CSotD: Tug of War toys

The Democratic candidates have been so cautious not to slice and dice each other, and so numerous anyway, that the debates have been must-skip TV in which each candidate gets five seconds to say nothing. Then, the next day, the pundits dissect it and tell us what we would have noticed if we’d gone to Famous Pundits School.

But following the last debate, Liz Warren crossed the stage and said to Bernie Sanders that you can’t talk to a man like Moe Green like that.

Or something.

Bernie suggested that maybe into live mikes on national television wasn’t the best venue for the conversation, but it was too late: Warren had fed the beast.

And, as Signe Wilkinson puts it, the chief beneficiary of the odd, ill-considered exchange was Dear Leader, who gets to sit back and watch as Democrats snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

The pundits had their tug-of-war toy and now social media has exploded, with Bernie fans and Liz fans — several of whom may be real flesh-and-blood Americans — screaming at each other and hashtagging their determination to let Trump win if their candidate doesn’t get the nod.

Which suggests a couple of things, starting with this: If you stayed up to watch that whole furshlugginer yawn-fest, you didn’t even catch the 15 seconds that mattered until it was isolated, analyzed, pointed out and commented over.

You coulda stood in bed.

Wilkinson then suggests a question of “who cares?” and provides her answer, and I’m inclined to agree.

Specific to Elizabeth Warren, perhaps the barely-contained-fury which makes her Senate Committee questioning so delightful may be something she needs to contain at other times, because one of the things I admire about good attorneys is their ability to keep their composure in the face of stressful, unfair attacks by opposing counsel.

It translates to wise politics.

Case in Point: In the 2016 Presidential Debates, Hillary Clinton walked about the stage talking to the audience, only to have Trump start following her, either a bizarre attempt to intimidate or possibly just a sign of his limited social skills, but, whatever caused it, she didn’t react.

I’m sure a segment of the population would have loved it had she turned upon him and told him to get back to his lectern, but I promise you it would have become the pundits’ new tug-of-war toy and she’d have come out on the short end.

So, did Bernie suddenly reverse 30 years of feminist solidarity, or did Liz misinterpret what he said to her? Machs nix.

Whatever he said, whatever she heard, whatever happened, what matters is what people think they saw, even if they didn’t see it until it was pointed out for them.

And it’s not just about the debates.


Pat Bagley notes the way the Deplorables have been programmed to believe, absolutely, in Dear Leader’s innocence, and it’s important to remember that the whole “shoot someone on Fifth Avenue” thing wasn’t an observation from someone else but a boast from the source.

And now, as we hear what Lev Parnas has to say, to Rachel Maddow, to the NYTimes, to whoever will listen, we realize that Trump is cashing in on his boast.

Part of it, as noted here before, is that the charges against Trump are more esoteric than those against Nixon. People understood a burglary, but misusing power to advance personal political interests is considerably more spongy.

Perhaps a little more Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal would give this prosecution the level of heft that people could process. It would certainly bring more crowd interest, because who said what about a gas company is hardly going to compete with topless dancers and Playboy models and future First Ladies still a-bed with newborn babies.

Still, as Jeff Danziger points out, it’s not so much that the charges aren’t compelling as it is that the Republicans are complicit, if not with the actions, at least with the refusal to confront them.

The Cult of the Deplorables remains a minority, their strength being the level to which they are whipped up and catered to by a Republican Party that Richard Nixon would not recognize.

The Republicans of the 1970s did not protect Spiro Agnew from the corruption charges that drove him from office, and they put up good ol’ Jerry Ford as the new VP and then the necessarily conciliatory successor to a corrupt Richard Nixon.

Nixon had his hardline defenders to the end, including those who planted the seed later that it was all a fraud.

But I remember a majority of good, heartbroken Republicans who looked at the evidence and sorrowfully chose to defend the country and its Constitution rather than their party’s president.

Those particular Republicans are mostly dead now, and their spiritual heirs have left the party to the sheep McConnell leads where elephants once trod.


And Michael Ramirez notes the hypocrisy, as the Republicans establish their cover-up along one rampart until they are forced to switch directions in order to maintain the fraud.

However, this is important: You may not get to see what happens, regardless of how open it is or how much it is stonewalled.

Yesterday on Meet The Press Daily, Senator Russ Feingold, speaking of his time in the Clinton Impeachment, told Chuck Todd that a huge amount of what happened in that trial happened behind closed doors, such that nobody outside the principals was permitted to see any of it.

And that the Chief Justice presided but rarely intervened.


Which prospect adds a sad note of reality to a Tom Toles cartoon that ought to be enjoyed purely for its absurdity.

Lies work, particularly if, as seems entirely possible, the people who have the potential to reveal the lies are, instead, complicit in holding on to power.

What lies ahead are two events — the impeachment and the elections — in which we’ll find out if we’ve still got a Constitution or not.

Be furious, sure, but maintain your cool, because your opponents will.