By Connor Williams
On Monday’s Last Word, Lawrence O’Donnell started his program with a panel discussing Mike Huckabee’s controversial comments about the Iran deal and the rhetoric in the Republican Party. Daily Beast columnist and MSNBC contributor Jonathan Alter had harsh words for the Republicans, claiming their rhetoric is far worse when compared to the Democrats: “[T]here’s a vileness gap that is developing between our political parties.” Alter added that his analysis really isn’t biased at all: “They don’t talk this way in the Democratic party. That’s not a partisan comment. It’s an examination of the record and the rhetoric.” The MSNBC contributor also suggested that, pound for pound, Republican rhetoric is worse because one rarely sees Bernie Sanders “uttering a critical word” about Hillary Clinton.
The rest of the segment was devoted to mocking the Republican Party and hitting Mike Huckabee for his statement on Iran. Brian Beutler of the New Republic asserted there is a “perverse incentive for them [the Republican presidential candidates] to say really wild things” in order to get into the presidential debates. Beutler dubbed this phenomenon “the Fox News effect.”
O’Donnell suggested that the Republicans may have been emboldened by the fact that Donald Trump’s poll numbers refuse to decline: “And they may have learned a lesson in the denouncing of Trump and then seeing that his poll numbers aren’t really affected by what he said about John McCain.”
O’Donnell also opined that the rhetoric used by Donald Trump and others “seems to be rewarded by the Republican electorate when you look at the polls.” Beutler analyzed the situation:
They also recognize that he represents a faction of the base that provides the Republican Party a lot of it’s propulsive force when they’re operating in the same direction. But I think what the Republican Party often fails to recognize is that exact same faction of the base is deeply unpredictable just like Donald Trump is deeply unpredictable. And when – at cross-purposes with the Republican Party – can do incredible damage.
The New Republic writer explained that “the people who buy into the shtick or the thing that he’s doing right now are going to remember if the Republican Party mistreats him now or rebukes him too loudly.” ♦