President Trump’s praise of Navaho code breakers who provided invaluable service to their country in World War II  was warm and obviously heartfelt. Then he stepped in it with an off the cuff joke reminding us of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s formerly useful but false claims of Indian heritage.

The swamp had a field day. Mollie Hemingway describes the overwrought reaction to the president’s joke:

Now, it’s beyond reasonable to criticize President Trump for mucking up a ceremony honoring World War II heroes with a petty invocation of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s false claim of Native American heritage. That’s an appropriate criticism to make, if one feels compelled to criticize Donald Trump for continuing to be Donald Trump. But instead, many in the media did what they have done so well for the last couple of years. They matched Trump’s lack of good sense with even greater silliness.

It was dumb to make a joke about Elizabeth Warren at what should have been a solemn ceremony. But it was not racist. It mocked Warren, not Native Americans.

But smearing people with whom they disagree has become a blood sport in the swamp. Racism is a horrible thing and nobody wants to be called one. But I get the feeling that the taunt is so overused that it is losing some of its utility.

CNN’s Jim Acosta tweeted:

WH press sec says “Pocahontas” is not a racial slur.(Fact check: It is.)

Fact check: it isn’t.  It is a dig at Warren, who used the unsubstantiated claim of Indian heritage to cement a position at Harvard (cultural appropriation?), not Pocahontas. The point of the joke is Warren’s lack of veracity, not Pocahontas’ undoubted stature as a colonial heroine (far from having racist reservations–oops! is that the wrong word?–about Pocahontas, old line Virginians famously vie to claim descent from her!).

We shouldn’t have to point this out who is the butt of a joke to supposedly bright people. But Trump hatred is so blinding that the swamp goes crazy at the least opportunity. Moreover, as Mollie points out, many stories were framed to give the impression that Senator Warren is really of Indian descent.

David Catanese of US News & World Report has an interesting take on why the media went into overdrive on the Pocahontas joke: if Warren runs against Trump in 2020, her false Indian heritage claims will be used.

Given Trump’s talent for branding opponents with pithy phrases, Elizabeth Warren has not seen the last of the Indian princess if she becomes the Democratic nominee in 2020.

So you might say that the media is circling the wagons for Warren–I hope you’re still allowed to say that.