Politicos may still believe “All politics is local,” as Tip O’Neill famously decreed, but it hasn’t been operative for ages. Republicans turned the ex-House Speaker’s truism upside-down in 1994, when Newt Gingrich nationalized the congressional elections with the Contract with America and swept the GOP to control of the House for the first time in four decades.
The idea that backyard issues trump national concerns is even weaker today. Local affairs barely make a squeak amidst the thunder and bluster now rolling out of Washington. Politics isn’t local any more, it’s WhozOx — short for “It depends on whose ox is getting gored.”
If you’re unfamiliar with the old idiom, oxen are castrated bulls used as draft animals that, like their ballsy brethren, sometime go at each other with their horns. The owner of an ox giving a beatdown isn’t likely to stop it, but he’ll call for the fight to end immediately if the tide turns. Thus, “whose ox” is a term for hypocrisy when your stance on an incident depends on your self-interest, not your general principles.
We’re seeing an abundance of WhoZox these days as the liberals scream over the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court because the GOP-led Senate snubbed President Obama’s choice of Merrick Garland last year. That Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer and other Dems have said Republican presidents had no right to name anyone to the high court in an election year is a perfect example of WhoZox.
Similarly, the Left is in full-blown WhoZox outrage over President Trump’s executive orders after showering nothing but praise on Obama’s overreaching — and often unconstitutional — diktats in recent years.
Conservatives historically have faced a huge public relations problem. Thanks to the New York Times, Washington Post, cable and network news, NPR and their collaborators in the mainstream media, the public wasn’t aware of WhoZox. Instead of reporting on political fights as battles of equals, the MSM saw a blood-crazed ox (conservatives) terrorizing an innocent sacred cow (progressives). For the longest time, low-information voters accepted this unbalanced version.
Now, fortunately, the truth is finally getting out. Talk radio, the internet, Fox News and that rarest of birds, honest MSM reporters, laid the foundation, but the change-maker is Donald J. Trump. His fearless approach to the media has blown up the old way.
So who’s ox is being gored? The media is taking on Trump, but its horns are blunted. He’s getting gored in the process, but he’s giving out a lot more than he’s getting. Let us enjoy their pain while it lasts.