Tuesday, February 06, 2018

None Dare Call It Reason

There is a scene at the end of Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes which has acquired more importance for me recently.  The elderly father of one of the young boys in a town terrorized by Cougar and Dark's Pandemonium [House of All Demons!  Been a long time since I read that novel, and I didn't make the connection to Milton's neologism until now!] and Shadow Show, finds himself injured and trapped in the town library with the Dust Witch, who attempts to weave a spell and stop his heart.  What prevents this horror from happening?  He starts laughing.  Fear of the witch is based entirely on taking her seriously, and this he finds he cannot do.  He starts laughing, and it is his best weapon.

I cannot recommend that lesson too strongly with that is going on now.

It started here:

"They were like death and un-American. Un-American. Somebody said, 'treasonous.' I mean, Yeah, I guess why not? Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean they certainly didn't seem to love our country that much."

And even Chris Cilizza knew where it was going next:

Trump loyalists will dismiss all of this as much ado over nothing. He was joking! He didn't even say that it was treasonous! He was just agreeing with people who said it was treasonous!

Because it did:

 “The president, Gidley said, was simply trying to make the point that there are positive things going on that all Americans should celebrate regardless of their party.”

Asked for further comment, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told TPM in an email: “Hogan is correct. He was clearly joking. He was making the point that even when good things are happening they are still sitting there angry.”

Which can be tossed off as just the White House still trying to prove it's point, that "angry Dems" means he won the schoolyard contest.  But then what to make of this?

“I think that says it all when it comes to the Democrat response,” Collins claimed. “They were stoic, sitting on their hands. They did not want to applaud at any turn…it was just a very partisan reaction. And I’ve sat through some of former President Obama’s states and we were–”

Camerota played a series of clips from President Barack Obama’s address in 2010 and 2013, showing Republicans stone-faced, many shaking their heads.

“Why wasn’t that embarrassing?” Camerota asked.

Collins argued that it was a level of “degrees.” Democrats did the same thing to Trump, however, it was different, Collins argued. Because “Democrats were more subdued” while Republicans were “reserved.”

Camerota laughed out loud asking how both groups not applauding can mean one was more subdued than the other. 
(and kudos to Alisyn Camerota for not playing that in the old school manner of "You heard it here first, folks!"  Some assertions don't deserve the deadpan "objective" response of a "journalist."  Laughter is the best poison.)

Pointing and laughing is always a good response, because this particular meme is not dead yet:

“I would say it was un-american. And they don’t love our country. I don’t know if I would go as far as treasonous,” Tenney said on CNN Tuesday morning when asked About Trump’s comments about Democrats’ behavior during his speech.

Tenney defended Trump’s criticisms for Democrats, telling CNN that the President just “likes to talk in colorful language.”

“But I sat on the Democratic side, and I was frankly appalled at the behavior of the Democrats,” she added.

The congresswoman was particularly offended that Democrats were not more enthusiastic about Trump’s offer to grant a path to citizenship to the 1.8 million immigrants eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

“My first blush at it at the State of the Union was, wow, this is really generous. And I was just shocked. I had Democrats sitting behind me that sat on their hands, not seeing what the President was trying to do,” Tenney said.

Asked if Republicans were equally resistant to President Barack Obama during his State of the Union speeches, Tenney insisted they were not.

“I saw many more Republicans en masse standing up in President Obama’s State of the Union addresses,” she said.

And even the RNC thinks this is a valid point for a political ad.    And yes, glib use of the word "treason" is not something to take lightly:

-- Obama used the word “treason” only twice during his eight years in office. Not coincidentally, he was discussing the rise of Trump both times. As the Republican primaries raged on in March 2016 and the establishment tried to block Trump from securing the nomination, Obama said during a fundraiser in Austin that their party wouldn’t be in that position if elected Republicans had not looked the other way for years while Trump falsely accused him of being from Kenya.

“As long as it was directed at me, they were fine with it. … Now, suddenly, we're shocked that there's gambling going on in this establishment,” Obama said. “What's happening in this primary is just a distillation of what's been happening inside their party for more than a decade. The reason that many of their voters are responding is because this is what's been fed through the messages they've been sending for a long time: that you just make flat assertions that don't comport with the facts; … that compromise is a betrayal; that the other side isn't simply wrong … but the other side is destroying the country or treasonous.

“So they can't be surprised when somebody suddenly looks and says, ‘You know what, I can do that even better! I can make stuff up better than that! I can be more outrageous than that! I can insult people even better than that! I can be even more uncivil,’” Obama continued. “If you don't care about the facts or the evidence or civility in making your arguments, you will end up with candidates who will say just about anything and do just about anything.”

The next day in Dallas, Obama lamented Trump’s proposed Muslim ban and his harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric. “We can have political debates without thinking that the people who disagree with us are all motivated by malice,” the then-president said. “We can support candidates without treating their opponents as unpatriotic or treasonous or somehow deliberately trying to weaken America.”
Compare and contrast; but don't take it so seriously you ignore the forest for the trees.  Yes, there is a reason treason is the only crime whose elements are specified in the Constitution.  Yes, it is the nuclear bomb of criminal charges, and no, there are no "small" acts of treason that can be alleged in order to deter larger acts (anymore than a "small" nuke can be used on a belligerent as a warning, rather than an act of war unforgivable by the nations).  But we cannot remove Donald Trump from office for such loose (and louche) language.  Pointing and laughing is definitely the response called for.

It's the one thing Trump can't stand.

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