Bill Kristol threw out the main right-wing line on the Baltimore riots, and in his tweet you could hear a plaintive nostalgia for the days when violence in a major city meant an instant, measurable political bounce for his party:
Winning GOP message: Against anarchy & chaos, at home & abroad. Cheney-Giuliani 2016 probably too much to hope for…But if not them, who?
— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) April 28, 2015
Who, indeed? Kristol’s dream ticket is so monstrous that anything short of it would seem moderate by comparison.
Predictably, the right-wing media are throwing blame on black people and Democrats for the riots, and as usual Fox News is leading the way. So much so that the sanest voice on Fox, Shep Smith, had to tamp down a virtual blame riot on The Five on Monday.
“I haven’t heard anything from any civil-rights leaders. Have you?” co-host Eric Bolling asked coyly. Smith said he had, and “on our air.” Then co-host Greg Gutfeld, somehow sensing that the collective guilt wasn’t being shared enough, tried to pin the violence on the protesters’ parents, to which Smith responded:
…if we want to sit here and indict the civil-rights community and indict the parents for what we’re watching right now, instead of, for now, just covering what happens and then later talk about whose fault it is, because we don’t know whose fault it is.
But acting like you know who’s to blame is second nature to true demagogues. Fox News’s resident psychologist Keith Ablow blames Obama for the riots, saying protesters are taking their cues “from a president who has given the appearance that there is every justification for any level of anger at our country because we’re such despicable people.” Former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh tweeted that the Democrats “have purposely turned blacks into uneducated government slaves.”
What conservatives are hoping for is a repeat of 1968, when the combination of riots in more than 100 cities across the country after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and a police riot at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago that summer helped associate the Democrats with violent civil disorder and helped Richard Nixon narrowly win the White House. Baltimore’s riots in ’68 were so bad they actually changed history—if you’ve got a long memory, you’ll recall that former Baltimore mayor and then–Maryland governor Spiro Agnew was chosen as Nixon’s vice president because of his nattering nastiness toward Maryland protesters.