The squalid events of the last week have subtly but unequivocally demonstrated the multifaceted breakdown of American politics.
President Donald Trump and House speaker Nancy Pelosi traded snide jabs at each other — she canceling the State of the Union Address, he canceling her trip overseas — rather than come together to restart the government. The largely symbolic battle between the two sides has now grown so vindictive that it has shuttered 20 percent of the government and furloughed 800,000 federal workers. And neither side seems to care, except insofar as they can gain leverage over the opposition.
Meanwhile, the mainstream media — the self-proclaimed protectors of democracy— embarrassed themselves by obsessing over a report from BuzzFeed that claimed Robert Mueller has evidence that the president instructed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. Huge, if true, the (self-)esteemed members of the D.C. journalism claque dutifully noted, before spending the rest of the segment ignoring the “if” altogether. The problem, of course, is that it isn’t true. Indeed, so wide of the mark was the BuzzFeed story that Mueller’s office publicly disputed the report, an unprecedented move. News outlets are prone to errors, of course, but it is interesting that the errors all seem to go in the same direction: against Trump.
Next, the Right to Life March produced a bit of drama, as Catholic-school students from Kentucky seemed to get into a nonphysical conflict with a Native American activist at the National Mall. In a normal era, an otherwise unknown teenager would not make national news for being a teenager. But this is not a normal era. The outrage mob, including many Trump critics on the right, gathered in full force on social media, and they drove news coverage into the weekend, denouncing the teen, even calling for his expulsion from school and, in the case of Reza Aslan, tweeting that his face looked “punchable.”