Newt Gingrich, speaking about Sen. Jeff Flake this morning to Trump's official debriefers (i.e., "Fox & Friends"):
"To compare [Stalin] to an American president is such an absurdity that Senator Flake could probably get a job at CNN or anywhere else as a reporter. This whole Trump Derangement Syndrome … [is] literally crazy. That also affects senators, it affects a lot of academics, and Trump just seems to have this affect on people."
He certainly does. Senators, academics, lots of folk become rather upset when a daft authoritarian issues forth to dismantle our centuries-old democratic norms, cherished institutions and rule of law. To couple belittlement with this dignified observation only makes the belittler look small, which Newt Gingrich is.
But there's another petty tactic at work. Sen. Flake did not, of course, "compare Stalin" to this American president. He compared the rhetoric of Stalin to Trump's, just as I and others have compared Hitler's rhetoric to Trump's. Yet no matter how meticulously or repetitiously this qualification is made in speeches or writings, one can always count on some disingenuous, crackpot Trumpeteer to scream Trump Derangement Syndrome! because a speaker or scribbler noted profound similarities between the ugly mechanics of Trump's rhetoric and that of historical authoritarians, which is essential to the job of democratic vigilance.
I suppose some of these petty tacticians are not, after all, disingenuous; just stupid — so stupid they cannot distinguish the immense difference noted above. But most, I'd wager, know perfectly well that they're molesting the speaker or writer with a shabby, dishonest tactic worthy only of a Trump, a Gingrich, or a fifth-grader.