By Thursday, the targets of the mailed pipe bombs had risen to nine: George Soros, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Maxine Waters, John Brennan, Eric Holder, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Joe Biden, and Robert De Niro.
That list contains four of the highest-ranking officials of Barack Obama’s administration: the president himself, his vice president, his secretary of state, and his attorney general.
Yet by Thursday morning, there was heartening news.
Not one of the mailed bombs had reached its target. Not one handler of a mailed bomb had been injured. Not one bomb had exploded.
Several of the bombs were said to be deficient. While they contained elements of pipe bombs, with shards of glass and powder, there was no trigger to ignite an explosion.
Were these devices simply poorly made, or did the bomber intend not to wound or kill but simply to cause a panic?
As of this writing, we don’t know. Moreover there is this oddity: all of the bombs had the same return address—that of Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, who was ousted as leader of the DNC when hacked emails revealed she had tilted the party machinery to defeat Hillary Clinton’s principal rival in the primaries, Bernie Sanders.
Was putting Wasserman Schultz’s return address on all the bomb packages some kind of joke?
What’s going on here?
Beltway residents did not need to look far for the answer. In a front-page story headlined, “Subjects of Trump’s ire in bomb-maker’s sights,” the Washington Post identified the suspect: “[A] common theme among the targets was unmistakable. Each has been a recurring subject of Trump attacks.”
The Post elaborated. Trump has called Democrats “evil.” Trump has denounced Obama’s presidency. Trump has “demonized Hillary Clinton, inspiring chants of ‘Lock her up!'” Trump has “used his bully pulpit to taunt Maxine Waters…as a ‘low IQ individual.'”
Trump has impugned ex-CIA director John Brennan and fanned “conspiracy theories about George Soros.” Trump has called the news media “the enemy of the people.” Trump has singled out CNN’s reporting as “fake news.”
What the Post was implying was that Trump at his rallies had done the target acquisition for the bomber who intended to maim or murder the leading lights of liberalism and enemies of Trumpism.
If one missed the point on page one, the headline over the balance of the story inside the Post drove it home: “Amid incendiary rhetoric, targets of Trump’s words become bombs’ targets.”
The correlation between Trump’s targets and the bomber’s targets is no accident, the Post is saying.
Yet as of late Thursday, still no bomb had exploded. And what had been called bombs were being called “suspicious packages.” And the person or persons who made and mailed them had yet to be identified.
But still the attacks on Trump and the calls to hold him morally culpable for the bombs because of his rhetoric went on unabated.
Said Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, jointly responding to the president’s call for civility in Wisconsin, Trump’s “words ring hollow until he reverses his statements that condone acts of violence.”
This is not the first time a political atrocity has been to exploited to wound political enemies.
Though Lee Harvey Oswald was a communist who had defected to the Soviet Union, the city of Dallas, then a conservative stronghold, was indicted by the media for having “created the atmosphere” in which JFK was assassinated.
In the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, the media blamed the anti-government rhetoric of conservative talk radio for poisoning the minds of extremists like Timothy McVeigh.
Guilt by association seems a more common recourse of the left.
When members of the Republican congressional baseball team were shot and wounded at their morning practice, no major GOP figure blamed Bernie Sanders, though the would-be mass murderer was one of Bernie’s volunteers.
“Democracy dies in darkness,” reads the motto of the Washington Post. But democracy dies in other ways as well.
Democracy dies when the divisions in a society become so bitter and rancorous that a segment of that society becomes estranged and decides it would rather leave and live apart.
With their endless charges of racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia, America’s elite has let Trump’s “base” know what it thinks of them.
And at his rallies, where Trump’s mockery of that elite and its media allies evokes hoots and cheers, Middle America is telling our cultural and political establishment what it thinks of them.
Before we were a democracy, we were a republic. And we were always more than just a polity. We were a people and a nation.
Today we seem to be two countries and two peoples.
If that is true, a political system based on majority rule is not going to be strong enough to hold us together indefinitely.
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever. To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.