"Slimy" ... "dangerous" ... "bad news." Those were a few of the derogatory adjectives deployed by members of the mainstream media this week. The pundits and reporters weren't maligning alleged deserter Bowe Bergdahl or the five Taliban terrorists for whom Bergdahl was swapped. Nor were they savaging Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot who committed mass murder by crashing a plane into the Alps.
No, the "slimy" and "dangerous" guy is Ted Cruz, the ultra-conservative Republican Senator from Texas who announced his candidacy for the presidency Monday.
What can Cruz expect from the mainstream media? Well, no media outlet is more mainstream than the New York Times, the paper from which other reporters get their marching orders each morning. The Times greeted Cruz's candidacy with this: "His tenure in Washington has been marked by accusations of demagoguery." That was not an editorial, but a "news" story.
Eight years ago, when another first-term Senator announced his candidacy, the Times put forth a slightly different appraisal: "Speaking smoothly and comfortably, Mr. Obama offered a generational call to arms."
In 2007, as you know, 45-year-old Senator Barack Obama, inexperienced and liberal, was treated worshipfully by an adoring media. In 2015, 44-year-old Senator Ted Cruz, inexperienced and conservative, is being savaged by those same reporters and pundits.
It's very clear that to many liberals Cruz is not merely someone with whom to disagree on important issues. No, he is the enemy, a Mephistophelean figure. And it's not just Senator Cruz.
Here are a few of the media's assumptions about conservatives:
You believe life begins at conception and abortion is wrong? You are a worse misogynist than a Saudi royal.
Demand secure national borders? You are a jingoist and you hate Hispanics.
Question whether "man-made global warming" is destroying the planet? Well, you're an anti-science Neanderthal.
Dare to mention the social pathology that correlates with fatherlessness in black America? You are, ipso facto, an incurable bigot.
Want a more forceful response to the jihadists? You, sir, are an Islamophobe and a warmonger.
Believe in Jesus Christ as our savior? Well, you're obviously an intolerant Bible-thumper.
If you have any doubt about the depths to which political debate has sunk, consider an observation by lifelong Democrat Kirsten Powers. "Conservatives are maligned at a level that it hasn't been in the past," she lamented Tuesday on The Factor. "Disagreements are treated as bigotry and phobias, not just disagreements that we Americans used to have." In other words, to harbor conservative and traditional views is to suffer from some form of mental illness.
This is Ted Cruz's week to have a target on his back, and he is certainly farther to the right than his prospective opponents. But Rand Paul, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, and other conservative Republicans can expect pretty much the same treatment.
And it won't just be the media. Hollywood types will ridicule them, Ivy League professors will dismiss them as extremists, and late night talk show hosts will have a field day. The very same talk show hosts who concluded that President Obama was "too cool" to mock.
If any minority group in this country was smeared the way conservatives are, Eric Holder would launch a Justice Department investigation. But this is simply a fact of life in 21st century America. In other words, as Walter Cronkite pithily put it, "That's the way it is."
Cronkite was the face of the mainstream media back in an era when reporters were far more adept at disguising their contempt for conservative Americans. That contempt is now very much out in the open for all to see. It's not a pretty sight.