The Art of Civil Discourse – and Treason

 

Teddy Fischer of Mercer Island High School near Seattle (Photo: KING 5/Tegna)

Back in May, the Washington Post published a picture of Keith Schiller, President Trump’s pre-Secret Service body guard with a Post-It note stuck on a stack of papers. Clear as day on that little slip of paper was Defense Secretary James Mattis’ cell phone number. The Post pulled the picture when notified but not before quite a few people called and filled up the SecDef’s voice mail.

One of the messages Mattis did not delete came from Teddy Fischer, a sophomore at Mercer Island High School near Seattle. The Seattle Times explains:

…Mattis told Fischer that his message was compelling, in part because Fischer is a student, and in part because Mattis grew up in Washington state along the Columbia River, and graduated from Central Washington University.

“I just thought I’d give you a call,” he said in the interview.

“I’ve always tried to help students because I think we owe it to you young folks to pass on what we learned going down the road so that you can make your own mistakes, not the same ones we made.”

A couple of days ago the story went national. Quotes from Fischer’s interview were pulled by all sorts of publications, from Salon to the Boston Globe to London’s Daily Mail. The most important topic covered in the 45-minute session also seems to be the one almost universally ignored — the breakdown of civility, in society in general and in politics particularly.

“I think the first thing is to be very slow to characterize your fellow Americans,” said Mattis.  “…I get very, very concerned when I hear people start characterizing their opponents as stupid. I still understand that because politics is a little rough and tumble at times, but I don’t buy it and when they start calling each other either crazy or evil. You and I, we don’t compromise with crazy people or evil people. And so, I don’t think that’s helpful. Generally speaking, just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t make them crazy or evil.”

That really is the problem, isn’t it? If we first demonize our opponents then we aren’t compelled to listen to them. Their very nature compels us to ignore them and dismiss their thoughts. Each side has retreated to the safety of its own bubble, safe from the crazy and the evil that lurk on the outside. Compromising with the crazy or the evil? Why that would be downright treasonous.

In the musical play 1776, Ben Franklin says, “Treason, eh? Treason is a charge invented by winners as an excuse for hanging the losers.” In the current political climate there are those that seem to want to turn that one around, as the losers now seem intent on hanging the winners. If we don’t make a concerted effort to return civility to the public discourse a lot of what we’ve seen since last November is going to look like an amble through the park.

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  1. Richard Finlay Member
    Richard Finlay
    @RichardFinlay

    EJHill: If we don’t make a concerted effort to return civility to the public discourse a lot of what we’ve seen since last November is going to look like an amble through the park

    But how to go about it?  “Setting a good example” — the GWB approach — doesn’t seem to work.  People seem to be able to run roughshod over a high road.  “Tit for Tat” may be worth a try.  After all, the likely reason WW2 was fought without chemical weapons was the surety that the other side would respond in kind, not admiration for the remarkable restraint shown by the enemy.  It may be necessary to crawl into the gutter before we can crawl out.

    • #1
  2. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo
    @BossMongo

    EJ, thank you.

    • #2
  3. Mike LaRoche Member
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    “If this be treason, make the most of it.” — Patrick Henry

    • #3
  4. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    EJHill: In the musical play 1776, Ben Franklin says, “Treason, eh? Treason is a charge invented by winners as an excuse for hanging the losers.” In the current political climate there are those that seem to want to turn that one around, as the losers now seem intent on hanging the winners. If we don’t make a concerted effort to return civility to the public discourse a lot of what we’ve seen since last November is going to look like an amble through the park.

    As much as I hate to disagree with old Ben he was slightly wrong about this.  Treason is a charge invented by those in power to remove politically troublesome opponents from the field.  The Democrats is the party that runs most the governments in the United States.  Democrats make up the majority of the non elected government workers.  That is what this little scuffle with Trump is about.  The Democrat bureaucrats do not like that the elected leaders that are rightfully supposed lead the government are not Democrats.  Thus the government is in the process of removing those leaders and replacing them with ones it likes better.  Part of that will be delaying and/or stopping any initiatives created by the elected Republican leaders and the collecting and leaking of any damaging information about Republican leaders.  Even the investigation, prosecution, impeachment and jailing of Republicans.  If the Republicans can weather the storm maybe they can take back the government and replace it with one more loyal to the public or the Republicans but chances are that will not happen.  It may even be that if the Republican do make real headway on breaking the Democrat ownership of the government that we will have a civil war.

    • #4
  5. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Fake John/Jane GaltAs much as I hate to disagree with old Ben he was slightly wrong about this. Treason is a charge…

    Just to be clear, this is not a quote from Franklin but from the Franklin character in the musical.

    • #5
  6. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt: As much as I hate to disagree with old Ben he was slightly wrong about this. Treason is a charge…

    Just to be clear, this is not a quote from Franklin but from the Franklin character in the musical.

    Then I can care less about disagreeing with a liberal asstor

    • #6
  7. EB Thatcher
    EB
    @EB

    Well, to continue quotes about treason:

    Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason?
    Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.

    John Harrington, a member of Elizabeth I’s court.

    • #7
  8. Mike-K Member
    Mike-K
    @

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):
    The Democrat bureaucrats do not like that the elected leaders that are rightfully supposed lead the government are not Democrats.

    Yes, I agree. Trump is the only person rich enough and crazy enough to take on the Deep State. I think most Trump voters see this, even if intuitively.  If, somehow, the left manages to take him out, by impeachment or assassination, there will be hell to pay. Madame DeFarge will look like a prom queen.

    • #8
  9. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    I don’t know about this.

    I am not certain about a Judge who gives a slap on the wrist to a woman who tosses a baby out her upperstory window so she can avoid deportation.

    He knows what he’s doing is wrong though he believes his motives pure. That seems more than just wrong to me.

    The abortion debate has evolved (in common language) from one about compassion for troubled women to being a right for everyone. While it was always wrong, the evolution of thought feels more than that to me.

    While a liberal neighbor may not be evil, I feel no compulsion in desisting from referring to Cecile Richards or this Judge as such.

    How do we balance that? I know the left has similar thoughts of ours. I do you reach past that?

    • #9
  10. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    Stina (View Comment):
    While a liberal neighbor may not be evil, I feel no compulsion in desisting from referring to Cecile Richards or this Judge as such.

    If you do this, you will never, ever, ever persuade that pro-choice girl you met in your philosophy class to really consider why abortion is so very, very, very wrong.  She will simply dismiss you in the same way that people who might be on the right side of the aisle will often say, “Your source is the New York Times?  I’m not listening to fake news.”

    That’s exactly what our hypothetical girlfriend did when all those tapes about Planned Parenthood were published.  She said, “Those people don’t care about women.  They’re evil, and they manipulated the video.  I’m not listening to fake news.”

    What good is that?

    You aren’t going to change Cecile Richards, but you can make the girl think about abortion if you approach her differently.  You might even be able to convince her to take a gander at the uncut PP tapes.

    As it is, American voters remind me of the armies in WWI.  They are all in trenches firing guns, intent on shredding anyone who dares walk into No Man’s Land.

    Btw, I’m not the president’s biggest fan–I’ll admit this openly–but one thing I give him complete credit for doing is picking Jim Mattis for Secretary of Defense.  I will also say that it seems Trump’s policy with the military is to let guys like Mattis figure it out, which is wonderful and worthy of great praise.  This stands in stark contrast to Obama’s disdain for input from Bob Gates, which hurt the country and helped create churn at his Department of Defense that led ultimately to a guy who seemed to care more about social issues in the military than anything else.

    (Like some people love Gorsuch, I love me some Mattis.)

    • #10
  11. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    The comment here was the comment on #10.  Don’t know how they repeated.

    (Sorry.)

    • #11
  12. Kent Lyon Member
    Kent Lyon
    @NanoceltTheContrarian

    Unfortunately, the die is cast. There is no longer any possibility of compromise or civil discourse. We are a house divided, and will either become one thing or another, either a “Progressive” state of unlimited government and shrinking liberty, or a nation that reveres it’s founding and respects the Declaration and Constitution, and the limited government and individual liberties they established.  We are in 1858, deja vu all over again.

    • #12
  13. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    Kent Lyon (View Comment):
    Unfortunately, the die is cast. There is no longer any possibility of compromise or civil discourse. We are a house divided, and will either become one thing or another, either a “Progressive” state of unlimited government and shrinking liberty, or a nation that reveres it’s founding and respects the Declaration and Constitution, and the limited government and individual liberties they established. We are in 1858, deja vu all over again.

    I’ll stick my head out of my trench and say I (respectfully) can’t agree with that assessment of history.  1858 had an entirely different context than 2017.

    But I’ll grant you that this is like the 1890s in which people talked in exactly these sorts of theoretical terms and yet did not have one big, concrete issue like slavery dividing whole regions.

    In 1858, we were teetering on the edge of civil war.  To say that’s where we are now is… alarming.

    • #13
  14. Hypatia Member
    Hypatia
    @Hypatia

    Kent Lyon (View Comment):
    Unfortunately, the die is cast. There is no longer any possibility of compromise or civil discourse. We are a house divided, and will either become one thing or another, either a “Progressive” state of unlimited government and shrinking liberty, or a nation that reveres it’s founding and respects the Declaration and Constitution, and the limited government and individual liberties they established. We are in 1858, deja vu all over again.

    I agree with this.  Also, @richardfindlay is right; GWB tried “going high” and left with one of the lowest approval,ratings ever.   How did he beat Kerry for term 2? I think it was just : because Kerry.  A Catholic who believes in abortion.  A guy so clueless he actually thought he could turn Vietnam, any mention of Vietnam, into something positive. A guy who picked the since spectacularly-imploded Edwards  as running mate..

    We thought “Russia!” was finally over.  But it’s not and it never will be.  Trump is making great progress toward his and our agenda.  Can he get re-elected in 2020?  At this  point  I think that will depend less upon whether we can restore “civility” than upon whether the Dems run Kerry 2, or some flat but charismatic  icon like Omega.

    • #14
  15. Rick Poach Member
    Rick Poach
    @RickPoach

    I agree with your sentiments, E.J., but that effort has to be a two way street. And I personally believe that the Left has been poisoned against that. Some of them are just no longer reachable.

    As an example, I won’t post it here, there is a new song “Goodnight Alt-Right” by the hardcore band “Stray from the Path.”

    The official video shows the band dressed as AntiFa and stalking a guy in a red baseball cap, a MAGA hat without the logo. The man turns out to be (but of course) an American NAZI. The band then stages a home invasion, beats him, tortures him, and then, mimicking a scene from “Inglourious Basterds,” tattoos a swastika on his forehead.

    Their message is clear: Trump voters/supporters are crypto-NAZI’s who deserve nothing better than outright terror, violence, and physical branding.

    If there is a “return to civility” here, then I don’t see it.

    • #15
  16. The Whether Man Member
    The Whether Man
    @TheWhetherMan

    Hypatia (View Comment):

    I agree with this. Also, @richardfindlay is right; GWB tried “going high” and left with one of the lowest approval,ratings ever. How did he beat Kerry for term 2? I think it was just : because Kerry. A Catholic who believes in abortion. A guy so clueless he actually thought he could turn Vietnam, any mention of Vietnam, into something positive. A guy who picked the since spectacularly-imploded Edwards as running mate..

    I see this argument about GWB’s approval rating a lot on here, but I’m not sure I accept the premise.  You seem to be assuming that his rating was so low because he “went high” and didn’t fight back against the media, but that ignores some actual circumstances that existed in the context of those media reports – like the fact that the Iraq war was still going on and losing support at roughly the same pace as the Bush presidency.  Some of that is media driven, but not all of it is.  Americans don’t have patience for long wars.  Then, of course, with the financial crisis hitting as he was leaving office, his approval was always going to tank then.  So there might be a correlation between his “going high” and his approval ratings, I’m not convinced that one clearly caused the other.

     

    • #16
  17. Chris Campion Coolidge
    Chris Campion
    @ChrisCampion

    It’s funny how we, the Americans, now have to figure out a way to speak to each other after our elected “leaders” have stoked the fires of partisanship on both sides of the aisle, for decades, as a vehicle to power, and it’s inevitably manifesting in such wonderful ways as Antifa and other calls to violence.

    If we hadn’t so willingly handed over so much of our lives to politicians to decide how they will be lived, what choices we get to make and not make, we wouldn’t be wringing our hands now about how to deal with the results.  Partisanship and division gets people re-elected.  It gives them a side to safely point fingers from.  There is zero benefit to politicians to reduce that model, because it does not get them back into office.

    So it’ll be more of the same, and things will get worse.

    • #17
  18. Martel Member
    Martel
    @Martel

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    Kent Lyon (View Comment):
    Unfortunately, the die is cast. There is no longer any possibility of compromise or civil discourse. We are a house divided, and will either become one thing or another, either a “Progressive” state of unlimited government and shrinking liberty, or a nation that reveres it’s founding and respects the Declaration and Constitution, and the limited government and individual liberties they established. We are in 1858, deja vu all over again.

    I’ll stick my head out of my trench and say I (respectfully) can’t agree with that assessment of history. 1858 had an entirely different context than 2017.

    But I’ll grant you that this is like the 1890s in which people talked in exactly these sorts of theoretical terms and yet did not have one big, concrete issue like slavery dividing whole regions.

    In 1858, we were teetering on the edge of civil war. To say that’s where we are now is… alarming.

    The way I’ve heard it termed best is that we’re in a “cold civil war.”  We’re not shooting each other much, but there’s a very substantive divide and some serious bad blood brewing.  Virtually every piece of news is interpreted in completely opposite ways, virtually every societal development is met simultaneously with horror and glee.

    No, we’re not yet past the point of no return, but we are getting awfully close.

    • #18
  19. Martel Member
    Martel
    @Martel

    The Whether Man (View Comment):

    Hypatia (View Comment):

    I agree with this. Also, @richardfindlay is right; GWB tried “going high” and left with one of the lowest approval,ratings ever. How did he beat Kerry for term 2? I think it was just : because Kerry. A Catholic who believes in abortion. A guy so clueless he actually thought he could turn Vietnam, any mention of Vietnam, into something positive. A guy who picked the since spectacularly-imploded Edwards as running mate..

    I see this argument about GWB’s approval rating a lot on here, but I’m not sure I accept the premise. You seem to be assuming that his rating was so low because he “went high” and didn’t fight back against the media, but that ignores some actual circumstances that existed in the context of those media reports – like the fact that the Iraq war was still going on and losing support at roughly the same pace as the Bush presidency. Some of that is media driven, but not all of it is. Americans don’t have patience for long wars. Then, of course, with the financial crisis hitting as he was leaving office, his approval was always going to tank then. So there might be a correlation between his “going high” and his approval ratings, I’m not convinced that one clearly caused the other.

    There were undoubtedly actual circumstances and events that led to Bush’s popular downfall, but his PR was absolutely horrible.  I believe his biggest mistake regarding Iraq (even bigger than “small footprint”) was failing to recognize that Democrats would exploit Americans’ lack of patience for long wars for every ounce it was worth.  He let “Bush lied, people died” hum in the background for eons, allowed Harry Reid to proclaim we had already lost without suffering any consequence, and quietly persisted with alternating strategies and settling on the surge as the Democrats and media discredited absolutely everything he did every step of the way.  The result was battlefield victory that counted for nothing because of a lack of public support.  The home front is the most important front in any war, and he neglected it utterly.

    But the “go high” strategy was at its worst with Katrina, the PR hit from which he never recovered.  Nagin and Blanco deserved enormous amounts of blame for what happened, but classy Bush decided to take full responsibility himself.  Taking responsibility for mistakes is great when your opponents are working in good faith, but when they’re not being big and apologizing just makes them smell blood and go in for the kill.

    But I think the final straw, and the one that cost him conservative support, was when he went after Republican opponents of his immigration plan.  The first time he showed any fire at all in going after domestic opponents was against us, those who had been defending him better than he defended himself for years.

    • #19
  20. Martel Member
    Martel
    @Martel

    For those who suspect that “going high” doesn’t cause low approval but merely correlates with it, I suggest they consider foreign policy as an analogy.

    If we have some dispute with Portugal, “going high” is the best way to rectify it, for we know that Portugal is not run by monsters bent on our destruction but instead by reasonable people who want the issues to be resolved to mutual benefit.

    But “going high” with North Korea just makes us look weak and feckless.  Our kindness they will mistake for weakness, and they will exploit that weakness (real or imagined) for everything it’s worth.

    Lots of Republicans seem to think that modern Democratic leaders are more like Portugal, interested in doing what’s best for America, willing to go along with or support Republicans if only they can be convinced that Republicans also want what’s best for America.  That’s no longer the case.  They are out to destroy the Republican Party, conservatism, and all the rest.  A victory for America that’s also a victory for the GOP will be a loss for them, for in their minds no short-term benefit to America can outweigh the harm that any Republican success will bring.

    There is no way to gently work out our differences with such people, and its time we start recognizing it.

    • #20
  21. The Whether Man Member
    The Whether Man
    @TheWhetherMan

    Martel (View Comment):
    For those who suspect that “going high” doesn’t cause low approval but merely correlates with it, I suggest they consider foreign policy as an analogy.

    If we have some dispute with Portugal, “going high” is the best way to rectify it, for we know that Portugal is not run by monsters bent on our destruction but instead by reasonable people who want the issues to be resolved to mutual benefit.

    But “going high” with North Korea just makes us look weak and feckless. Our kindness they will mistake for weakness, and they will exploit that weakness (real or imagined) for everything it’s worth.

    Lots of Republicans seem to think that modern Democratic leaders are more like Portugal, interested in doing what’s best for America, willing to go along with or support Republicans if only they can be convinced that Republicans also want what’s best for America. That’s no longer the case. They are out to destroy the Republican Party, conservatism, and all the rest. A victory for America that’s also a victory for the GOP will be a loss for them, for in their minds no short-term benefit to America can outweigh the harm that any Republican success will bring.

    There is no way to gently work out our differences with such people, and its time we start recognizing it.

    Why are the only two alternatives Portugal and North Korea?  In other words, why is it either repeat the mistakes of Bush (and I don’t disagree he made many on the PR front, I simply question whether you can attribute all of his popularity decline to his mistakes in this area, and I remain unconvinced that his declining approval ratings can be attributed solely to a lack of fighting back against the media narrative), or be President Trump, constantly shooting off attacks on the media that often make no sense?  This debate always strikes me as a false dichotomy.  Surely there must be some sort of middle ground.

    • #21
  22. The Whether Man Member
    The Whether Man
    @TheWhetherMan

    Martel (View Comment):

    The Whether Man (View Comment):

    I see this argument about GWB’s approval rating a lot on here, but I’m not sure I accept the premise. You seem to be assuming that his rating was so low because he “went high” and didn’t fight back against the media, but that ignores some actual circumstances that existed in the context of those media reports – like the fact that the Iraq war was still going on and losing support at roughly the same pace as the Bush presidency. Some of that is media driven, but not all of it is. Americans don’t have patience for long wars. Then, of course, with the financial crisis hitting as he was leaving office, his approval was always going to tank then. So there might be a correlation between his “going high” and his approval ratings, I’m not convinced that one clearly caused the other.

    There were undoubtedly actual circumstances and events that led to Bush’s popular downfall, but his PR was absolutely horrible. I believe his biggest mistake regarding Iraq (even bigger than “small footprint”) was failing to recognize that Democrats would exploit Americans’ lack of patience for long wars for every ounce it was worth. He let “Bush lied, people died” hum in the background for eons, allowed Harry Reid to proclaim we had already lost without suffering any consequence, and quietly persisted with alternating strategies and settling on the surge as the Democrats and media discredited absolutely everything he did every step of the way. The result was battlefield victory that counted for nothing because of a lack of public support. The home front is the most important front in any war, and he neglected it utterly.

    But the “go high” strategy was at its worst with Katrina, the PR hit from which he never recovered. Nagin and Blanco deserved enormous amounts of blame for what happened, but classy Bush decided to take full responsibility himself. Taking responsibility for mistakes is great when your opponents are working in good faith, but when they’re not being big and apologizing just makes them smell blood and go in for the kill.

    But I think the final straw, and the one that cost him conservative support, was when he went after Republican opponents of his immigration plan. The first time he showed any fire at all in going after domestic opponents was against us, those who had been defending him better than he defended himself for years.

    Side note: as far as I can tell, we are not disagreeing with each other here.

    • #22
  23. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    Martel (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    Kent Lyon (View Comment):
    Unfortunately, the die is cast. There is no longer any possibility of compromise or civil discourse. We are a house divided, and will either become one thing or another, either a “Progressive” state of unlimited government and shrinking liberty, or a nation that reveres it’s founding and respects the Declaration and Constitution, and the limited government and individual liberties they established. We are in 1858, deja vu all over again.

    I’ll stick my head out of my trench and say I (respectfully) can’t agree with that assessment of history. 1858 had an entirely different context than 2017.

    But I’ll grant you that this is like the 1890s in which people talked in exactly these sorts of theoretical terms and yet did not have one big, concrete issue like slavery dividing whole regions.

    In 1858, we were teetering on the edge of civil war. To say that’s where we are now is… alarming.

    The way I’ve heard it termed best is that we’re in a “cold civil war.” We’re not shooting each other much, but there’s a very substantive divide and some serious bad blood brewing. Virtually every piece of news is interpreted in completely opposite ways, virtually every societal development is met simultaneously with horror and glee.

    No, we’re not yet past the point of no return, but we are getting awfully close.

    Might someone say this today?:  “We meet in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political and material ruin. Corruption dominates… The fruits of the toils of millions are boldly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few…”

    It’s from the 1890s’ Populist Party.

    So… yeah.

    I’d agree that there are times in our history when we have been badly divided and the rhetoric/feelings have been very heated.  I’m only contending that we are not in a period like that which preceded the Civil War.

    I mean, I often read comments here and wonder what is meant by them.

    If it’s 1858, are people thinking about taking up arms?  Shooting their neighbors in the face?  Buying cannons?

    Obviously some people are in that place because a far Left guy just shot Republicans for no better reason than he thought they were evil since they were Republicans, but I think that guy is not representative of any large number of people on either side of any political question in the current United States, so I don’t know how to interpret people when they say “We are in 1858.”

    Do they mean Donald Trump is Abraham Lincoln?

    Are they saying states are about to secede from the Union?

    Are troops about to mobilize?

    Did the baseball guy see himself as John Brown, albeit a wee early in ’58?

    Or do they see that guy as John Brown?

    What’s the subject of this “House Divided” speech????

    • #23
  24. Martel Member
    Martel
    @Martel

    The Whether Man (View Comment):

    Martel (View Comment):
    For those who suspect that “going high” doesn’t cause low approval but merely correlates with it, I suggest they consider foreign policy as an analogy.

    If we have some dispute with Portugal, “going high” is the best way to rectify it, for we know that Portugal is not run by monsters bent on our destruction but instead by reasonable people who want the issues to be resolved to mutual benefit.

    But “going high” with North Korea just makes us look weak and feckless. Our kindness they will mistake for weakness, and they will exploit that weakness (real or imagined) for everything it’s worth.

    Lots of Republicans seem to think that modern Democratic leaders are more like Portugal, interested in doing what’s best for America, willing to go along with or support Republicans if only they can be convinced that Republicans also want what’s best for America. That’s no longer the case. They are out to destroy the Republican Party, conservatism, and all the rest. A victory for America that’s also a victory for the GOP will be a loss for them, for in their minds no short-term benefit to America can outweigh the harm that any Republican success will bring.

    There is no way to gently work out our differences with such people, and its time we start recognizing it.

    Why are the only two alternatives Portugal and North Korea? In other words, why is it either repeat the mistakes of Bush (and I don’t disagree he made many on the PR front, I simply question whether you can attribute all of his popularity decline to his mistakes in this area, and I remain unconvinced that his declining approval ratings can be attributed solely to a lack of fighting back against the media narrative), or be President Trump, constantly shooting off attacks on the media that often make no sense? This debate always strikes me as a false dichotomy. Surely there must be some sort of middle ground.

    I agree that his fall in popularity can’t “be attributed solely to a lack of fighting back against the media narrative,” but it was most decidedly a predominant factor.  When lies bubble up repeatedly and nothing effective is done to counter them, don’t be surprised if people start believing the lies.

    In my mind, although a “middle ground” would have been great a decade or two ago, today one wouldn’t be enough.  The left brawls with us so we need a brawler in response.  Instead, my complaint with Trump is that he doesn’t always seem to brawl effectively enough, picking fights over inauguration crowd sizes for example.

    But “shooting off attacks that make no sense” at least is a step in the right direction and better than not shooting at all.  If a “precise brawler” of some sort is available, I’ll take him, but I don’t see any around.

    • #24
  25. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    Martel (View Comment):
    I agree that his fall in popularity can’t “be attributed solely to a lack of fighting back against the media narrative,” but it was most decidedly a predominant factor.

    If it’s all about “fighting back against the media narrative,” what explains President Trump’s ratings?  They should be skyrocketing if that’s the criteria people predominantly use to judge their presidents.

    (I’m not looking for an argument about the president but about a causal argument on what garners approval/disapproval.)

    • #25
  26. Isaac Smith Member
    Isaac Smith
    @

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    Did the baseball guy see himself as John Brown, albeit a wee early in ’58?

    Or do they see that guy as John Brown?

    Or do we see him as an example of the pro-slavery Border Ruffians?  Yeah, pretty much.  Do you not see the most violent fringes of Antifa that way, i.e., as supporters of expanded progressive slavery willing to use violence to get their way?

    • #26
  27. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    Isaac Smith (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    Did the baseball guy see himself as John Brown, albeit a wee early in ’58?

    Or do they see that guy as John Brown?

    Or do we see him as an example of the pro-slavery Border Ruffians? Yeah, pretty much. Do you not see the most violent fringes of Antifa that way, i.e., as supporters of expanded progressive slavery willing to use violence to get their way?

    Do I see a fringe fascist group that abandons the political system to move their agenda as similar to an antebellum terrorist?  In the world of very imperfect analogy, okay.  So you better sure as hell be careful to not make Antifa or baseball guy mainstream unless you *want* to reap the whirlwind of John Brown OR Bloody Kansas in general.

    Even though Bernie Sanders–a horrific demagogue–plays on his own side’s conspiratorial bent and probably fed baseball guy’s antipathy and Antifa’s self righteous fascism, there is no widespread acceptance of baseball guy’s actions or Antifa’s rioting.  There are no major writers making him a martyr or writing odes to violence.  (One rap group doesn’t count.).  There is no core issue like slavery pulling together the anger of many.

    When Antifa burns down all of Berkeley and people applaud, get back to me.  We are in the 1890s with Mary Lease screaming, not the 1850s with the country literally splitting apart.

    At least that’s how I see it.

    • #27
  28. Lois Lane Coolidge
    Lois Lane
    @LoisLane

    I’ll grant @martel seeing a “Cold War” as I think that’s the mentality of many, but that’s not that strange in American politics.  That’s just–to go with martial terms–entrenchment.

    • #28

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