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.