Dennis Prager published a column today accusing “more than few Republicans and conservatives” of falling for “left-wing manufactured, media-supercharged hysteria” over Donald Trump’s controversial recorded comments from 11 years ago.
The dictionary says hysteria is an “exaggerated or uncontrollable emotion or excitement” – which sounds more like a description of Trump himself, not his critics. In any event, Prager’s analysis unreasonably minimizes the severity of Trump’s comments, and in so doing furthers the growing rift in our party over this election.
As a decades-long listener and reader of Prager’s I know he often differentiates between public behavior and private comments, explaining that stray pejoratives and slurs – including Hillary Clinton’s reported 1974 use of f***ing Jew bastard” – deserve no weight in evaluating a politician. Today’s column devoted six paragraphs to that very point, including discussions of anti-Jewish remarks by Presidents Truman and Nixon.
I agree with Prager on that point. But Trump wasn’t using sexist slurs, he was describing his own behavior that is repulsive and perhaps criminal. Blame Trump that I must be crude: he didn’t call some woman a pussy. He boasted of grabbing a woman by her pussy – and without her consent.
Imagine if Clinton’s 1974 tape said “I’m going to work to expand the quota system so that no f***ing Jew bastard’s daughter can go to Wellesley.”
Or if Truman or Nixon had said not just slurs but described how they fairly recently had painted a swastika on a synagogue.
In this very, very difficult election, none of my heroes have disappointed me in backing Trump more than Paul Ryan and Dennis Prager. And with Prager it’s more painful because his columns on the election don’t accept – as I do – that this is a tough time for conservatives and thus respect that good Republicans will make many different kinds of choices. Instead, anyone who doesn’t vote for Trump is seen as having willingly promoted liberal public policy. From today: “How can anyone answer” that it’s better to have Clinton’s agenda enacted than to elect Trump? “The answer is the left-wing hysteria got to them.”
Excuse me, Mr. Prager, but my conservative credentials are intact. Nothing “got to” me. I want to know, though, what got to you?
Why would someone who wrote a book on the Ten Commandments, who has made morality the keystone of his career as a broadcaster and public intellectual react to a presidential candidate boasting about sexual assault by attacking not the candidate but the liberals and especially the conservatives who have expressed their disgust? Is there anything immoral enough that Trump could brag of doing – or do – that would cause you to vote for Hillary in order to keep him from power? Torture an animal? Molest a child? Anything?
And one more thing needs to be said: the term “hysteria” is gendered. The word once referred to a condition experienced by women, referring to a Greek word for uterus that’s still seen in the word “hysterectomy.” I really want to believe it’s only a coincidence the highly educated Prager, whose best friend is a psychiatrist, chose a clinical term derived from a woman’s reproductive part as a weapon to attack the people repulsed by his chosen political candidate soon after he was exposed boasting about grabbing women by their reproductive parts.
Should I give Prager the benefit of the doubt? Well, during the entire general election campaign, Prager has treated Trump dissenters in the GOP as if we could have no possible admirable motive. I think I’ll leave it there.
David Benkof is Senior Political Analyst for The Daily Caller. Follow him on Twitter (@DavidBenkof) or E-mail him at DavidBenkof@gmail.com.