The Great Just Say Anything Campaign of 2016 kicks into hyperdrive.
With 55 days left to the presidential election, the zeal to score partisan points is sending the candidates, their fans and their haters to new hyperbolic heights.
Over the weekend, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican, took to the stage at the Value Voters Summit in Washington, D.C., and sounded a siren.
“Somebody asked me yesterday,” he said, “do you think it’s possible if Hillary Clinton were to win the election, that we’ll able to survive that? Would we ever be able to recover as a nation?
“I do think it would be possible,” Bevin said. “But at what price? The roots of the tree of liberty are watered by what? The blood of who? The tyrants to be sure, but who else? The patriots. It might be that of those in this room.”
Bevin explained obliquely in a later statement that he was just quoting Thomas Jefferson in this context because “We have thousands of men and women in uniform fighting for us overseas, and they need our full backing.”
Before that, it sounded a bit like the top official of a U.S. state was hinting the election of a major-party candidate who leads in polls could instigate a new revolutionary war.
No one party, or country, limits itself to measured words at a time like this.
In Mexico, Sen. Armando Rios Piter, from the center-left opposition party, proposed that if Donald Trump is elected and carries out his pay-for-the-wall threat, “We should proportionally expropriate assets and properties” of Americans. He even raises the prospect of renouncing the 1848 treaty that ended the Mexican-American war.
Of course, billionaire Trump himself indulges frequently in tough-guy bluster.
On Friday, he said that “with Iran, when they circle our beautiful destroyers with their little boats, and they make gestures at our people that they shouldn’t be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water.”
Though it was interrupted by illness, Clinton’s been on a hyperbole streak of her own in recent days.
When she emerged from her daughter’s apartment in Manhattan on Sunday and greeted reporters and well-wishers, she said she was feeling “great” and it was a “beautiful day” in New York.
Sorry, but nobody feels great after collapsing outside a 9/11 memorial ceremony.
This came days after she said half of Trump’s supporters belong in a “basket of deplorables.”
Sure — half, a quarter, two-thirds, whatever.
On Thursday, former Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann — a longtime leader of the Just Say Anything movement — made an offbeat suggestion on a radio show that President Barack Obama could use the power of the federal government to take over state ballot operations and “steal” the election for Clinton.
The instances of hype grow as the days count down. More and more, overwrought elected officials and candidates who are purportedly accountable to the public could be expected to say just about anything.