CSotD: Cultural illiteracy

Clay Bennett sums up the Ralph Northam situation: The dude is screwed, and he pretty much did it to himself.

To be fair, there are some issues over the “yearbook,” which Eastern Virginia Medical School shut down five years ago , and I put “yearbook” in quotation marks because it seems that it wasn’t an official student publication.

Which is to say that I’m willing to believe Northam that he didn’t buy a copy and wasn’t aware of what his page looked like.

I’m equally willing to believe that it was kind of a screwball publication by a clique of young wiseasses that didn’t represent the school’s 600 doctoral candidates. Even official yearbooks can become irrelevant vanity projects with the wrong staff in charge, never mind if it starts out that way.

But then we come to “However.”

He did it. He didn’t do it. He used to do it, but thoughtfully. And that’s him, but it’s not him.

And his undergraduate nickname at VMI was “Coonman.”

I am not the only person to wonder, when — in 1984, not 1964 — he felt it appropriate to use shoe polish to dress up as Michael Jackson (when other MJ impersonators did not), how he already knew that it was hard to get shoe polish off your face?

GTFO, Ralph.


Which is a simple problem except that Virginia doesn’t have a clear path for dumping governors. Still, as Darrin Bell says, the Democrats have taken the responsibility for clearing out their own garbage, despite the Republican eagerness to assist.

Perhaps the Republicans want to learn how it’s done so that they can finally get rid of the racists in their own midst, but I think I was generous enough about the yearbooks and I’m not gonna give away this point, too.

So the Whatabout Gang is hard at work, ignoring the beams in their own eyes and focusing on this mote.

I’ve seen two pro-GOP cartoons using the old expression about people who live in glass houses, which is such a fundamentally bassackwards reading that it boggles the mind.

The Republicans are the ones throwing stones at Northam while dutifully following a leader who thinks the average Mexican is a rapist, murderer and drug dealer, who thinks that predominantly black and Hispanic nations are shitholes and who prefers immigrants from Norway.

And who not only thinks there are some very fine people among neo-Nazis, but has no problem with a white supremacist in his party representing Iowa in Congress.

Here’s a list of Democrats who have called for their fellow Democrat to resign.

Show me the equivalent list of Republicans who have called for King, much less Trump, to step aside.

Thank you. I thought so.


Meanwhile, Chris Britt draws a picture of our hard-working President, and it’s a funny compilation of the absurd things we’ve heard, not just of his no-show work schedule but of his inability to maintain focus when he does have some sort of briefing.

Recently, we learned of his wandering out of a meeting to go watch television, while a year ago we saw him stage a photo op but then leave without signing the executive orders, the entire point of the gathering.

He also, notably, drifted away from a G20 photo shoot before they took the picture.

This reminds me of how guilty we felt after making jokes about Reagan’s state of mind and then finding out he had Alzheimers.

Except that that was towards the end of his second term. It wasn’t his modus operandi from the start of his administration.


Ann Telnaes picks up on recent revelations to comment on what we have long known has been the challenge of Trump’s staff: To keep him engaged in anything approaching a briefing.

This is not partisan hackwork. This is reporting.

Telnaes, of course, exaggerates. We don’t know if anyone fans him, and we haven’t heard of them using actual puppets.

What we do know is that they have to simplify and — this is scary but we’ve heard it more than once — they have to weave his name into their remarks so that he’ll sit up and focus at least a little.

Chris Christie was on the 1A yesterday and told — retold; we’d heard it — of how Trump’s transition team simply threw out all the folders of information that the outgoing administration had compiled to help prepare them to govern the nation.

Then, last night, a former White House aide was on MSNBC and told of how President Obama would use his “executive time” in the morning to read through the daily briefing books and then convene a meeting in order to go through them with his staff.

No talk of having to lure him in with pretty graphics or repeat his name to keep his attention.

I remember the combination of pity and horror in watching Reagan attempt to testify about the Iran/Contra scandal and realizing that he wasn’t simply folksy but was genuinely losing his intellectual capabilities.

Tonight’s State of the Union won’t be that bad. I don’t expect to feel pity.


However, I retain my right to feel horror, and I wish Tom Toles were exaggerating a bit more, because we may get a dose of this.

The other signatories to the Iran deal are scrambling to find ways around our sanctions so that they can continue to work with Iran and uphold the treaty without us, but Trump only has ears for John Bolton, the warmed-over neo-con hawk who has him convinced Iran is a threat, even if he can’t convince the Iraq government to serve as a listening post.

His withdrawal from the missile control pact with Russia may be less eccentric, though it shows a lack of the statesmanship we have a right to expect. But it seems to fit his willingness to withdraw from NATO and his indifference to the United Nations.

And now he’s considering declaring an “emergency” where no emergency exists in order to work his way around the limits of the Constitution.

There is little humor in any of this.




4 thoughts on “CSotD: Cultural illiteracy

  1. The other signatories to the Iran deal are scrambling to find ways around our sanctions so that they can continue to work with Iran and uphold the treaty without us

    It probably should come as no surprise that few people in Canada right now give much of a gosh-darn about the US’s “sanctions” and even fewer would if our economies werent so intertwined. A lot of us have had it with DC dictating to the rest of the world what will and will not happen — and when Washington is blatantly walking away from its allies, we’ve had it even less.

    Someone needs to sit this clown down and explain to him that his country was only one of the signators on that treaty. But I doubt anyone wants to bell that particular cat.

  2. Northam’s out.

    Franken’s out.

    Trump and Kavanaugh are in.

    The Democrats are in the right.

    The Republicans are in power.

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