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CSotD: Realpolitick, Realakademick

I know it goes against the rules of editorial cartooning, but let’s start with what Nancy Pelosi actually said:

While Pelosi’s statement has drawn condemnation from several cartoonists at the left end of the spectrum, their outrage seems more idealistic than practical, little more than the same chants that MAGA crowds aimed at Clinton, with the gender changed to “Lock Him Up.”

Easy enough as a stated goal, but who’s going to volunteer to bell the cat?

Consider this: From the day President Clinton denied having sex with “that woman” to the day the Senate failed to convict on the impeachment charges was 382 days.

The system is in place, but it moves slowly. Is it worth focusing the federal government’s attention on impeachment if we can’t expect a result before March 29, 2020?

And if we already know the way that Senate vote will go down?

Ann Telnaes responds with a poker hand that may suggest a bluff: It’s only four cards and not even a four-flush with promise to fill on the next draw.

Congressman Adam Schiff has said he thinks there’s enough evidence to indict Trump on criminal charges, though that could be blocked by the Justice Department’s informal rule that you can’t indict a sitting president, a position Schiff questions.

However, while he doesn’t want to let Trump off the hook, Schiff agrees with Pelosi on the practical reasons not to move for impeachment unless the Republicans come over to the other side.

The only thing worse than putting the country through the trauma of an impeachment is putting the country through the trauma of a failed impeachment.

And, as Tim Eagan suggests, that would be the only outcome.

Those of us who lived through Watergate remember that the Republicans stood by Nixon until the very end, even when his staff was accused, not of ethical breaches but of common, felonious criminal acts.

This group is more firmly locked in, and it is sadly obvious that, indeed, he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose support from the Deplorables.

The question is how many people he would have to shoot to lose support from the Republican Party.

The fact that some of them crossed the aisle to vote against his notion of a crisis on the southern border would be more encouraging if the bill had then landed on the desk of a president who might sign it.

And bear in mind that, as you wait for Senate Republicans to put down the Kool-Aid cups and start thinking for themselves, that 382-day clock remains on hold and the eventual payoff date gets closer and closer to Election Day, 2020.

Which event, as Pelosi and Schiff suggest, might be a more worthwhile, pragmatic focus.


plus ça change

Here’s F.R. Gruger’s illustration from Owen Johnson’s “Stover at Yale,” first published in 1911 with a plot, to be honest, largely lifted from Thomas Hughes’ 1859 classic, “Tom Brown at Oxford,” in which a middle-class-but-honest young man finds that his college chums are, for the most part, a group of spoiled, rich wastrels.


Which raises (but for god’s sake does not “beg”) the question, “What else is new?” which, in turn, makes Mike Luckovich‘s New Yorkerish cartoon even more spot-on.

Seen through the lens of that traditional cocktail-party-chatter gag, he presents the absurd (and apparently criminal) as perfectly normal, within an upper-crust suburban society the rest of us can only stare at through the window.


Marshall Ramsay suggests that it’s unfair to hard-working, deserving students, but I think he misses some of the reality of the situation.

That kid will still get in.

The kid who will lose a place in the upcoming freshman class is more marginal, with grades and scores that suggest a potential for digging in and doing more than expected.

Colleges, even the most selective, have a certain flexibility, in part because not everyone accepted will show up, but also because they like to admit a few longshots to prove either to themselves or to the public that they aren’t elitist snobs.

That is, in fact, how the Tom Browns and the Dink Stovers and, a bit further down the road, the Amory Blaines (This Side of Paradise) get into these upper class schools so they can be appalled by the rest of the student body.

Appalled, I would add, to a declining degree with each of those three collegiate novels. We’ve normalized a lot over a century and a half.

When my own boys were headed for college 25 years ago, it was not unusual for parents to sign their kids up for classes to help them do better on the next round of SATs nor was it all that unheard of for them to hire someone to look over, correct, amend a college essay.

And I knew, in my own class, a few kids whose names matched their classroom buildings but whose insights did not match their classmates’.

Whatever their actual numbers, however, they seemed inconsequential in a student body of 7,000 mostly deserving people.


Still, cheating is cheating, and I’m sympathetic to Jeff Danziger‘s point that kids who deserve to get in should get in.

Again, though, it’s the marginal kid who deserves a chance who is being locked out by marginal kids who don’t.

And here’s a major source of my prejudice: I reached and stretched to get into “the College of My Choice,” and, while it was wonderfully prestigious, it wasn’t a terribly good fit.

I could do the work. I just didn’t want to be there.

It’s made me a fervent advocate of taking a gap year and figuring out what you really want out of life, though, in my day, we didn’t have “gap years.”

We had “Giap years.” Not recommended.

Point is that if you have to pull strings, much less cheat, to get in, it’s not going to be a good fit, and, most times, you’re actually getting into “The College of Your Parents’ Choice.”


Go hang with Diane until you figure it out.

Community Comments

#1 Dewey
@ 10:49 am

“…Which raises (but for god’s sake does not “beg”) the question…”

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

#2 mark johnson
@ 10:19 am

Malcom Gladwell makes an interesting point that it is not always in your interest to get into the toughest school you can, thus likely to be at the bottom of your class,…and he was speaking of kids who earned admission. Even tougher if these kids are in over their heads

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