Randy knows how to write till it hurts:
I liked the Taft tree climbing line best, meself.
Randy knows how to write till it hurts:
I liked the Taft tree climbing line best, meself.
I didn’t watch the RNC. Not a minute.
Wait! To avoid a Kessler spanking, I should admit that when I turned the TV on Wednesday night looking for a west coast ball game, I found the cable set to one of the network stations. So there was that glimpse of the convention floor — maybe a few seconds while fumbled for the mute button, and a few more while I tried to punch in the channel I wanted. There’s that…
But, after I got back from the dinner welcoming our new
victims graduate students to campus last night, I had a great time following the comment threads around the web on the trainwreck of Romney’s big night. And as the hilarity over the Eastwood fiasco played out — a little sadly for me, because he’s done some great work on both sides of the camera — and as the clock relentlessly ticked on and as Rubio made it at least 3 if not more in the list of prime time speakers beginning now in their primary campaigns for 2016 and then as Romney finally tumbled onto stage with only 20 minutes or so left in prime time, and bumbled through much of that precious time before apparently finding his rhythm a bit after at least a chunk of his audience had been switched to local news, or the last beer, or bed — and then to face that fact that when all was said and done on this evening that was supposed to build a bond between the last three true swing voters in the United States and the remarkably sophisticated simulacrum of a human being operating under the code name Willard Mitt Romney, the only thing anyone actually remembered was a kind of recognizable weird old guy channeling the signals picked up by the filling in tooth 31 to drive his argument with an empty chair…
…as all that took place, I thought, W. Mitt Romney has just crashed the last remaining claim he has to the notion that he could do the presidency, even should he (FSM forbid!) manage to occupy it.
Consider: when one runs for President there are only a few things over which the nominee has true total control. Really there are only two: the choice of a running mate, and the production of the wholly staged kabuki of the nominating convention. The Ryan selection was botched, just from a technical point of view – a Friday evening news dump, the awkward pas de deux in which Romney and Ryan both tried to assert that the Ryan plan wasn’t really the Romney one and so on. Leave aside the merits or not of Ryan as a running mate, just the way that the choice oozed out into public discussion was weak.
And now this. The convention was rough from the start — and while you surely can’t blame the Romneybots for Hurricane Isaac, Chris Christie’s giant raspberry, spraying Jersey bluster all over Ann Romney’s red dress was not exactly what the Cyborg/Grannie Starver ticket had in mind. Then you get to the mostly forgettable second day, made extraordinary by Paul Ryan’s delivery of a speech that was, in the end, an indigestible bolus of falsehood . As someone pointed out at a link I’ve now lost, you’d think a properly run convention would have given Ryan sufficient guidance to make the lies just a little less obvious — just enough to provide cover to the both-sides-do-it/boys-will-be-boys school of coverage. But noooo…with the result that what was supposed to be a day of media praise for Ryan’s extraordinary powers of intellect and his courageous embrace of hard truths…and of anticipation of the launch of the Romnoid’s Human Emulation software update…became instead a chorus of disdain – one that even reached the Fox News website!
Amazingly, all that pales before the my-eyes-deceive-me spectacle of Clint Eastwood trading implied obscenties with an empty chair…dragged out so long that the nominee himself was forced into that one true sin of convention production values: crossing over out of prime time into the local news slot.
Holy Rotini, FSM! that’s just elementary. Incredibly bad planning. Grotesque management. A failure not of ideas or character or of policy analysis or even emotional persuasion…but of the pure, basic demand that someone who wants to run something should, you know, actually do so.
And that for me is the lasting message of this convention. Mitt Romney presents himself as the controlling intelligence whose experience as a top manager prepares him to run a more effective government than that of slacker/community organizer/government hack/oh, by the way - President Obama.
Remember, Romney isn’t running on his record in Massachusetts because it (a) largely sucked and (b) because the point at which it didn’t — with the passage of Romneycare — is the one that he just doesn’t seem to recall. He isn’t running on Bain directly, because that record has messy details in it that accompany exercises in vampire capitalism. He can’t do much with the Olympics because, you know, he didn’t build that. So all that’s left is this general claim that he’s got the leader stuff down, that he can run things, that he’s a deciderer, and what he decides goes, and goes right.
And now this convention.
Seriously: you can’t put on a three hour television show, you can’t run the country. It’s as simple as that.
Images: Vincent van Gogh, Van Gogh’s Chair, 1888.
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Apotheosis of the Spanish Royal Family, 1762-1766
GOS’s Laura Clawson is getting here before me, but there’s an overwhelmingly obvious truth unsaid within the now-notorious Politico piece on Republican campaign operatives’ despair over the Ryan pick.
The piece channels keening over the fact Ryan plan screws up what was presumed to be the Republican’s best tactical approach to winning the White House, by shifting focus from Obama’s record on the economy (however distorted or outright BS-ed the Romney characterization of that record was and would be) to one in which we will confront a choice between to sharply distinct policy and moral visions for the future.
That is: the Politico folks take the usual horserace approach to the latest twist in the campaign.
But that approach buries the lead. Yes, the economy ain’t that great and Romney could build traction there, again, however disengenously. But the real story here is something that we’ve been talking about more or less overtly for the last several days — and that’s the bit Politico and its GOP sources really want to avoid talk about.
“I think it’s a very bold choice. And an exciting and interesting pick. It’s going to elevate the campaign into a debate over big ideas. It means Romney-Ryan can run on principles and provide some real direction and vision for the Republican Party. And probably lose. Maybe big,” said former President George W. Bush senior adviser Mark McKinnon.
Another strategist emailed midway through Romney and Ryan’s first joint event Saturday: “The good news is that this ticket now has a vision. The bad news is that vision is basically just a chart of numbers used to justify policies that are extremely unpopular.”
Republican consultant Terry Nelson is hoping that a big debate on the presidential level will make it tougher for Democrats to mischaracterize the debate down ballot, where many Republican candidates in the House and Senate have already taken votes in favor of the Ryan plan. The more Romney and Ryan have to defend Ryan’s plan in the presidential race, the more they’ll provide air cover for other candidates.
But if that “defense” forces voters to think hard about what the Republican approach to America’s future actually means…well that’s Obama’s job, and ours, isn’t it?
Images: Edgar Degas, Race Horses in a Landscape, 1894
Pieter Breughel the Elder, Portrait of an Old Woman, c. 1564
I know DougJ hates (most) process stories, and so do I, usually. Doug calls out one claim in particular, the suggestion that how a campaign operates offers much or any insight into how the candidate would govern.
Again, I think there is some force there. Being President is not actually a managerial job; if that duty falls to anyone in the White House (as opposed to the departments and other units of the Executive Branch) that’s the job of a the chief of staff. Bill Clinton couldn’t manage his way out of…well, I’m not going to supply a noun there, I think. But the government he headed was remarkable effective. Bush the younger headed (and did not run) a pretty damn good campaign in 2000 — and his administration was crap, leaving aside the policy differences I and pretty much everyone reading this may have.
But even so, at least some of the time the decisions a candidate takes during his campaign and the impact of those choices on how things run does provide some information that is of real use in imagining the presidency to emerge from one side’s victory or the others. Tell me that Obama’s discipline vs. McCain’s flailing at the point of the Lehman collapse didn’t offer some real insight. You can talk Palin all you want, and the fact that the electoral environment for McCain in the ruins of Bush’s presidency was incredibly hostile, but the crazed “suspension” of his campaign was a real blow to his chances.
So with all that as prelude, consider this NYT story on Mitt Romney’s VP search.
Amateur pundit fail disclaimer: Let me remind you that the political navel gazing below is worth precisely what you paid for it. It is exactly the kind of musing that both DougJ rightfully sneers at. You have been warned.
OK…back to your regularly scheduled programming:
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I read this as one of the most subtly devastating indictments of Romney as a potential president I can recall reading. Consider this, high in the piece:
Mr. Romney’s possible running mates, who have handed over reams of documents to the campaign, have probably opened themselves to a greater level of scrutiny than the candidate himself, especially on the thorny question of taxes. Mr. Romney has said he will disclose federal tax returns covering two years by Election Day, far fewer than the 23 years’ worth that he handed over to Senator John McCain as a possible vice-presidential pick in 2008.
Heh indeed, one might say.
Then, there’s this:
Friends and advisers say that after assessing basic qualifications and personal chemistry, Mr. Romney has been guided by a simple principle: do no harm to the ticket.
It’s not so much that trying to avoid hiring the next Sarah Palin is a terrible idea (the context for that concluding sentence), but as a glimpse of the thought-process of a man who would lead, I read a clear hint of someone deciding out of fear, not confidence.
And how about this:
Determined to avoid the frustrations and tensions of the past, Mr. Romney’s team is taking steps to ensure that the eventual running mate — and his or her staff — functions as a true extension of the campaign, not as an autonomous political operation.
Again, on the face of it, this is an obvious thought. But the choice is once more framed as a negative — “I don’t want no rogue, get me a lapdog.” That’s a crap message to project to the American people about the person Romney’s campaign alleges has, if needed, the stuff to be the Leader of the Free World.
Then there’s the stuff that reinforces what is slowly becoming another theme in the coverage of this campaign, that Mitt Romney delegates poorly, micromanages, gets deep into the weeds of decisions in ways that constrain his organization’s ability to act swiftly, nimbly:
Many hands are involved, but the research is done by separate teams, so that only Ms. Myers and Mr. Romney have access to the full picture at all times.
Mr. Romney has taken a hands-on role. He checks in with Ms. Myers roughly every other day to discuss his thinking. And the candidate, a Harvard-trained lawyer, reviews some of the background information himself.
At the end of every day, confidential materials (tax returns, investment records and real estate documents) are returned to a vault at the Romney campaign headquarters in Boston.*
Read those short grafs again. Tell me what you see there. For me, I get a picture of compartmentalization, organizational secrecy, no chance for anyone within the organization to cross-fertilize thinking, and, most important, one in which all the lines of information and power are absolutely retained by one man only.
That may work in business (though it very often does not). It may be easier to get away with in finance than in any actual operating enterprise. But one thing is for sure — this is a what the boss from hell looks like…
…which is to say it’s not a profile of a [successful] President.
Then there’s the Romney operation’s approach to the real job they have for the Veepster unit:
Aides have begun discussing how to deploy Mr. Romney’s running mate on the trail and at fund-raisers. Campaign officials envision having the candidate headline a combination of $30,000-per-couple dinners in big cities and smaller events in second-tier locations, to gauge which proves more lucrative.
Ah, yes. RomneyBot 2000 will assess the performance of its wholly-owned subsidiary, the better to assign an appropriate functional matrix to that operation. Now it’s hardly a new thought that Vice Presidential candidates are supposed to take some of the fund-raising grind off the back of their headliner, but I have to think the NYT folks know exactly how unpresidential that sounds. Good for them.
Finally, there’s the matter of where all this meticulous preparation and organizational engineering gets team RMoney:
In a recent interview with CBS News, his wife offered a slightly deeper insight into their thinking.
“I think it’s going to take someone else that’s going to be there with Mitt,” she said, “with the same personality type that, that will enjoy spending time with them and also competent, capable and willing to serve this country.”
So, after all that, in the Romneyverse the first and most important criterion for a Vice Presidential candidate be that he (almost certainly “he”) be of the right sort (right height?) to hang with the fellow at the top of the ticket.
Which is why, as the Times reports, the campaign has ended up with TPaw and Portman at the top of the short list, Paul Ryan (oh please..) and Bobby Jindal as less likely choices, and Condi Rice still getting courtesy mentions because, the Times suggests, Ann Romney thinks well of her.
What a pallid set of options! And worse — yet entirely predictably, given its nature: look at how Romney’s process (appears) to have landed him with a selection universe that does not allow him to shore up any meaningful weakness in his own candidacy.
For example: not enough has yet been made of how incredibly weak are Romney’s foreign policy and national security chops. I know that such concerns are way down the list for most of the electorate — but still, not for all, and not for a critical subset of elite “independents.” Romney has zero experience in either of those areas, and we are, after all, still at war in Afghanistan, dealing with a truly dangerous conflict in Syria, concerned about Iran and so on — not to mention the tricky policy issues of how to deal with China’s emergence and so on. Big stuff. Stuff that matters to both lives and the global (and American) economy. And Romney has a resume in which the closest he comes to international affairs is outsourcing Olympic tailoring to Burma/Myanmar.
Obama, recall, was similarly poorly prepared for the international side of his job. So who does he hire? Joe Biden, long time head/ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Someone who could indeed have drawn invidious comparisons with the man who selected him — older, very experienced, all that. But Obama had the confidence to pick someone who could enhance his candidacy, rather than merely echo it.
Romney’s pursuit of mini-me’s? Makes him look cautious, predictable, small.
*Note yet further evidence of the absurdity of the idea that the sole stockholder, chairman of the board, president and CEO of Bain Capital was somehow utterly uninvolved with his firm’s decisions for three years.
Diego Velasquez, Portrait of Philip IV, 1656.
So, just to follow up last night’s post, here’s my first attempt to be heard on what might come of the
Catfood Commission redux the new joint Congressional committee on debt reduction:
Dear Senator Reid,
I write to ask you to commit to appointing as members of the so-called “Super Congress” committee on debt reduction only Democrats committed to revenue raising and tax reform as an essential, non-negotiable part of the deal.
We’ve already heard from your counterparts in the GOP: they will appoint only those who oppose any tax revenue in the final package. That’s both bad (disastrous) policy and bad politics for any Democrat. We need to counter with strength the other side’s scorched-earth approach to every political dispute. Right now, that means a committee composed of people who will not give on what both our country and our party desperately needs: powerful voices defending the idea that when our country needs help, everyone, including (especially) the richest and most fortunate among us must rise to the occasion.
Don’t treat this as business as it used to be usual, where you could sit down with your counterparts and cut a reasonably equitable deal. If the events of the last few weeks have taught us anything, it’s that those days are gone.
Act accordingly, or the country and our political fortunes as Democrats in 2012 will suffer terribly.
Volume counts, both in decibels and amount. So in your copious spare time, write the notes — to your own senators (Democrats on this issue, of course), representatives, the leadership, the White House, your local newspapers and so on.
A last thought: several commenters in the thread from last night expressed some variation on the “it-doesn’t-matter because either the two parties are functionally the same, or the Democrats must necessarily cave/lose” theme.
Maybe so, but if ever there was a self-fulfilling prediction, that is one.
Image: Gerard von Honthorst, Solon and Croesus, 1624.
David Leonhardt is sounding mighty shrill these days:
After performing worse than the American economy for years, the Germany economy has grown faster since the middle of last decade. (It did better than our economy before the crisis and has endured the crisis about equally). Just as important, most Germans have fared much better than most Americans, because the bounty of their growth has not been concentrated among a small slice of the affluent…
…Unlike what happened here, German laws and regulators have also prevented the decimation of their labor unions. The clout of German unions, at individual companies and in the political system, is one reason the middle class there has fared decently in recent decades. In fact, middle-class pay has risen at roughly the same rate as top incomes.
The top 1 percent of German households earns about 11 percent of all income, virtually unchanged relative to 1970, according to recent estimates. In the United States, the top 1 percent makes more than 20 percent of all income, up from 9 percent in 1970. That’s right: only 40 years ago, Germany was more unequal than this country.
Read the whole piece. Leonhardt points to German benefit reforms that he thinks we should pay attention to, and to the role of government in creating the conditions for economic and social success.
How about the United States? Well, Leonhardt tries to paint a optimistic picture at the end of his column, but this penultimate thought kind of dashes any foolish hopes:
And us? Well, lobbyists for the mortgage bankers and the N.A.A.C.P. have recently started pushing for less stringent standards for down payments. Wall Street is trying to water down other financial regulation, too.
Some Democrats say Social Security and Medicare must remain unchanged. Most Republicans refuse to consider returning tax rates even to their 1990s levels. Republican leaders also want to make deep cuts in the sort of antipoverty programs that have helped Germany withstand the recession even in the absence of big new stimulus legislation.
Some days, it seems like the only thing to do is stock up on canned goods. But I’ve got a kid, and I just can’t quite bring myself to abandon all hope. This bit of Leonhardt’s message does stick: if the Germans can do it, we can’t be wholly without a chance.
Image: Rembrandt van Rijn, The Sampling Officials, 1662.
So now, via The Raw Story, we learn that the Republican Christine O’Donnell, running for the Senate seat in Delaware has admitted to a clear violation of campaign finance laws by using campaign funds to pay part of her rent. Her excuse? She got permission:
Her attorney maintains someone with the Federal Election Commission approved the arrangement, although the commission’s rules say candidates can’t use campaign money for their mortgage or rent “even if part of the residence is being used by the campaign.”
I mean really. This goes beyond criminal (though it passes through that territory); beyond pathetic (though O’Donnell has staked a pretty damn good claim there) and on into full bore comedy. ”Someone” from the FEC approved the arrangement.
“Someone?” ”Someone!” You mean the non-witch impersonating me (and you, and you, and you…) actually had a break lucid enough to think that she ought to get clearance before embezzling that last dime — and didn’t get someone to send her … hell, not even a note on letterhead, say, but an email. A text? Semaphore? Anything.
Long ago the great San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen faced deadline on a slow day, and pumped out a dozen or so wonderful ways to say someone lacked that little something upstairs. You know the sort: “The elevator doesn’t stop on her top floor;” or “a brick or two shy of a load.” But for all the filler, Caen still came up with one I hadn’t heard before, that I’ve never forgotten, and that seems to describe Candidate O’Donnell precisely:
The wheel is spinning, but man, oh, man: that hamster’s dead.
Image: Walter Heubach, “Hamster,” before 1923.
(In passing: many thanks to all who came by this blog over the last couple of days. Come on back, y’ hear)
Jeremy Lord has received a lot of attention for his post at the American Spectator in which he attempts to set the record straight about Shirley Sherrod and her family’s history with the horror of race-based murder. (I learned of it first at TPM, via Yglesias, then at Balloon Juice, and then started writing this; I’m sure that the story is all over the blogoverse by now.)
Here, I want to add just one thought about what a little historical resonance may tell us about the character and more importantly the aims of elements of the American right.
But first, the context:
Lord titles his piece “Sherrod Story False.”
Why does he say that of Shirley Sherrod’s telling of the death of her relative Bobby Hall?
Not because Hall wasn’t murdered. Not because the murder did not take place while he was under arrest. Not that he wasn’t killed by the three law enforcement officers in whose power he lay.
The facts are not in dispute — not even by Lord, who yet calls Sherrod’s account of them false. The Supreme Court decision in the case summarized the acknowledge sequence of events:
Robert Hall, then about 30 years old, was in his home late on the night of January 29-30, 1943. Three local law enforcement officers — Sherriff Claude Screws of Baker County, Georgia, one of his special deputies and a police officer came to his house to arrest him for the alleged theft of a tire.
The officers handcuffed Hall, and put him in a car. They drove to the local courthouse, and then…well here is Justice Douglas’s account of what happened next:
As Hall alighted from the car at the courthouse square, the three petitioners began beating him with their fists and with a solid-bar blackjack about eight inches long and weighing two pounds. They claimed Hall had reached for a gun and had used insulting language as he alighted from the car. But after Hall, still handcuffed, had been knocked to the ground, they continued to beat him from fifteen to thirty minutes until he was unconscious. Hall was then dragged feet first through the courthouse yard into the jail and thrown upon the floor, dying. An ambulance was called, and Hall was removed to a hospital, where he died within the hour and without regaining consciousness. There was evidence that Screws held a grudge against Hall, and had threatened to “get” him.
No one disputes this telling of the events. Lord doesn’t. He details them in his post. (No linky because I don’t give traffic to such wretched stuff. If you want to read it in all it’s gory detail, it’s easy enough to find.)
So why does he write this:
Plain as day, Ms. Sherrod says that Bobby Hall, a Sherrod relative, was lynched. As she puts it, describing the actions of the 1940s-era Sheriff Claude Screws: “Claude Screws lynched a black man.”
This is not true. It did not happen.”
Again: Lord acknowledges the murder, but still says that Sherrod lied when she said this:
Claude Screws lynched a black man. And this was at the beginning of the 40s. And the strange thing back then was an all-white federal jury convicted him not of murder but of depriving Bobby Hall — and I should say that Bobby Hall was a relative — depriving him of his civil rights..
And where is this lie?
Well, Lord writes, it’s here:
…the Supreme Court of the United States, with the basic facts of the case agreed to by all nine Justices in Screws vs. the U.S. Government, says not one word about Bobby Hall being lynched. Why? Because it never happened.
To Lord, being beaten to death by law enforcement while in custody and restrained is not a lynching.
And with that, Lord contemns Sherrod:
It’s also possible that she knew the truth and chose to embellish it, changing a brutal and fatal beating to a lynching. Anyone who has lived in the American South (as my family once did) and is familiar with American history knows well the dread behind stories of lynch mobs and the Klan. What difference is there between a savage murder by fist and blackjack — and by dangling rope? Obviously, in the practical sense, none. But in the heyday — a very long time — of the Klan, there were frequent (and failed) attempts to pass federal anti-lynching laws. None to pass federal “anti-black jack” or “anti-fisticuffs” laws. Lynching had a peculiar, one is tempted to say grotesque, solitary status as part of the romantic image of the Klan, of the crazed racist. The image stirred by the image of the noosed rope in the hands of a racist lynch mob was, to say the least, frighteningly chilling. Did Ms. Sherrod deliberately concoct this story in search of a piece of that ugly romance to add “glamour” to a family story that is gut-wrenchingly horrendous already?
I wanted to quote that at length so that I could not be accused of selective editing. There are no ellipses there. It’s what Lord wrote, the full statement of his thesis. Read it, and, I think, weep for an America so clearly unable yet to get its own history.
This is what Lord says: Hall wasn’t taken to the nearest tree, bound by a noose around his neck, and hauled up to dangle from the nearest convenient branch. And so he wasn’t lynched, and Sherrod lied. To claim that any other race-terror murder, any other gathering in the night, ignored, abetted, or perpetrated by white law enforcement is a lynching is to play the race card, to claim extraordinary suffering where only ordinary misery exists.
There are only two problems with this…I don’t really know what to call it actually? Argument?–no. Analysis?–not hardly. Rhetorical vomit? Bile? Execrescence?…take your pick. They are are complete moral bankruptcy…and the fact that as a matter of law, Lord is simply wrong.
The moral void is I think too obvious to belabor.
So let Lord wallow in his own emptiness; the fact is that he is wrong in his attempt to draw a distinction in law.
Here is how the South Carolina Criminal Code defines the crime in a representative example of state anti-lynching provisions:
The Elements of the Crime:
1. That a person’s death resulted from the violence inflicted upon him by a mob and
2. That the accused was a member of that mob
(A mob is defined as “an assemblage of two or more persons, without color of law, gathered togethre for the premediatid purpose of commiting violence upon another.”
Strangely, I see no mention of hanging, of trees, of strange fruit in here (nor in Title 18, sec. 241 of the US code, which addresses lynching from a civil rights law angle), just as they somehow fail to specify tire irons or chains, or fire or whatever. Extrajudicial killings by a mob are lynchings. That’s it. The particular means by which any given victim is done to death is irrelevant: it is the mob and the murder that defines the crime.
Lord may or may not actually believe what he wrote. If he does he is, as indicated above, a moral imbecile. If he doesn’t, he’s worse.
In either case, this is an example of the kind of rhetorical deceit that would have made the patron saint of political thuggery-by-deception proud. Joseph Goebbels famously said “Propaganda has nothing to do with the truth.”
By this measure, of course, Lord’s post is a triumph. It takes someone already the victim of an artful and astonishingly effective hatchet job, pursues one of the most awful incidents in her family history, and tells the world that her accurate account of her relative’s murder is false — and disqualifies her from public regard. Slick, evil, and just what Dr. Joe would have recognized as the political manipulator’s stock in trade.
I’m not trying to Godwinize myself here. Rather I want to draw one thread out of this admittedly loaded comparison.
At no time up to the end of 1933 did the Nazi party command a majority allegiance within the German electorate. They did, however, create a powerful climate of opinion in which their recognizably crazy and fringe politics came to be seen as reasonable and a plausible element in national governance.
At no time did the old right elite among the German political classes intend to deliver real or lasting power to the Hitler and his crew. Notoriously, the failed former German Chancellor Fritz von Papen, after persuading President Hindenburg to invite Hitler to lead a coalition government in which von Papen would serve as Vice Chancellor, crowed “We’ve captured him!”
As we know, it didn’t quite work out that way.
History does not repeat itself precisely, of course (though the famous tragedy-farce sequence seems to pop up from time to time).
But it seems to me to be incredibly dangerous to try to climb back into power on the backs of narratives known to be false. This is exactly what the leaders of the GOP are doing now, I think, and I want to speak directly to them, and their useful idiots like Lord — be careful what you wish for.
Such attempts never turn out well, and for those who seem to think that there might be advantage to be gained from a “by-any-means-necessary” approach to political combat (perhaps among them, that former Reaganaut, Lord) it might be worth remembering this. In the case of Germany in the 30s, much wishful thinking turned out very badly indeed not just for the obvious victims of Nazi violence — but for most Germans, including those of von Papen’s class and circle.
Images: James Joseph Jacques Tissot, “Jesus Wept,” before 1894.
“Mobbing the Tories,” US War of Independence era cartoon.