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It seems to be on the upswing. Headline example one, from the WaPo: Trump attempts to spin anti-democracy criticism against Biden. Reporting from Cedar Rapids, Iowa:

Republican polling leader Donald Trump moved to deflect from criminal charges that he tried to overturn the 2020 election and from his own pledges to take revenge on his opponents if he returns to the White House, seeking to parry warnings that he presents a danger to democracy.

His speech on Saturday was an effort to turn the tables on rising alarms from Democrats and some Republicans that Trump’s return to power would imperil free elections and civil liberties. As candidates ramp up appearances in Iowa ahead of the caucuses on Jan. 15, the former president, who refused to accept his 2020 election loss and inspired his supporters to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power, responded by comparing President Biden to a fascist tyrant, and the campaign distributed signs reading ‘BIDEN ATTACKS DEMOCRACY.’

The intrepid WaPo reporters knew who to contact in order to get the F-word out there:

The speech showed that Biden’s framing of the 2024 election as democracy versus authoritarianism is resonating with voters, according to Jennifer Mercieca, a historian of American political rhetoric at Texas A&M University. Trump’s strategy to “accuse the accuser” could confuse voters about the real threat and help reassure his own supporters, she said.

“Trump’s Iowa speech continues his use of fascist rhetoric: it’s us versus them, he tells his supporters, and ‘they’ are enemies who cheat,” she said. “Authoritarians have a lot of rhetorical tricks for explaining away anti-democratic actions as actually ‘democratic.’”

To be clear: I am no Trump fan. He's awful. But he has a point to make about Biden, and the WaPo reporters go out of their way to dismiss it as a fascist diversion.

Also of note:

  • But it's not just the WaPo. The NYT, ostensibly a different newspaper, makes the same headline dismissal: Trump’s Defense to Charge That He’s Anti-Democratic? Accuse Biden of It.

    Former President Donald J. Trump, who has been indicted by federal prosecutors for conspiracy to defraud the United States in connection with a plot to overturn the 2020 election, repeatedly claimed to supporters in Iowa on Saturday that it was President Biden who posed a severe threat to American democracy.

    While Mr. Trump shattered democratic norms throughout his presidency and has faced voter concerns that he would do so again in a second term, the former president in his speech repeatedly accused Mr. Biden of corrupting politics and waging a repressive “all-out war” on America.

    While the NYT reporter fails to dig up anyone who will call Trump a fascist, …

    Having said that he would use the Justice Department to “go after” the Biden family, on Saturday, he swore that he would “investigate every Marxist prosecutor in America for their illegal, racist-in-reverse enforcement of the law.”

    Mr. Trump has frequently decried the cases brought him against by Black prosecutors in New York and Atlanta as racist. (He does not apply that charge to the white special counsel in his two federal criminal cases, who he instead calls “deranged.”)

    Yet Mr. Trump himself has a history of racist statements.

    You don't have to consider seriously what Trump is saying because he once persisted in claiming Obama wasn't born in America.

    Via Ann Althouse, who observed: The NYT headline about Trump's Cedar Rapids speech is so close to WaPo's headline that I was afraid for a moment that I'd mistakenly attributed the NYT headline to WaPo... They are, indeed, singing from the same hymnal.

  • We said the F-word. We said the R-word. Now it's time for… Yes, the D-word. WaPo "Editor at large" Robert Kagan deploys it: A Trump dictatorship is increasingly inevitable. We should stop pretending.

    Let’s stop the wishful thinking and face the stark reality: There is a clear path to dictatorship in the United States, and it is getting shorter every day.

    Kagan's rhetoric is apocalyptic:

    But Trump will not only dominate his party. He will again become the central focus of everyone’s attention. Even today, the news media can scarcely resist following Trump’s every word and action. Once he secures the nomination, he will loom over the country like a colossus, his every word and gesture chronicled endlessly. Even today, the mainstream news media, including The Post and NBC News, is joining forces with Trump’s lawyers to seek televised coverage of his federal criminal trial in D.C. Trump intends to use the trial to boost his candidacy and discredit the American justice system as corrupt — and the media outlets, serving their own interests, will help him do it.

    "Like a colossus"! Welcome to Robert Kagan's nightmares.

    And yes, he goes there:

    In Weimar Germany, Hitler and other agitators benefited from the squabbling of the democratic parties, right and left, the endless fights over the budget, the logjams in the legislature, the fragile and fractious coalitions. German voters increasingly yearned for someone to cut through it all and get something — anything — done.

    He goes on, and on, describing the Trumpian Hellscape. And it's our own damned fault:

    We are closer to that point today than we have ever been, yet we continue to drift toward dictatorship, still hoping for some intervention that will allow us to escape the consequences of our collective cowardice, our complacent, willful ignorance and, above all, our lack of any deep commitment to liberal democracy. As the man said, we are going out not with a bang but a whimper.

    Viking Pundit notes that Kagan is essentially calling for Trump's assassination.

    At first I thought it was partisan bluster, then I was bemused by the overwrought fan fiction of a hypothetical tyranny, but then it dawned on me that Kagan was all but calling for Trump's assassination. The piece has references to Hitler (natch), Stalin, and Julius Caesar. Having established that Trump's return would be apocalyptic, Kagan makes a call to action
    Are we going to do anything about it? To shift metaphors, if we thought there was a 50 percent chance of an asteroid crashing into North America a year from now, would we be content to hope that it wouldn’t? Or would we be taking every conceivable measure to try to stop it, including many things that might not work but that, given the magnitude of the crisis, must be tried anyway?

    I'm old enough to remember when JFK was assassinated, respectable commentators ignored the fact that the killer was a dedicated Communist, instead preferring to point to the right-wing atmosphere of Dallas. If, God forbid, some crank does pull the trigger on Trump, I'm sure Kagan will be saying “That is not what I meant at all; That is not it, at all.”

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Last Modified 2024-01-10 7:10 AM EDT