September 16, 2016


Sitting in the Mercedes-Benz Lounge at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance last month, Leno, leaning on his self-deprecating humor that captivated decades of NBC viewers, singled out Trump. “I think this is the problem with Donald Trump. I don’t think anybody has just ever beaten the crap out of him, so he has this attitude of ‘whatever.’ When you have the crap beat out of you, you learn how to negotiate, you learn how to deal with people,” Leno explains. “You learn that kindness is the greatest virtue you can have.”

I’m old enough to remember when the American left (and Jay has admitted that’s his political worldview) at least pretended to frown upon bullying and eliminationist rhetoric. But then, we live in an era when someone who attempted to assassinate a Republican presidential candidate is let off with two years and deportation. As Glenn wrote earlier this week of Trump’s would-be assassin, it’s “hard to imagine someone who went after Obama or Hillary getting this kind of treatment.” Similarly, it’s impossible to imagine Leno saying that smug leftists such as Obama or Hillary should have the crap beaten out of them. And it’s a particularly fascinating admission given that Leno had Trump on as a guest of the Tonight Show at least ten times without coming to blows.

The timing of Leno’s quote also recalls similar language in the air during the fall of 2008, such as when Reebok decided it would be a good idea to politicize their heretofore apolitical mascot “Terry Tate Office Linebacker,” by issuing a clip in which he’s depicted violently ramming Sarah Palin, that year’s Republican vice presidential nominee, to the ground:

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