CSotD: Good Guys Don’t Always Smile

In the current “Heart of the City” story arc, she has become class president, which puts her in conflict with her best friend, Dean, reporter for the class paper. I like the story, but have to object to that last panel, because you don’t smile when you drop a rock on a pal.

There’s satisfaction in a good story well done, and there is pride in having the strength of character to put friendship in your back pocket and focus on your commitment to the vocation.

But when your friend calls in tears and tells you, yes, she knows it’s your job and she understands, but she wants you to know how much it hurts, she isn’t telling you anything you didn’t know when you filed the story.

I suppose it’s good that most reporters have limited social skills. It means (A) they’re able to ask questions a more polite person would not, and (B) that they don’t have a lot of friends anyway.

Of course, you have friends, but you build a wall between your personal friends and the people you know from work, and it’s always uncomfortable when one of your soccer parents turns up as a source.

This is why reporters out in the hinterlands despise the annual White House Correspondents Association dinner: Business friends can be good company, but there’s must always be a cautious distance, and to see them yukking it up makes you wonder if they’re really prepared to drop the hammer.

And, even if they are, and even if everyone at the party knows it, all that congeniality sends a bad message to the rest of the world.

It was now the Virginian’s turn to bet, or leave the game, and he did not speak at once.

Therefore Trampas spoke. “Your bet, you son-of-a—.”

The Virginian’s pistol came out, and his hand lay on the table, holding it unaimed. And with a voice as gentle as ever, the voice that sounded almost like a caress, but drawling a very little more than usual, so that there was almost a space between each word, he issued his orders to the man Trampas: “When you call me that, SMILE.” And he looked at Trampas across the table.

Yes, the voice was gentle. But in my ears it seemed as if somewhere the bell of death was ringing; and silence, like a stroke, fell on the large room. 

Okay, it’s not often that dramatic, but the rules aren’t much different.


Fortunately, only Sean Hannity has to worry about disappointing a friend, and Peter Brookes probably did get a smile of satisfaction over marrying a nice pun to a nasty but telling image.

At the AAEC Convention, Pedro Molina remarked that an advantage of mockery over open resistance is that tyrants can anticipate what demonstrators will do, but they are often blindsided by humor and they don’t know how to respond to it anyway.

Of course, this requires that they see it, and the combination of dying newspapers and an astonishingly uncurious chief executive surrounded by sycophants and babysitters makes that unlikely, beyond things he can’t avoid, like baby blimps and projection of cartoons on building walls.


But if it’s hard to afflict the comfortable, Kevin Siers and others are able to comfort the afflicted with, for instance, absurd examples of great and unmatched wisdom at work.

Still, the Deplorables are willing to believe that impeachment is unconstitutional because the Constitution, like the Mueller Report, is not only something they’ve heard of but haven’t read, but another example of things that elite liberals prattle on about to make themselves feel superior.

And the more you urge them to read these things, the more they feel that you are calling them stupid and lording your education over them and the more they hate you and the more they take shelter in populism.

Trump didn’t invent that: It worked for the Tea Party and George Wallace and Lester Maddox and it’s worked for all sorts of rabble rousers going back as far as you’d like to go back.


Jim Morin is right: Trump claims he only asked Ukraine to “root out corruption” but, while he claims Biden’s son should not gain jobs because of who his father is, he’s not as clear on the concept within his own household.

It is pointless to argue with cult members, which includes people who look at aerial photographs of the inauguration and still believe the crowd set records, even if it requires also believing that the National Park Service and the Mainstream Media conspired to present early photos as representing the final crowd.

And that the FBI and CIA can’t be trusted.

And that Obama is a Muslim and that someone murdered Seth Rich to shut him up and that there is child-molesting in the basement of a DC pizza joint with no basement.


That doesn’t mean you give up.

Mike Luckovich may be mostly comforting the afflicted by pointing out that President Trump has personal financial reasons to be sucking up to the Turkish government and letting them slaughter our Kurdish allies while the whole world is watching.

But comforting the afflicted is not a bad thing and it’s also important to help build the groundswell of active opposition, whether that means waking up people who should be involved and aren’t, or nibbling away at the edge of that cluster of Deplorables.

After all, most people who get drawn into cults only stay a year or two. They wise up or they get tired of it or they get distracted by something else.

You won’t persuade the hard-core Deplorables, but 28% of Republicans currently favor the impeachment inquiry and that’s more than a quarter of a party which accounts for less than a quarter of voters to begin with.

Tyrants likely are more able to handle protests than mockery, and I agree with Ann Telnaes that, no matter how gullible your fan base, you can only hide the fact that you are a duck for so long.