Monday, March 10, 2008

Name-Calling and Caricature: "Evil" and Demonization

People in moral and political debates routinely demonize people who disagree with them. That is, people in moral and political debates often falsely accuse their opponents of having evil, selfish or malicious goals or intentions.

It is, unfortunately, one of the most common was of deriding an opponent. (Another is to accuse an opponent of being ignorant.) It is frequently a component of acts of name-calling.

For instance, you've no doubt heard accusations that some person or party is greedy, selfish, power-hungry, racist, misogynist, xenophobic, unpatriotic, etc. At the very least, you've heard accusations that some person or party is callous, and doesn't care about justice or human suffering.

I'm not claiming that all these accusations are false: there are some people who are racist, for instance, and there are people who don't care about human suffering, etc.

But not all of these accusations are true, either. In fact, many of them are false and unjustified. Typically, the people who make these accusations are frustrated that somebody is disagreeing with them on some moral or political issue, and think that they are so obviously in the right that they refuse to believe that the person disagreeing with them is motivated by a moral consideration. So they impugn the motivations of the person disagreeing with them, and say that the person wants bad things to happen.

(Again, they might also or instead impugn their intelligence by calling them stupid.)

If you're going to accuse a person of having evil, selfish or malicious motivations, then you have to provide evidence for it. And it's not enough to point out that that person's actions have bad consequences: most of our actions have bad consequences, even if we don't intend them to.

We wouldn't want others to always put the worst interpretation on our own actions, encouraging people to think the worst of us. So we shouldn't do it to others, either.

"When Donald Trump says he'll make America great he means make it even greater for rich guys just like Donald Trump. Great for the guys who don't care how much they've already squeezed from everyone else. Great for the guys who always want more. Because that's who Donald Trump is: the guy who wants it all for himself. And watch out, because he will crush you into the dirt to get whatever he wants. That's who he is."
-- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), June 27, 2016.

Comment: Warren is demonizing Trump – as well as other unnamed "rich guys" – saying they don't care about other people and will "crush you into the dirt" – presumably metaphorical violent rhetoric meaning that they'll do anything – in order to satisfy their selfishness.

"That’s the choice you face this November -- between dividing ourselves up, looking for scapegoats, ignoring the evidence -- or realizing that we are all stronger together. If we turn against each other -- whether it's divisions of race or religion -- we're not going to build on the progress we started. If we get cynical and just vote our fears -- or we don’t vote at all -- we won’t build on the progress we’ve started. America has been a story of progress, but has not gone in a straight line. There have been times where we've gone forward, there have been times where we've gone backwards. And what’s made the difference each and every time is citizens voting, and caring, and committing to our better selves. Coming together around our common values, and our faith in hard work and our faith in each other, and the belief in opportunity for everybody, and assuming the best in each other, and not the worst."
-- President Barack Obama, June 25, 2016.

Comment: Obama is calling for setting a higher standard of debate, but at the same time he's demonizing his opponents as not caring about evidence. As a result, his remarks imply that it's mostly his opponents who resort to unfair rhetoric. Also, Obama is using "uniting, not dividing" rhetoric – though, how do you unify with people you accuse of ignoring evidence? – as well as "appealing to fear" rhetoric.

"The UK just voted to leave the European Union – so-called “Brexit”. … This is the end of the world as we know it, OK? Please take this seriously. What happened? What happened was, you have this complete right-wing, crazy, racist, xenophobic horror show breaks out in the UK. They don’t want no immigrants – sound familiar? They don’t want multi-culturalism – does that sound familiar? The don’t want to have nothing to do with nobody, period, except for people who look just like them – basically, white folks – in Britain. They say they can’t even deal with white folks in Europe, they just want to be on their own. So everybody goes, “No way, who cares? These people are crazy. If you vote for Brexit, if you vote to leave the European Union, you’re going to destroy the economy. You’re gonna be doing crazy stuff. You’re gonna crash your stock market.” Does any of this sound familiar? You’ve got a movement of crazy people that are going for power, making lunatic arguments, and then you have good, thoughtful, liberal people saying, “Oh, that wouldn’t be prudent. That wouldn’t work out. The policies seem irrational.” … Crazy, hard-right lunatics just led the UK off a cliff into the vast abyss of stupidity and foolishness and soon-to-be economic chaos. Does this sound familiar? The same people in the United States will give you the same argument and tell you it is impossible that Trump can win. … The pollsters don't get it. The pollsters call reasonable people and ask them reasonable questions and get reasonable answers and put you to sleep. And they tell you that Trump can't win. And they told the people in Britain that these Brexit people couldn't win. … And the people in the UK who pushed this insane idea are the worst people ever born in the UK. These are not good people. These are not smart people. These are not kind people. These are racist, hateful people. Some of them are neo-Nazis. And people said they would never be able to get any traction. Well, look at the news. They got a ton of traction. If you don't want this nonsense to happen in the United States, quit tell – slap your friends upside the head who are watching NPR, eating their tofu, and telling you how wonderful it is that Trump is horrible. It is not wonderful that he is horrible. It is horrible that he is horrible. … This hate-wave that just tore Europe apart? Coming soon to a voting booth near you. And we need to have every single person we know doing every possible thing to stop it. Thank you."
-- Pundit and CNN correspondent Van Jones, June 23, 2016, referring to the Brexit vote and how it relates to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Comment: Jones is demonizing Trump and Brexit supporters – in part, accusing them of anti-immigrant bigotry – as well as calling them stupid. Are there no non-bigoted, sensible reasons to support Trump or Brexit? Also, Jones says people should "do anything to win", though I imagine he's being emphatic, not literal (though, much of the rest of what he said seems to be meant literally).

"The effort to combine the general population of this country with the current burgeoning numbers of illegal immigrants is outrageous, simply outrageous. For Obama to try to tell people that you and I are no different than the current crop of illegals. Well, the difference is, back then people obeyed the law for the most part. I mean, people always break the law, but for the most part the rule of law triumphed and illegal immigrants were found and deported. The case was not made for them to stay. But that's not even the worst of it. The idea that all of us here are no different. We were all illegal at one point and we were all unwanted at one point. Somebody in our family, if not us, was undesirable, and yet here we are. And this moral equivalence that this president makes is part and parcel of his effort to tear down the greatness and the uniqueness of this country. Make no mistake."
-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, June 23, 2016, referring to remarks made earlier that day by President Barack Obama.

Comment: This is demonizing. It's fine to disagree with Obama's proposals on immigration, but to suggest that it's part of some plan to ruin the country is unacceptable.

"For more than two decades now, our immigration system, everybody acknowledges, has been broken. And the fact that the Supreme Court wasn’t able to issue a decision today doesn’t just set the system back even further, it takes us further from the country that we aspire to be. … Nearly 70 Democrats and Republicans in the Senate came together to pass a smart, common-sense bill that would have doubled the border patrol, and offered undocumented immigrants a pathway to earn citizenship if they paid a fine, paid their taxes, and played by the rules. Unfortunately, Republicans in the House of Representatives refused to allow a simple yes or no vote on that bill. So I was left with little choice but to take steps within my existing authority to make our immigration system smarter, fairer, and more just. … But today’s decision is frustrating to those who seek to grow our economy and bring a rationality to our immigration system, and to allow people to come out of the shadows and lift this perpetual cloud on them. … So where do we go from here? Most Americans -- including business leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement, Democrats and Republicans and independents -- still agree that the single best way to solve this problem is by working together to pass common-sense, bipartisan immigration reform. … This is an election year. And during election years, politicians tend to use the immigration issue to scare people with words like “amnesty” in hopes that it will whip up votes. Keep in mind that millions of us, myself included, go back generations in this country, with ancestors who put in the painstaking effort to become citizens. And we don’t like the notion that anyone might get a free pass to American citizenship. But here’s the thing. Millions of people who have come forward and worked to get right with the law under this policy, they’ve been living here for years, too -- in some cases, even decades. So leaving the broken system the way it is, that’s not a solution. In fact, that's the real amnesty. Pretending we can deport 11 million people, or build a wall without spending tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer money is abetting what is really just factually incorrect. It's not going to work. It's not good for this country. It's a fantasy that offers nothing to help the middle class, and demeans our tradition of being both a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. In the end, it is my firm belief that immigration is not something to fear. We don’t have to wall ourselves off from those who may not look like us right now, or pray like we do, or have a different last name. Because being an American is about something more than that. What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal that all of us are created equal, all of us have a chance to make of our lives what we will. And every study shows that whether it was the Irish or the Poles, or the Germans, or the Italians, or the Chinese, or the Japanese, or the Mexicans, or the Kenyans -- whoever showed up, over time, by a second generation, third generation, those kids are Americans. They do look like us -- because we don't look one way. We don't all have the same last names, but we all share a creed and we all share a commitment to the values that founded this nation. That's who we are. And that is what I believe most Americans recognize. … And now we've got a choice about who we’re going to be as a country, what we want to teach our kids, and how we want to be represented in Congress and in the White House. … We get these spasms of politics around immigration and fear-mongering, and then our traditions and our history and our better impulses kick in. That's how we all ended up here. Because I guarantee you, at some point, every one of us has somebody in our background who people didn’t want coming here, and yet here we are."
-- President Barack Obama, June 23, 2016, referring to the Supreme Court decision that day on Obama's executive actions on immigration enforcement.

Comment: Much of this is demonizing and distortion, as Obama's speech doesn't recognize that different people have different reasons for opposing his actions on immigration, and propose different paths for dealing with the current state of immigration policy. First, Obama's remarks leave the impression that, if we don't support his executive actions on immigration enforcement, we therefore are opposed to immigration in itself – likely for reasons of bigotry (i.e., wanting to keep out people who "look different") – which is demonizing. Some people oppose Obama's actions on procedural grounds (i.e., that they're not consistent with the presidential powers laid out in the Constitution); some object to the actions because they believe it is unfair to reduce the penalties on immigrants who broke the law, even to the point of giving them an advantage over immigrants who are obeying immigration law; some object to that the reduced immigration enforcement encourages further illegal immigration, and so on. It's false and derisive to treat opponents to his executive actions as being motivated by "fear-mongering" against immigrants. Second, those who oppose Obama's proposed immigration reforms (legislative or executive) don't necessarily support leaving the system as is, or deporting the 11 million immigrants who are here illegally, or building a wall to keep out those who "don't look like us". That's just a distortion. Finally, Obama's opponents on immigration policy aren't somehow standing in opposition to "rationality" and "common sense" – is he saying they're stupid? – and they aren't necessarily out of step with America's traditions; that's just more demonizing.

"I know Donald hates it when anyone points out how hollow his sales pitch really is. And I guess my speech yesterday must have gotten under his skin because right away he lashed out on Twitter with outlandish lies and conspiracy theories and he did the same in his speech today. Now think about it. He's going after me personally because he has no answers on the substance. In fact, he doubled down on being the king of debt, so all he can do is try to distract us. That's even why he's attacking my faith. Sigh. And, of course, attacking a philanthropic foundation that saves and improves lives around the world. It's no surprise that he doesn't understand these things. The Clinton Foundation helps poor people around the world get access to life-saving AIDS medicine. Donald Trump uses poor people around the world to produce his line of suits and ties. "
-- Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, June 22, 2016, referring to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Comment: The fact that Clinton may have "struck a nerve" (i.e., got under his skin) in what she said about Trump in no way proves that he has "no answers on substance"; that's a point she has to prove by other means. It may be unfair when Trump says, for instance, that "there's nothing out there" when it comes to Clinton's religious affiliation, but that doesn't prove his policy positions are baseless. Do we get to conclude the same thing about Clinton whenever she says something false or otherwise out-of-bounds? That she has no sound arguments to defend her policies? Second, Clinton is using "distractions" rhetoric. Last, Clinton is deriding Trump, suggesting that he doesn't understand philanthropy, or that he is somehow exploiting or abusing foreign workers.

CARSON: It’s something that I strongly advocate: open conversation, civil discussion, as opposed to the way we’ve gotten used to doing things, which is letting other people interpret to us, and then getting in our separate corners and demonizing each other. … Of course we’re all interested in seeing everybody be more civil. Again, I don’t want to make it just about Donald Trump. This is a problem that permeates our entire political system. And we should – and particularly you guys in the media should be encouraging people to be more civil rather than, you know, focusing on the fight and the carnage.

BARNICLE: Dr. Carson, demonization – you spoke about it a couple of times this morning – has been widely, widely consumed in our culture, it’s widely affected our politics, certainly for many, many years. So, unfortunately, today’s conversation and much of what the conversation is about here on a daily basis has to do with Donald Trump. You’ve endorsed him. So we can’t avoid talking about Donald Trump and his campaign, and the issues and the language about his campaign. So my question to you is, demonization – I think we all here at the table agree about the dangers of demonization – but isn’t “Lyin’ Ted”, “Crooked Hillary” – isn’t that a form of demonization, and what do you say to your candidate about the employment of such demonization in the language?

CARSON: Well, I would have to disagree with you that he’s the only one who’s doing it. It’s being done –

BARNICLE: I didn’t say he was the only one. I said he was the one that you endorsed.

CARSON: So, I think what we ought to all be encouraging everybody to do is to talk about the issues. That includes Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, whoever is in the mix, because that is what is going to help us get to the ultimate solution, which is: how do we solve our problems? And we’re trying to make it about personalities. It’s not about personalities. It’s about something so much bigger than Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. This is about America. This is about the direction we are taking and what kind of nation are we going to be and what are we going to hand down to our children and our grandchildren.
-- Former Republican presidential contender Ben Carson, June 22, 2016, during interview with Mike Barnicle of MSNBC.

Comment: First, Carson is calling for us to set a higher standard of political debate. Second, however, he is evading the question when it comes to whether or not Trump's rhetoric counts as incivility. Granted, Trump isn't the only one who has resorted to demonizing, but that doesn't mean Carson can't state whether the rhetoric raised by Barnicle also counts as demonizing. Really, how are we supposed to encourage people to good behavior if we don't identify what counts as bad behavior?

QUESTIONER [unidentified]: And on the topic of tweets today, there was a tweet last night from Senator Warren saying that she agreed with Chris Murphy that Republicans have decided to sell weapons to ISIS. Do you think that goes too far?

EARNEST: Well, I didn’t see the tweet, but what I could say about this is simply the situation that is created by Republicans blocking the Feinstein amendment is simply that individuals who are suspected of having ties to terrorism are able to buy a gun with impunity, because Republicans are protecting that loophole at the simple request of the NRA. Those are the facts of the situation. And again, I’ll leave it to Republicans to try to defend that position. I don’t think it's a position that many Americans are going to have sympathy for.

QUESTIONER [unidentified]: Are you saying that you agree with that sentiment that it's essentially deciding to sell weapons to ISIS?

EARNEST: I think what is -- again, I'll let Senator Murphy and Senator Warren describe the situation as they see it. As we see it, it is without question possible for suspected terrorists to buy guns because Republicans are protecting their ability to do so.
-- White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, June 21, 2016, remarking on comments made by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Murphy and Warren had said that the GOP, by blocking certain Senate legislation on gun control, had "decided to sell weapons to ISIS".

Comment: First, Murphy and Warren's remark amounts to demonizing. There are concerns about whether people should lose their right to travel by plane or own a gun merely because they have been placed on a terror watch list without having been convicted of any actual acts of terrorism. They didn't simply decide to sell guns to The Islamic State. Second, Earnest is evading the question about whether the White House approves of Murphy and Warren's remark is acceptable. He says that it's their job to defend their remarks, which is true, but it often falls on us to evaluate the remarks of others. The White House has routinely criticized remarks made by Donald Trump; they seldom say, "No comment, we'll leave it to Mr. Trump to defend his own remarks."

LIMBAUGH: Okay. Let's start on the phones. It's Cody in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Glad you called, sir. You're up first. Welcome to the program.

CALLER: Yes. Hello. Thank you.

LIMBAUGH: You bet.

CALLER: Basically, I just wanted to say, as a gay Millennial, I don't see why the gay community is backing Hillary and the Obama administration as much as they are after what happened, because it really does feel like they do not care about any Americans, period. And they'd rather defend the Islamic terrorists than defend their own people in their own country.
-- A caller to the Rush Limbaugh Show, June 20, 2016, referring to President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Comment: This is demonizing, accusing Clinton and Obama of not caring about protecting Americans, which likely also questions their patriotism.

-- Stephen Colbert, June 14, 2016, on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in a segment titled, "This Diagram Explains Trump's Response To Orlando", referring to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Comment: Colbert's remarks – to what degree they're supposed to be taken comically, it isn't always clear – involve several things. First, he knocks over a straw man when he says Trump believes that all Muslims know what all other Muslims are up to. Trump's point was that some Muslims know about terrorist plotting but don't report it (as, for instance, may be the case with the wife of Orlando shooter Omar Mir Seddique Mateen). Second, Colbert demonizes Trump as a Nazi. Finally, he resorts to vulgarity, calling Trump an "asshole".

CALLER: You know, it's funny, because that whole time yesterday with the president, he spent all this time talking about labels and it wasn't -- it was all simply a political points being made by his opponents. It really couldn't do anything (unintelligible) very unimportant stuff, yet he seems completely loath to use anything other than "ISIL" rather than "ISIS" to talk about them. The question is, why, what's the difference between ISIS and ISIL? Well, the big difference, and a big one it is, is that ISIL stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. And what's the difference between the Levant and Syria, which is part of ISIS? Well, the Levant goes from Turkey all the way down to the bottom of Egypt. And what's in the middle there? Israel.

RUSH: Right.

CALLER: So what he's basically giving them credit for is being the Islamic State that controls Israel as well as the rest of the Middle East.

RUSH: Well, you might look at it that way. I understand that, you know, Obama's anti-label and lives by them and dies by them. I think Obama insisting on using "ISIL" instead of "ISIS," I think it's a sign of respect.
-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, June 15, 2016, talking to a caller – Ron in Pennsylvania – on Limbaugh's radio show. The were discussion President Barack Obama's remarks about the Islamic State the day before.

Comment: Ron is demonizing Obama. How does Obama's use of the term "ISIL" validate the group's claim to the land of Israel? Both "ISIS" and "ISIL" mention the land of Iraq (it's the second "I" in the acronym); so, if you use either term, are you validating their claim to ruling Iraq? No, of course not, so why should using the term "Levant" imply anything different? Plus, Obama has ordered air strikes that have killed any number of ISIS / ISIL fighters, so how does that fit with him validating their cause? Limbaugh is also derisively saying Obama is showing respect to the Islamic State, which also amounts to demonizing. (Obama likely uses the term "ISIL" simply because that's the term the U.S. military uses when it briefs him about the group; why the military uses that term is another question.)

"[T]here's a news story out there today, and I first told you about this way back September of 2015, so not quite a year. Nine months, eight months ago. Here we go. … [The Iranian nuclear deal would end] the sanctions, which was going to make available to the Iranians $150 billion in frozen assets. And everybody said, "Why are we helping? Our ally is Israel. Why are we helping the Iranians nuke up?" Remember? This was last fall. So back to my program on September the 9th of 2015. "You know why the Corker Bill exists as it does, why there's never any serious effort to stop Obama in making the Iran deal? Do you have any idea? It was money. … [According to a story in Bloomberg], the Iranian national airline's a joke, the mullahs have ordered a number of replacement aircraft made by Boeing. Boeing wants the deal but in order to for the deal to happen, $150 billion in frozen Iranian assets has to be unfrozen. Now Boeing, Republican contributor, "the bottom line was that Republican politicians, elected officials basically had to please a very well-to-do donor or series of donors that were going to be able to engage in new --" In other words, the Republicans went along with this to satisfy Big Donor, is the bottom line."
-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, June 15, 2016, referring to a story the prior day about Iran buying jets from Boeing.

Comment: First, Limbaugh is accusing people of basing their position on the Iranian nuclear deal on money rather than foreign policy and national interests. Who, in particular, is he talking about – he doesn't name any particular member of Congress – and what is his evidence that they did this for Boeing? Without names and evidence, Limbaugh is demonizing Republicans. Second, the idea that the Iranian nuclear deal involved "helping" Iran get nuclear weapons is a straw man: Iran had to give up 25,000 pounds of enriched uranium, and give up building a nuclear reactor that would have provided weapons-grade plutonium. People can disagree about what will best stop Iran from building a nuclear weapon in the long-term, but in the short-term they have lost 97% of their fissile material.

CARR: I heard you this morning on "Fox and Friends" and I think I sort of have an idea what you were getting at, but you're getting ripped by the usual suspects in the mainstream media, your great friends at the Washington Post and elsewhere, they're pulling this quote out – and then you were asked about it on the "Today Show" again. You said this of Obama, quote: "He doesn't get it or he gets it better than anyone understands. It's one or the other and either one is unacceptable." Dot, dot, dot, "There's something going on." What did you mean by that?

TRUMP: Well, you know, I'm going to let people figure that out for themselves now, because, to be honest with you, there certainly doesn't seem to be a lot of anger or passion you know when we want to demand retribution for what happened over the weekend. There is certainly not a lot of passion, there is certainly not a lot of anger. So, we'll let people figure it out. But, it's a very sad situation when we had the kind of tragedy that we had, and we have a President who gave a press conference and he talked about gun control when this was a licensed person who could've had a gun anyway. And basically, he wants to take the guns away from people so that only the bad guys – I mean, one of the many problems with the gun control is that the bad guys will have the guns, the good guys won't. They'll turn [them] in because they're law-abiding, right? So they turn in their guns if you had gun control, but the bad guys aren't turning in any of the guns, that I can tell you.
-- Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, June 13, 2016, being interviewed by Howie Carr of The Howie Carr Show. Trump was referring to President Barack Obama's remarks regarding the Orlando nightclub shooting by Omar Mir Seddique Mateen.

Comment: This is an evasion, along the lines of the "voters get to decide" variety. Trump is clearly saying that Obama is doing something wrong, either as a matter of unacceptable ignorance or sinister intent. For him to refuse to clarify his allegation is amounts to there being no credible allegation. The fact that there may be problems with Obama's position on gun control in no way proves that Obama is "up to something". Consider: by not clarifying his allegation, would it be fair for us to non-specifically suggest that Trump is u"p to something", and that people should "figure out for themselves" what that means?

"So she says the solution is to ban guns. They tried that in France, which has among the toughest gun laws anywhere in the world, and 130 people were brutally murdered by Islamic terrorists in cold blood. Her plan is to disarm law-abiding Americans, abolishing the Second Amendment and leaving only the bad guys and terrorists with guns. No good. Not going to happen, folks. Not going to happen. Not going to happen. She wants to take away Americans' guns and then admit the very people who want to slaughter us. Let them come in to the country, we don't have guns, let them come in. Let them have all the fun they want."
-- Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, June 13, 2016, referring to Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Comment: This is a distortion. While Clinton has called for restrictions on guns that Trump doesn't support, Clinton has not called for banning all guns. More, Trump is demonizing Clinton by claiming she intentionally wants to render Americans defenseless while at the same time introducing violent people into the country.

When it comes to Hillary Clinton's pronouncement earlier Monday that "radical Islamism" and "radical jihadism" are "the same thing" in discussing the Orlando, Florida, terrorist attack, the White House is sticking with its current terminology.

"Listen, I think the president has been quite clear why we choose the language we use to define our enemy. And we have defined the enemy, our adversary in this war as a terrorist organization that perverts Islam," press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters. "And the president's been blunt about that and the president has been blunt about why exactly we use the terminology that we do. And it is to make crystal clear we're not going to give those extremist organizations the legitimacy of claiming legitimate Islam."

President Barack Obama is "not going to give into them," Earnest said, because those groups and people "want that legitimacy."

"They want to further this narrative that they represent Islam in a war against the West. That narrative is false. It is empty. It is a myth. In fact, most of the victims of these terrorist organizations are in fact innocent Muslim men, women and children," Earnest continued, adding, "Many of the -- many of our most important partners in our counter-ISIL effort are our partners in the Muslim world."

That should suggest that the "extremist organizations do not represent the Muslim faith," Earnest said.
-- White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, June 13, 2016, as related in a story by Nick Gass of Politico. Earnest was referring to the Orlando nightclub shooting by Omar Mir Seddique Mateen.

Comment: Earnest is making the argument that Obama won't call the shooting "Islamic" because it would be saying that such violence is a legitimate part of Islam, which a derisive distortion of Islam and a false justification of the shooter's actions. But is that really what such language commits us to? If I call Adolf Hitler a "German supremacist" or a "white supremacist", does that mean I'm saying his rhetoric and violence is a legitimate part of what it is to be German or white? Or, if I say that Josef Stalin and Mao Zedong were socialists – or "radical socialists" – am I therefore saying their violent, oppressive behavior is an essential part of socialism, and that all socialists are committed to the same? The same question goes to phrases like "right-wing violence", "left-wing violence", 'environmental terrorism", "Christian militants", etc. Do they all amount to a false portrayal that demonizes these wider movements as being represented by extremists? Do these phrases all give unearned legitimacy for the people doing the violence?

Donald Trump stepped up his criticism of President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday, pointedly questioning Obama's lack of willingness to call the act "radical Islamic terrorism" and insinuating that the president's sympathies might lie elsewhere.

"He doesn't get it or he gets it better than anybody understands. It's one or the other," Trump said of Obama on "Fox & Friends," speaking on the phone. "And either one is unacceptable, No. 1, and No. 2, calling on another gun ban, I mean, this man has no clue.”

Trump again implied that the president was not a trustworthy leader who failed to prevent Omar Mateen, an apparently radicalized 29-year-old Florida man, from going on a shooting rampage at an Orlando nightclub early Sunday morning, killing 49 and injuring at least 53.

"We're led by a man who is a very — look, we're led by a man that either is, is not tough, not smart, or he's got something else in mind," Trump said. "And the something else in mind, you know, people can't believe it. People cannot — they cannot believe that President Obama is acting the ways he acts and can't even mention the words radical Islamic terrorism. There's something going on. It's inconceivable."
-- Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, June 13, 2016, as related in a story by Nick Gass of Politico.

Comment: Trump is demonizing Obama. Perhaps Obama is wrong not to use the term "radical Islamic terrorism" to refer to the shooting in Orlando, but does that mean is has to be the result of a sinister, conscious decision on Obama's part?

”But the Democrat Party is now an anti-Israel party. That’s not to say – by the way, just as elements of it are an anti-American party, totalitarian in their mindset. As I say, that’s not to say there aren’t some among them, obviously, who support Israel or support America. But the fact of the matter is, when you look at our college campuses, when you look at Obama’s policies, when you look at the Democrat Party – this pathetic Bernie Sanders, he is a Jew who despises Israel and is an American who despises America. And you typically find that sort of thing, a similar sort of thing, don’t you? Tends to be a parallel. But this administration, this grotesque – this President, Secretary of State, this administration is loaded with haters. And so is the Democrat Party."
-- Pundit Mark Levin, June 9, 2016, during the 1st hour of his radio show.

Comment: This is demonizing, accusing people of bigotry (e.g., anti-Semitism) and being unpatriotic. It's one thing to criticize people for supporting policies that don't believe are the best for Israel or America; it's another thing entirely to say that they hate those countries, and are actively trying to undermine them. Is it really the case that many or even most Democrats hold this view? That they want government to regulate every aspect of public and private life (i.e., that they're totalitarians)?

"Donald Trump is a loud, nasty, thin-skinned fraud who has never risked anything for anyone and serves nobody but himself. And that is just one of the many reasons why he will never be President of the United States. Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell want Donald Trump to appoint the next generation of judges. They want those judges to tilt the law to favor big business and billionaires like Trump. They just want Donald to quit being so vulgar and obvious about it. Donald Trump chose racism as his weapon, but his aim is exactly the same as the rest of the Republicans. Pound the courts into submission to the rich and powerful. We will not allow a small, insecure, thin-skinned wannabe tyrant or his allies in the Senate to destroy the rule of law in the United States of America."
-- Sen. Elizabeth Warren, June 9, 2016.

Comment: This is demonizing. Whatever Trump has done wrong (and there's plenty), what evidence is there that he wants to be a tyrant and abolish democracy and the Constitution? More, what evidence is there that Republicans in general want to destroy the rule of law in favor of big business?

"We believe that cooperation is better than conflict, unity is better than division, empowerment is better than resentment, and bridges are better than walls. It's a simple, but powerful idea. We believe that we are stronger together and the stakes in this election are high, and the choice is clear. Donald Trump is temperamentally unfit to be president and commander-in-chief. And he's not just trying to build a wall between America and Mexico, he's trying to wall off Americans from each other. When he says let's make America great again, that is code for, let's take America backwards."
-- Democratic presidential contender former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, June 7, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.

Comment: Much of this is platitudes: who doesn't believe that cooperation is better than conflict? The question is, how best to bring about cooperation rather than conflict? Also, Clinton is using "unify the country" rhetoric – and in parallel, accusing Trump of being divisive. Lastly, she is accusing Trump of using code words, but do people really want America to go backwards? Isn't that just demonizing? Don't they really just disagree about what's the best way to go forwards?

Hillary Clinton went there.

“We are trying to elect a president, not a dictator,” she said of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump at a campaign rally here on Friday, just days before the California Democratic primary.

And at the last rally in the scorching San Bernardino evening, she once again let loose on Trump, questioning not only his qualifications, but his sincerity.

“I don’t understand Donald Trump running a whole campaign based on nothing but denigrating immigrants,” she said, pointing out that Trump, whose mother was Scottish and whose wife is Slovenian, has family that came over to the United States from abroad. “Is this nothing but a political stunt?"
-- Democratic presidential contender former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, June 3, 2016, as related in a story by Gabriel Debenedetti of Politico.

Comment: This is demonizing. Whatever Trump has done wrong, at no point has he called for, say, eliminating elections (as a dictator would). Also, though he has undoubtedly made unfair statements against illegal immigrants from Mexico, he hasn’t denigrated all immigrants, nor is his entire campaign based on doing so.

"A lot of times it's easy for somebody to come up and say you know what, if we deport all the immigrants and build a wall or if we cut off trade with China, or if we do X or Y or Z, that there's some simple answer and suddenly everything is going to feel secure."
-- President Barack Obama, June 1, 2016, referring to economic circumstances and remarks by Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.

Comment: Obama is demonizing Trump. At no point has Trump called for all immigrants to be deported or to cut off trade with China.

"And instead of telling you what they’re for, they’ve defined their economic agenda by what they’re against -- and that's mainly being against me. And their basic message is anti-government, anti-immigrant, anti-trade, and, let’s face it, it's anti-change. … And the one thing I can promise you is if we turn against each other based on divisions of race or religion, if we fall for a bunch of okie-doke just because it sounds funny or the tweets are provocative, then we’re not going to build on the progress that we’ve started. If we get cynical and just vote our fears, or if we don’t vote at all, we won’t build on the progress that we started."
-- President Barack Obama, June 1, 2016, referring to his conservative and Republican critics, and Republican presidential contender Donald Trump in particular.

Comment: Obama is demonizing his opponents on several fronts. First, Republicans and conservatives certainly want smaller government, but it’s an exaggeration to say they are “anti-government” if that means they want no government at all. Second, while many of Obama’s opponents want illegal immigrants deported, that is not the same as being opposed to all immigrants and immigration whatsoever (i.e., being “anti-immigrant”). Third, some Republicans (though by no means all of them) have called for trade tariffs, but not for a suspension of trade. So how is the Republican position “anti-trade”? Fourth, it’s simply hyperbole to say Republicans are “anti-change.” They propose all sorts of change; just change that Obama tends to disagree with. Lastly, Obama seems to be saying Republicans are appealing to fear. But all candidates do this, Obama included. They point out bad things on the horizon – things that we fear – and pledge to lead us away from them. There’s nothing wrong with appealing to fear, per se; the point is, which fears are rational, and what are the best policies do deal with them?

"Donald Trump is like the Republican's Frankenstein with orange hair. The Republican Party is reaping what it has sowed. There's all this nostalgia about Ronald Reagan. Ronald Reagan announced his candidacy in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the site of where three civil rights workers were killed by white supremacists. This is a party which has exploited what Trump is now exploiting. Dog-whistle racism, grievances, resentments. We need an inclusive populism, not the scapegoating populism. To speak to the real anxieties and fears and frustrations, but with hope, not demonization as Donald Trump is doing."
-- Katrina vanden Heuvel, May 8, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.

Comment: Vanden Heuvel is accusing Trump, Reagan, and much of the Republican party of being bigots who express their position using code words. She is also calling for a higher standard of debate in which we refrain from demonizing others, though isn't it demonizing to say Trump, Reagan, and the rest are racists?

When it comes to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, even a few months’ time out of Congress has done little to lessen former House Speaker John Boehner’s contempt for his former Capitol Hill colleague.

“Lucifer in the flesh,” Boehner told an audience at Stanford University on Wednesday night, according to the Stanford Daily. “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.”

In fact, Wednesday night was not the first occasion that Boehner has compared Cruz to “Lucifer.” He used the epithet last month during a question-and-answer session with reporters at the Futures Industry Association conference in Boca Raton, Florida.

Cruz is notorious for his toxic relationship with his congressional colleagues. It turned radioactive in 2013 when the Texas senator played a pivotal role in shutting down the federal government with his high-stakes attempt to defund Obamacare.

On Thursday, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) seized on Boehner’s comments and again showed he’s not letting bygones be bygones over the shutdown.

“Maybe he gives Lucifer a bad name by comparing him to Ted Cruz,” King said on CNN. “Listen, what John Boehner was most concerned about was Ted Cruz perpetrated a fraud and a hoax when he brought about the shutdown of the government on some kind of a vague promise that he was gonna be able to take Obamacare out of the budget or to end Obamacare.”
-- As related in an April 28, 2016, story by Nick Gass of Politico.

Comment: Boehner and King are demonizing Cruz.

"But everything was fine until these people start disrupting things. And, by the way, they are not the lovable, little peaceful fuzzballs. These are not people showing up hoping to be heard and protest and get their point of view out. They're trying to shut these events down and they jostle people around. They shove. These are not nice people, if I can just be as simplistic about it as possible. They're mean little angry troglodytes, these leftist protesters, and they have only one purpose, and that's to shut down these events and disrupt them for whatever reason. They get their jollies or they don't want the event to go on. They want to make it look like there are many more people opposed to whoever it is conducting the rally than there are supporters."
-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, March 14, 2016, referring to a rally held by Republican presidential contender Donald Trump held two days earlier, which was disrupted by protesters.

Comment: Limbaugh is demonizing – "these are not nice people" – and dehumanizing – "troglodytes" – the Trump protesters.

"They sow discord. The Democrat Party, liberalism, sows chaos. They thrive on it. They need chaos. They need people angry. That's why every day there's always a "crisis" of something going on, because what they do doesn't work. This is why they never campaign on what they really want to do. Everybody knows that what they really want to do won't work and doesn't work. So they lie."
-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, March 10, 2016.

Comment: Limbaugh is demonizing Democrats.

Actor and activist Sean Penn told an audience of security geeks Friday that "the defecation on America that is the Republican debate" is making him nostalgic for President George W. Bush, something he finds amazing.

Penn spoke on the final day of the RSA computer security conference, an annual event that was especially newsy this year due to the ongoing battle between Apple and the FBI.

He was asked by RSA program chair Hugh Thompson who he backed in this year’s presidential election.

Penn grimaced, then said maybe he’s simply not being democratic enough in how he thinks about the election because he's clearly not taking into account "the true interests of my fellow Americans."

“So many of them truly want to hate each other, want to bottom out their community so they can rise up in it, want to really devastate the rest of the world and maybe get into a civil war,” he said.

If that is what the mass of Americans want, “I’m going to have to consider Trump-Cruz,” he said.
-- Actor and pundit Sean Penn, March 4, 2016, as related in a story by Elizabeth Weise of USA Today. Penn was referring to Republican presidential contenders Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

Comment: Penn is demonizing, saying that Trump and Cruz (and/or their supporters) intentionally want to destroy their communities and start wars. He is also using "disgusting" rhetoric (i.e., "defecation on America").

"He has a very, very highly developed lizard brain. … He has a feral intelligence. He reminds me of the Emperor Caligula who got his greatest pleasure from destroying his opponents and humiliating them, and he is brilliant at that. But he doesn't know anything about policy".
-- Pundit Joe Klein, February 18, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Donald Trump.

Comment: Klein is demonizing and dehumanizing Trump. Also, does Trump literally know nothing about policy?

"But I want to mention one more critical area: Protecting that most fundamental of rights—the right to vote. Across our country, Republican governors and legislatures are erecting one barrier after another that make it harder for black people to vote. It’s a blast from the Jim Crow past, and we need to call it for what it is. And in the past few days the stakes got even higher. Justice Scalia’s passing means the court hangs in the balance. Now the Republicans say they’ll reject anyone President Obama nominates, no matter how qualified. Some are even saying he doesn’t have the right to nominate anyone, as if somehow he’s not the real president. That’s in keeping with what we’ve heard all along, isn’t it? Many Republicans talk in coded, racial language about takers and losers. They demonize President Obama and encourage the ugliest impulses of the paranoid fringe. This kind of hatred and bigotry has no place in our politics—or our country."
-- Democratic presidential contender former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, February 16, 2016.

Comment: Clinton is demonizing Republicans, calling them bigots. Clinton is also accusing Republicans of using "code words". Would it be appropriate for Republicans to say, "Clinton's rhetoric is code for Marxism and communism, we need to call it for what it is"?

"He is a liar, he is a hypocrite, and he hates America."
-- Pundit Mark Levin, February 15, 2016, referring to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

Comment: In addition to calling him a liar and a hypocrite, Levin is demonizing Schumer as hating his country.

"The devil is back in Hell! Yay!"
-- Editor Charles Manning, February 13, 2016, in a tweet (later deleted) responding to the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Comment: This is a clear case of demonizing.

"The thing about — there is a troll-like quality to Cruz. He operates below the level of human life. … Let me clarify it. I think he appeals — I think he appeals to people’s negativity rather than their joy. I don’t think people feel good about voting for Cruz, I think they feel — I don’t know what it is he appeals to. Now, people keep telling me he has inherited the libertarian crowd. I don’t see how. He doesn’t seem libertarian to me. He’s appealed to the Baptists up here, I don’t understand that. What is he, a theocrat? Maybe he is. I'm serious about the guy, there’s something enlivening about these other candidates that makes you feel good. There’s something about that guy – who’s always reminded me of Joe McCarthy – and there’s something about him that is negative and menacing. When I say below the level of human life, I mean the good nature of human life, not just being a person. Although –"
-- Pundit Chris Matthews, February 10, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). Matthews was interrupted at the end of his remarks.

Comment: Matthews seems to pull back from using "subhuman" rhetoric to demonize Cruz (though it's not clear where he was about to go at the end of his statement), but he nonetheless does demonize Cruz as being somehow at odds with the "good nature of human life".

While Bruno Mars gave her a run for her money, it was Beyoncé’s riveting performance of her anti-brutality song “Formation” during Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime performance that stole the show. Needless to say, apologists for police brutality were incensed.
-- Pundit Markos Moulitsas, February 9, 2016.

Comment: So, everyone disagreed with Beyoncé’s Super Bowl halftime performance is a defender of police brutality? Of course not, Moulitsas is demonizing.

RUBIO: As far as that message, I hope they keep running it, and I'm going to keep saying it because it is true. Barack Obama – yes, has he hired incompetent people to implement laws and run agencies? Absolutely. But when it comes to what he's trying to do to America, it is part of a plan. I'm gonna keep saying that, because not only is it the truth, it is part of our campaign. He has said he wanted to change the country, he's doing it in a way that is robbing us of everything that makes us special. I'm gonna keep saying that, because not only is it the truth, it is at the core of our campaign.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But even after Chris Christie called you out for what he called, "canned speeches", "25-second canned speeches", you repeat it again, he said there you go again, that was not a good moment for you was it?

RUBIO: It is what I believe and it is what I am going to continue to say because it happens to be one of the reasons why I am running. This is the greatest country in the history of mankind because of a certain set of principles. Barack Obama wants us to abandon those principles, and he has spent seven years putting in place policies that rip them from us: undermining the Constitution, undermining free enterprise, undermining our standard in the world, weakening America, apologizing for us on the global stage. The reason why I'm running is if we elect someone like that for the next four years, I think it may be too late for America to turn around.
-- Republican presidential contender Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), February 7, 2016, being interviewed by George Stephanopoulos of ABC News. The discussion concerned criticism from Republican presidential contender Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), who in a GOP debate the previous day had accused Rubio of using scripted remarks while describing President Barack Obama.

Comment: Rubio is rejecting the accusation that he is using talking points by insisting (correctly) that what matters is whether the points are true, not whether they are pre-written or off-the-cuff. However, Rubio's description of Obama as someone who is intentionally trying to destroy what is good about America amounts to demonizing, and perhaps also questioning Obama's patriotism.

When Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) last month mocked Donald Trump’s “New York values,” it wasn’t entirely clear what he was implying. This week we got a clue: For Cruz, “New York” is another way of saying “Jewish.” At an event in New Hampshire, Cruz, the Republican Iowa caucuses winner, was asked about campaign money he and his wife borrowed from Goldman Sachs. Cruz, asserting that Trump had “upward of $480 million of loans from giant Wall Street banks,” said: “For him to make this attack, to use a New York term, it’s the height of chutzpah.” Cruz, pausing for laughter after the phrase “New York term,” exaggerated the guttural “ch” to more laughter and applause. But “chutzpah,” of course, is not a “New York” term. It’s a Yiddish — a Jewish — one. And using “New York” as a euphemism for “Jewish” has long been an anti-Semitic dog whistle.
-- Pundit Dana Milbank, February 5, 2016, referring to Republican presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

Comment: Milbank is accusing Cruz of using code words, and bigoted ones, at that. Is the fact that Cruz criticizes "New York values" and then later uses the word "chutzpah" really a sound argument for claiming he's anti-Semitic? Yes, "chutzpah" is a "New York" word in the sense that it's Yiddish, and New York – having a large Jewish community – was the place for a lot of Yiddish words to enter the vocabulary of the U.S. But "bodega" and "deli" are similarly "New York" terms, stemming from Puerto Rican Spanish and German, respectively: does that mean "New York" is synonymous with "Puerto Rican" or "German"? It seems like Milbank is demonizing Cruz with a flimsy argument.

Noam Chomsky would “absolutely” choose Hillary Clinton over the Republican nominee if he lived in a swing state, but her primary challenger, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, “doesn’t have much of a chance," the MIT professor and intellectual said in a recent interview.

Chomsky, who lives in the blue state of Massachusetts, said he would vote for Clinton if he lived in a swing state such as Ohio.

“Oh absolutely…my vote would be against the Republican candidate,” Chomsky told Al Jazeera English’s Mehdi Hasan in a two-part interview — part of which will air Friday on “UpFront.”

Chomsky cited “enormous differences” between the two major political parties. “Every Republican candidate is either a climate change denier or a skeptic who says we can’t do it,” Chomsky said. “What they are saying is, ‘Let’s destroy the world.’ Is that worth voting against? Yeah.”
-- Pundit Noam Chomsky, as related in a January 25, 2016, story by Nolan McCaskill of Politico.

Comment: It's one thing to criticize people who are skeptical about whether global warming is real and whether we can do anything about it – which seems to be Chomsky's initial criticism – but it's another to accuse people of intentionally wanting to destroy the world – which would seem to mean believing that global warming is real. Chomsky's rhetoric is both demonizing and contradictory.

"So, the Republicans can do what they do best: they distract, divide, and demonize. Leave no smear behind."
-- President Bill Clinton, January 19, 2016, during a campaign event for his wife, Democratic presidential contender former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Comment: Clinton is accusing Republicans of resorting to distractions, divisive rhetoric, and of demonizing. He is potentially leaving the impression that this something that Republicans (but not Democrats) normally do, which is the "only my opponent" caricature.

"The future we want -- all of us want -- opportunity and security for our families, a rising standard of living, a sustainable, peaceful planet for our kids -- all that is within our reach. But it will only happen if we work together. It will only happen if we can have rational, constructive debates. It will only happen if we fix our politics. A better politics doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything. This is a big country -- different regions, different attitudes, different interests. That’s one of our strengths, too. Our Founders distributed power between states and branches of government, and expected us to argue, just as they did, fiercely, over the size and shape of government, over commerce and foreign relations, over the meaning of liberty and the imperatives of security. But democracy does require basic bonds of trust between its citizens. It doesn’t work if we think the people who disagree with us are all motivated by malice. It doesn’t work if we think that our political opponents are unpatriotic or trying to weaken America."
-- President Barack Obama, January 12, 2016, during the State of the Union address.

Comment: Obama is calling for a higher standard of debate, and to not demonize political opponents as unpatriotic.

Ted Cruz has a strong ground game in Iowa
-- Pundit Alexander Nazaryan, January 6, 2016, in a tweet including a photo of Nazis.

Comment: Nazaryan is demonizing Cruz, accusing him of being bigoted (or comparing him to bigots, perhaps comically) .

Few things are sadder or more treacherous than closing the door to immigrants who came after us, which is what some U.S. presidential candidates want to do. … Of course, most incomprehensible for many Hispanics is that the two Latino candidates, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, have taken such a harsh stance against immigrants who are here simply because they’re doing the jobs that Americans won’t do. Both Rubio and Cruz have broken a decadeslong tradition in which Hispanic politicians, no matter their family origins or political affiliations, tended to defend the most vulnerable immigrants in this country. … Apparently that legacy no longer applies. “No one running for president knows more about immigration than me,” Rubio recently said during a speech in New Hampshire. Yet Rubio and Cruz are struggling to see who can demonstrate the harshest opposition to offering undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship. Simply put: Rubio and Cruz don’t want new immigrants to have the same opportunities that their own parents had. … There is no greater disloyalty than the children of immigrants forgetting their own roots. That’s a betrayal.
-- Pundit Jorge Ramos, January 5, 2016.

Comment: Ramos is demonizing Cruz and Rubio, suggesting they are anti-immigrant. They have not blocked off opportunities for all immigrants whatsoever; rather, they have refused to support certain reforms directed at immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally.

"We have listened to liberals all of our lives. We know exactly what they want to do. And those of us who've been paying attention know exactly how they go about it. We know how they go about getting everything they want. If they have to deflect, if they have to lie, if they have to distract, if they have to state that exactly what they want is not what, whatever. We know what they want. They want ultimate power and control. We know why. They have contempt for average, ordinary Americans and every other type person, don't think they're capable of leading their own lives responsibly and don't even want to give them the chance to. It's just an unquenchable thirst that they have for power and control over people. And getting guns out of the hands of people would represent the pinnacle of wresting control, wresting freedom and liberty away from people and gaining control over them. … Don't be fooled. He's not worried about the criminals getting guns; that's not his focus. His target is on the innocent. Everybody, every liberal Democrat, every gun control advocate wherever you find them, in order to succeed, they have to take guns away from the law-abiding. … Don't be fooled. He's not worried about the criminals getting guns; that's not his focus. His target is on the innocent. Everybody, every liberal Democrat, every gun control advocate wherever you find them, in order to succeed, they have to take guns away from the law-abiding."
-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, January 5, 2016, responding to President Barack Obama's gun policy speech that day.

Comment: Limbaugh is demonizing Obama and liberals, claiming they don't support gun control with the goal of protecting people, but that they instead seek to control people and take away their freedom. This is also the "they'll say anything" caricature, as well as "distraction" rhetoric.

"Barack Obama is not a bad president because he was a senator; Barack Obama is a bad president, because he is an unmitigated socialist, who won't stand up and defend the United States of America."
-- Republican presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), December 3, 2015.

Comment: Cruz is demonizing Obama, accusing him of not being willing to defend innocent people, and questioning his patriotism.

TEXT: Republicans keep saying the same thing.

RUBIO: We are at war with radical Islam.

JEB BUSH: Radical Islamic terrorism.

TEXT: Equating Islam, all Muslims, with terrorists…

TRUMP: We do have a problem radical Muslims.

CARSON: Radical Islamic jihadists.

CRUZ: Radical Islamic terrorism.

TEXT: It’s oversimplification. And it’s wrong. But don’t take our word for it.

GEORGE BUSH: We do not fight against Islam, we fight against evil.

GEORGE BUSH: The war against terrorism is not a war against Muslims, nor is it a war against Arabs. It’s a war against evil people who conduct crimes against innocent people.

GEORGE BUSH: That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace.

TEXT: Inciting fear isn’t presidential.
-- Democratic Party political ad, retrieved November 24, 2015. The ad quotes Republican presidential contenders former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL), Ben Carson, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Donald Trump, as well as former President George W. Bush.

Comment: The ad is accusing Republicans of fear-mongering. It is also falsely accusing Republicans (perhaps via code words?) of equating Islam and Muslims with terrorism and terrorists, thereby demonizing them as bigots. Being opposed to radical Islam doesn't mean being opposed to all Muslims, any more than being opposed to corrupt police officers means being opposed to all police officers. Citing George Bush – a Republican – seems like a faulty appeal to authority, perhaps an argument ad hostes. (Plus, the ad cites George Bush selectively: he denounced Islamic radicalism.) 

"I don't think he's got a strategy that deals with ISIS. I think Obama's strategy – best I've been able to learn, and I've looked really hard at this – it seems to me that Obama is linked to Iran and Syria in this. The sectarian violence throughout the Middle East is his excuse for not doing anything about it. Iran capitalizes on all of this chaos and crisis. And Chris, look, I don't like saying any of this, but it's obvious Obama is very sensitive to Iran's needs and is trying to satisfy them. We have lifted the sanctions. They've got $150 billion they didn't have. They are on the way to get a nuclear weapon, all because of Barack Hussein O, and I think his dealing with ISIS is inept, and incompetent, and nonexistent."
-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, November 22, 2015, on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, speaking about President Barack Obama.

Comment: Limbaugh is demonizing Obama – portraying him as seeking to help Iran – by misrepresenting the Iranian nuclear deal. The Iranian nuclear deal lifts many sanctions on Iran and allows them to access its financial assets (estimated between $55 billion - $150 billion in value) that were seized, but it also imposes costs: Iran has to surrender 97% of their stockpile of enriched uranium, as well as two-thirds of their uranium-enriching centrifuges. Plus, Iran must provide international inspectors with access to their known nuclear supply chain. Whether the deal as a whole a good idea is fair to debate, but it's false to portray it as nothing but a boon to Iran.

"Politics in the United States increasingly is defined by personal attacks and saying very sensational things in the media. Now, that's true for politics everywhere to some degree. But I think that for young leaders like you, as you get into politics, trying to focus on issues, and trying to debate people you disagree with without saying that they're a terrible person -- I think that's something that you always have to watch out for."
-- President Barack Obama, November 20, 2015.

Comment: Obama is calling for us to set a higher standard of political debate, though as usual, he doesn't mention how he has often described his opponents as being terrible people.

RUBIO: We need to get rid of all these illegal executive orders the President’s put in place. [TEXT: April 14, 2015]

CRUZ: I think amnesty is wrong. [TEXT: August 09, 2015]

RUBIO: DACA’s going to end. [TEXT: November 04, 2015]

TRUMP: They have to go. [TEXT: August 18, 2015]

NARRATOR: These candidates may be different, but their messages are all the same. [images of Trump, Bush, Cruz, and Rubio appear] “No” to DAPA, “no” to DACA. “No” to immigrant families. Now it’s time for our community to say “no”. We will not accept hate, we will not allow anti-immigrant attacks, we will not support the status quo. Because if they win, we lose. SEIU COPE is responsible for the content of this advertising.
-- Political ad released by SEIU COPE (the Service Employees International Union Committee on Political Education), November 18, 2015, criticizing Republican presidential contenders former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Donald Trump for their opposition to comprehensive immigration reform, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA).

Comment: The SEIU is demonizing Bush, Cruz, Rubio, and Trump as being bigoted. Opposing illegal immigration is not the same as being anti-immigrant, any more than being opposed to corrupt police officers is same as being opposed to all police.

Obama is an "apologist for Islamic terrorism".
-- Republican presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), November 18, 2015, on the 2nd hour of the Mark Levin Show, referring to President Barack Obama.

Comment: Cruz is demonizing Obama, accusing him of defending terrorism.

"I recognize that Barack Obama does not wish to defend this country, he may have been tired of war, but our enemies are not tired of killing us and they are getting stronger."
-- Republican presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), November 14, 2015.

Comment: Cruz is demonizing Obama, saying he lacks the patriotism to defend his country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Lot of talk about immigration as well. Donald Trump is speaking about history. He wants to bring back Operation Wetback from President Eisenhower and deportation force. What would that mean?

OBAMA: Well, I think the name of the operation tells you something about the dangers of looking backwards. And the notion that we're going to deport 11, 12 million people from this country, first of all I have no idea where Mr. Trump thinks the money's going to come from. It would cost us hundreds of billions of dollars to execute that. Imagine the images on the screen flashed around the world as we were dragging parents away from their children and putting them in what, detention centers and then systematically sending them out. Nobody thinks that that is realistic, but more importantly, that's not who we are as Americans.

STEPHANOPOULOS: What do you think when you hear people cheer for that?

OBAMA: Well, what I think is that there's always been a strain of anti-immigrant sentiment in America, ironically from folks who themselves two generations back or even one generation back were immigrants themselves. And it's the job of leaders not to play into that sentiment. Now, those sentiments get stronger when people feel insecure. And given what happened in 2007, 2008, given the fact that despite the recovery, I think people still have some post-traumatic stress and are still concerned about prospects for jobs and economic security in the future it's easy to play on those fears. But that's not that's not what you want from your president. And to their credit Republican and as well as Democratic senators and or presidents in the past, including Ronald Reagan, including George H.W. Bush, including George W. Bush have understood that we are a nation of laws, but we're also a nation of immigrants and that proposing radical and necessarily cruel solutions to a problem that can be solved by some good, old-fashioned legislation of the sort that passed on a bipartisan basis in the Senate and I would've been able to sign two years ago if the House Republicans had allowed it to come to the floor 'cause there was a majority on that floor to vote for it we don't want I think, a president or any person in a position of leadership to play on those kinds of fears.
-- President Barack Obama, November 12, 2015, during interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News.

Comment: Obama is demonizing those in favor of deporting illegal immigrants, accusing them of being anti-immigrant (i.e., being bigots). But being opposed to illegal immigrants is not the same as being opposed to all immigrants. Obama is also accusing Republicans of fear-mongering, and not being "real Americans".

"We obviously continue to believe strongly in the legal power of the arguments that we’ve been making for nearly a year now about the importance of giving our law enforcement officials the discretion to implement our immigration laws in a way that focuses on those who pose a genuine threat to our national security or to our communities. And the impact of Republican opposition, both to these executive actions and to broader, comprehensive immigration reform legislation is to only perpetuate a system in which our law enforcement resources are diffused, and it results in more families being torn apart. And that is clearly not in the best interest of our national security. It’s not in the best interest of public safety. It’s also not consistent with the values of this country."
-- White House press briefing by Press Secretary Josh Earnest, November 10, 2015, referring to a Court of Appeals ruling blocking President Barack Obama's executive orders on illegal immigration.

Comment: Earnest is saying that opposing Obama's positions on immigration is somehow un-American, which amounts to demonizing.

"We love our country, they don't."
-- Pundit Mark Levin, November 9, 2015, during the 1st hour of his radio show. Levin was referring to the "liberal media".

Comment: Levin is demonizing people as unpatriotic.

KOCH: I would love to have the government stop this corporate welfare. That's what I want. I want the government to let companies – require that companies only profit by helping make other people's lives better.

HAYES: That's Charles Koch expressing his commitment to ending corporate welfare. Do you buy that, Senator?

SANDERS: And "making life for people better" – no doubt. Look, you know, in 1980, Chris, and we don't talk about this enough, David Koch ran for Vice President of the United States on the Libertarian Party ticket. What his agenda was, it was not to cut Social Security or Medicare, but to end Social Security, end Medicare, end Medicaid, end the EPA, end the concept of the Environmental Protection Agency, basically he wanted to eliminate virtually every program developed since FDR designed to help working people and the middle class. That is their agenda. And to tell you the truth, you know 30 years have come and gone, I don't think that agenda has changed at all. What these guys are doing is spending unbelievable sums of money, some $900 million on this campaign cycle, to support right-wing candidates who are going to war, big time, against working families in the middle class. No, I do not think the Koch brothers want to make life better for ordinary people.
-- Democratic presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), November 3, 2015, with Chris Hayes of MSNBC, responding to a video clip of activist Charles Koch.

Comment: Sanders is demonizing Koch, saying that Koch doesn't want people's lives to improve. Just because Koch doesn't believe these programs do a good job of helping people doesn't mean he is opposed to making life better for others. Sanders is also using "war" rhetoric.

"This man hates the military and he hates his country."
-- Pundit Mark Levin, November 3, 2015, during the 1st hour of his radio program. His remarks referred to President Barack Obama.

Comment: Levin is demonizing Obama by accusing him of being unpatriotic.

AGUILAR: If there’s somebody who is a hard worker when he goes to Washington, it’s Paul Ryan. Not only works with the Republicans but Democrats. You know very well that I work on the immigration issue, trying to get Republicans to support immigration reform. Paul Ryan is somebody who has supported immigration reform, has worked with somebody like Luis Gutierrez. Luis Gutierrez is very respectful, speaks highly of Paul Ryan. This is somebody who’s trying to govern.

HARRIS-PERRY: Alfonso, I feel you, but I just want to pause on one thing because I don’t disagree with you that I actually think Mr. Ryan is a great choice for this role, but I want us to be super careful when we use the language “hard worker,” because I actually keep an image of folks working in cotton fields on my office wall, because it is a reminder about what hard work looks like. So, I feel you that he’s a hard worker. I do, but in the context of relative privilege, and I just want to point out that when you talk about work-life balance and being a hard worker, the moms who don’t have health care who are working —

AGUILAR: I understand that.

HARRIS-PERRY: But, we don’t call them hard workers. We call them failures. We call them people who are sucking off the system.

AGUILAR: No, no, no, no.

HARRIS-PERRY: No, no. Really, ya’ll do. That is really what you guys do as a party.

AGUILAR: That is very unfair. I think we cannot generalize about the Republican Party.

HARRIS-PERRY: That’s true. Not all Republicans. That is certainly true.
-- Pundits Melissa Harris-Perry and Alfonso Aguilar, October 26, 2015, discussing Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and his prospects to become Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Comment: First, Harris-Perry is accusing Republicans of deriding people for leeching off the system (I assume when talking about welfare and related programs). Harris-Perry says she's not generalizing about all Republicans, but she still says that Republicans "as a party" engage in this sort of demonizing – which they don't – and as such Harris-Perry herself is demonizing Republicans. Second, Harris-Perry is pointing out an ambiguity in what counts as being a hard worker: however hard you work, there's probably someone else who works harder, and maybe even a whole segment of the population – past, present, even future – that works much harder than you. So, who are you supposed to compare yourself to in order to determine whether you're a hard worker? To slaves from the 1850s? Or to the other people working in your industry today? It's arguable, but it's unfair for Harris-Perry to suggest there is some sort of bigotry (or even code words?) at work in Aguilar's use of the term to describe Ryan. Who does Harris-Perry believe is a hard worker? Anyone in the U.S.A.? Herself?

FINEMAN: The House needs a dictatorial leader, or nothing will ever happen. And the Tea Party people understandably don’t like that if the person in charge is a moderate that doesn’t agree with them politically. So, Paul Ryan has enough conservative chops that he can sort of try to unify the whole party. But, he’s going to be spending all his time trying to deal with these Tea Party people. What he’s probably going to have to do, if in fact he gets in, is stage some kind of fight with them and defeat them, or take away their power, or go after them. I don’t know if he’s got the guts to do that. I don’t know if he’s got the numbers to do it.

KORNHEISER: Are they like ISIS trying to establish a Caliphate here?

FINEMAN: Yes! Yes! That’s a very good analogy! Without the violence obviously, but they are, yes, they are a rejectionist front. They don't want to legislate. They think legislation is capitulation.
-- Sportscaster Tony Kornheiser and pundit Howard Fineman, October 23, 2015, discussing Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and his prospects to become Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Comment: Fineman is demonizing the Tea Party members of Congress by comparing them to ISIS (or even the House Speaker to a dictator). The Tea Party members aren't trying to set up anything like what ISIS wants – with or without violence – and they don't reject all legislating, they just don't like certain legislation that others are supporting. They aren't obstructionists who simply want to stop everything. When a president vetoes legislation, does that make them a "rejectionist"? Much of what Fineman is saying sounds exaggerated.

"Democrats, we are at our best, and America is at its best when we assume the best in others instead of the bad."
-- President Barack Obama, October 23, 2015.

Comment: Obama is calling for us to set a higher standard of debate, however – as seen in this very speech – Obama often assumes the worst about Republicans and conservatives.

"As Democrats, we’re proud that our plans to fix our broken immigration system are not rooted in anti-immigrant sentiment. They’re rooted in what we know to be our own immigrant stories."
-- President Barack Obama, October 23, 2015.

Comment: Obama is demonizing Republicans – and perhaps people who don't support comprehensive immigration reform more generally – as being xenophobes. How is it anti-immigrant to say that people who came to the country illegally should not get citizenship and permanent residence, but that people who came legally should?

"You’ve heard from some of our outstanding candidates. I’m going to be supporting whoever the nominee is and I’m confident … We’ve got some great candidates. But when you watch the debate between the Democrats, it was logical, and civil, and people didn’t agree with everything but they weren’t just saying crazy stuff. And they weren’t dividing the country into us and them and tapping into people’s worst impulses. It made me proud, because it said that we’ve got a party that’s inclusive and that wants everybody to join and get involved and showed that we can disagree without being disagreeable."
-- President Barack Obama, October 23, 2015.

Comment: Obama is indulging in the "only my opponent" caricature, saying that Democrats are logical and civil while Republicans say "crazy stuff" (an example of "out of touch" or "don't care about facts" rhetoric) and divide Americans (an example of "unify the country" rhetoric) and appeal to people's worst impulses (which is demonizing Republicans).

"Teen pregnancy rates are down but we’ve got a lot of folks who are attacking the right of women just to have basic health care in this country, and to be able to make decisions about reproductive freedom without having some member of Congress or some governor or some other elected official try to intrude."
-- President Barack Obama, October 23, 2015.

Comment: Obama is referring to opponents of abortion, demonizing them by saying they don't want women to receive basic health care, rather than that they don't want unborn children to be killed.

"My grandfather came to this land in 1920 and he landed in Jaffa, and very shortly after he landed he went to the immigration office in Jaffa. And a few months later it was burned down by marauders. These attackers, Arab attackers, murdered several Jews, including our celebrated writer Brenner. And this attack and other attacks on the Jewish community in 1920, 1921, 1929, were instigated by a call of the Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini, who was later sought for war crimes in the Nuremberg trials because he had a central role in fomenting the final solution. He flew to Berlin. Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, "If you expel them, they'll all come here." "So what should I do with them?" he asked. He said, "Burn them." And he was sought in, during the Nuremberg trials for prosecution."
-- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, October 20, 2015, asserting that Amin al-Husseini played a role in initiating the Holocaust.

Comment: This is demonizing: Amin al-Husseini certainly hated Jews and met with Adolf Hitler in November 1941, and may even have approved of the Holocaust. But Nazi Germany had already begun massacring Jews earlier that year. More, Netanyahu seems to be trying to demonize Palestinians with guilt by association, as al-Husseini was Palestinian.

ROGER: Ronald Reagan successfully brainwashed about 45% of the nation's people with the help of Rush Limbaugh. And if you use keywords like “socialist” and “demagogue”, they right away think communist and they will not vote for you. And if you want to fix this problem, you can’t just do what you’re doing and shout out words like “demagogue”, they love demagogues. They don’t understand what the word even means. Go to a Republican bar and sit there and talk to them, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. You first have to fix the brainwash problem, and you first have to slowly fix the brainwash problem by bringing back the equal time laws that Ronald Reagan got rid of.

SVART: For the last 40 years the far, far right has really systematically built up institutions to control the discourse. … And they've really dismantled the public sphere. They've really deregulated. … And another thing that they've done is they've flooded the airwaves with their mantra, including how socialism is evil and the government in general is evil and inefficient. And they just repeat it over and over again, ignoring facts, and it really is true that it has an impact on how people engage with politics.
-- National Director of the Democratic Socialists of America Maria Svart, October 18, 2015, responding to Roger, a caller on C-SPAN Washington Journal.

Comment: Roger is using "stupid" (i.e., "brainwashed") and "demagogue" rhetoric to describe Republicans and conservatives. Svart is demonizing Republicans and conservatives; they generally want smaller government, but that doesn't mean they believe all government is evil. Svart is also accusing Republicans and conservatives of not caring about facts, and she is indulging in the "only my opponent" caricature (implying that Democrats, Socialists, liberals and progressives don't also repeat false assertions).

"We will not give up to the logic of brute force, policies of occupation and aggression practiced by the Israeli government and the herd of settlers who are engaged in terrorism against our people, our holy places, our homes, our trees and the execution of our children in cold blood as they did with the child Ahmed Manasra and other children from Jerusalem."
-- Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, October 15, 2015, referring to a 13-year-old who had been involved in stabbing attacks in East Jerusalem on October 12, 2015.

Comment: This is demonizing, as Manasra was later shown to be alive and being treated in an Israeli hospital.

Over the past 30 years, or at least since Rush Limbaugh came on the scene, the Republican rhetorical tone has grown ever more bombastic, hyperbolic and imbalanced. Public figures are prisoners of their own prose styles, and Republicans from Newt Gingrich through Ben Carson have become addicted to a crisis mentality. Civilization was always on the brink of collapse. Every setback, like the passage of Obamacare, became the ruination of the republic. Comparisons to Nazi Germany became a staple. … But this new Republican faction regards the messy business of politics as soiled and impure. Compromise is corruption. Inconvenient facts are ignored. Countrymen with different views are regarded as aliens. Political identity became a sort of ethnic identity, and any compromise was regarded as a blood betrayal.
-- Pundit David Brooks, October 13, 2015.

Comment: This is the "only my opponent" caricature, saying that it is only Republicans and conservatives (or, in this case, certain Republicans and conservatives that Brooks is not allied with) have resorted to exaggerations and demonizing. Where is the evidence that Democrats, liberals, and progressives have not done the same? Also, Brooks is accusing Republicans of ignoring facts.

"So Obama's come out, and he added to this. He said that Hillary's illegal server was not a national security problem, which is rich coming from Obama, because Obama is America's number one national security problem, if you ask me. No, I'm not exaggerating, and I'm not going for laughs here. I really mean it. I think Barack Obama's our number one national security problem or risk, whether by accident, by design."
-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, October 13, 2015.

Comment: Saying that President Barack Obama is the highest national security threat to the United States – and that Obama might be taking that role intentionally – is both exaggerating and demonizing.

"I believe that any one of our candidates will stand in stark contrast when it comes to the priorities of the American people and how they're going to make the decisions on who they vote for for president to any of the Republican candidates. The Republicans have been trying to out right wing one another. Look, between the 15 Republican candidates that are left, all of whom are trying to out-trump Donald Trump by saying, yes, let's kick women -- let's kick immigrants out of this country. Let's take away health care from women."
-- Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), October 11, 2015.

Comment: Wasserman Schultz is demonizing Republicans, distorting their positions: Republicans aren't xenophobes who want to deport all immigrants; rather, Republicans (but not even all of them) want all illegal immigrants deported. Also, Republicans don't want women to be refused health care; rather, Republicans (again, not even all of them) don't want government money being used to support one health care provider – Planned Parenthood – so long as it also provides abortion services.

Obama described himself as not intrinsically partisan and said some members of his party have faulted him for not being partisan enough.

"But I will tell you at this moment in history, the choices are stark. And facts, evidence and values are on our side. And the other side has gone off the deep end," Obama said.

Obama added: "And what you're witnessing in the House fight right now is that even deeply conservative folks are not considered ideologically pure enough and we would rather burn the House down than admit the possibility of democratic process that requires compromise."
-- President Barack Obama, October 10, 2015, as told by an AFP story.

Comment: Obama is contrasting himself with Republicans by saying that he is not partisan, and apparently saying that Republicans don't care about facts and evidence or values (which would be demonizing).

"Why are all these Republicans so down on America?" Obama said. "Listening to them is really depressing and it doesn't match up with the truth."

Obama urged those attending a fundraiser for Washington Sen. Patty Murray to get involved in local, state and national politics.

"Our system is only as good as what we put into it," he said, criticizing the "false prophets who spout things that under examination don't really make any sense, but feed your biases and your fears."

"I'm proud of the fact that we are not just the party that is against everything," Obama said.
-- President Barack Obama, October 9, 2015, as related by a Politico story by Jennifer Shutt.

Comment: Obama is demonizing Republicans, saying they are fear-mongering and simply being obstructionists. Obama may also be accusing them of rooting for failure.

"There’s still those shrill voices in the national political arena, trying to undo what has already been done. But they’re not going to succeed. Don’t worry about it – no really. The American people have moved so far beyond them, and their appeals to prejudice and fear and homophobia. And because of how far you’ve moved the American people, the remainder of the work, and much work has to be done, I promise you, will come much more quickly and more surely. It will increase in its rapidity the change that we need. … The American people are already with you. There’s homophobes still left. Most of them are running for President, I think."
-- Vice President Joe Biden, October 3, 2015, speaking at the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner.

Comment: Biden is (perhaps in the spirit of comedy) accusing someone – he doesn't say who, but likely means Republicans – of bigotry. Isn't this demonizing?

For Mr. Obama, it’s never about honest differences over policies. His political opponents have to be portrayed as morally callous, cruel and motivated by the basest considerations while Obama presents himself as the avatar of the common good. Mr. Obama is, in fact, a cynical demagogue.
-- Peter Wehner, October 2, 2015.

Comment: This is "demagogue" rhetoric. While it's true that Obama sometimes demonizes his opponents, Wehner is himself demonizing Obama by saying that Obama never allows honest differences over policies.

"Barack Obama is an anti-Semite. I believe that in my heart. … The proof is his foreign policy. The proof is his Iran deal."
-- Pundit Mark Levin, October 1, 2015, during the 1st hour of his radio program.

Comment: Levin is demonizing President Obama as a bigot. What if someone said, “Mark Levin is a racist, I believe it in my heart. The proof is his opposition to the minimum wage and affirmative action”? Would that be fair?

Ben Carson is hoping to awaken black voters to his campaign with a message of economic empowerment, saying the black community has been done a disservice by heeding political power overtures from Democrats.

Speaking to a small group of black leaders and activists last week, the retired neurosurgeon, who is surging in polling in the Republican presidential race, said he believes black Americans bring more power through the size of their bank account than by putting their “fist in the air.”

Mr. Carson said he generally shies away from focusing on race: “I say that’s because I’m a neurosurgeon, because everyone’s brain looks the same and it works the same way.”

But he said black voters should step beyond their allegiance to the Democratic Party.

“The Democrat Party, of course, is the party of the KKK. Of Jim Crow laws. And perhaps just as bad right now, of servitude. ‘Now you do this, and we’ll take care of you, pat you on the head, take care of all your needs.’ Which keeps people believing that’s what they actually need,” Mr. Carson told the small group.
-- Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, as related by a September 29, 2015, Washington Times story by Stephen Dinan.

Comment: Carson is demonizing the Democratic Party using guilt by association. Yes, the Democratic Party used to support racist policies, but they don't anymore. More, it is an exaggeration to compare the plight of African-Americans today to their situation under Jim Crow laws and say the two are "perhaps just as bad"; they are nowhere near as bad as one another.

the obamagang is the enemy within intentionally destroying America

obama is a Christian [and] Im a gay vegetarian pirate
-- Singer Ted Nugent, September 19, 2015, on his Twitter account.

Comment: Nugent is demonizing, saying President Barack Obama (and his allies) want to destroy the country. Also, why is it not believable that Obama is a Christian? Should we not believe Nugent when he says he is a Christian?

QUESTIONER [unidentified]: We have a problem in this country. It's called Muslims. We know our current president is one. He's not even an American.

TRUMP: [laughing] We need this question. This is the first question.

QUESTIONER: We have training camps growing where they want to kill us. That's my question. When can we get rid of them?

TRUMP: We are going to be looking at a lot of different things. A lot of people are saying bad things are happening out there. We are going to be looking at that and a lot of different things.
-- Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, September 17, 2015, being questioned at a town hall event. The questioner was referring to President Barack Obama.

Comment: Obama is Christian, not Muslim, and he was born in the U.S., but Trump never corrected the questioner's distortion and demonizing (either about Islam being bad, or about Obama not being American). There is also an ambiguity in the dialogue: when the questioner asks about getting rid of them, does "them" refer to training camps or to Muslims? What is Trump agreeing to look into?

"Despite the best efforts of who knows how many people, the inexplicable has happened. On the day before the 14th anniversary of 9/11, the United States Senate sustained the Iranian Nuclear Deal, freeing Barack Hussein Obama to lift sanctions on the Iranian regime, which will for the most part immediately provide them with between $100 billion and $150 billion. … The whole thing is inexplicable. There is so much that doesn't make any sense anymore. So much in our politics that's happening every day doesn't make sense to people anymore. And no matter how artful you are at explaining it, it still doesn't make sense. It doesn't make sense because it appears that we've lost patriots. It appears our government is not filled with patriots anymore. That's what's inexplicable. … Okay, so why would Obama want the Iranians to have a nuke? Well, you can answer the question in a number of ways, which I have. But it's not going to satisfy anybody. Because at the end of the day, they're still going to get nukes, and it doesn't make sense! It doesn't make any kind of common sense whatsoever if you come from a position where the United States has the moral authority to be the good guys. If you believe that, this doesn't make any sense."
-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, September 11, 2015.

Comment: Limbaugh is demonizing those who support the Iran deal as not being patriots. he's also saying that it's "common sense" to oppose the deal.

U.S. foreign policy, once defined by a bipartisan spirit, has devolved into a game whose rules are plagued with loopholes and asterisks and the mistaken idea that political parties can "win" it. Today, on the anniversary of 9/11, Congress continues to play this winner-less game, more concerned with the political consequences of their Thursday vote (or non-vote, as it may be) than with national security itself. And this is where Sen. Arthur Vandenberg, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1947 and creator of the now famous phrase that "party politics must stop at the water's edge," would be so severely disappointed. The Iran nuclear deal is being used as a divisive political tool instead of grounds to unite these bitterly divided political parties.
-- Former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. (R-UT) and former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), September 11, 2015, from an article they co-wrote together.

Comment: Huntsman and Lieberman are faulting people for being partisan, divisive, and for politicizing foreign policy, suggesting they don't care about national security (a suggestion which amounts to demonizing). The quote from Vandenberg is often noted, but why shouldn't people disagree about foreign policy? How is everyone supposed to unite on foreign policy if they legitimately have different ideas about how to secure the country's security and interests?

"There was a time when there was a tradition of Scoop Jackson Democrats, of JFK Democrats, of Joe Lieberman Democrats, of Democrats who were willing to defend national security. Sadly, that is becoming rarer and rarer in today's Congress. So, to every Democratic Senator, they are facing a choice: do you value the safety and security of the United Sates of America? Do you value standing with our friend and ally, the nation of Israel? Do you value the lives of millions of Americans, or do you value more party loyalty to the Obama White House?"
-- Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), September 9, 2015, during a rally in opposition to the nuclear deal with Iran, which was supported by President Barack Obama.

Comment: Cruz is demonizing Democrats who support the Iranian nuclear deal, suggesting that they don't care about their country.

"I think the fact that a majority of Republicans came out against the deal before it was even done, says something about the partisanship here that’s really at play. Look, we’re in an election year. We’re all well aware of that. But if you look at the undecided members of congress, the more they study it, the more they talk to experts, and scientists, secretary of energy Ernie Moniz, the more overwhelming support we get for this deal. So, look, the rally that’s about to take place on the Capitol speaks to the level of partisanship. They’re trying to score political points. What we’re focused on is implementing this deal, and preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon."
-- State Department Senior Advisor for Strategic Communications Marie Harf, September 9, 2015. Harf was referring to a rally being held by opponents (many of them Republicans) to the Iranian nuclear deal.

Comment: Harf is accusing Republicans of being partisan. But there's nothing wrong, necessarily, about opposing the Iranian nuclear deal, even before all the details have been finalized (for instance, on the belief that Iran will not abide by the deal). By mentioning the upcoming presidential election, and saying that Republicans are trying to "score political points", Harf is accusing them of politicizing the issue as opposed to being concerned about whether Iran gets a nuclear weapon. In saying this, she is demonizing opponents of the deal.

"Right now, Republicans in Washington have the chance to prove they really care about working families. Congress has to pass a budget by the end of this month, or they risk shutting down the government for the second time in two years. Now, everybody knows the world economy is pretty volatile right now. Our economy is a relative bright spot. We’re doing better than just about everybody else. So a shutdown would be completely irresponsible. … The point is, it doesn’t have to happen. Congress can pass a budget that does away with this so-called sequester that just lops things off whether it’s good or not for the economy, harms our military, hurts working people. We could instead invest in working families, invest in our military readiness, invest in our schools, rebuild our roads, rebuild our ports, rebuild our airports, put people back to work right now. I’ll sign that budget. I’m ready to work with them."
-- President Barack Obama, September 7, 2015.

Comment: It’s demonizing for Obama to say Republicans don’t care about working families unless they pass a budget along the lines he describes. People can disagree about which policies are best for working families. If Obama doesn’t pass a budget that Republicans wants, does it prove that Obama doesn’t care about what Republicans care about, like reducing debt, etc.?

“None of this moves this man.”
-- Pundit Mark Levin, September 2, 2015, during the 1st hour of his radio program. His remarks concerned the picture of Aylan Kurdi, a 2-year-old who drowned while fleeing war-torn Syria with his family. Levin was criticizing President Barack Obama for not doing more militarily to stop the war.

Comment: Levin is demonizing Obama as having no empathy for the suffering of others. There are any number of places around the world where people (including children) are suffering unjustly. If we don't sent U.S. forces in to save them, is that because we have no empathy, or because we are wary of the complications of invading other countries?

"You know, the truth, the fundamental truth that is unarguable, that the United States of America has been a greater force for good than any other nation in the history of mankind and that we've been responsible for the liberation of more people, protecting freedom, protecting peace around the globe in a way that no other nation ever has and no other nation can. And so you've got a progressive agenda, a liberal agenda out there that basically says, "America is bad;" that America is at fault, that you've gotta limit America, that you've gotta diminish the nation. You've gotta weaken us." And it's an agenda that we have seen for a long time on college campuses. We have seen it for a long time now in our schools, sadly. And President Obama represents that agenda in the White House more directly than any president before him has.
-- Pundit Liz Cheney, August 31, 2015, on The Rush Limbaugh Show.

Comment: This is demonizing – perhaps also questioning Obama's patriotism – saying that he believes America is bad and doesn't care about keeping it strong militarily, and in fact seeks to weaken it.

MoveOn wants to get New Yorkers moving against Sen. Chuck Schumer, their senior senator and the highest-ranking Democrat to oppose the controversial nuclear agreement.

According to details shared first with POLITICO, the liberal advocacy organization’s political action arm will next week launch a member-backed mobile billboard, dubbed the “SchumerMobile,” that will drive around New York City for five days in an attempt to publicly admonish Schumer and other Democrats who are pondering how they will vote next month on the resolution.

The mobile billboard features the words “MOST LIKELY TO START A WAR” with an arrow pointing to a red circle drawn around Schumer’s photo.
-- From an August 28, 2015, story in Politico by Nick Gass. The story concerns Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and his opposition to a nuclear agreement with Iran.

Comment: Accusing Schumer of wanting (or being most likely) to start a war with Iran is exaggeration at best, if not demonizing.

"Well, you know, her life was cut short. She had so much potential, and, you know, it's senseless that her life and Adam's life were taken by a crazy person with a gun. And, you know, if I have to be the John Walsh of gun control and -- look, I'm for the Second Amendment, but there has to be a way to force politicians that are cowards and in the pockets of the NRA to come to grips and make sense -- have sensible laws so that crazy people can't get guns."
-- Andy Parker, August 27, 2015. Parker's daughter, Alison, was killed along with Adam Ward in an August 26, 2015, shooting.

Comment: This is demonizing, saying that supporters of gun rights have no noble intentions, but are simply cowards who are under the sway of others.

"Now, extreme views about women, we expect that from some of the terrorist groups, we expect that from people who don’t want to live in the modern world, but it’s a little hard to take from Republicans who want to be President of the United States, yet espouse out of date, out of touch policies. They are dead wrong for 21st century for America. We are going forward. We are not going back."
-- Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, August 27, 2015.

Comment: This is "extremist" and "out of touch" rhetoric. In addition, in comparing Republicans to terrorists or those who "don't want to live in the modern world", Clinton is demonizing Republicans.

Normally, when your main geopolitical rivals are shooting themselves in both feet, the military manual says step back and enjoy the show. But I take little comfort in watching China burning money and Russia burning food, because in today’s interdependent world we’re all affected. I also find no joy in it because we Americans, too, have started burning our most important source of competitive advantage — our pluralism. One of our two political parties has gone nuts and started following a pied piper of intolerance, named Donald Trump. … America’s greatest advantage is its pluralism: It can govern itself horizontally by its people of all colors and creeds forging social contracts to live together as equal citizens. But right now we’re messing around with that incredible asset. Yes, we must control our borders; it is the essence of sovereignty. It has been a failure of both our political parties that the Mexican-American border has been so porous. So I am for a high wall, but with a very big gate — one that legally lets in energetic low-skilled workers and the high-I.Q. risk-takers who have made our economy the envy of the world — and for legislation that provides a pathway for the millions of illegal immigrants already here to gain legal status and eventually citizenship. In June 2013, the Senate, including 14 Republicans, passed a bill that would do all that. But the extremists in the G.O.P. House refused to follow, so the bill stalled. And now we have Trump shamelessly exploiting this issue even more. He’s calling for an end to the 14th Amendment’s birthright principle, which guarantees citizenship to anyone born here, and also for a government program to round up all 11 million illegal immigrants and send them home — an utterly lunatic idea that Trump dismisses as a mere “management” problem. Like lemmings, many of the other G.O.P. presidential hopefuls just followed Trump over that cliff. This is not funny anymore. This is not entertaining. Donald Trump is not cute. His ugly nativism shamefully plays on people’s fears and ignorance. It ignores bipartisan solutions already on the table, undermines the civic ideals that make our melting pot work in ways no European or Asian country can match (try to become a Japanese) and tampers with the very secret of our sauce — pluralism, that out of many we make one. Every era spews up a Joe McCarthy type who tries to thrive by dividing and frightening us, and today his name is Donald Trump.
-- Pundit Thomas Friedman, August 26, 2016.

Comment: "Gone nuts" is "stupid" rhetoric. Friedman also engages in "extremists" and "exploiting" rhetoric. Friedman demonizes Trump's immigration plan as being racist (i.e., "nativism"), which is a distortion, given that it doesn't end legal immigration. Friedman also engages in "fear-mongering", "bipartisan", and "divisive" rhetoric.

Democratic Congresswoman Gwen Moore accused Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker of “literally” tightening the noose around African-Americans Monday.

Moore, who is black and represents the city of Milwaukee, Wisc., made the comments during a conference call with reporters timed to coincide with the Wisconsin Governor’s arrival in South Carolina.

According to a local Fox affiliate, the policies Moore believe are comparable to lynching are “Walker’s opposition to raising the minimum wage, requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls, and requiring drug testing for public aid recipient…”
-- Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), August 24, 2015, as related in a story by Alex Griswold of Mediaite. Her remarks referred to Republican presidential candidate Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI).

Comment: Moore is demonizing Walker with language that invokes racism. She is using violent rhetoric, likening (or "comparing") Walker's political positions to a racist lynching.

"Jerrold Nadler is a Marxist, he is a complete puke. Party before country."
-- Pundit Mark Levin, August 21, 2015, during the 2nd hour of his radio show. Levin was criticizing Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) for supporting the nuclear deal with Iran.

Comment: First, Levin is deriding Nadler as disgusting. Second, while Nadler is a liberal, what is the evidence that he is a Marxist? This sounds like an exaggeration to the point of demonizing. Lastly, in saying that Nadler puts party before country, Levin is demonizing Nadler by questioning his patriotism.

While the recognition of these problems is welcome — even for those of us who do not follow Mr. Trump further down his anti-immigration path — the rest of Trump’s “plan” is a bitter stew served up by a man pandering to Angry White People with ideas both fanciful and harmful.
-- Pundit Ross Kaminsky, August 18, 2015. Kaminsky was referring to the immigration proposal of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Comment: Kaminsky is demonizing, saying Trump's policies are bigoted and are intended to appeal to people who are bigoted.

.@HillaryClinton Wrong. Being more-anti energy than Obama is extreme. We should embrace energy revolution to lower prices & create US jobs.
-- Republican presidential candidate former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL), August 18, 2015. Bush's tweet was referring to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's opposition to drilling for oil in the Arctic, a policy that President Barack Obama had supported.

Comment: Just because Clinton opposes drilling for oil in the Arctic doesn't mean she is opposed to energy, that's a straw man. Even allowing for the brevity required on Twitter, "anti-energy" is demonizing. Bush is also using "extremist" rhetoric.

WALLACE: Question: Barack Obama, “anti-Semitic”?

CARSON: Well, all you have to do, Chris, is – like I have – go to Israel, and talk to average people, you know, on all ends of that spectrum. And I couldn’t find a single person there who didn’t feel that this administration had turned their back on Israel. And I think, you know, the position of President of the United States should be one where you begin to draw people together behind a vision, not one where you castigate those who believe differently from you. I think it’s a possibility for great healing, if it used in a correct way.

WALLACE: But, you know, it’s one thing, one could argue, your policy difference from Israel, but you say in your article – and you’re talking about his domestic critics here in this country – that there is anti-Semitic themes there. What, specifically anti-Semitic in what the President is saying?

CARSON: I think anything is anti-Semitic that is against the survival of a state that is surrounded by enemies and by people who want to destroy them. And to sort of ignore that, and to act like, you know, everything is normal there, and that these people are paranoid, I think that’s anti-Semitic.
-- Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, August 16, 2015, during an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace. Carson questioned about his August 13, 2015, accusation that President Barack Obama had issued a “diatribe … replete with coded innuendos employing standard anti-Semitic themes.”

Comment: First, Carson evades Wallace’s question about Carson’s accusation that Obama engaged in bigoted behavior. When Carson does answer, he makes it sound as if Obama is unconcerned with the survival of Israel, rather than having a legitimate disagreement about what steps (for instance, the nuclear deal with Iran) are best for securing Israel’s security. Second, where has Obama said that everything is normal in the Middle East or Israel, and that Israeli opponents of the Iran deal are needlessly paranoid? It seems like Carson is knocking over a straw man. Third, Carson accuses Obama of “dividing” the nation. Finally, Carson calls for us to set a higher standard of debate and not to castigate those with different beliefs, but it seems he is doing precisely that: he is demonizing Obama as being anti-Semitic on the basis of having a different view about the merits of the Iran nuclear deal.

HOROWITZ: In your speech yesterday, you seem to compare Republicans who are against this deal to some of the hardliners in Iran, who are chanting “death to America” in the streets. But I think many people want to know, there’s also Democrats you know who are on the fence about this deal. And what would you say to them?

OBAMA: Well, I’m talking to them all the time. And first of all, remember what I said was, that, it’s the hardliners in Iran who are most opposed to this deal. And I said in that sense, they’re making common cause with those who were opposed to this deal here. I didn’t say that they were equivalent. And I think that what you see are people who are assuming confrontation is inevitable and are unwilling to seize the possibility that we could shape an agreement that doesn’t solve all conflicts, but that does solve a very serious problem without resort to war. And what I have said to Democrats who are still trying to figure things out is, just read what’s in the text. Listen to the arguments. See what counter arguments exist on the other side. There are going to be some Democrats who end up opposing this deal, partly because as I said yesterday in the speech, the affinity that we all feel towards the state of Israel is profound, it’s deep. And you know when Israel is opposed to something a lot of Democrats, as well as Republicans, pay attention. The difference though, is that most of the Democratic senators have taken the time to actually read the bill and listen to the arguments. A sizeable proportion of the Republicans were opposed before the ink was even dry on the deal before it was even posted, and that gives you sense of the degree to which this is driven by partisan politics or ideology as opposed to analysis.
-- President Barack Obama, from an interview with Mic's Jake Horowitz released on August 10, 2015.

Comment: Obama is trying to qualify his "comparing" rhetoric, saying he doesn't mean to imply that Republicans and Iranian hardliners are "equivalent". So, would it be fair to say Obama has made "common cause" with Ayatollah Khamenei (in supporting the Iranian nuclear deal, or at least the negotiations) and Saddam Hussein (in opposing the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq), so long as it's understood we don't mean Obama is "equivalent" to Khamenei and Hussein? Or would that still be demonizing?

There is no longer a Republican center-right that would have no problem raising the gas tax for something as fundamental as infrastructure. Sure, there are center-right candidates — like Jeb Bush and John Kasich. But can they run, win and govern from the center-right when the base of their party and so many of its billionaire donors reflect the angry anti-science, anti-tax, anti-government, anti-minorities, anti-gay rights and anti-immigration views of the Tea Party and its media enforcer, Fox News?
-- Thomas Friedman, August 5, 2015.

Comment: Friedman is demonizing the base of the Republican Party, saying they're anti-science and bigoted.

"I recognize that resorting to force may be tempting in the face of the rhetoric and behavior that emanates from parts of Iran. It is offensive. It is incendiary. We do take it seriously. But superpowers should not act impulsively in response to taunts, or even provocations that can be addressed short of war. Just because Iranian hardliners chant “Death to America” does not mean that that’s what all Iranians believe. (Applause.) In fact, it’s those hardliners who are most comfortable with the status quo. It’s those hardliners chanting “Death to America” who have been most opposed to the deal. They’re making common cause with the Republican caucus. (Laughter and applause.)"
-- President Barack Obama, August 5, 2015, speaking on the proposed deal on Iran's nuclear program.

Comment: First, Obama is knocking over a straw man: who has ever said that all Iranians want "Death to America"? Rather, the concern is that Iran's rulers chant it, or at the very least allow and encourage others to do so. Second, Obama is demonizing Republican opponents of the Iran deal via guilt by association or "comparing" rhetoric, saying that since Republicans and Iranian hardliners both oppose the nuclear deal, they have made "common cause". (Obama made the same assertion in March of the same year.) But just because GOP senators – like hardliners in Iran – are opposed to the nuclear deal currently in the works doesn't mean they agree with hardliners in Iran on everything. It doesn't even mean the GOP senators oppose the nuclear deal for the same reasons at the hardliners in Iran. Consider the same argument being turned on Obama: he, like Iran, is in favor of fighting the Islamic State (aka, ISIS). Does that mean he agrees with Iran on all other things, and supports Iran's position on terrorism or it's killing of US troops in Iraq in 2007-2008? Of course it doesn't. Did Obama make common cause with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, given that both of them opposed the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq? Did Obama make common cause with Cuban dictators Fidel and Raul Castro when he agreed to reestablish diplomatic ties with Cuba? Lastly, the audience seems to endorse Obama's rhetoric with their applause, though their laughter might indicate some of them think it is meant comedically.

"It's a war on women's health, it's not about abortion. Planned Parenthood spends 97% of its dollars on non-abortion related services … They serve 2.7 million people in America every year, 500,000 of those happen to be Hispanic. It is a very important healthcare organization, and this attack started from the day Planned Parenthood was founded in 1916, when the founder of Planned Parenthood was arrested for trying to distribute birth control to poor women. So it's a constant battle here. I can't believe in this century we are still battling against women's health."
-- Sen. Barbara Boxer, August 4, 2015.

Comment: First, this is "war" rhetoric. Second, Boxer is demonizing opponents of Planned Parenthood, saying they don't care about abortion, they only want to prevent women from getting health services.

"Here we have Obama, this man is deadly serious about destroying America."
-- Pundit Mark Levin, August 3, 2015, during the 1st hour of his radio program. His remarks referred to President Barack Obama.

Comment: Levin is demonizing Obama.

TAPPER: During your first term as governor, you were fond of saying that you can treat bullies in one of two ways -- quote -- "You can either sidle up to them or you can punch them in the face." You said, "I like to punch them in the face." At the national level, who deserves a punch in the face?

CHRISTIE: Oh, the national teachers union, who has already endorsed Hillary Clinton 16, 17 months before the election.


CHRISTIE: Because they're not for education for our children. They're for greater membership, greater benefits, greater pay for their members. And they are the single most destructive force in public education in America. I have been saying that since 2009. I have got the scars to show it. But I'm never going to stop saying it, because they never change their stripes.
-- Republican presidential candidate Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), August 2, 2015, being interviewed by CNN's Jake Tapper.

Comment: This is violent rhetoric. Christie is also demonizing teachers unions, saying that they don't care about educating children, only about their own selfish interests.

"Now, if you're asking me about the politics of Washington and the rhetoric that takes place there, that doesn’t always go great. The particular comments of Mr. Huckabee are, I think, part of just a general pattern that we've seen that is -- would be considered ridiculous if it weren’t so sad. We've had a sitting senator call John Kerry Pontius Pilate. We've had a sitting senator who also happens to be running for President suggest that I'm the leading state sponsor of terrorism. These are leaders in the Republican Party. And part of what historically has made America great is, particularly when it comes to foreign policy, there’s been a recognition that these issues are too serious, that issues of war and peace are of such grave concern and consequence that we don't play fast and loose that way. We have robust debates, we look at the facts, there are going to be disagreements. But we just don't fling out ad hominem attacks like that, because it doesn’t help inform the American people. I mean, this is a deal that has been endorsed by people like Brent Scowcroft and Sam Nunn -- right? -- historic Democratic and Republican leaders on arms control and on keeping America safe. And so when you get rhetoric like this, maybe it gets attention and maybe this is just an effort to push Mr. Trump out of the headlines, but it's not the kind of leadership that is needed for America right now. And I don't think that's what anybody -- Democratic, Republican, or independent -- is looking for out of their political leaders. In fact, it's been interesting when you look at what’s happened with Mr. Trump, when he’s made some of the remarks that, for example, challenged the heroism of Mr. McCain, somebody who endured torture and conducted himself with exemplary patriotism, the Republican Party is shocked. And yet, that arises out of a culture where those kinds of outrageous attacks have become far too commonplace and get circulated nonstop through the Internet and talk radio and news outlets. And I recognize when outrageous statements like that are made about me, that a lot of the same people who were outraged when they were made about Mr. McCain were pretty quiet. The point is we're creating a culture that is not conducive to good policy or good politics. The American people deserve better. Certainly, presidential debates deserve better. In 18 months, I'm turning over the keys -- I want to make sure I'm turning over the keys to somebody who is serious about the serious problems the country faces and the world faces. And that requires on both sides, Democrat and Republican, a sense of seriousness and decorum and honesty. And I think that's what the voters expect, as well."
-- President Barack Obama, July 27, 2015. Obama was referring to remarks made about the Iranian nuclear deal by Republican presidential candidate and former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR), Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR). They described it respectively, as marching Israelis "to the door of the oven", a "jihadist stimulus bill", and as negotiated by someone who "acted like Pontius Pilate" (referring to Secretary of State John Kerry).

Comment: In the face of remarks that are exaggerations and/or demonizing, Obama is calling for setting a higher standard of political debate. However, by failing to note how he and fellow Democrats contribute to name-calling and incivility, Obama is engaging in the "only my opponent" caricature. Obama also conflates ad hominem reasoning and name-calling. Plus, aren't domestic issues too important to play "fast and loose" with rhetoric?

"This president's foreign policy is the most feckless in American history. It is so naive that he would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven."
-- Republican presidential candidate and former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR), July 26, 2015. Huckabee was referring to the deal on Iran's nuclear program endorsed by President Barack Obama.

Comment: Huckabee is invoking the Holocaust, predicting that the Iranian nuclear deal will be as deadly to Jews (in this case, the ones living in Israel) as the massacres by the Nazis. This is a prediction, so it's technically unclear whether it's true or false, but it seems likely to be an exaggeration. If it's so obvious that the deal is apocalyptically bad, then why – according to Huckabee – would Obama endorse it? Because Obama is evil or stupid? Or is this instead a violent metaphor on Huckabee's part, a "comparing" of the Iranian deal with the Holocaust?

Bills are being rushed to the floor in the House and Senate in response to a woman’s senseless killing in San Francisco by an unauthorized immigrant with a long criminal record. That single crime has energized hard-line Republican lawmakers who have long peddled the false argument that all illegal immigrants are a criminal menace, and that the best way to erase their threat is by new layers of inflexible policing. … Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina mused about the need to find and swiftly rid the country of criminal “aliens”: “How are we going to identify that universe, however small it may be?” he said, adding, “What is our plan to identify that universe before they reoffend?” Representative Steve King of Iowa likened crimes by unauthorized immigrants to the 9/11 attacks, “a tragedy that causes my hard heart to cry.” Representative Lamar Smith of Texas said “someone in this administration probably should be arrested for negligent homicide.” Language like that is hard to distinguish from the rantings of Donald Trump, who brought his racist road show to Laredo, Tex., on Thursday. But there is room — even in immigration — for sane, sound policy. … That would be a serious solution, one that gives deserving immigrants a foothold in this country and makes it easier to uncover those who come here to do harm. It is called comprehensive reform, which Mr. Smith, Mr. Gowdy and others in their anti-immigrant caucus, now consumed with exploitive fury over the San Francisco tragedy, have fought at every turn.
-- New York Times editorial, July 24, 2015.

Comment: First, the editorial board is knocking over a straw man: many Republicans have said some illegal immigrants are involved in criminal behavior, but few if any have said all illegal immigrants are criminals (apart, of course, from breaking immigration law). The editorial board is demonizing the Republicans mentioned as being racists and bigoted xenophobes (despite the fact that their comments aren't on par with presidential candidate Donald Trump's), and is also accusing them of exploiting a tragedy.

MARCO RUBIO: I think it's important for the president of the United States to be someone that can conduct, and be engaged in a public debate on an issue without demonizing their opponents, that can hold a speech where you don't invite Paul Ryan, sit him in the front row of the speech and lambast him and attack him in front of everybody, knowing he can't respond. It's important for the office the presidency to be be someone that is capable of doing those things. I have said repeatedly, Barack Obama is a great husband and great father. But I do believe the way he has conducted his presidency has been divisive. I think he unnecessarily demonizes his opponents on policy issues, not just disagreement on policies. He wants to convince people that you are a bad person, that you don't care about the disabled or children or women, or someone who is being hurt. I think that's bad for the country. I truly believe that sort of activity, and is he not alone in it, but I do believe that sort of activity is not what we need from a president.

BRET BAIER: So you stand by that statement that the president has no class?

MARCO RUBIO: I think, on the major issues of our time, he has not conducted himself of the dignity of worthy of that was office. Demonization of political opponents and divisions in America which have made it harder for us to solve our problems, and have poisoned the political environment as a result.
-- Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), July 23, 2015, being interviewed by Bret Baier of Fox News. The discussion concerned Rubio's July 22, 2015, remarks stating that President Barack Obama had "no class".

Comment: There are many things going on here. Rubio is calling for civility in political debate, and is accusing Obama of resorting to demonizing. Rubio is also using "hate the policies, not the person" rhetoric. It's not clear whether Rubio answers the question of whether Obama "has no class" or if he evades it. It's certainly true that Obama has resorted to demonization, but, first, is that appropriately summed up by saying Obama has "no class" whatsoever (or is that itself an act of demonizing)? Second, many Republicans have resorted to demonizing, too: will Rubio describe all of them the same way, or is he resorting to the "only my opponent" caricature?

Liberals who still refuse to condemn Planned Parenthood — which is almost all of them, with rare exception — have announced, either explicitly or implicitly, that they categorically do not care about what is right, true, humane, or moral. They have laid all of these concerns as burnt offerings on the altar of Liberalism, and in the process become morally indistinguishable from Nazi sympathizers. Thus, all of the rest of their opinions are worthless, and no rational person ought to respect their point of view or take any of their perspectives about anything seriously. If you are too selfish, obtuse, indifferent, brainwashed, or cruel to unequivocally condemn the trafficking and murder of infants, then you forfeit all intellectual credibility.
-- Pundit Matt Walsh, July 22, 2015. His remarks concern a video of a Planned Parenthood official discussing what is done with fetal tissue after abortions.

Comment: Walsh is demonizing liberals, saying they don't care about what is good. He is also using ad hominem reasoning, arguing that, because they are wrong on abortion, they are therefore wrong on everything else.

A hidden-camera video released last week purported to show that Planned Parenthood illegally sells tissue from aborted fetuses. It shows nothing of the sort. But it is the latest in a series of unrelenting attacks on Planned Parenthood, which offers health care services to millions of people every year. The politicians howling to defund Planned Parenthood care nothing about the truth here, being perfectly willing to undermine women’s reproductive rights any way they can.
-- New York Times editorial, July 22, 2015. The editorial concerns a video of a Planned Parenthood official discussing what is done with fetal tissue after abortions.

Comment: The New York Times is demonizing the makers of the video, saying they don't want women to have reproductive rights, care nothing about truth, and will say anything to win. Would it be fair to say that The New York Times editorial board supports infanticide, or would they call that demonizing?

California Gov. Jerry Brown slammed global warming deniers in a keynote speech on Tuesday at a Vatican conference of environmentally friendly mayors. Politicians running for office who do not accept climate change as real are “troglodytes,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

Deniers of climate change are spending “billions on trying to keep from office people such as yourselves and elect troglodytes and other deniers of the obvious science,” the Democratic governor said, according to the AP.

It’s not the first time Brown has hurled the “troglodyte” insult at political opponents.

In March, for example, he ripped the positions of Republican governors and attorneys general challenging President Barack Obama’s immigration executive actions as “at best troglodyte, and at worst, un-Christian.”

Speaking at a climate change conference in Toronto earlier this month, Brown said that “[w]e have a lot of troglodytes south of the border.”
-- Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA), July 21, 2015, from a story by Nick Gass of Politico.

Comment: “Troglodytes” is name-calling, of perhaps the “evil” or “stupid” variety.

Donald Trump is exactly what the Republican Party deserves. The Republican Party has nurtured anti-immigrant, xenophobic nastiness for years, but it has tried to do so, at least at the national level, in language that disguised it as a simple issue of law and order. Trump has blown all that to bits. … You have to see Trump’s statement for what it was: A naked attempt at Willie Horton-izing Mexican immigrants, and thereby the exploiting of the image, substantiated or not, of the brown-bodied predator destroying our country and taking the virtue of our women. It provides language for people to hide their racism and nativism inside the more honorable shell of civility and chivalry. It allows Trump to tap into anger and call it adulation.
-- Pundit Charles Blow, July 16, 2015.

Comment: Blow is accusing the Republican Party of using code words. He is also demonizing Republicans as anti-immigrant, xenophobic, and racist.

GARRETT: As you well know, there are four Americans in Iran -- three held on trumped-up charges, according to your administration; one, whereabouts unknown. Can you tell the country, sir, why you are content, with all the fanfare around this deal, to leave the conscience of this nation and the strength of this nation unaccounted for in relation to these four Americans?

THE PRESIDENT: I got to give you credit, Major, for how you craft those questions. The notion that I am content as I celebrate with American citizens languishing in Iranian jails -- Major, that’s nonsense, and you should know better. I’ve met with the families of some of those folks. Nobody is content. And our diplomats and our teams are working diligently to try to get them out.
-- President Barack Obama, July 15, 2015, during a press conference in which he defended the deal reached on Iran's nuclear program. The question by Major Garrett of CBS News concerned Saeed Abedini, Amir Hekmati, Robert Levinson, and Jason Rezaian, all being held by Iran.

Comment: Was Garrett’s question really out of line? Did it amount to demonizing Obama as not caring about the plight of the detained Americans? It comes down to the ambiguity of the word “content,” which has at least a couple of different senses. There’s the sense in which “I am content to sip iced tea while laying in a hammock and watching ‘Game of Thrones,’” versus “I am content to default on my credit card while I pay my rent.” Being content in the former sense involves being happy, while the latter is just making the best of a bad situation. If Garrett meant the president was “content” in the latter sense, then he’s right: Obama made clear that he’d decided it was better not to include the Americans detained by Iran in the nuclear negotiations. If “content” meant happy, though, then Garrett was clearly in the wrong.

"You don’t sound that bright to me. … You don’t sound very intelligent. … You don’t care about security in the Middle East, you don’t care about the security of Israel. … Why are you such an apologist for the number one state sponsor of terror? … Why do you support them so much?"
-- Pundit Sean Hannity, July 14, 2015, during the 3rd hour of his radio show. Hannity made the remarks while speaking to Dr. Jim Walsh – a Research Associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who Hannity referred to as “Mr. M.I.T.” – about the deal on Iran's nuclear program.

Comment: Hannity is deriding Walsh, calling him stupid and demonizing him as someone who wants to support terrorism. Is it really the case that anyone who supports the nuclear deal is stupid and/or supports terrorism? Would it be fair to say those who oppose the deal (like Hannity) want war with Iran, or oppose surveillance of Iran's nuclear program (which the deal provides for)? Referring to Walsh as "Mr. M.I.T." is just more name-calling. It's a way of belittling Walsh with mock exaltation.

"Mr. Speaker, last night in the South Carolina legislature, we saw Democrats and Republicans join together to take down the Confederate battle flag, many with tears in their eyes as still grieving the nine lives lost lost in Charleston. And while the people of South Carolina move one step past this terrible tragedy, many House Republicans want to take our nation one hundred and fifty years back. We were scheduled to vote on the Interior appropriations bill today. The bill was pulled because members on the other side of the aisle objected to banning the display and sale of the Confederate flags at national park facilities. For years, I’ve heard all the arguments from those who defend the display of the Confederate battle flag. But it is moral cowardice to ignore this flag’s history of white supremacy and treason, to pretend it symbolizes anything other than a heritage of hate and human oppression. The Confederate battle flag does not belong atop our state capitols and it certainly should not be sold or displayed at our national parks. It belongs in a museum of shame, alongside the other relics of hate and division that tore our country apart."
-- Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), July 9, 2015.

Comment: This is exaggeration if not outright demonizing. Whatever the propriety of displaying Confederate flags at national park gift shops, it hardly amounts to reinstating slavery as existed 150 years ago.

Addressing climate change, Brown said, requires reckoning with things that have made life comfortable for billions of people.

“Oil, gas, coal has created the wealth we enjoy,” he said. “What was the source of our wealth now becomes the challenge of our future.”

He criticized politicians, particularly Republicans in Congress, who refuse to take action.

“We have a lot of troglodytes south of the border,” he said.
-- Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA), July 8, 2015, from a story by Chris Megerian of the LA Times. Brown spoke at a conference in Canada; “south of the border” thus refers to the United States.

Comment: “Troglodytes” is name-calling, of perhaps the “evil” or “stupid” variety.

The Republican Party can’t dump Trump because Trump is the Republican Party. … But Trump has merely held up a mirror to the GOP. The man, long experience has shown, believes in nothing other than himself. He has, conveniently, selected the precise basket of issues that Republicans want to hear about — or at least a significant proportion of Republican primary voters. He may be saying things more colorfully than others when he talks about Mexico sending rapists across the border, but his views show that, far from being an outlier, he is hitting all the erogenous zones of the GOP electorate. Anti-immigrant? Against Common Core education standards? For repealing Obamacare? Against same-sex marriage? Antiabortion? Anti-tax? Anti-China? Virulent in questioning President Obama’s legitimacy? Check, check, check, check, check, check, check and check.
-- Pundit Dana Milbank, July 8, 2015. His remarks concerned Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Comment: This is distortion and demonizing. It’s far from clear that Trump holds all the positions Milbank says he does, and it’s certainly not true that all Republicans do.

“The Democrats nominate people who truly hate the country.”
-- Pundit Mark Levin, July 7, 2015, during the 3rd hour of his radio program. His remarks concerned former President Jimmy Carter (and presumably other Democratic presidents, as well).

Comment: This is demonizing, accusing Democrats (both candidates and those involved in nominating candidates) of being unpatriotic.

"He's giving Iran a nuclear weapon. The largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world is moving towards a nuclear weapon with the permission of the United States. It's outrageous."
-- Republican presidential candidate Gov. Chris Christie (R-TX), July 6, 2015. His remarks concerned President Barack Obama, whose administration is part of negotiations concerning Iran's nuclear program.

Comment: There are legitimate disagreements about the best way to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. It is demonizing for Christie to say Obama is intentionally giving or permitting Iran to get nuclear weapons.

CHUCK TODD, MEET THE PRESS: Let's bring up Donald Trump. You've defended him. Your former governor, Rick Perry, has criticized him. You've had an experience with plenty of Mexican immigrants in Texas. Are they -- are these immigrants that are coming into Texas what Donald Trump describes? Are they drug dealers, rapists, and such?

SEN. TED CRUZ: Listen, I am a passionate advocate for legal immigrants. I am the son of an immigrant who came legally from Cuba. And I'll tell you, from the day I started campaigning, I traveled the state of Texas, talking about how all of us, we are the children of those who risked everything for freedom, that that immigrant experience of all of us is what makes us Americans, because we value in our DNA liberty and opportunity above all else. Now, when it comes to Donald Trump, I like Donald Trump. He's bold, he's brash. And I get that it seems the favorite sport of the Washington media is to encourage some Republicans to attack other Republicans. I ain't gonna do it. I'm not interested in Republican on Republican violence.

TODD: Rhetoric matters.

CRUZ: You know --

TODD: Doesn't rhetoric matter?

CRUZ: I salute Donald Trump for focusing on the need to address illegal immigration. The Washington cartel doesn't want to address that. The Washington cartel doesn't believe we need to secure the borders. The Washington cartel supports amnesty and I think amnesty's wrong. And I salute Donald Trump for focusing on it. He has a colorful way of speaking. It's not the way I speak. But I'm not gonna engage in the media's game of throwing rocks and attacking other Republicans. I'm just not gonna do it.
-- Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), July 5, 2015, during an interview with NBC News' Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press". Cruz was referring to remarks made by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on June 16, 2015.

Comment: This is an evasion, as Cruz never addresses whether Trump's remarks were appropriate. Is Cruz never going to criticize remarks made by other Republicans, no matter what they are, because that would be "Republican on Republican violence"? (Note that Cruz also uses violent rhetoric, though as a (comically exaggerated?) metaphor.) Is he never going to oppose another GOP candidate on anything? What if someone doesn't like the idea of Americans being "encouraged to attack" one another: does that mean Republicans shouldn't criticize the remarks of Democrats, either, and vice versa? Of course not. Cruz isn't being asked to engage in name-calling, demonizing, or negative politics. He's being asked to take a stand on whether someone else's rhetoric is acceptable, and he's refused to. He's evaded the question by praising Trump for criticizing illegal immigration – which was never the issue; the issue was Trump's description of illegal Mexican immigrants as being mostly rapists and drug-runners – and by accusing the media of trying to draw him into some contrived conflict. But it's entirely appropriate to ask a politician to take a stand on the rhetoric of another politician. Note, the word "colorful" is essentially a way of designating Trump's rhetoric as being attention-getting, but not wrong (for the record, what Trump said was wrong).

"Every single one of these candidates serving in Congress has supported cutting taxes for folks at the top while slashing investments in education. I know that sounds familiar. Some of those members of Congress voted to do it. Every single one of them is still obsessed with repealing the Affordable Care Act despite the fact that, by every measure, it’s working. You know, look, you could make an argument against Obamacare before it passed -- it’s something new; it’s untried; you don’t know. But now, where it’s doing exactly what it was supposed to and actually costing less than we expected, and people are satisfied with the coverage we’re getting, it just seems a little mean to say that you don’t want to provide coverage to 16 million people. And you’ve got nothing to replace it with -- that’s a bad idea."
-- President Barack Obama, July 2, 2015.

Comment: The point of much of the Republican opposition to the Affordable Care Act (aka, "Obamacare") is that they don't believe it's working (for instance, people have lost their favored health care plan and/or doctor, premiums have not dropped by as much as $2,500 a year as Obama projected). To say that their position is "mean" is to accuse them of intentionally trying to hurt people, which is demonizing.

TED CRUZ: When it comes to Donald Trump, I like Donald Trump. I think he’s terrific, I think he’s brash, I think he speaks the truth. And I think NBC is engaging in political correctness that is silly and that is wrong.

ELIZABETH HASSELBECK: Should he apologize for what he said?

TED CRUZ: I don’t think you should apologize for speaking out against the problem that is illegal immigration. I recognize that the PC world, the mainstream media, they don’t want to admit it. But the American people are fed up. Now, listen, we are also a nation of immigrants, and we should celebrate legal immigrants, but Donald Trump is exactly right to highlight the need –

BRIAN KILMEADE: Are they mostly drug dealers and rapists that are coming across the border?

TED CRUZ: Look, they’re not mostly that. But Donald Trump, he has a way of speaking that gets attention. And I credit him for focusing on an issue that needs to be focused on.
-- Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), June 30, 2015. Cruz was responding to remarks made by presidential candidate Donald Trump on June 16, 2015.

Comment: This is an evasion. Trumps remarks made it sounds as if the Mexican people crossing the border illegally into the U.S. are largely drug dealers or rapists, which there is no evidence for. Trump wasn't being criticized for talking about the problem of illegal immigration (which is perfectly acceptable for Trump to do), Trump was being criticized for this slur against Mexicans. In other words, Cruz is knocking down a straw man. The problem isn't that Trump talked in a way that "gets attention"; the problem was that he spoke in a way that was false, and that demonized Mexicans.

Gerrard obviously intended for this to be a provocative piece, but he doesn’t offer any particular new affirmations of science and he ignores some obvious problems with his argument. For instance, if global warming has the impact he wants it to suggests it could, won’t the United States also have climate change refugees? … Those on the left who make these kind of bizarre assertions are feeding the fears of some, but the doubts of many others.
-- Pundit Ed Rogers, June 29, 2015. Rogers' remarks concern an article by pundit Michael B. Gerrard entitled, “America is the worst polluter in the history of the world. We should let climate change refugees resettle here.”

Comment: In his strikethrough, Rogers seems to suggest that Gerrard wants global warming to have a negative impact, which is demonizing, perhaps even "rooting for failure" rhetoric. Also, Rogers uses "scare tactics" rhetoric.

"It's time to level with the American people. This President, and his apprentice-in-waiting Hillary Clinton, are leading America down the path to destruction. Economically, culturally, and internationally. But the most devastating thing they have tried to do is redefine the American Dream. Instead of the dream being to have opportunity and freedom to control your own destiny and make your own way, their dream is for the government to take care of you and make people dependent on the government. We want to guarantee equal opportunity, but they want to guarantee equal outcomes. The simple fact is they are trying to turn the American Dream into socialism. The folks in Washington may call that the American Dream, but out here in America, we call that the European Nightmare."
-- Gov. Bobby Jindal, June 24, 2015, remarking on President Barack Obama and Clinton, who is running for president.

Comment: This is demonizing, to accuse Obama and Clinton of wanting to make people dependent on government. It is also exaggeration: is life in Europe really a nightmare compared to the U.S.?

"We're making progress. I think you've probably noted that when there are Republican xenophobic measures to take away the DREAMers, their right to have a work permit, you see a dozen or so Republicans vote with Democrats to stop that. And that's happened on more than one occasion. On several occasions when really mean-spirited attempts to even hurt the immigrant community and their advances, you see that there are Republicans that are joining us."
-- Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), June 24, 2015.

Comment: This is demonizing, saying that Republicans are bigots who are intentionally trying to hurt immigrants.

Now Islamic State, or ISIS, announces it has taken 86 more Christians hostage, their likely fate a grisly martyrdom. On the same day, June 8, at the G-7 summit, President Obama admitted that he lacks a “complete strategy” to defeat the Islamic extremists now bedeviling Iraq, much of the rest of the Middle East, and beyond. … We may begin to wonder: Is this irresolution or resolution? I do not like to ascribe darker motives but necessarily wonder what explains the commander in chief’s uncertain trumpet. … As it has with others on the front lines of the fight against ISIS and its like, America has been shortchanging de facto allies in the Middle East such as Iraq’s embattled Kurds, sending supplies the slow-or-no way through a balky Baghdad. The Egyptians have not received the F-16 jets for which they have already paid. The Apache helicopters they have received lack defense systems, and the U.S. tanks delivered to them lack spare parts. None of these people are pure enough for our president. … Can our administration not make a strategic choice between Egypt’s President Sisi and the Islamic State’s would-be caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi? You do wonder.
-- Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), June 17, 2015.

Comment: First, this is a distortion, as President Barack Obama never said there was no complete strategy to defeat ISIS. Rather, he said there was no complete strategy for training Iraqi troops. Second, it is one thing to say that Obama's strategy is inadequate, but it is demonizing to say it can only be explained by sinister motives. For instance, aid given to allies has sometimes later been used against America or its other allies, as was the case with Afghanistan's mujahideen fighting the Soviet Union, as well as Humvees given to the Iraqi Army that were effectively surrendered to ISIS.

Let me start by saying that a white guy is not ideally positioned or situated to evaluate or make sense of the moral and psychological equities of a someone trying to pass as black. (For a second I thought, hey this is kind of like all the rightwingers who are confused and think they're honorary Jews because they're so into Bibi Netanyahu or really, really, really want to kill them some Palestinians. But okay, not really the same.) So let me tentatively and respectfully offer some impressions from this imperfect vantage point.
-- Pundit John Marshall, June 13, 2015, remarking on Rachel Dolezal, an NAACP activist who falsely claimed to be African-American.

Comment: First, Marshall somewhat disqualifies himself from commenting on Dolezal on the grounds that "you don't know what it's like". Second, he demonizes right-wingers, characterizing them as wanting to kill Palestinians.

At a breakfast with reporters in Washington Thursday, Sanders previewed what he said will be a major theme of his campaign.

“I will be talking about family values, but not the family values that my Republican colleagues talk about, which for them means that a woman cannot have the right to control her own body or that gay people should not have the right to get married or that women should not have access to contraception. That is what their concept of family values are about. That’s not my concept,” Sanders said at the breakfast, sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor Breakfast in downtown D.C.
-- From a story by Meredith Shiner of Yahoo News, June 11, 2015, reporting remarks by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Comment: Sanders is demonizing Republicans on abortion by saying they don't want women to be able to control their own bodies. Would it be fair to say that Sanders' position on abortion is that unborn children should be killed? No, both accounts are caricatures. It's also a distortion to say that Republicans oppose women having access to contraception. Republicans don't want contraception outlawed, they (or many of them, at least) just don't want taxpayer dollars paying for it.

"[Democrats] are the anti-American party."
-- Pundit Mark Levin, June 4, 2015, during the 3rd hour of his radio show.

Comment: Levin is demonizing Democrats, questioning their patriotism.

"Here in Texas, former Governor Rick Perry signed a law that a federal court said was actually written with the purpose of discriminating against minority voters. He applauded when the Voting Rights Act was gutted, and said the lost protections were “outdated and unnecessary.” But Governor Perry is hardly alone in his crusade against voting rights. In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker cut back early voting and signed legislation that would make it harder for college students to vote. In New Jersey, Governor Christie vetoed legislation to extend early voting. And in Florida, when Jeb Bush was governor, state authorities conducted a deeply flawed purge of voters before the presidential election in 2000. Thankfully in 2004 a plan to purge even more voters was headed off. So today, Republicans are systematically and deliberately trying to stop millions of American citizens from voting. What part of democracy are they afraid of? I believe every citizen has the right to vote. And I believe we should do everything we can to make it easier for every citizen to vote. I call on Republicans at all levels of government with all manner of ambition to stop fear mongering about a phantom epidemic of election fraud and start explaining why they’re so scared of letting citizens have their say. Yes, this is about democracy. But it’s also about dignity. About the ability to stand up and say, yes, I am a citizen. I am an American. My voice counts. And no matter where you come from or what you look like or how much money you have, that means something. In fact, it means a lot."
-- Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, June 4, 2015.

Comment: "Crusade" is a form of "war" rhetoric, though I think it's generally understood to be metaphorical. More worrying is that she is demonizing Republicans, accusing them of wanting to take people's right to vote away. She is also using "fear-mongering" rhetoric.

"I don't think the guy has a soul. I said it and I mean it."
-- Pundit Mark Levin, May 28, 2015, 2nd hour of his radio show, referring to President Barack Obama, and responding to White House spokesman Josh Earnest's remarks that day that, "The United States is not going to be responsible for securing the security situation inside of Iraq".

Comment: Levin is demonizing – or, perhaps, dehumanizing – Obama. Is it really the case that the only explanation for Obama's Iraq policy that he doesn't care about human suffering (i.e., that he has no soul)? Consider, as a conservative, Levin opposes a lot of welfare spending that aids the poor and many minorities; is the only explanation for Levin's position that he doesn't care about the suffering of the poor and minorities? Would that be any more unfair than his remarks about Obama?

"He wants to give Iran a nuclear weapon."
-- Pundit Sean Hannity, May 26, 2015, referring to President Barack Obama.

Comment: This is demonizing. Just because Obama isn't negotiating with Iran the way Hannity would, does that mean Obama wants Iran to get nuclear weapons? If so, why did he authorize the Stuxnet virus attack on Iran's nuclear program? Would Hannity think it fair if someone said, "Hannity doesn't support as much social welfare spending as I do; therefore, he wants poor people to starve"?

On immigration, Hillary Clinton is a work in progress – and has been since she entered politics more than a dozen years ago. Depending on which audience she is trying to please, she assumes one of two conflicting personas: Restrictionist Hillary or Reform Hillary. In 2003, Restrictionist Hillary told conservative radio host John Grambling that she was “adamantly against illegal immigrants” and that “we’ve got to do more at our borders.” … Then there is Reform Hillary, who has emerged recently now that Clinton is once again running for president and needs the support of Latino voters who favor a more honest and more common-sense approach to the problem. … Reform Hillary celebrated Cinco de Mayo by speaking at a mostly Latino high school in Las Vegas, where she called for illegal immigrants to be given “a path to full and equal citizenship.” She also accused Republicans who support legal status for the undocumented but not citizenship of pushing “second-class status.” But what was Clinton pushing? A poison pill. “Full and equal citizenship” will never get through Congress. So by setting the bar impossibly high, Reform Hillary all but ensures nothing will be done. This suits her fine because she doesn’t want to be known as a pro-amnesty Democrat any more than Obama did, and she’d rather have a wedge issue than a workable solution.
-- Pundit Ruben Navarrette, May 24, 2015.

Comment: First, Navarrette is accusing Clinton of flip-flopping. Second, he is engaging in "common sense" rhetoric. Third, he seems to be demonizing those who are "restrictionists" as not being in favor of honesty and common sense. Lastly, he resorts to "wedge issue" rhetoric.

"My problem is, why is it only us? Why is it only we be concerned about tone. The meanest, most extreme people in American politics are members of the Democrat Party and the American left. Tone? These are the people rooting for people to die on Twitter! These are the people rooting for people to get cancer on Twitter. These are the people who are intolerant, mean-spirited. They're the bullies, and they don't care one bit about their tone, and they don't get punished for it. Yet we come along and we're the ones that have to make sure that we're not seen as mean-spirited and bullyish and only one way of looking at anything. (sigh) This whole notion of "tone," I totally understand the art of the persuasion here and I understand where tone can come into it. But the problem I have is that all of these rules that end up shackling people, all these rules that end up causing people to be not who they are on our side, are never applied to people on the left. Look what these people say about -- take your pick. What they say about anything. George W. Bush. Sarah Palin. Take your pick of any Republican anywhere, and what they say about them, and they're never punished for it. Nobody ever goes to them and says, "Your tone needs to be moderated a little bit here, Mr. Hoyer. Your tone needs to moderated a little, Ms. Pelosi." Dingy Harry? For crying out! Tone?"
-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, May 21, 2015, remarking on comments made earlier that day by Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) on a need to improve the tone of political debate.

Comment: Limbaugh is demonizing Democrats and liberals with the "only my opponent" caricature. What evidence does he have – rigorous evidence that doesn't involve selective cherry-picking – that Democrats and liberals are more uncivil than Republicans and conservatives? He is asserting that there is hypocrisy in the application of standards of civil debate, that Democrats and liberals impose them on Republicans and conservatives but not on themselves. This might not amount to saying that civility is bogus, but he does seem to say it's not worth policing.

"In their world, truth doesn't matter."
-- Pundit Sean Hannity, May 20, 2015, during the 1st hour of his radio show, remarking on President Barack Obama, liberals, and Democrats.

Comment: Hannity is demonizing his opponents, saying they don't care about truth.

[Rep.] Alan Grayson [(D-FL)] is Elizabeth Warren without a filter — but he intends with her help to become Florida’s great Democratic hope. Since Grayson first burst onto the national media scene as a first-term congressman from Central Florida with a savage wit, he has generated near non-stop headlines and Internet hits, calling all manner of political opponents “whores,” “vampires” and “knuckle-dragging Neanderthals.” Even some Democrats who agree with almost all of his policy positions want to keep their distance. … After he shot into the national media arena in 2009, Grayson was unbowed, asking me, “Is it a necessary element of this job that I take shit from people? No one gets a free pass if they attack me. I don’t think it’s beneficial to turn the other cheek. There is no reason a Democrat has to be a weakling.” … His strident criticism of the financial system led to an early — and highly embarrassing — gaffe in February 2010, what soon would become just an indicator of what was to come. In a radio interview, Grayson attacked Linda Robertson, a senior adviser to Fed Chairman Paul Bernanke, calling her a “K street whore” and accusing her of “trying to teach me about economics.” He later apologized. Yet once catapulted into the national spotlight for his outrageousness, he never looked back. In fact, he doubled-down, comparing former Vice President Dick Cheney to a vampire bat (“I have trouble listening to what he says sometimes because of the blood that drips from his teeth while he’s talking”), calling the Republican Party a “lie factory” and dubbing Rush Limbaugh a “a has-been hypocrite loser” who was “more lucid when he was a drug addict.”
-- From an article in Politico, May 20, 2015, by Mark I. Pinsky.

Comment: What Pinsky calls a "savage wit" and "gaffe" on the part of Grayson is better described as demonizing. "Whore" is name-calling of the "sexual deviancy" sort. Also, Grayson reportedly uses "get tough" rhetoric, according to Pinsky.

"Barack Obama has a very high tolerance for the brutalization and enslavement of other people."
-- Pundit Mark Levin, May 19, 2015, during the 2nd hour of his radio show. Levin's remarks were aimed at President Barack Obama's refusal to send ground troops into Iraq to fight the Islamic State (aka "ISIS"), which has been committing atrocities throughout the region.

Comment: Does this have to be the reason Obama doesn't send troops to fight ISIS? There are people suffering in North Korea, in Ukraine, and in many other parts of the world: is a lack of compassion the only reason we don't send troops to these places, or is that just demonizing?

"After only four months in the United States Senate, as a 30-year-old kid, I was walking through the Senate floor to go to a meeting with Majority Leader Mike Mansfield. And I witnessed another newly elected senator, the extremely conservative Jesse Helms, excoriating Ted Kennedy and Bob Dole for promoting the precursor of the Americans with Disabilities Act. … When I walked into Mansfield’s office, I must have looked as angry as I was. … And he looked at me, he said, what’s bothering you, Joe? I said, that guy, Helms, he has no social redeeming value. He doesn't care … He doesn't care about people in need. He has a disregard for the disabled. Majority Leader Mansfield then proceeded to tell me that three years earlier, Jesse and Dot Helms, sitting in their living room in early December before Christmas, reading an ad in the Raleigh Observer, the picture of a young man, 14-years-old with braces on his legs up to both hips, saying, all I want is someone to love me and adopt me. He looked at me and he said, and they adopted him, Joe. I felt like a fool. He then went on to say, Joe, it’s always appropriate to question another man’s judgment, but never appropriate to question his motives because you simply don't know his motives. … From that moment on, I tried to look past the caricatures of my colleagues and try to see the whole person. Never once have I questioned another man’s or woman’s motive. And something started to change. If you notice, every time there’s a crisis in the Congress the last eight years, I get sent to the Hill to deal with it. It’s because every one of those men and women up there -- whether they like me or not -- know that I don't judge them for what I think they're thinking. Because when you question a man’s motive, when you say they're acting out of greed, they're in the pocket of an interest group, et cetera, it’s awful hard to reach consensus. It’s awful hard having to reach across the table and shake hands. No matter how bitterly you disagree, though, it is always possible if you question judgment and not motive. … So one piece of advice is try to look beyond the caricature of the person with whom you have to work. Resist the temptation to ascribe motive, because you really don’t know -— and it gets in the way of being able to reach a consensus on things that matter to you and to many other people."
-- Vice President Joe Biden, May 17, 2015.

Comment: This is calling for a higher standard and "don't hate the person" rhetoric. Biden is also indulging in the "only my opponent" caricature, and forgetting the times he has demonized Republicans.

Pope Francis’ closest adviser castigated conservative climate change skeptics in the United States Tuesday, blaming capitalism for their views. Speaking with journalists, Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga criticized certain “movements” in the United States that have preemptively come out in opposition to Francis’s planned encyclical on climate change. “The ideology surrounding environmental issues is too tied to a capitalism that doesn’t want to stop ruining the environment because they don’t want to give up their profits,” Rodríguez said, according to the Boston Globe's Crux blog.
-- From an article in The Hill, May 12, 2015, by Timothy Cama.

Comment: Rodriguez is demonizing climate change skeptics as being greedy. Also, if his argument is that climate change skepticism is based on greed, then he's engaging in ad hominem reasoning,

Sometimes I think that Rush Limbaugh is the dumbest man in America. This happens whenever I take him at face value and forget that he is basically an entertainer with contempt for his audience. He will tell them anything. Last week, as if to validate my opinion of him, he went after Michelle Obama for playing the “race card” at the dedication of a museum in New York City. He described her as angry and complaining.
-- Pundit Richard Cohen, May 11, 2015, in an article entitled, "Michelle Obama, criticized for the sin of being black". Cohen's article concerns remarks made by pundit Rush Limbaugh on May 7, 2015, regarding comments made by First Lady Michelle Obama on April 30, 2015.

Comment: This is name-calling, of the "stupid" variety. Cohen is also demonizing Limbaugh as having contempt for his audience, and saying Limbaugh criticized Obama for being black. Cohen also uses the "they'll say anything" caricature against him. (There is also "race card" rhetoric being used by Limbaugh.) Cohen can disagree with Limbaugh's remarks without resorting to name-calling.

"It's also essential that we strengthen families and communities, and that means we have to finally, once and for all fix our immigration system. … it is at heart a family issue at heart, and if we claim we are for families, we have to pull together and resolve the outstanding issues around our broken immigration system. The American people support comprehensive immigration reform, not just because it's the right thing to do, and it is, but because they know it strengthens families, strengthens our economy, and strengthens our country. That's why we can't wait any longer. We can't wait any longer for a path to full and equal citizenship. Now, this is where I differ with everybody on the Republican side. Make no mistakes, today not a single Republican candidate, announced or potential, is clearly and consistently supporting a path to citizenship. Not one. When they talk about legal status, that is code for second-class status. … I will fight to stop partisan attacks on the executive actions that would put DREAMers, including those with us today, at risk of deportation."
-- Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D-NY), May 5, 2015.

Comment: Clinton is using "Americans want", "code words", and "partisan" rhetoric. Is it really the case that you can't support families without also supporting Clinton's immigration reform proposal? It seems like demonizing to suggest that people who disagree with her proposal are not in favor of families.

The 2016 campaign should be almost entirely about issues. The parties are far apart on everything from the environment to fiscal policy to health care, and history tells us that what politicians say during a campaign is a good guide to how they will govern. Nonetheless, many in the news media will try to make the campaign about personalities and character instead. And character isn’t totally irrelevant. The next president will surely encounter issues that aren’t currently on anyone’s agenda, so it matters how he or she is likely to react. But the character trait that will matter most isn’t one the press likes to focus on. In fact, it’s actively discouraged. … No, what you should really look for, in a world that keeps throwing nasty surprises at us, is intellectual integrity: the willingness to face facts even if they’re at odds with one’s preconceptions, the willingness to admit mistakes and change course. And that’s a virtue in very short supply. … Just to be clear, I’m not calling for an end to ideology in politics, because that’s impossible. Everyone has an ideology, a view about how the world does and should work. Indeed, the most reckless and dangerous ideologues are often those who imagine themselves ideology-free — for example, self-proclaimed centrists — and are, therefore, unaware of their own biases. What you should seek, in yourself and others, is not an absence of ideology but an open mind, willing to consider the possibility that parts of the ideology may be wrong. … So what’s the state of intellectual integrity at this point in the election cycle? Pretty bad, at least on the Republican side of the field. … as far as I can tell no important Republican figure has admitted that none of the terrible consequences that were supposed to follow health reform — mass cancellation of existing policies, soaring premiums, job destruction — has actually happened. The point is that we’re not just talking about being wrong on specific policy questions. We’re talking about never admitting error, and never revising one’s views. Never being able to say that you were wrong is a serious character flaw even if the consequences of that refusal to admit error fall only on a few people. But moral cowardice should be outright disqualifying in anyone seeking high office.
-- Pundit Paul Krugman, May 1, 2015.

Comment: Krugman is discussing the topic of character in politics. He makes a good point about ideology (i.e., everybody has one, you can't get rid of it), but he leaves the impression that only Republicans refuse to take responsibility for their failed predictions. That is, he's resorting to the "only my opponent" caricature and demonizing Republicans by suggesting that they don't care about truth. Krugman also exaggerates when he says Republicans "never" admit error. Perhaps this is a tu quoque argument on my part, but is it a lack of intellectual integrity for Krugman to only be alarmed at the absence of accountability of Republicans, and not Democrats as well? After all, President Barack Obama and other Democrats made predictions about the Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare") that didn't come true (e.g., premiums will drop by up to $2,500 dollars, if you like your plan or doctor, you can keep them, etc.), but they haven't owned up to their errors, have they?

The argument Stewart and Stephanopoulos were throwing out–we’re dramatically under-investing in America’s cities–is liberal claptrap. … We’re spending an enormous amount of money on a system that isn’t producing, and it’s liberal interest groups (e.g., education unions) and the Democratic Party that are ferocious opponents of the kind of reforms that would improve American education. … For all their self-proclaimed compassion, liberals and liberalism are, in important respects, doing significant damage to the young people in America, and most especially to the most vulnerable in our midst. Messrs. Stewart and Stephanopoulos don’t seem to realize this, but they should. Because human lives should take priority over political ideology.
-- Pundit Peter Wehner, April 29, 2015. His comments concerned an interview of ABC News' George Stephanopoulos by Jon Stewart of The Daily Show.

Comment: Wehner is accusing Stewart and Stephanopoulos of being ideologues, and demonizing them by saying the care more about ideology than people. It's a platitude to say that human lives count more than ideology.

Imagine yourself as a regular commentator on public affairs … You weigh in on a major policy initiative that’s about to happen, making strong predictions of disaster. … But nothing you predicted actually comes to pass. What do you do? You might admit that you were wrong, and try to figure out why. But almost nobody does that; we live in an age of unacknowledged error. Alternatively, you might insist that sinister forces are covering up the grim reality. … Finally, there’s a third option: You can pretend that you didn’t make the predictions you did. … Several months into 2014 many leading Republicans — including John Boehner, the speaker of the House — were predicting that more people would lose coverage than gain it. And everyone on the right was predicting that the law would cost far more than projected, adding hundreds of billions if not trillions to budget deficits. What actually happened? There was no rate shock … You see, in a polarized political environment, policy debates always involve more than just the specific issue on the table. They are also clashes of world views. … And there’s also a moral issue involved. Refusing to accept responsibility for past errors is a serious character flaw in one’s private life. It rises to the level of real wrongdoing when policies that affect millions of lives are at stake.
-- Pundit Paul Krugman, April 27, 2015.

Comment: Krugman is discussing character in politics, but also indulging in the "only my opponent" caricature by leaving the impression that only (or mostly) Republicans fail to correct their mistakes. He is demonizing Republicans in suggesting that they aren't concerned about being honest.

"I think he does see America from the Iranian perspective. I think he hates America."
-- Pundit Mark Levin, April 13, 2015, during the 2nd hour of his radio program. Levin was discussing a comment made earlier that day by Thomas Friedman of The New York Times, who said that President Barack Obama is able to see America from the Iranian perspective.

Comment: This is demonizing, accusing Obama of hating his country.

"This is a man on a mission, not on a mission for America but against America".
-- Pundit Mark Levin, April 9, 2015, during the 2nd hour of his radio program. His remarks referred to President Barack Obama.

Comment: This is demonizing, saying that Obama is acting against his own country.

HUGH HEWITT: Is he naïve, Mr. Vice President? Or does he have a far-reaching vision that only he entertains of a realigned Middle East that somehow it all works out in the end?

DICK CHENEY: I don’t know, Hugh. I vacillate between the various theories I’ve heard, but you know, if you had somebody as president who wanted to take America down, who wanted to fundamentally weaken our position in the world and reduce our capacity to influence events, turn our back on our allies and encourage our adversaries, it would look exactly like what Barack Obama’s doing. I think his actions are constituted in my mind those of the worst president we’ve ever had.
-- Former Vice President Dick Cheney, posted April 8, 2015.

Comment: This is demonizing (Obama's polices are the policies of someone who wants to intentionally dismantle the country) and exaggeration (Obama is as bad as James Buchanan and Franklin Pierce).

"On Easter, I do reflect on the fact that as a Christian, I am supposed to love. And I have to say that sometimes when I listen to less than loving expressions by Christians, I get concerned. But that's a topic for another day. Where there is injustice -- I was about to veer off. I'm pulling it back. Where there is injustice we defend the oppressed. Where there is disagreement, we treat each other with compassion and respect. Where there are differences, we find strength in our common humanity, knowing that we are all children of God."
-- President Barack Obama, April 7, 2015.

Comment: Obama doesn't say who or which Christians are guilty of making "less than loving" remarks. I think we can safely assume that he is referring to Republicans and conservatives who have resorted to demonizing and other incivilities. However, Obama doesn't cite himself as being guilty of the same misbehavior (and he is certainly guilty of it), so he is resorting to the "only my opponent" caricature.

BRET BAIER, SPECIAL REPORT: The president talked about what he said was anti-Israel comments that he's hurt by.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: It has been personally difficult for me to hear sort of expressions that somehow we don't have -- this administration has not done everything it could to look out for Israel’s interest.

BAIER: One more soundbite. Late this afternoon, the president was on NPR. He was asked by Israel's push to say in this deal to get Iran to say that Israel can exist.

OBAMA: The notion that we would condition Iran not getting nuclear weapons in a verifiable deal on Iran recognizing Israel is really akin to saying that we won't sign a deal unless the nature of the Iranian regime completely transforms.And that is, I think, a fundamental misjudgment.

BAIER: Seems different. I mean, he is hurt by the anti-Israel comments, but then says that that's not part of any possible deal.

STEVE HAYES, WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, if he doesn't want people to say that he has been anti-Israel he should perhaps have less anti-Israel policies. That would solve the problem. The bigger challenge for the president he actually outlined the differences correctly. He doesn't think it's necessary to have a change in the behavior of the regime. Benjamin Netanyahu very clearly does. But as to the point of whether this benefits or whether this potentially threatens Israel, Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah chief, just said in an interview with Syrian state TV, "Iran will become richer and wealthier and will become more influential." We're seeing it now.
-- Pundit Steve Hayes, posted April 6, 2015.

Comment: It's fair to argue about which policies are best for Israel, but it's demonizing to say that Obama's policies are anti-Israel. Isn't this roughly the same retort given to Republicans and conservatives who complain about being accused of racism: "Well, if you don't want people to say that you're racist, then have less racist policies"?

[I]n the November 2014 exit polls, only 22 percent of Americans said they thought life would be better for future generations, and in Gallup’s latest “Economic Confidence Index” poll, 50 percent of Americans say the economy is getting worse. Not to mention, only 29.3 percent of Americans think the country is headed in the right direction, while 61.3 percent of Americans believe we are on the wrong track. … That bleak outlook is consistent with an essay Gallup chief executive Jim Clifton wrote at the beginning of this year, where he noted that, “Until 2008, start-ups outpaced business failures by about 100,000 a year. But in the past six years, that number has suddenly turned upside down.” Despite quoting this stunning fact, Edsall doesn’t make the connection between this negative economic data and a certain election in November 2008. Oddly, Edsall’s piece doesn’t even mention President Obama, except to identify a quote from the former chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. Obama’s negative impact on the economy should be a lesson for the next president. I don’t think there has been a president in my lifetime who has been more hostile to business than Obama. … Anyway, all is lost for the remaining 21 months under Obama, and no doubt more businesses are doomed as a result of this administration’s anti-business bias.
-- Pundit Ed Rogers, April 6, 2015.

Comment: First, to simply blame Obama for the bad economic confidence numbers seems like post hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning. The financial crisis also happened during the latter half of 2008, couldn't that be a cause for the lack of confidence? Second, Rogers is demonizing Obama by saying he is anti-business. Even if it's true that Obama doesn't have the best policies for business (or better policies than his opponents), does that mean he actively opposes business?

"See, at the center of this, folks, is religion and a hate for it, a fear of it. The left wants no part of organized religion. That's why global warming exists and all these other issues. They take the place of organized religion. They're doing their best to tear it down. That's what the assaults on the Catholic Church are about. These never ending, constant assaults on Christianity in general are about that, because Christianity is morality, they think. They view it as judgmentalism. They view it as definitive. "This is what's right; this is what's wrong." They don't want any part of that. They don't want to have to be conscious of right or wrong. They don't want to be reminded of right and wrong. They don't want it in their own consciousness, right and wrong, 'cause it's all shackles. Morality is shackles. The idea of right and wrong, shackles, limits on freedom and behavior and so forth. So there's been a concerted effort by interest groups on the left -- not just gay activities, but a whole bunch of different fringe groups on the left -- to attack religion and what it stands for and the people of it. So now here comes this Indiana law on the trail of Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A and a number of other examples, and it turns out now that private citizens are able to use a law enacted by Democrats to protected themselves from the militant leftist agenda."
-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, March 30, 2015.

Comment: This is demonizing, saying that people have adopted certain causes (such as global warming) because they don't want to have to abide by moral rules. It's also an ad hominem argument against those causes: just because someone might have a bad reason for opposing organized religion doesn't mean there are no good reasons for the adopting the same position.

"Nothing says let's go kill some Muslims like country music."
-- Pundit Jamilah Lemieux, March 25, 2015, regarding Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) self-stated preference for country music after the 9/11 attacks.

Comment: This is demonizing, accusing Cruz of bigotry. But can it be dismissed as simply a joke?

An extremely dishonest man, that's who. [and] vehemently anti-immigrant to boot. RT: @Azi @bonkapp: ¿Quién es Ted Cruz?
-- Speaker of the New York City Council Melissa Mark-Viverito, March 24, 2015, in a tweet regarding Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

Comment: This is demonizing, saying that Cruz is anti-immigrant. Plus, what is her evidence that Cruz is "extremely dishonest"?

There is an upside-down quality to this president’s world view. His administration is now on better terms with Iran—whose Houthi proxies, with the slogan “God is great, death to America, death to Israel, damn the Jews, power to Islam,” just deposed Yemen’s legitimate president—than it is with Israel. He claims we are winning the war against Islamic State even as the group continues to extend its reach into Libya, Yemen and Nigeria. He treats Republicans in the Senate as an enemy when it comes to the Iranian nuclear negotiations, while treating the Russian foreign ministry as a diplomatic partner. He favors the moral legitimacy of the United Nations Security Council to that of the U.S. Congress. He is facilitating Bashar Assad’s war on his own people by targeting ISIS so the Syrian dictator can train his fire on our ostensible allies in the Free Syrian Army. He was prepared to embrace a Muslim Brother as president of Egypt but maintains an arm’s-length relationship with his popular pro-American successor. He has no problem keeping company with Al Sharpton and tagging an American police department as comprehensively racist but is nothing if not adamant that the words “Islamic” and “terrorism” must on no account ever be conjoined. The deeper that Russian forces advance into Ukraine, the more they violate cease-fires, the weaker the Kiev government becomes, the more insistent he is that his response to Russia is working. To adapt George Orwell’s motto for Oceania: Under Mr. Obama, friends are enemies, denial is wisdom, capitulation is victory.
-- Pundit Bret Stephens, March 23, 2015.

Comment: Granted, President Barack Obama has been hypocritical in some of his positions, but isn't that true of most politicians? Do the problems with Obama's positions really make him more "Orwellian" – that is, indifferent to truth – than most politicians? This seems like demonizing.

Senate Republicans have kept [Loretta] Lynch — President Obama's nominee for attorney general — waiting for a confirmation vote longer than the combined time it took to confirm her seven predecessors. While doing so, they have retained in office Eric Holder, the attorney general whom congressional Republicans have branded an accessory to murder, a terrorist sympathizer and a supporter of voter fraud. … Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he won't allow the full Senate to vote on Lynch's nomination until Democrats stop filibustering a child sex-trafficking bill that contains a restriction on abortions. But many of these Republicans, it seems, are motivated by their opposition to anything Obama wants — even when it appears they are cutting off their nose to spite their face.
-- Pundit DeWayne Wickham, March 23, 2015.

Comment: Wickham is accusing Republicans of obstruction, and is demonizing them by saying they simply want to oppose anything Obama wants. Couldn't it be that they simply want to force the passage of the sex-trafficking bill?

By now it’s a Republican Party tradition: Every year the party produces a budget that allegedly slashes deficits, but which turns out to contain a trillion-dollar “magic asterisk” — a line that promises huge spending cuts and/or revenue increases, but without explaining where the money is supposed to come from. But the just-released budgets from the House and Senate majorities break new ground. Each contains not one but two trillion-dollar magic asterisks: one on spending, one on revenue. … The modern G.O.P.’s raw fiscal dishonesty is something new in American politics. And that’s telling us something important about what has happened to half of our political spectrum. … Meanwhile, both budgets call for repeal of the Affordable Care Act, including the taxes that pay for the insurance subsidies. That’s $1 trillion of revenue. Yet both claim to have no effect on tax receipts; somehow, the federal government is supposed to make up for the lost Obamacare revenue. How, exactly? We are, again, given no hint. … So, no, outrageous fiscal mendacity is neither historically normal nor bipartisan. It’s a modern Republican thing. And the question we should ask is why. … Think about what these budgets would do if you ignore the mysterious trillions in unspecified spending cuts and revenue enhancements. What you’re left with is huge transfers of income from the poor and the working class, who would see severe benefit cuts, to the rich, who would see big tax cuts. And the simplest way to understand these budgets is surely to suppose that they are intended to do what they would, in fact, actually do: make the rich richer and ordinary families poorer.
-- Pundit Paul Krugman, March 20, 2015.

Comment: Krugman is accusing Republicans of not caring about truth. Both Democrats and Republicans make outlandish claims from time to time, why should we conclude that only the latter – and not both of them – is guilty of "raw dishonesty"? More, Krugman is saying that Republicans want to take money from the poor and give it to the rich. This is false and derisive. Republicans generally want to lower taxes and lower social spending: maybe they are wrong to want to do so, but spending less money on the poor is not the same as taking money from the poor, and taking less in taxes from the rich is not the same as giving them money.

"He doesn't like Congress. He's got his pen and his phone. And when Congress doesn't do what he says he's off doing his best Benito Mussolini. He doesn't like Netanyahu. Netanyahu just won in a landslide; Obama's never won in a landslide. The American people rose up in November and told Obama how they are disgusted with his programs and his policies. And what did he do? He turned around and spat in our faces. And he does the same in 2010 when they lose the House of Representatives. Obama has more ability to work with dictators and genocidal types than he does with people who are elected democratically. The fact of the matter is, Sean, I want to say this and this is important. Eric Holder said that this nation is full of cowards because we won't have a discussion about race. Well, I think this nation needs to have a discussion about what's going on in this White House and this administration about anti-Semitism. Because this White House and it's reaching out to Sharpton, the Muslim Brotherhood, CAIR, all these radical nut jobs and groups, their policies which are -- it's not just Netanyahu. They're willing to throw Israel over the side for the Islam regime in Tehran. This president's former relationships with [Rashid] Khalidi, the professor in Columbia now, with Wright the so-called reverend from Chicago. This president has a lot to answer for, and his conduct is contemptible. And I don't care how many liberal Democrat donors -- hold on now. I don't care how many liberal Democrat donors he has who are Jewish. He can hide behind them all he wants. But Mr. Holder, Mr. Obama, let's have a national discussion about the anti-Semitism that reeks from your administration."
-- Pundit Mark Levin, March 18, 2015, appearing on Sean Hannity's show on Fox News.

Comment: In what sense is Levin comparing President Barack Obama with Italian dictator Mussolini that doesn't amount to demonizing? Levin is also issuing "Americans want" rhetoric regarding the midterm elections of 2010 and 2014, insisting that Obama has no mandate for what he is doing. Calling someone anti-Semitic is basically an accusation of racism. Finally, Levin is accusing Obama of guilt by association, for Obama's links to Rev. Al Sharpton, Rashid Khalidi, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and others.

ANDREA MITCHELL: Let's talk about the letter and what these Republican Senators did. You heard what the president said. You were with Secretary Kerry when he lambasted them in his Hillary testimony. How does that influence what Iran does at the negotiating table starting Sunday?

JEN PSAKI, STATE DEPARTMENT: Well, the negotiations remain between the negotiators. So, do we think think this will have a direct impact on the room? No. But the fact is, as the president said, this is nearly unprecedented. It's bringing into question what has been precedent for hundreds of years back to when members of Congress were riding horse and buggies to do their job. It really does bring into question whether they want to see a deal, whether they want to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. And that is of course what our objective is here.
-- State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, March 13, 2015. Her remarks concern a letter sent by 47 Republican senators to Iran's leaders, declaring that the US Senate might not support an agreement made by President Barack Obama regarding Iran's nuclear program.

Comment: Psaki is accusing Republicans of wanting Iran to get a nuclear weapon, which is just as much demonizing as when Obama's critics have accused Obama of wanting Iran to get a nuclear weapon.

"Someday, years from now, people will look back on this presidency and see it in sharper contrast. They will read how it started, with the Republican senate leader calling for the president’s defeat, declaring that the business of the opposition from the first day was to ensure the new president (a) accomplishes nothing and (b) gets booted from office as quickly as possible. They will read of a U.S. Congressman yelling “You lie” during a State of the Union. They will read how the Speaker invited, without informing the President, a foreign leader to denigrate his foreign policy before the entire Congress. And, as of this week, they will learn that a new Senator from Arkansas got the signatures of 46 other Senators on a letter to the hardliners in Iran, urging that they reject the efforts of this President to keep them from building a nuclear weapon. They will read all this and wonder: what was it that made the Republican opposition so all-out contemptuous of an American president? What made it treat him as below respect, below the dignity historically accorded his office? They will look at the concerted effort of Republican legislative leaders in three dozen states to make it harder for minorities to vote, even claiming partisan victory when successful in the effort. They will then look at a picture of this president and, perhaps, get the idea that the age of Jim Crow managed to find a new habitat in the early 21st century Republican Party."
-- Pundit Chris Matthews, posted March 13, 2015.

Comment: Matthews is demonizing Republicans, accusing them of racism.

“What is deeply concerning is that 47 Republican members decided to play politics with this because they don’t like this president. He is our president. He was elected twice by a majority of people in this country. They may not like that, but it’s a fact.”
-- Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), reported March 11, 2015, concerning a letter sent by 47 Republican senators to Iran's leaders, declaring that the US Senate might not support an agreement made by President Barack Obama regarding Iran's nuclear program.

Comment: This is "politicizing" rhetoric and demonizing, accusing the Republicans of opposing Obama's negotiations with Iran simply because they don't like Obama.

-- Headline on the New York Daily News, March 10, 2015. The headline concerns a letter sent by 47 Republican senators to Iran's leaders, declaring that the US Senate might not support an agreement made by President Barack Obama regarding Iran's nuclear program.

Comment: This is demonizing the Republican senators, and perhaps questioning their patriotism, as well. How does the letter amount to an effort to betray the country, any more than Obama's negotiations with Iran amount to an effort to provide Iran with a nuclear weapon?

"Remember the Republican congressman who yelled out, "you lie" during a State of the Union? How about inviting Bibi Netanyahu into the US Capitol so that he could undercut the President? Now for the trifecta: 47 Republican senators have written to hardliners in Tehran, asking them to scuttle the Iranian nuclear talks, explode them before a deal can even be reached, telling them whatever deal President Obama signs will be printed in disappearing ink, and can't be relied upon once he leaves office. Is this where we stand in this country, where the opposition Republicans will try anything to scuttle an American president's noble effort to avoid a war? … There's no principle involved with the opposition position on this thing. These 47 senators today, I don't know whether it was sedition under the law, whatever it was, but it was an attempt to bring down this president on foreign policy."
-- Pundit Chris Matthews, March 10, 2015. His remarks concern a letter sent by 47 Republican senators to Iran's leaders, declaring that the US Senate might not support an agreement made by President Barack Obama regarding Iran's nuclear program.

Comment: Matthews is accusing Republicans of wanting to risk war in an effort to thwart Obama, which is just as much demonizing as when Obama's critics have accused Obama of wanting Iran to get a nuclear weapon. He also seems to be questioning their patriotism.

Hillary's Watergate
It's nearly impossible to tell the truth when you never have.
-- Synopsis of an article posted on Lucianne Goldberg's website, March 9, 2015.

Comment: This is demonizing, describing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as always lying.

"The broader point, though, is not one specific law. It's, do we have a structure in place that allows enforcement of laws that, not only does the overwhelming number of Americans already agree with, but for which a lot of blood and sweat and tears was shed for us to secure. This is not a partisan issue. Historically, Republicans were at least as important as Democrats in achieving. Back then, there were a lot of Democrats who were the ones who were opposed to it. And Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush signed reauthorizations of this. This is something that should transcend party. This has to do with whether or not we believe in the basic notions of self-government upon which so much of our other rights and freedoms depend."
-- President Barack Obama, during interview with CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante, posted March 8, 2015. The remarks concern Obama's support for the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act (VRA).

Comment: This is "politicizing" or perhaps "bipartisan" rhetoric. Just because there has been bipartisan support from something in the past doesn't mean there has to be now. There is a legitimate debate about how the VRA should apply to southern states 50 years after the end of segregation. It's demonizing to suggest that opponents of reauthorizing the VRA could only have crassly political motives, or are somehow opposed to the basic notions of self-government.

"This president is trying to destroy this country every way he can."
-- A caller named "John" on the 2nd hour of Live on Sunday Night, it's Bill Cunningham, March 8, 2015.

Comment: The caller is demonizing President Barack Obama. The radio show host, pundit Bill Cunningham, said nothing to contradict the caller.

"And with effort, we can protect the foundation stone of our democracy for which so many marched across this bridge –- and that is the right to vote. Right now, in 2015, 50 years after Selma, there are laws across this country designed to make it harder for people to vote. As we speak, more of such laws are being proposed. Meanwhile, the Voting Rights Act, the culmination of so much blood, so much sweat and tears, the product of so much sacrifice in the face of wanton violence, the Voting Rights Act stands weakened, its future subject to political rancor. How can that be? The Voting Rights Act was one of the crowning achievements of our democracy, the result of Republican and Democratic efforts. President Reagan signed its renewal when he was in office. President George W. Bush signed its renewal when he was in office. One hundred members of Congress have come here today to honor people who were willing to die for the right to protect it. If we want to honor this day, let that hundred go back to Washington and gather four hundred more, and together, pledge to make it their mission to restore that law this year. That’s how we honor those on this bridge."
-- President Barack Obama, March 7, 2015, during speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of the civil rights marches from Selma to Montgomery.

Comment: There is a legitimate debate to be had about how stringent the requirement should be for people to register to vote and cast ballots. There is also a legitimate debate about how the Voting Rights Act should apply to southern states 50 years after the end of segregation. It is demonizing for Obama to describe his opponents on this issue as wanting it to be harder for people to vote.

A recent Bloomberg report noted that major pizza companies have become intensely, aggressively partisan. Pizza Hut gives a remarkable 99 percent of its money to Republicans. Other industry players serve Democrats a somewhat larger slice of the pie (sorry, couldn’t help myself), but, over all, the politics of pizza these days resemble those of, say, coal or tobacco. And pizza partisanship tells you a lot about what is happening to American politics as a whole. … The pizza lobby portrays itself as the defender of personal choice and personal responsibility. It’s up to the consumer, so the argument goes, to decide what he or she wants to eat, and we don’t need a nanny state telling us what to do. … free-market fundamentalists don’t want to hear about qualifications to their doctrine. Also, with big corporations involved, the Upton Sinclair principle applies: It’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it. … At a still deeper level, health experts may say that we need to change how we eat, pointing to scientific evidence, but the Republican base doesn’t much like experts, science, or evidence. … Pizza partisanship, then, sounds like a joke, but it isn’t. It is, instead, a case study in the toxic mix of big money, blind ideology, and popular prejudices that is making America ever less governable.
-- Pundit Paul Krugman, March 6, 2015.

Comment: Krugman is demonizing the "Republican base", saying that they don't care about truth. More, though the quote from Sinclair may be true, it risks an implied ad hominem argument: just because it's in someone's interest to adopt a certain position doesn't mean their position is wrong.

"Obama hasn't tamed the world's tyrants. Obama makes excuses for them! That's another big contrast in this speech out there today. Netanyahu was like fearless in speaking up for his own country and explaining why his own country was worth saving. He promised and had no equivocation about the value of his own country and no equivocation about how he would go to save it and defend it. Contrast that to Obama, who, when he tells us about our enemies, we have to understand them. He tells us we need to understand them, he tells us we need to understand and we need -- like Marie Harf (impression), "Well, no, you just have to understand, they're not really militant Islamists. They just don't have jobs, and they have bad economy and so we need a jobs program for ISIS!" So we get from our administration excuses made for our enemies. It's worse than that. Our administration tells us how or country is responsible for our enemies!"
-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, March 3, 2015.

Comment: This is distortion and demonizing. President Barack Obama has not tried to excuse the enemies of the United States, and no one in his administration (including State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf) has ever said that ISIS could be defeated simply with a jobs program (an example of the "silver bullet" caricature).

"Like I asked you maybe a moment ago: Why does Obama seem so interested in Iran getting a weapon, folks? Seriously now. The official position of the United States up until Obama's election was, Iran will never get a nuclear weapon. Now, that doesn't mean that Bush had committed to military action to stop it. I'm talking about in a diplomatic sense, that was the official position. Now Obama's in the White House and it seems like, to casual or astute observers, Obama's very interested in these people getting a nuclear weapon. … Why is it that, for the first time in American history, an American president is adopting a negotiating stance that guarantees the Iranians getting a nuclear weapon? Why does Obama seem to interested in Iran getting one? Do you want to know the answer? "To counter the nuclear dominance of Israel in the region," folks, is the answer to the question. Now, you may not like hearing it, and you may think that it's offensive, and you may think it's extreme, and you may think it's properly characterizing Obama. But I'm telling you: That's the answer. I don't think Obama wants Iran to start nuking people. I think he doesn't trust Israel as the only nuclear power in the region. I think he wants Israel, as a nuclear power, balanced -- neutered, if you will."
-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, March 3, 2015.

Comment: Limbaugh is demonizing President Barack Obama, accusing him of wanting Iran to get a nuclear weapon.

That is why, as one who values the U.S. – Israel relationship, and loves Israel, I was near tears throughout the Prime Minister’s speech – saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States as part of the P5 +1 nations, and saddened by the condescension toward our knowledge of the threat posed by Iran and our broader commitment to preventing nuclear proliferation.
-- House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (CA), March 3, 2015, remarking on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech that day to the United States Congress regarding Iran's nuclear program.

Comment: Granted, Netanyahu strongly disagrees with the policies of President Barack Obama toward Iran, and Netanyahu likely went wrong in accusing Obama of "paving" a path for Iran to develop nuclear weapons. But was Netanyahu insulting the intelligence of the United States? Was he being unacceptably condescending, or any more condescending than most politicians who give speeches to the public? Pelosi seems to be demonizing Netanyahu.

"So you see, my friends, this deal has two major concessions: one, leaving Iran with a vast nuclear program and two, lifting the restrictions on that program in about a decade. That's why this deal is so bad. It doesn't block Iran's path to the bomb; it paves Iran's path to the bomb."
-- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, March 3, 2015, during a speech to the United States Congress.

Comment: It's fair to disagree with President Barack Obama about what the best way is to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. But the metaphorical use of the word "paving" sounds as if Netanyahu is accusing Obama of actively helping Iran develop nuclear weapons (rather than merely failing to block Iran from doing so), which is either an exaggeration or outright demonizing.

"So, some Mexicans are gonna be given yet another chance to stay in the US. They're gonna be offered a chance to return and have their deportation hearing reheard. Opening the borders has one explicit purpose, in my mind. The reason why all of this is happening is that this administration and the current Democrat Party and the American left really want to dilute and weaken American culture. That's actually what this is all about, in addition to voter registration. But that's where it leads. You want the voter registration so that you can stay in power, and you want people to vote for you to do what you're gonna do to dilute, water down the American culture: traditions, laws, the economy, everything. And part of the American culture is patriotism. Part of the American culture is rugged individualism. And this American culture, patriotism, individualism, American culture is the enemy of the left. Fourth of July. Remember the story we had, the Harvard survey, about the events featuring the American flag are more beneficial to Republicans and don't help Democrats? Why in the world would that be?"
-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, February 27, 2015.

Comment: Limbaugh is demonizing Democrats, accusing them of sinister motives in their immigration policy, and saying that they are not "real Americans".

"So, some Mexicans are gonna be given yet another chance to stay in the US. They're gonna be offered a chance to return and have their deportation hearing reheard. Opening the borders has one explicit purpose, in my mind. The reason why all of this is happening is that this administration and the current Democrat Party and the American left really want to dilute and weaken American culture. That's actually what this is all about, in addition to voter registration. But that's where it leads. You want the voter registration so that you can stay in power, and you want people to vote for you to do what you're gonna do to dilute, water down the American culture: traditions, laws, the economy, everything. And part of the American culture is patriotism. Part of the American culture is rugged individualism. And this American culture, patriotism, individualism, American culture is the enemy of the left. Fourth of July. Remember the story we had, the Harvard survey, about the events featuring the American flag are more beneficial to Republicans and don't help Democrats? Why in the world would that be?"
-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, February 27, 2015.

Comment: Limbaugh is demonizing Democrats, accusing them of sinister motives in their immigration policy, and saying that they are not "real Americans".

Anyone who has watched Obama’s genteel response to his Republican tormentors shouldn’t be surprised at his delicacy about Islam. He resists generalizations and looks for common ground, whether the context is terrorism or domestic politics. No matter what Republicans do—heckle his speeches, impugn his patriotism, shut down the government, threaten a credit default, stage countless votes to repeal his health care law—he refuses to categorically condemn them. … Republicans, determined to block his immigration agenda, were withholding money for the Department of Homeland Security. But Obama said these saboteurs didn’t represent the true GOP: “A large percentage of Republicans agree that we need comprehensive immigration reform.” Instead of using the fight for partisan advantage, Obama spread the blame to his own party. “Republicans and Democrats in Congress should not be playing politics” with the department’s funding, he warned. … That’s how Obama treats his domestic adversaries. He doesn’t take the bait. He doesn’t define the whole opposition party by its worst elements. He rejects polarization. He emphasizes shared values. He reminds his own partisans that they, too, are sinners. For Democrats, this can be exasperating. It’s especially exasperating when Republicans refuse to take responsibility for, or even disown, outbursts from their colleagues, such as Rep. Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” or Rudy Giuliani’s “I do not believe that the president loves America.” … Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana backs up Giuliani’s insinuation that Obama favors the enemy over his own country: “[Giuliani] is understandably frustrated with a president who, as I said before, is fully willing to lecture the people of this country about the Crusades but is unwilling to call Islamic extremism for what it is.” Please. If we’re going to start calling out religious and political groups for extremism, we could start at home with Republicans. Too many of them spew animus. Too many foment sectarianism. Too many sit by, or make excuses, as others appeal to tribalism. If Obama were to treat them the way they say he should treat Islam—holding the entire faith accountable for its ugliest followers—they’d squeal nonstop about slander and demagogy. They’re lucky that’s not his style.
-- Pundit William Saletan, February 24, 2015, in an article entitled, "Go Ahead and Say It, Mr. President: Republicans are your true enemy".

Comment: This is the "only my opponent" caricature. Contrary to Saletan's description, President Barack Obama has a long history of derisive generalizations that demonize his opponents (for instance, accusing Republicans of "Social Darwinism", saying that they put party ahead of country, and declaring President George W. Bush to be "unpatriotic" for ringing up $4 trillion in debt). And Obama has routinely failed to condemn fellow Democrats for demonizing Republicans (for instance, Teamsters' President Jimmy Hoffa's "son of a bitches" remarks about the Tea Party movement at a 2011 Labor Day rally at which Obama also spoke). Again contrary to Saletan's account, Obama has also singled out Republicans in Congress (as opposed to Democrats) for blame on any number of issues. In addition, Saletan is using "extremist" rhetoric (in response to Pence's use of it). Finally, Saletan is accusing Republicans of wanting to treat all Muslims as terrorists. Perhaps there are some Republicans who want this (Saletan should name them), but it's certainly not the case that all of them do. Rather, that's an unfair generalization and a straw man, if not outright demonizing.

Many were left flat-footed and with jaws dropped after the president’s remarks at the recent National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, where he let the Islamic terrorists know that he is keeping their actions in context. Obama felt compelled to equate today’s Islamic terrorist butchers to the Christian Crusaders of 900 years ago. It was just another example of how the president appears willing to try to understand — if not justify — the actions of those who hate America. When the president is slow to condemn our enemies, it raises doubts about what he really thinks of their case against America.
-- Pundit Ed Rogers, February 23, 2015. Rogers is referring to remarks made by President Barack Obama in his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 5, 2015.

Comment: First, Obama didn't equate (or, "compare") today's Islamic terrorists with the Christian Crusaders: rather, he said that if the former violence shows that Islam is fundamentally violent, then the latter violence proves the same about Christianity. So Rogers' accusation is a distortion. Second, trying to understand terrorist acts against America can simply be an effort to explain and predict terrorism, and need not be the same as justifying terrorism. Explaining is not the same as justifying., and Rogers is demonizing Obama to suggest otherwise. (Also, isn't pointing out the Islamic affiliation of many terrorists – as Rogers does – an effort to explain, understand, and/or predict terrorist acts, yet without justifying them?)

McAuliffe says the Republican party is defunding the Department of Homeland Security "for partisan political reasons … I don't have time for partisan politics. … Tying this whole issue on the immigration to the DHS funding is nothing but a partisan political maneuvering. We shouldn't do that, we shouldn't do it with our budget, and we clearly shouldn't do it with the Department of Homeland Security. It is too vital for our nation's security interest. As I say, as a governor, it will have a tremendous impact on our economy, and it will hurt people. They're not going to get paid."
-- Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA), February 20, 2015. McAuliffe is referring to House GOP members voting to deny funding to DHS in order to undo President Barack Obama's executive action on illegal immgration.

Comment: McAuliffe is demonizing Republicans, essentially saying they are putting party ahead of country. It's one thing to say the GOP has adopted a bad policy, it's another to say that the GOP is doing it for "partisan" reasons. The House GOP believes Obama's executive action is bad for the country, too, would it therefore be OK for them to accuse Obama of partisan motives?

"What undermines the global effort is for the President of the United States to be an apologist for radical Islamic terrorists … ISIS is the face of evil, and these latest atrocities, our heart breaks. And to see 21 Coptic Christians murdered, beheaded by radical Islamic terrorists, to see 45 people lit on fire, this is horrific and it is deliberate and it is targeted at Christians. It is targeted at Jews. It’s targeted at Muslims in the region who do not accede to the radical Islamist view."
-- Sen. Ted Cruz (R-RX), posted February 19, 2015.

Comment: Cruz disagrees with President Barack Obama because Obama refuses to identify the terrorists as Islamic. This is a fair point, as the terrorists identify themselves as Muslim, but Obama is nonetheless ordering military strikes against these very terrorists, so in what sense could he be called an "apologist" or defender of people he has ordered his military to kill? This is at least an exaggeration, if not outright demonizing.

"I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country."
-- Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R), February 18, 2015, referring to President Barack Obama.

Comment: Giuliani is demonizing Obama, questioning his patriotism. Whether it's in reference to the country, the poor, minorities, etc., the slur is basically, "You don't care about things that decent people care about, therefore you're not a decent person." Giuliani and Republicans don't like it when Democrats accuse them of not caring about minorities or the poor (nor should they like it, because it's wrong), they shouldn't do essentially the same thing to others. Giuliani has said his comments were based on Obama's failure to denounce attacks by Islamist terrorists in Libya and France in 2015 the same way he addressed racial unrest in Ferguson, MO, in 2014. But that line of criticism against Obama doesn't require questioning his love of country.

The Texas decision clearly defines who is against immigrants in the U.S. Latino voters will remember; 2016 is not that far away.
-- Tweet from pundit Jorge Ramos, February 17, 2015. Ramos is referring to a decision by a federal judge in Texas to place an injunction on President Barack Obama's executive action on illegal immigration.

Comment: Ramos is demonizing people who oppose Obama's executive order on illegal immigration. Being opposed to providing work permits to illegal immigrants is not the same as being opposed to immigration and all immigrants. It's entirely compatible with being in favor of increased legal immigration, for instance. Ramos is essentially accusing his opponents of being xenophobes.

Politicians talk about the minimum wage because voters heart the minimum wage. … why is this administration obsessed with raising the wages of a fraction of 1% of the country that is already living above the poverty line? … Labor unions, like Trumka’s AFL-CIO, universally throw their support behind proposals to hike the minimum wage. … A hike in the minimum wage isn’t just a hike in the minimum wage. It’s a hike in the union wage. But, the progressive union slush fund giveaway act has a terrible ring to it- so minimum wage it is. … What was their goal? Unemployment and of course, eugenics. Sidney Webb, English economist and Co-Founder of the Fabian Society in the early 1900s, believed that establishing a minimum wage above the value of “the unemployables” as he called them, would lock them out of the market thus eliminating them as a class. “Of all ways of dealing with these unfortunate parasites the most ruinous to the community is to allow them unrestrainedly to compete as wage earners.” [attributed to] Sidney Webb … Many in America shared this belief as well. Around the same time, a Princeton economist said this: “It is much better to enact a minimum-wage law even if it deprives these unfortunates of work, better that the state should support the inefficient wholly and prevent the multiplication of the breed than subsidize incompetence and unthrift, enabling them to bring forth more of their kind.” Who was that Princeton economist? Royal Meeker, U.S. Commissioner of Labor, under Woodrow Wilson.
-- Pundit Stu Burguiere, February 13, 2015.

Comment: Burguiere is making an ad hominem argument – using guilt by association – against the supporters of the minimum wage. Just because people have had self-serving or vicious reasons for supporting the minimum wage – for instance, to pad union paychecks, or to eliminate the lower class – doesn't mean there are no respectable reasons for supporting the same position. Even if the minimum wage is bad policy, is it really the case that everyone who is in favor of it is simply trying to fund unions or engage in eugenics? That's just demonizing.

"There is a constitutional scholar, if you can call him that. … His name is Cass Sunstein. … He is so offended by the Bill of Rights, he's so troubled by the Bill of Rights, so bothered by it, that he renamed them. He called the Bill of Rights the charter of negative liberties. hen I first heard that, I said, "How in the world is liberty negative?" But I soon found out I was not looking at it the same way Cass Sunstein and practically every other leftist looks at it. … the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments, limit what government can do. Because the Founders knew the only thing government's gonna do is take away rights, limit them, get in the way. And the first 10 amendments were specific in what the government cannot do. … How do you look at that and see it as a negative, as Cass Sunstein and his fellow left-wing constitutional scholars do? I admit when I first came across it, I was baffled. How in the world can something as beautiful, as meaningful, as unique, as brilliant as the Bill of Rights be seen as a negative? Well, if you happen to believe that the government is all-powerful, the government is the center of the universe, the government determines everything, then the Bill of Rights you would hate. You would look at the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments as some of the biggest things in your way, if you believe in big government. If you believe government has the answer to everything, for everybody, then the Constitution is a problem. That's why these people call it a charter of negative liberties, and I'm telling you, this is why Obama is animated and does the things he does. He does not like the limits the Constitution places on him. He doesn't like the limitations in the Bill of Rights on him as president. … So the first 10 amendments is a charter -- the whole Constitution, actually, but the first 10 amendments becomes a charter of negative liberties because, from the standpoint of liberals, it's negative 'cause it tells Democrats and liberals what they can't do to people. That's why they hate it, and that's why they are forever trying to erase them, obscure them, water them down, 'cause they don't like the limitations on them. They don't like the limitations on the size of government, the power of government, the reach of government. They want to have more power than your freedom."
-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, February 13, 2015, on his radio show.

Comment: Limbaugh is distorting both Sunstein and President Barack Obama's views, effectively demonizing them as being opposed to liberty. The term "negative" is ambiguous in this context. It is common in discussions about moral and political philosophy to make a distinction between negative and positive rights, or negative and positive obligations. That is, to say I have a negative right to freedom of speech is to say that others MUST NOT restrict me in expressing my political views. Similarly, to say I have a positive right to health care is to say that others MUST provide me health care. The positive/negative distinction comes down to whether people are obligated to DO something or NOT DO something. But "negative" also can mean "bad", and Limbaugh is (falsely and derisively) making it sound like Obama and Sunstein are saying that negative rights (such as freedom of speech) are bad things.

CALLER: Anyway. I have been trying to understand the endgame that Obama has for the Middle East, and I believe he has one. I don't think he's just going at it haphazardly. You know as well as I do, even better, I'm sure, everything that this president has done over the past six years and hasn't done in the Middle East, from pulling out of Iraq, dropping sanctions, negotiating with Iran, what he did Egypt, Libya, and now Afghanistan, surrendered and left three embassies, and now what he's doing with Israel as well. I ask myself a question: Who is the ultimate benefactor in all of this? I only come up with one answer, and that's a nuclear powered Iran. When that happens, they control that entire region, and then he can pull completely out of the Middle East, no US soldiers, no embassies, complete evacuation and leave it under the control of Iran. And I think the Democrats would love that.

RUSH: Okay. It's a fascinating concept. I can't deny what the guy said. … And the negotiations that are taking place with Iran, I hate to say, our caller is right. … The last significant story I saw on nuclear Iran, the Iranians were begging the US to finally get back to the table to get a deal. They're begging us to come back, they're so close to a deal. Begging us to come back. You couple that with, Obama has said many times, echoing Ron Paul, by the way, "Who are we to say a country can't have nuclear weapons?" … if it's been admitted that Obama lied to us about gay marriage, then when Obama says who are we to say that Iran can't have a nuclear weapon, and this is the guy in charge of negotiating with them? … I know Valerie Jarrett was born in Iran. I'm not saying anything else. I'm just saying she was born in Iran.
-- Pundit Rush Limbaugh, February 12, 2015. Limbaugh's comments were in response to a caller from Southwest Oklahoma named "Larry". Limbaugh referenced David Axelrod, a former senior advisor to President Barack Obama, who Axelrod claims misled Americans regarding his position on gay marriage. Jarrett is also a senior advisor to Obama.

Comment: The caller is demonizing Obama and Democrats, accusing them of actively wanting Iran to acquire nuclear weapons and dominate the Middle East, and Limbaugh is joining in on the demonization (at the very least, Limbaugh does nothing to protest it). Limbaugh uses guilt by association to demonize Jarrett, as well.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is pushing back against the suggestion that Democrats are risking a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security in order to protect illegal immigrants.

Senate Democrats have filibustered a House-passed DHS appropriations bill that would block Obama’s executive amnesty — which provides legal status and work permits for millions of illegal immigrants — three times. And the path forward in the funding fight remains unclear.

According to Pelosi, however, it is up to Republicans to bring up a “clean” DHS spending bill, or one free of riders defunding Obama’s executive orders, to the floor.

“Republicans should stop holding our homeland security hostage and bring forward a clean long-term funding bill immediately,” she said.

Pelosi rejected the idea that a short-term continuing resolution would be an “end” to the stalemate. The “end” must be a clean bill, she argued.

Instead Pelosi accused the House Republicans of endangering the American people with their efforts to defund Obama’s executive actions.

“House Republicans refuse to admit the dangerous collapse of their anti-immigrant grandstanding,” she said.
-- From a Breitbart News story, February 12, 2015.

Comment: Pelosi is demonizing House Republicans by accusing them of being anti-immigrant, when the refusal to fund the DHS is motivated by opposition to President Barack Obama's executive order regarding illegal immigrants. In addition, Pelosi is indulging in "hostage-taking" rhetoric.

Responding to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D–MD) remarks that, “so many people come to government knowing that they are not going to make the kind of money they would make in the private sector but they come to government to feed their souls”, Glenn Beck criticizes this as the view that government is a "religion" to some people, and that government officials are "priests".
-- Pundit Glenn Beck on his radio show, February 11, 2015.

Comment: Beck is demonizing the people Cummings is speaking about. Why can't Cummings' remarks simply be understood as stating that some people view government work as an opportunity to serve others?

To be crystal clear: this is not a fight over the fine-grain imperfections of Obama's historical analogy or over the implications for US foreign policy. It is a fight over whether it's okay to hate Muslims, to apply sweeping and negative stereotypes to the one-fifth of humanity that follows a particular religion. A number of Americans, it seems, are clinging desperately to their anti-Muslim bigotry and are furious at Obama for trying to take that away from them.
-- Pundit Max Fisher, February 7, 2015, responding to criticism of President Barack Obama for comments he made two days earlier at the National Prayer Breakfast.

Comment: This is demonizing. Granted, some of the criticisms that have been made of Obama's 2015 National Prayer Breakfast have been unfair, but it's false and derisive to say the criticism (even the unfair criticism, let alone the fair criticism) is driven by anti-Muslim bigotry.

"This man is a nihilist and a narcissist and an extremist. … What Obama is saying and doing is the lowest of the low now. He really is not a leader of a great people. He's not a leader of a great nation. He is stuck in his own ideology."
-- Pundit Mark Levin, February 5, 2015, responding to President Barack Obama's speech earlier that day at the National Prayer Breakfast.

Comment: First, Levin is indulging in "extremist" and "ideologue" rhetoric. More, however much Levin may disagree with Obama's speech — he warned against denigrating Islam on the basis of recent terror attacks by pointing out the history of violence in Christianity — is Obama really behaving on par with the "lowest of the low"? Obama's speech was as bad as Hitler and the Holocaust? Of course not, so Levin is exaggerating at best, if not just outright demonizing Obama.

"So the question for those of us here tonight is how we, all of us, can better reflect America’s hopes. I’ve served in Congress with many of you. I know many of you well. There are a lot of good people here, on both sides of the aisle. … Imagine if we did something different. Understand, a better politics isn’t one where Democrats abandon their agenda or Republicans simply embrace mine. A better politics is one where we appeal to each other’s basic decency instead of our basest fears. A better politics is one where we debate without demonizing each other; where we talk issues and values, and principles and facts, rather than “gotcha” moments, or trivial gaffes, or fake controversies that have nothing to do with people’s daily lives. … If we’re going to have arguments, let’s have arguments, but let’s make them debates worthy of this body and worthy of this country."
-- President Barack Obama, January 20, 2015, during the 2015 State of the Union address.

Comment: Again, this is another call to set a higher standard of political discussion, and to uphold civility and civil debate. But such a call is a platitude unless you give specifics about how it is we're supposed to be civil to one another. What concrete examples of demonizing does Obama think should be stopped? Will Obama admit to any instances of demonizing his opponents? Or does he think that it's only his opponents who resort to demonizing?


Examples from 2014.


Examples from 2013.


Examples from 2012.


Examples from 2011.


Examples from 2008.


Examples from 2007.

President George W. Bush is "a Beelzebub -- and a dumb one."
-- Actor and director Sean Penn, September 10, 2006 [Huffington Post: Sean Penn: Bush Is "A Beelzebub - And A Dumb One"... (September 12, 2006)].

Comment: This instance of name-calling involves both demonizing and calling someone mentally deficient.

President George W. Bush's economic policies are "Social Darwinism -- every man or woman for him or herself".
-- Illinois Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, March 27, 2007, speech to Communication Workers of America; August 7, 2006, speech to American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); July 25, 2005, speech to AFL-CIO National Convention; and June 4, 2005, Knox College commencement address.

Comment: This is a distortion of Bush's policies. Bush never called for the elimination of all government aid, and has in fact supported and signed into law programs that provide such aid (along with supporting private charity, which Social Darwinism is also opposed to). It would be one thing for Obama to say that he believes Bush has failed to provide enough aid or the right kind of aid from the government; but to say that Bush opposes giving any help whatsoever is false, and serves to unjustly demonize Bush.

"You think people can work all day and then pick up their kids at child care or wherever and get home and then have a -- still manage to sandwich in an eight-hour vote? Well, Republicans, I guess, can do that, because a lot of them have never made an honest living in their lives."
-- Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, June 2, 2005.

(The list above is not intended to be a comprehensive record of all relevant examples.)

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