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CSotD: Lost Leaders

Adam Zyglis makes a joke out of Trump’s call for a Special Master to review the documents the FBI took out of the cartons he didn’t have. Attorneys online and in the media seem to agree that he should have asked for a Special Master immediately following the search, not after DOJ had unpacked and examined the documents.

I’m also seeing analysis from attorneys and in the newspaper suggesting that his request was an own-goal on the part of his increasingly dubious rent-a-shysters, since it allowed DOJ to respond with devastating, previously undisclosed details.

 

But I’m more interested in the joke portion of Zyglis’s piece, because, while it’s been astonishing that anyone stood by him this long, there seems to be a distancing in progress, and having a rock-solid conservative like Lisa Benson (Counterpoint) start poking at him is a sign that maybe he’s not the master so much anymore.

 

John Cole suggests his luck is running out, but it reminds me of the WC Fields line when someone asked him if poker were a game of chance: “Not the way I play it, no.”

I’ve interviewed enough bigwigs and major stars to discount luck as significant a factor in their rise as ambition, but, certainly, when a bullshit artist of Trump’s magnitude climbs to the top, his luck certainly started with being born to a father who could, and would, repeatedly bail him out with cash infusions as huge as his ego.

 

In any case, as Mike Luckovich notes, having his lapdog Lindsey Graham offering dire warnings not to enforce the law seems unlikely to play well for an audience beyond the MAGAts who would, indeed, overlook slaughter on Fifth Avenue.

Biden’s recent comments challenging those who claim to back the blue but who overlook the events of Jan 6 might well pair with Graham’s extortion to awaken a few more people out there. We’ll see what the president has to say in his national address this evening, but it’s the sound bites that get through the fog, and he’s done himself some good already.

Whether that’s luck or skill hardly matters, but, if it works, we can credit Graham with an assist on that own-goal.

 

A more substantial, if unsuccessful, leader passed away this week, and Patrick Blower marks both his legacy and his contrast with what was to follow.

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Peter Brookes)

 

(Kevin Siers)

Brookes and Siers both declare that Vladimir Putin had some big shoes to fill, but, while Putin may seem utterly blind to the reforms Gorbachev brought, I much prefer Siers’ take, because Putin was quite aware of what he was doing in knocking down Gorbachev’s reputation within Russia, and he clearly sees the fracture of the Soviet Union as a disaster he’d like to remedy.

My oft-cited encounter with Soviet timber executives came at the time Boris Yeltsin had stepped in to end the anti-Gorbachev coup attempt, and they were eager to know how Americans felt about Yeltsin, as we celebrated the perestroika that allowed their visit to study the roots of capitalism.

But, boy, were they starting at the roots. As I wrote at the time:

The other takeaway from two weeks with them was that, however little they knew of our system, theirs didn’t appear to be working very well. About halfway through, their translators asked the hosts to cut down on the offerings at the buffets because the wasted food made them feel guilty. This was not about some philosophical urge to moderation but specifically guilt over how their fellow citizens were eating back home.

 

Liam Simonelli offers a quote that outlines the hopes Gorbachev had for glasnost (openness) and perestroika (reform), but he was fighting an uphill battle, not just against the Communist Party but against history and a deeply embedded culture that had seen rivalries between elite Westernizers and more firmly rooted Slavophiles since the days of Peter the Great.

It all began with great enthusiasm, but even that opening period had its flaws: My stepdaughter’s roommate interned there in grad school to study the changeover to Western style marketing, and reported, for instance, that, while Ben & Jerry were making ice cream there, using local labor and local dairy products, the Russians preferred Sealtest “because it’s imported!”

On a darker level, she went to a nightclub with friends from work and, on a trip to the ladies room, realized from the conversations there that she was apparently the only young woman in the place who was not, shall we say, on the clock.

The Communist Party may have imploded, but the mob was gaining power by the minute, and, within a very short time, where communism failed, organized crime triumphed, such that whether Vladimir Putin is a communist or a mob boss seems irrelevant.

 

As Christian Adams explains, what Gorbachev attempted to accomplish, Putin quickly, and successfully, undid.

 

Taiwanese cartoonist Stellina Chen traces her inspiration very simply: She was just fulfilling what Gorbachev had told Werner Herzog he wanted on his gravestone.

 

… and another thing

I see my colleague DD Degg has scooped me on this controversy, but, having lived a half hour south of Montreal for a dozen years or so, I’m not letting it go so easily.

To me, Boris’s intentions were absolutely clear, and if the unstylish old lady weren’t clearly an unreconstructed, anti-sovereignty anglophone, her dog’s sweater certainly gives it away. I even know the breed of dog: A West Island Terrier.

 

This Facebook clipping of a translated La Press article spells it out plainly, and while many francophones leapt to be offended, fair’s fair: When Montreal renamed Dorchester Avenue for Rene Levesque, anglophone loyalists looking for a fight got all het up about how much Dorchester had loved francophones. It also seemed a stretch.

The whole situation reminds me of a joke back in the ’60s, when Canada was seeking to redesign their flag, that it would be nine beavers pissing on a frog. C’est drôle parce que c’est vrai.

Mostly, it reminds me of Bowser & Blues’ classic tribute to those unrepentant opponents of change, stubbornly holding out in their West Island enclave.

 

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