Ed’s is a bit more of a colorful analogy ofo a sit-com-style-reality-TV-show election cycle’s cast of dumbass and reckless feckless characters…
No one has ever seen a presidential cycle quite like this one — and not just in regard to the Republican Party. Republicans nominated an amateurish loose cannon, and Democrats nominated someone under FBI investigation for potentially criminal behavior. At times, it seems like a soap opera, or perhaps a season of WWE. Across the political spectrum, though, the entire discourse of debate has grown more intensely vulgar and personal, while policy and track records — traditional measures by which support is gained or lost — have been all but forgotten.
In my column today at The Week, I argue that this reminds me of a (mostly) inexplicably popular and enduring pop-cultural phenomenon from two decades ago … and I’m not talking about the Clintons:
Sixteen years ago, MTV launched a television series called Jackass. It featured ill-advised stunts, obnoxious but funny practical jokes, and generally rude behavior aimed at entertaining a largely male audience ravenous for ridicule. Sound familiar?
Fourteen years after the show was taken off the air, we may finally be seeing a sequel: Jackass, the Political Cycle.
It’s not all from Donald Trump either, although he’s certainly setting the tone. Fellow billionaire Mark Cuban, who hinted earlier that he might be amenable to accepting a running-mate bid from either Trump or Hillary Clinton, endorsed the Democratic nominee this weekend when no such offer was forthcoming. In doing so, though, the Dallas Mavericks owner called Trump a “jagoff” during his speech at a Clinton appearance in Pittsburgh, using an insult common in western Pennsylvania slang. “Jagoff,”Salena Zito helpfully explains, descends to us from Scots-Irish immigrants from almost 400 years ago to describe an annoying person.
The media isn’t doing much better. Fareed Zakaria described Donald Trump as a “bullshit artist” on air during CNN’s Situation Room on Monday to respond to the Republican nominee’s shifting stances on Crimea. HBO’s John Oliver descended further in wit by referring to Trump as a “f—ing asshole” while criticizing Trump for his attacks on Khizr and Ghazala Khan. The New York Post went the full New York Post over the weekend, finding and publishing two-decade-old modeling photographs of Melania Trump in the nude, including on its front page, with as little pixelation as necessary to avoid a brown-paper wrapper for newsstands.
The media has focused their attention on this phenomenon almost entirely in the context of Trump and his campaign, but that’s far too narrow — and lets way too many people off the hook.
In a Jackass political cycle, it shouldn’t surprise us that the biggest jackasses rise to the top of the heap. The question now is which jackass is the worst — and the demolition of Libya into a failed-state haven for radical Islamist enemies of the US and the corruption of the State Department by one of them makes that choice fairly clear, even if it is distasteful nonetheless.
Read the whole thing.