It started with Ollie North. Reagan's administration looked like it was going down, people jumping ship, attempting suicide, expecting long prison terms for the Iran-Contra fiasco in which his administration didn't just ignore the Constitution in waging their secret war and covert arms dealing and enemy and future enemy butt kissing (Saddam Hussein for one, the Iranian theoligarchs for another, etc.) but damaged this country for decades to come as a result. Until Ollie North saved them.
Reagan had originally initiated a mild version of the "personal pique" technique of dismissing your adversaries in his debates with Carter before the election, "There you go again" etc. But his was a kind of amiable aggravation.
No, the real start of the Republican mastery of personal pique as a political ploy began when Ollie North showed up at the hearings in his Marine dress uniform, even though he was a civilian by then, and gave that ramrod at-attention take-the-oath stance calculated move to create an image and it worked—the photo of that was everywhere then—and followed up by taking umbrage at any probing questions of fact about his actual law breaking as if his courage on the battlefield were being challenged, which by the way had been by men who served with him but the news never got around to that (imagine if every veteran showed up to court in uniform every time they're hauled in, and acted all Hollywood patriot-hero about it!).
Now even rightwing troll commeters on personal blogs, let alone rightwing meida mouthpieces and politicians, practice the art of being indignant at the personal effrontery of anyone even thinking of questioning their motives and actions and etc. while going about their designated business of personally attacking every democrat from the president on down!
But the Democrats have yet to learn that lesson, even after all these decades of the Republicans using it so adroitly. (Clarence Thomas displayed North-like mastery at his confirmation hearings with all that media "lynching" deflection.)
When a Republican administration became responsible for the most devastating attack on U.S. soil since the British-American War of 1812, and then used it as an excuse to invade a country that had nothing to do with the attack and based it on justifications that turned out to be false, if anyone even muttered anything about these realities in a critical or even questioning way, then the old personal pique came out and the questioners were accused of being unpatriotic or even traitors for impugning the motives of the rightwingers (when all they wanted was for the Republicans to follow the Constitution!).
The Dems just haven't mastered that whole personal pique thing at all. When Obama gets fed up with the foolishness of his critics' inanities he just sounds impatient, and other Democratic leaders and pundits come off as either angry ("the ragin' Cajun" et. al.) or petulant. But rarely like they've been personally insulted and the honor of their family and state and race and country etc. have been deeply offended and the person questioning them should be deeply ashamed and full of remorse for impugning their honor and/or their patriotism etc.
The Dems should be doing that all over the rightwing Republicans for the ways they've treated a democratically elected president as well the democratically elected Senate. Instead they act like the Republicans who control the house and the minority Republicans in the Senate must never be cast as villains against the Dems personally, just political opponents whose ideas are to be argued with, as if winning an argument with reason and logic ever held sway with rightwingers of any party, but especially of the Republicans ever since the Reagan era.
It's time for the Democrats, from the president on down, to take personally the assaults on their honor, their integrity, their belief in and protection of the Constitution and this country, i.e. their patriotism, and act angry and hurt and personally offended and outraged anytime the rightwingers do or say or indicate any objection to them for doing what they were elected to do.