathizers in 1939, 1940, 1941 -- it became President Trump's rallying cry -- you have that on the right. And on the left, you have people who are seeing that this pandemic has revealed these enormous holes in our social safety net. And so you have this tension, but here's the difference: The folks who are worried about the safety net are taking the science seriously -- they're taking the facts seriously. And the folks on the right who are storming offices and talking about liberation seem to be living in an alternate reality where science doesn't matter.

(…)

There are forces in the country today who, in their hierarchy of interests, have decided that opening the economy quickly and that scapegoating globalism, China, Democratic governors -- finding a "them" -- once again, remember there's always a "them" -- there's always a finger -- the object of a finger to point at -- is somehow more important than a sensible rollout of a rational response to a pandemic that has now killed, I think, 10 to 12 times as many people as died on September 11th.

(…)

What worried me at the beginning of this … when the pandemic -- when it became clear -- my anxiety was: Is our polarization such that this will become a partisan pandemic? That is, are we so dug in, into our different camps, and particularly on the right, in this case -- I'm not making a false equivalency here -- that these events will be channeled through, interpreted, and acted on not rationally but passionately. And that's what the American Revolution was about -- however imperfect it was -- it was about putting reason at the center of the national enterprise so that we would at least give our brains a fighting chance against our guts. And that was part of the central force in this.

We are now -- when you look at those pictures -- when you look at people talking about liberation -- the President of the United States talking about liberation and then bringing guns into it, for God's sake, that's passion. That's appetite. That's ideology. That's not reason and consideration and a kind of balance about "What do the facts tell us?" And this is not, to be clear, a partisan point. I'm not reflexively acting because of a preexisting view of the President. One of the tragedies of the era is that the President manages to fulfill every time one's preexisting view of him.

There's never been a President -- not never -- I cannot think of a President off the top of my head who has so self-evidently failed to learn on the job, all right? Abraham Lincoln starts out saying he will protect slavery in Southern states, and ends up on January 1, 1863 with the Emancipation Proclamation. John Kennedy screws up the Bay of Pigs in April of 1961 -- October of 1962, he manages the Cuban Missile Crisis. Ronald Reagan comes in talking about the Soviet Union as an Evil Empire -- by May 1988, he's literally in Red Square playing with babies, right? So you have these moments in our history where Presidents have challenged their bases -- not simply coddled them -- and learned from the experience. And in this case, the President continues to simply coddle his base at a dangerous level and almost willfully doesn't want to learn on the job.

REID: Yeah, he just wants to be who he is because he sees that as a way he can be a success on television because apparently that is his priority, to be a success on television and get high ratings, so good for him.

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