Patterico's Pontifications


Trump: That Letter from Kim That I Never Saw Was Very Nice and Interesting

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:22 pm

While yammering aimlessly about the upcoming North Korea summit, President Trump claimed that a letter from Kim Jong-un was “very nice” and “very interesting” — and then admitted less than ten minutes later that he hadn’t opened it.

At 2:41, Trump says the letter was “very nice” and “very interesting”:

TRUMP: Well, this was a very good meeting. Don’t forget: this was a meeting where a letter was given to me by Kim Jong-un. And that letter was, a very nice letter. Oh, would you like to see what was in that letter. Wouldn’t you like? How much? How much? How much?

JOURNALIST: Could you just give us the flavor of what the letter said?

TRUMP: It was a very interesting letter. At some point, it may be appropriate and maybe I’ll be able to give it to you, maybe. You’ll be able to see it. And maybe fairly soon.

At 10:54, Trump says he hasn’t seen the letter:

JOURNALIST: Mr. President, what was your response to the letter. Did you send anything back?

TRUMP: No, I didn’t. I haven’t seen the letter yet. I purposely didn’t open the letter. I haven’t opened it. I didn’t open it in front of the director. I said, “Would you want me to open it?” He said, “You can read it later.” I may be in for a big surprise, folks!

This is 47-dimensional chess like nothing you’ve ever seen. The genius of it will be revealed in the future.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

Annoying White Gentry Liberals Attempt to Rehabilitate Bill Clinton

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:33 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Is there anyone on Earth who has seen their star fall more drastically in the past three years than Bill Clinton? After bestriding the world like a colossus, becoming fabulously wealthy and redeeming himself in the eyes of the left by not being George W. Bush, Bubba’s reputation has been tarnished as his party has largely deserted him on the issues. Where once he was seen as an altruistic elder statesman valiantly attempting to address global issues of poverty and want, the Bernie Sanders left now carps at him for amassing such a huge fortune giving speeches and trading favors. His legacy of using federal resources to aid in fighting crime on a local level has been tarnished by claims that he supported the mass incarceration of minority males. His promotion of women in his cabinet and fealty to abortion is forgotten in the #metoo moment as we recall his disgraceful personal behavior with women. And his governing style of whatever 55% of the voters believe in is exactly what he believes in has been swamped by the Barack Obama governing belief that leftism is on the right side of history and should forever remain on the march. The confluence of all these trends has now driven his popularity rating below 50% for the first time in his post-Presidency since he was suffering through the revelation of his controversial last-minute pardons over seventeen years ago.

So it’s up to the white gentry liberals at the New York Times to provide Bubba with an outlet to rehabilitate his shredded reputation. Not brave enough to try to defend him in the opinion (or even news) section and risk the wrath of the social justice left who now runs the party, they instead gave him some safer space in the books section where he can bloviate on writers and tomes that he allegedly enjoys. If there are two things we all know about William Jefferson Clinton, they are that he habitually lies about matters large and small, and that he jealously guards his reputation as a towering intellect, lest the city slickers whose approval he so craves come to view him as just a barefooted rube from the Ozarks. The format is a Q&A, where the forty-second President treats us to his usual bunkum and hokum to come up with answers that are guaranteed to appeal to the tastes of the pseudo-intellects who read that pretentious rag. Witness the grandiosity:

Q: What books are on your nightstand?
Clinton: The Future Is History by Masha Gessen. It’s great and written in a direct, blunt style appropriate for the subject. I’ll soon be finished. The Future of Humanity by Michio Kaku; Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker; and Capture: A Theory of the Mind by David Kessler. Next up is the latest book in Jason Matthews’s Red Sparrow trilogy.

A wag in the comments section opined that Clinton must have an industrial-strength nightstand to hold so many books. Note how Bubba ticks off two tomes with “Future” in the title, desperate for us to know that he’s still a guy who can’t stop thinking about tomorrow.

Q: What was the last truly great book you read?
Clinton: I loved Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann, Fascism: A Warning by Madeleine Albright, and Empire of Cotton by Sven Beckert.

The first book is about the Osage Indian murders in Oklahoma during the 1920s, so it’s perfect for the modern white-folks-have-long-terrorized-minority-communities obsession of the modern left. The Albright book is, of course, a warning about Trump and anyone else not convinced that the credentialed elite make the smartest decisions in policy. The Beckert book apparently explains how the rise of cotton created our modern capitalist system and today’s economic inequality.

Q: What was the best book you read as a student?
Clinton: In college: The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron. In law school: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. (This was also the best over all.) At Oxford: The Spanish Civil War by Hugh Thomas and To the Finland Station by Edmund Wilson.

Hey, we get that Clinton was morally obligated to include the work of a Latino on his list, but did he have to choose one who was a fan of Castro and Chavez? Imagine how progressive heads would have exploded if he had chosen a book from Mario Vargas Llosa instead. Note that all four authors chosen here were committed men of the left, so Bubba wants to remind us that he was a liberal’s liberal during his student years.

Q: Disappointing, overrated, just not good: What book did you feel as if you were supposed to like, and didn’t?
Clinton: I’m embarrassed to admit it but in two tries I have never been able to get all the way through Don Quixote. I like long books, raced through War and Peace at 22, but could not finish Quixote. I will try at least once more.

Don Quixote is the finest novel ever written (this may be slight hyperbole on my part), so Clinton ought to hang his head in shame. But I suppose I can see how a novel about a lone man fighting to retain heroic notions of chivalry, duty, honor, and chastity would horrify someone as morally sleazy as The Big Creep.

Q: What books made you want to become a writer? And what books made you want to become a politician?
Clinton: [. . . ] North Toward Home by Willie Morris, The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron, The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin, The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.

If you are keeping score at home, in these answers Clinton has mentioned eighteen books, and included one each by an Asian-American man, an African-American woman, an African-American man, a Hispanic man, a Lesbian, and four Southern white males. Elsewhere he mentions reading Ralph Ellison and Richard Wright, in case you were thinking that he was a bit light on black writers. Why, it’s almost as if he were trying to stitch together an electoral coalition! He must figure that Hillary will still be good to drag along the white woman vote.

Anyway, there are more softball questions followed by more fatuous answers, so feel free to read the whole thing if you are a glutton for boredom. Bubba is always going to have a fanbase among a certain set of aging gentry liberals who like the fact that he doesn’t make you feel guilty about being wealthy as long as you are in favor of a 39.6% upper bracket and hold the Hollywood-approved social views, but that group will get smaller and smaller as the years go by.


Patterico in Quillette: The RedState Firings and Viewpoint Diversity on the Right

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:39 am

The firings are old news — but they are part of a pattern, I argue in a new piece in Quillette:

Donald Trump has fractured the conservative movement, and with the entrenchment of the fault line between Trump supporters and Trump critics, the Right now suffers from its own political correctness. But the protected class that is officially Free From Criticism is not gays, or women, or blacks. It is Donald Trump.

It might sound crazy to say that Donald Trump is beyond the reach of criticism. After all, isn’t he regularly pilloried on all the major networks, most of the cable news channels, and on the front pages of most national newspapers? Quite so: and this fact, if anything, causes his supporters to huddle closer, and reject or attack anyone who dares utter a critical word. This, in turn, creates an environment in which pundits and politicians on the Right are terrified to say what they really think.

The Trump presidency is reminiscent of the Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life,” in which terrified adults tiptoe around a mercurial child with superpowers, responding to his every cruel and crazed act by nervously saying: “It’s good that you did that, Anthony!” . . .

Trump routinely exaggerates and lies, and the people who surround him applaud and say: “It’s good that you did that, Donald!”

The piece was commissioned a month ago, just after the firings, but I’ve been writing it and updating during that time, so there’s plenty of recent material as well as historical examples to infuriate Trump fans.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

On Being at Peace with All Men in an Era of Hypocrisy and Bullshit

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:38 am

A commenter recently left me this comment:

You used to have content that I enjoyed: actual political commentary from a principled Constitutional position. And while you still do that from time to time, the constant sniping at the people who disagree with you has gone past the point where I want to visit your site. You’re turning into exactly the thing you say you hate: the person who just wants to rub the other guy’s nose in being wrong, instead of arguing the issues.

Bye. I may check back in a year or so to see if you’ve gotten over this phase of unproductive arguing, but for now I’m taking your site off my daily rotation of blogs I read. Shame; you used to be good before you started getting bitter.

Usually, when someone flounces, I am (if anything) pleased. Flounces usually express displeasure at my attitude towards Donald Trump — and generally, I find very little persuasive about most of the bitching about me and the things I write about Trump. But that’s not this commenter’s argument. And I think this commenter has a point. Historically, the commenter is not a hypocrite or crackpot, like so many other flouncers are. And much of what he says rings true to me.

I am disgusted by the bullshit arguments, hypocrisy, total lack of logic, and blatant double standards I see on a daily basis from some people who defend Trump. But dwelling on it — at least in the way I have for a while now — angers me, which is counterproductive. And I’m trying to remove anger from my life.

After reading this comment, and realizing that there was some justice in it, I was not quite sure what to do about it. Exposing hypocrisy and double standards is a habit by now. But it raises my blood pressure. Is there a way to channel that feeling into something constructive?

I asked a couple of good friends that question, and one of them, a very wise soul (who can choose to identify himself or herself, or not), replied in a way that I will paraphrase here. My friend said that there is nothing wrong with exposing double standards, especially if our goal is honest dialogue. But recognize that some people simply won’t engage in honest dialogue. Given that, I should see my efforts at pointing out the hypocrisy and bullshit, not as an effort to change minds, but rather as a public stance that I am going to be consistent in the application of my principles. If the occasional person, whose is not so invested in Trump that their pride is somehow at stake, sees something of value in my commentary, so much the better. But I need to stop letting hypocrites influence how I feel and how I react. My friend closes with the quote: “As much as you can, live in peace with all men.”

I think this is fantastic advice. I don’t want to give up calling out the B.S., but I do want to give up the negative emotions that come with yelling at people over it.

I thank this commenter for his comment, and I thank my friend deeply for the advice. I plan to email the commenter a link to this post — but this isn’t really about regaining one lost reader (although regaining this particular lost reader would be nice). It’s about improving my own life and my own outlook. I’ve successfully done that in many other areas of my life, but this one is a glaring exception. It’s time for me to at least try to do something about it.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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