By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – Is it my imagination, or has our political climate rarely if ever been nastier than it is right now?

How bad is it?

Consider the findings of the most recent Quinnipiac poll where they asked voters “what is the first word that comes to mind when you think of Donald Trump?”

The top three responses were “idiot, incompetent and liar.”

This is hardly the first time we’ve heard language this harsh directed at a sitting president, although it is unusual to hear it this early in their first term. American politics has never been a genteel affair, and partisans, like rabid sports fans, like to talk trash about their opponents. But whatever limits constrained the name-calling in the past appear to have vanished.

It was eyebrow-raising during last year’s Republican primaries when Trump mocked his opponents with schoolyard nicknames. As he rose in the polls, some of them returned the favor.

And in the general election, the level of invective was off the charts. Trump continued to explore new frontiers of crudeness; Hillary Clinton called him unhinged and called his supporters deplorable.

So when Time magazine asked the president in an interview this week if his White House is “too combative,” it was striking that Trump said yes, “there’s a great meanness out there that I’m surprised at. It could be my fault.”

Yes, it could, you and an increasingly coarse culture that’s been shredding standards of civility for some time now.

But don’t take this as an excuse to lay all the blame on Trump or any other pol.

Because in the end, we get the politicians and the political discourse we deserve.

Talk back to me – politely if you can – via email at, or you can reach out on Twitter, @kelleratlarge.

Comments (9)
  1. To what degree, Jon, is the news media pushing the narrative on this?

    One only needs to read the NY Times and the Washington Post and to watch all of the news media except Fox to see that the Fourth Estate as become unhinged by even the most LEGAL of Trumps actions…

    And Trump’s firing of Comey was well with his rights as President, and that right was quite recently affirmed by the Second Circuit Court of Appeal when it ruled unconstitutional the provision of the CPFB authorizing legislation that stripped that authority from the Executive for the tenure of the CPFB’s director.

    Do you in the press even know that the right of the Executive to relieve an appointee that requires Senate approval for any reason or for no reason at all is absolute?

    Are you aware that the Executive is not even required to give a reason as those appointees serve at HIS pleasure?

    One would have thought that his firing of Sally Yates for not endorsing a lawful Executive Order would have brought this to your attention

    Come now, you can be honest with us and return to the objectivity that you have, in the past, been known for..

    Give us you direct assessment of how singularly the Press is pushing the anti-Trump narrative.

    1. Oule, I believe you missed the real point about Comey’s termination. No one is saying the President didn’t have the right to do so, its the timing. He also claimed it was due to how poorly he handled the Clinton fiasco. If that was the case, why wasn’t he terminated when Trump took office. Only when Mr. Comey started requesting more assets for the Russia investigation did the President terminate him. Politics is all optics and this looks bad. Just like if President Obama had terminated Comey after he went to the press with his findings on Hillary’s emails, which was well within his rights, the optics would have played out very poorly for both Obama and Hillary.

      1. It’s nice to know सानो भाई , that conspiracy theorists are alive and well in Massachusetts.

        When evidence is produces is the time to come up with a cause of action. You are getting your assumption way to far ahead of the facts.

        But hey, if you didn’t have your alleged conniving to fall back on, you might just have to talk about what you are going to do to help win back the 900+ seats in government that you have surrendered because of your pandering and emotional blackmail.

        Perhaps we could see something constructive from you one of these days.

        I assure you, I’m not waiting for you to get your head around the fact that your girl, Hillary, lost the election that was her’s to lose.

        That certainly is an embarrassment that you on the left are going to have a hard time with for quite some time…It may end up being the most bone-headed campaign that has ever been run for the office of President.

    2. David Keith says:

      I’m guessing that the recent case you are referring to is “PHH Corp. v Consumer Financial Protection Bureau”. I’m not sure why you think it is relevant. Couple of points:

      (1) It was decided in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, not the 2nd Circuit. I guess a New Englander (all things Brady, all the time) can be excused for thinking that the 2nd Circuit is the only Circuit Court of Appeals. (even though most of NE is in the 1st Circuit)

      (2) More importantly, more recently, the decision has been VACATED and scheduled to be reheard en banc by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. So you would be wise to hold off citing this case in any of your legal briefs, counselor.

  2. Being civil does not preclude an honest assessment of Trump==simply put he is an incompetent, lying idiot.

  3. Eli Orkin says:

    It’s not getting if it’s 100% true and accurate. I give this “lying, incompetent idiot” 6 months, tops.

  4. David Keith says:

    “Idiot” and “incompetent” seem like rather mild terms to apply to Von Clownstick. They aren’t even judgemental, merely descriptive. An incompetent idiot is what he is.

    But “Liar”, that is a choice…

    1. And, just what would you call a president who managed to get labeled “Liar of the Year” by one of the more liberal “fact checkers” in the nation?

      1. David Keith says:

        I thought that “label” was retired after Von Clownstick’s runaway performance in both 2015 and 2016. (Apparently, he is doing just as well in 2017). You should be very proud of him, I guess …

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