By Dave Andrusko
Nancy Gibbs is the former editor in chief for TIME magazine (in the days when it was a player) and currently holds the prestigious positions of director of the Shorenstein Center and the visiting Edward R. Murrow professor at Harvard Kennedy School. In other words, you can’t possess much better media credentials or be more embedded in the belly of the beast.
In addition, first as a writer for TIME and then as its editor in chief, Gibbs produced some of the best journalism I have ever read. I will never forget her magnificent tribute to Pope John Paul II after his passing. It began,
”You feel smaller when your father dies because he was strong and lifted you, carried you and taught you, and when he’s gone the room feels too big without him. So it was in St. Peter’s Square, where pilgrims kept vigil, their faces traced in low light by candles, murmuring ‘Don’t leave us.’ Among the believers was almost disbelief that death still comes even to a man this strong – – the Holy Father who had carried his people so far, lifted them so high, taught them so much and now finally was slipping away.”
However, this is the same woman who is as perfect an illustration of the Trump Derangement Syndrome at work–and what it can do to you –as you will ever find. When, gritting through its collective institutional teeth, TIME recognized the newly-electe President Trump as its “Person of the Year,” Gibbs wrote,
For reminding America that demagoguery feeds on despair and that truth is only as powerful as the trust in those who speak it, for empowering a hidden electorate by mainstreaming its furies and live-streaming its fears, and for framing tomorrow’s political culture by demolishing yesterday’s, Donald Trump is TIME’s 2016 Person of the Year.
So when a friend alerted me to a September 4th op-ed Gibbs wrote for the Washington Post, I was not the least bit surprised she remained hysterically anti-Trump. What did surprise me, however, was the smarmy, condescending attitude she demonstrated to Trump supporters.
The headline captured all Gibbs’s astonishingly disdainful, patronizing, and snobby demeanor: “How should we respond to our former Trump-loving friends?”
Gibbs lectures Trump supporters—former or current— as you would a child. And the scenario she establishes for how you treat these wayward children is of what supposedly took place in an bridge game involving four women—two Democrats and two Republicans—where the “quiet Republican woman” to “everyone’s surprise” announces that “she cannot abide the incumbent president and his crew any longer.”
Several people pointed out to me how obviously Gibbs had stacked the deck (no pun intended). There is no bridge game in the world where a “quiet Democrat” might conclude, holy cow, I can’t support a Biden/Harris (or Harris/Biden) tandem that supports abortion on demand through birth underwritten by the taxpayer?
Probably are, right? But their existence wouldn’t jive with Gibbs’ sentiment found in her opening sentence: “The road to political sanity may run through a bridge game in Atlanta…”
Also, as many people pointed out, Gibbs’s language is saturated with religious imagery. When she is counseling her fellow Democrats how to reel in the prodigal daughter, she starts by offering an example of how not to finalize the deal:
There must be penance and flagellation, expiation in exile, bread-and-water rations, a vow of abstinence from Fox News.
There are lots and lots more: “conversion”; “dark of the night”; “burning at the stake”; etc.
When you read the piece, the irony that runs through it is enough to knock your socks off.
After stereotyping and the lush use of demeaning language and a torrent of insults and simplistic typecasting, Gibbs ends with this:
There’s no room for complexity on Twitter, and it has all but vanished from our politics, which grow ever more virtual and, therefore, unpracticed with real people. But complexity is where progress incubates, where compromise lives, where hope resides.
Ah, where’s the “complexity” in this piece? There is none. None with a Capital “N.”
To Gibbs, the “compromise” is that the erstwhile Trump supporter understands that he or she may be a closet (or confirmed) homophobe and sexist who (ideally) would confess, “How could I be so stupid?”
But Gibbs, big-hearted liberal that she remains, is willing to accept strays, forgo the urge to “brand them with a scarlet T and scorn them forever.” To do otherwise—“Especially with voting imminent in some states, when wobbly voters will test what the future will look like if they switch sides”—is very chancy with the election less than seven weeks away. Instead, she advises that “strategic silence” is in order.
Gibbs tells us there should be a celebration “of the prodigal returned, because anyone can be wrong, even profoundly and flamboyantly wrong, and there is no way forward without finding a way to leave what’s past behind.” Anyone, I suspect, but Gibbs. However, that doesn’t prevent her—in the very next sentence!—from venting her spleen for the umpteenth time.
In her heart of hearts, Gibbs wants the repentant to grovel, to admit, “Gee, I was so blind about him, I can’t believe I fell for his gaslighting, I’d do anything to undo my vote, but I’ll work to my last breath to help defeat him this time.”
Honestly, it’s straight out of “1984.”
By contrast, pro-lifers will welcome any and all Democrats and Republicans who grasp the magnitude of what is at stake. We won’t make them plead for mercy for their “errant” ways. We will just say, “Welcome aboard.”