The Jury Talks Back


The Dumbest Thing Said in Politics This Week (VIDEO)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 7:30 pm

Steve King was on CNN yesterday to explain to us all that Vladimir Putin is no real danger to free speech because, hey, Garry Kasparov is still alive! No, really:

King told CNN on Sunday that Trump’s critics were overreacting.

“I don’t think his words came out very well,” he explained. “I agree that there is no a moral equivalency between the United States and Russia, although when I listened to one of the senators that said Putin is against freedom of religion, he’s actually been opening things up for the expansion of especially the Russian Orthodox Church.”

“They’re not much for freedom of the press,” King admitted. “But since, I would say, [chess champion and Putin opponent] Garry Kasparov, now he lives in the United States but he lived for a long time in Russia and had a very loud megaphone against the regime and he’s still alive and well.”

“Donald Trump has played a complex gambit in the Art of the Deal, and so I say, let’s see how this comes out.”

I was a partisan once, and there is a playbook you follow as a partisan when stories like this hit.

  • If possible, question the source, even when there is primary source material in the post that makes the identity of the source irrelevant. (Really, Patterico? Alternet?)
  • Claim a possible lack of context — again, despite the presence of the original source material.
  • Recharacterize the ridiculous statement as less offensive than it really is and defend the new statement. (I don’t think it’s so crazy to say Putin tolerates more dissent than Hitler or Stalin did!)
  • To quoque, aka what aboutism, aka “you mean like”-ism. (King is irresponsible? You mean like Obama’s reset/Hillary murdering ambassadors in Benghazi/[insert possibly exaggerated Obama-era travesty here]?
  • Ignore the story.
  • If some annoying blogger puts it in your face anyway, attack the blogger for never going after the left, even if he did that very morning.
  • Pick a specific story you believe the blogger should have written about, and — rather than politely bringing it to the blogger’s attention and asking if he is interested in discussing it — harangue the blogger for posting on the story you didn’t like while failing to post on the story you did like.

Even when I was a partisan, I think I usually avoided this type of behavior — but I know I slipped into it from time to time. Thank God I no longer feel even the slightest desire to do so.

Rather than mount my own response, let me just quote Kasparov’s own reaction today, set forth in several tweets:

This is the result of Trumpism. Trump says something absurd and irresponsible, and submorons like King feel the need to rush to defend him. And the atmosphere they create puts the lives of dissidents at risk.

I knew this would happen. It’s why I quit the GOP on May 3, 2016. As long as this type of stuff goes on, there’s not much chance I’ll rejoin.

Here’s your video:

[Cross-posted at RedState.]


  1. Ding.

    Comment by Patterico — 2/6/2017 @ 7:39 pm

  2. A lot of killers. You got a lot of killers. What, you think our country’s so innocent?

    Incidentally, we do all understand here that this statement is 100% true? I do not accuse anyone of denying it or glossing it over.

    And I say this not to play moral equivalence games regarding Putin, and certainly not to defend what Trump said and why he said it, but to acknowledge that “people sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

    America is not defended by smiles and hugs and foreign aid. There’s been quite a lot of killing involved, and I’m afraid not all of it may have been strictly necessary for our defense. Even (or should I say especially) when Obama was doing it.

    What makes America different is the things we kill for. (Though the people killed may not always appreciate that difference.) We were not in Iraq to take its oil, or in Afghanistan to steal its opium, and in Europe we never asked for more than space in which to bury our dead, and we didn’t make a dime off anyone Obama had killed. And whether or not any of those actions I alluded to may have been the wisest thing we could have done, we are were we are today because we’ve been killers and we’ve been generally better at it than our enemies.

    Certainly, let’s castigate Trump for what he said, but with our own eyes open. It’s a fallen world, and imperfect men have to do the best they know how at the time and sometimes that best is really, really awful.

    Comment by Gabriel Hanna — 2/7/2017 @ 2:55 am

  3. The statement is true, of course. But in context, Trump is certainly drawing a moral equivalence — one that does not exist.

    Comment by Patterico — 2/7/2017 @ 7:30 am

  4. I’m getting more and more concerned and angry regarding partisan whitewashing on both sides.

    More and more, the average view of policy is dictated by who uttered it, not what it is. Such partisanship is the antithesis of reason.

    The incident cited in the post is a case in point.

    I happen to think it’s a good idea to work with Russia *if* it’s in our interests; we have, after all, worked with the two bloodiest monsters in all of human history, Mao and Stalin (both of whom make Hitler look like a piker) so Putin is small potatoes. I also consider the caterwauling over Putin’s human rights record reminiscent of the leftist drivel against any number of repulsive regimes we’ve dealt with in the past. However, trying to minimize Putin’s record via citing evidence that he’s not 100% effective in his tyranny is partisan preposterousness.

    Without open eyes, one is blind.

    Comment by Arizona CJ — 2/7/2017 @ 9:18 am

  5. > We were not in Iraq to take its oil

    No, but we’ve elected a President who says we should have been there to take its oil.

    Comment by aphrael — 2/7/2017 @ 11:43 am

  6. @aphrael:No, but we’ve elected a President who says we should have been there to take its oil.

    We’ve elected a President who doesn’t always know what he’s talking about but opines on it anyway. Which I believe we have done in every year divisible by four.

    There’s a lot of Americans who agree with that statement. Ask around. Typically you get something like, “We shouldn’t have been there, but if we were already, why not get something out of it?”

    Which of course doesn’t really make any sense. Would have been far cheaper to buy it from Saddam Hussein than to take it that way.

    Trump is a very, very average man, intellectually. It’s easy to forget that, and confuse him for a stupid man.

    Comment by Gabriel Hanna — 2/7/2017 @ 12:07 pm

  7. @Arizona CJ:I happen to think it’s a good idea to work with Russia *if* it’s in our interests

    You don’t have to reach back to Stalin and Mao. China’s government is worse, and far more powerful, than Russia’s. Yet we work civilly with them where both nations have an interest.

    If Trump talked about Jinping instead of Putin the media would be full of how awful China is. They’ve already forgotten their praise of the “reset” and their applause for “the 80’s called, they want their foreign policy back”.

    Comment by Gabriel Hanna — 2/7/2017 @ 12:11 pm

  8. Anyway the geopolitical threat to US interests posed by Russia is heavily overblown right now, and that by China is continuing to grow. Because our media is more worried about trying to make Trump look bad–as though he can’t do it without their help!–rather than what is actually good for the country.

    Comment by Gabriel Hanna — 2/7/2017 @ 12:14 pm

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