Thursday, September 26, 2019

Briefly Noted: Of Fiction And Journalism

For lovers of Victorian literature, Roger Kimball has a delightful article today. I'll provide the full title and subtitle to give you the flavor. The Dems take a swig from The Pickwick Papers: Compare the anodyne narrative of the transcript to the mad impeachment hysteria that has addled the brains of the anti-Trump sorority in the Democratic party. What Kimball does is compare the famous case of Wardell v. Pickwick to the ongoing manifestations of Trump Derangement Syndrome. Here's the jist of it:

The widow Bardell, ‘fat, fair, and forty’, is Mr Pickwick’s landlady. She willfully misconstrues some innocuous comments he makes. Item: ‘Dear Mrs. B., Chops and tomato sauce. Yours, Pickwick.’ Out of such gossamer musing she constructs a proposal of marriage and, when no proposal is forthcoming sues Pickwick for breach of promise. Much hilarity, and not inconsiderable inconvenience, ensues, but it all comes right in the end, at least for Mr Pickwick. 
It’s not so great for Mrs Bardell, but what happens to her is nothing like what is about to happen to the Democrats. Yesterday, Nancy Pelosi announced that the House was opening a ‘formal’ impeachment inquiry. Why? Because the president had a conversation with the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in July. President Trump congratulated Zelensky on his recent victory and expressed the wish that the US and Ukraine would work together in a spirit of friendship. He noted that the US had an ongoing inquiry into Ukrainian-based efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election and he asked Zelensky to talk to Attorney General Barr. ‘There are a lot of things that went on,’ Trump said, and ‘I would like you to get to the bottom of it.’ For his part, Zelensky expressed the hope that Rudy Giuliani would be available to help them with the inquiry. Trump is enthusiastic about that idea and notes that ‘there’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great.’

The Democrats, worried like Mrs Bardell about being disappointed, are pretending to see all manner of nefarious things in that innocuous comment. Read the transcript of the call. It’s all chops and tomato sauce.

Read it all, but here's the punch line to this farce:

The Democrats’ impeachment hysteria will probably hurt the country. It will not succeed in damaging Donald Trump’s chances in 2020, much less in removing him from office. It will, however, destroy Joe Biden and further undermine the credibility — assuming that is possible — of a Democratic party that is warped beyond recognition by its untrammeled thirst for power and unhinged hatred of the duly elected president of the United States.

I'll only add that the hatred is, increasingly obviously, not merely for this duly elected president, but for all that is good and normal in human life.

To complement Kimball, Peter van Buren addresses the addled press sorority directly-- Political Journalism is Dead: The #Resistance killed it. But despite the weekly outrages, they never quite accomplish what they set out to do.

Like Kimball, van Buren starts out on a delightful light note--how else do you describe the utter lack of self consciousness and even naivete these Trump haters exhibit?

Columnist Max Boot in The Washington Post put into writing what we have all known for some time: real journalism, Jefferson’s informed citizenry and all that, is dead. The job has shifted to aspirational writing, using manipulated droplets of facts and just plain made-up stuff to drive events. 
Boot writes to drive Trump from office and overturn the 2016 election. Max: “Much of my journalism for the past four years has been devoted to critiquing President Trump and opposing the spread of Trumpism. But no matter how many columns or sound bites I produce, he remains in office…. I am left to ask if all my work has made any difference.” 

Imagine! Reality doesn't obey Mad Max's magic incantations! Who will break the news to Max?

Boot has spent the last several years creating and circle-supporting others who create false narratives. They manufacture reasons for Trump to resign, press Democrats to impeach, and try to persuade voters they otherwise hold in contempt that they don’t know what’s good enough for them. We kind of figured this out after senior staff at the New York Times had to remind reporters that they were “not part of the f*cking resistance,” but it is helpful to see it in daylight. After all, democracy dies in darkness.

Van Buren goes on to critique the media constructed "uber false narrative" of Russiagate, but where he really shines is in his take down of the emoluments clause fantasy. I won't give it all away, but here's how he ends that part:

Follow the money, as Rachel Maddow likes to say. The Trump Organization pays to the Treasury all profits from foreign governments. In 2018, that was $191,000. The year before, the amount was $151,470. So Trump’s in-pocket profit is zero. 
Meanwhile, Obama’s profit as an author during his time in office was $15.6 million (he’s made multiples more since, including a $65 million book advance). In the two weeks before he was inaugurated, Obama reworked his book deals to take advantage of his new status. He agreed not to publish another non-fiction book during his time in office to keep anticipation high, while signing a $500,000 advance for a young adult version of Dreams From My Father. 
Obama’s books were huge sellers in China, where publishing is largely government controlled, meaning he likely received Chicom money in the Oval Office. His own State Department bought $79,000 worth of his books to distribute as gifts. 
As with Trump, nothing Obama did was illegal. There are no laws per se against a president making money.

But van Buren ends on a serious note--and rightly so. What we're seeing is a tragedy for the country, a long time in the making, fueled by people who either don't care or outright hate our way of life:

The media has created a pitch-and-toss game with Democrats, running false, exaggerated, and shallowly reported stories to generate calls for hearings, which in turn breathe life into the corruption stories they live off. We will soon see how far last week’s breathless drama—unnamed “whistleblower” leaks supposedly charging Trump with pressuring the Ukrainian president to investigate his rival Joe Biden—will go. 
Boot and his ilk are doing a new job. Journalism to them is for resistance, condemnation, arousal, and regime change. And that’s one way democracy does die.

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