Son of Clinton Email Server

perfection

Jonathan Chait, Hunter Biden is the New Hillary Clinton Email Server

Chait rightly identifies similarities between the Hunter Biden scandal and the Clinton email server scandal:

  • Trump will make a big deal of them,
  • the press will play into Trump’s hands, and
  • Trump is guilty of far worse acts—of using insecure connections and of rampant nepotism—but will probably get away with his hypocrisy.

But Chait wrongly declares that neither scandal is that big a deal. He also downplays a regrettable similarity in the Clinton and Sleepy Joe responses: aggressive sanctimoniousness, combined with an apparent failure to recognize the full reality of the situation.

Moreover, as far as I can tell, these unsatisfactory responses arise not from faulty political calculation, but rather from genuine mental blind spots on the part of Hillary and Joe, respectively. These mental blind spots pale in comparison to Trump’s grotesque mental failings, but they are still worrisome.

Finally, Chait writes,

So far, Biden’s responses to questioning on his son’s role, which range from challenging his interlocutor to a push-up contest to trailing off awkwardly, have hardly allayed the concern. But it’s difficult to think of a better response, since a true answer is extremely difficult for a politician to communicate. And the true answer is: Yeah, I screwed up, but it’s actually not that big of a deal.

Let me respond this way. First of all, in my experience, people in all walks of life, not just politicians, do not generally relish admitting error. But that said, it’s very important for people with high responsibilities to recognize when they have erred, and to admit their errors, in an appropriate way, at the appropriate time.

And, no, it is not in the least difficult to know the gist of what Biden should say. He should say that his middle-aged son made a serious mistake, that people cannot control all the life decisions made by their middle-aged offspring, but that, still, he should have spoken out to disavow what his son was doing. Failing to do that was a mistake. And, if you want to vote for a perfect candidate who has never made a mistake, then you will just have to vote for someone else.

That’s the substance of how he should respond the next time he’s asked. (And ixnay on the pushup challenge.)

The time after that, he should just say, asked and answered, see my previous response.

The Problem with Embracing Shameless Lying as Your Superpower

apocalypsis

In the material quoted in the immediately preceding post, Paul Waldman argues, in substance, that Republicans have forgotten that they have eaten of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That they have become prelapsarian men. That they believe that shamelessness is their superpower.

And, indeed, that is exactly what they seem to believe.

Let me tell you what I believe. But, first, to be precise, let me say what I mean by “believe.” I can be as sentimental as the next guy, but I speak here not of sentimental beliefs about a wonderful world—

Rather, I speak of the world as I actually understand it to be. And it’s generally not wonderful, at least for a lot of people a lot of the time.

That said, in the world as it actually exists—seen with brutal, cynical honesty—there remains a fundamental problem with incessant, shameless lying.

The problem is that if you are a shameless liar, there will come a time when people stop believing you.

And if no one believes you, that is a problem.

Talking Heads, Male and Female

This morning, the talking heads on the teevee were busy talking about Biden’s temper tantrum. The talking heads of the male persuasion thought he did just fine, because he “showed emotion” and “pushed back.” The female talking heads were entirely unimpressed by his manly strength and hot temper, given the fact that keeps on giving bullshit responses to a legitimate and highly relevant question: in essence, Didn’t your son make a mistake in Ukraine, and didn’t you make a mistake by not disavowing his actions?

I’m probably losing my Y-chromosomes, but the ladies were clearly right on this one.

Nancy Pelosi just got through showing us that when a hostile person asks you a bullshit question, go ahead and push back, and push back hard. But when someone asks you a reasonable question, give a reasonable response to the question they asked.

Even if you object to their tone. In fact, especially when you object to their tone.

The Great and the Good, Pushing the Envelope

Over and apart from my general objection to bullshit answers, there’s a more specific concern that rings my bells. A lot of Hillary’s undoing grew out of her attitude that she was one of The Great And The Good—and that it was really unsporting for anyone to draw attention whenever she, or someone in her family, was pushing the envelope, ethicswise. Her attitude of high moral superiority just sort of left a bad odor in the room.

Everyone screws up now and then. But it’s not good to deny the screwup and impugn the motives of the one who questions you about the screwup.

Not exactly the way to win friends and influence people.

**

Hello Canada, Denmark, France, Pakistan, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Mayor Pete, Anyone?

Sleepy Joe

Washington Post, Biden calls Iowa voter aa ‘liar’ after he brings up his son and Ukraine:

Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden got into an extraordinary exchange Thursday afternoon with an Iowa farmer who first called him too old to run and then challenged him on Hunter Biden’s activities in Ukraine, triggering Biden to call the man “a damn liar.”

“You’re damn near as old as I am,” the man started. “You’re too old for the job. I’m 83, and I know damn well I don’t have the mental faculties I did 30 years ago.”

Then he turned toward what he said was a more pressing concern.

“We all know Trump has been messing around in the Ukraine over there, holding their foreign aid . . . saying they’re going to investigate you,” he said. “He’s got no backbone, we know that.”

“But you, on the other hand, sent your son over there to get a job and work for a gas company that he had no experience with gas or nothing, to get access to the president,” he continued. “You’re selling access to the president just like he was.”

“You’re a damn liar, man,” Biden said. “That’s not true. And no one has ever said that.”

“The hell it ain’t,” the man replied. “I see it on the TV.”

“You see it on the TV?” Biden said.

“All I do is watch TV,” the man continued.

“No, I know you do,” Biden responded, as he moved closer to the man, looked him in the eye and instructed one of his staffers not to take the microphone away from the man.

“And by the way, I’m not sedentary,” Biden, 77, continued. “Look, the reason I’m running is I’ve been around a long time, and I know more than most people know. And I can get things done, that’s why I’m running. And you want to check my shape, man, let’s do push-ups together here, man. Let’s run. Let’s do whatever you want to do. Let’s take an IQ test. Okay?”

“Number two,” Biden said. “No one has said my son has done anything wrong. And I did not on any occasion — and no one has ever said it.”

The Iowan interjected, saying, “I didn’t say you were doing anything wrong.”

“You said I set up my son to work on an oil company!” Biden said, growing more agitated and raising his voice. “Isn’t that what you said? Get your words straight, Jack!”

“That’s what I hear on MSNBC all day,” the man said.

“You don’t hear that on MSNBC,” Biden said.

“The hell I didn’t,” came the response.

“You did not hear that at all. What you heard — look, okay,” Biden said, trying to calm the exchange. “I’m not going to get in an argument with you, man.”

“I don’t want to either,” the man said.

“Well, yeah you do,” Biden responded.

“It looks like you don’t have any more backbone than Trump does,” the man said, as the crowd groaned.

“Any more questions?” Biden said, turning elsewhere in the audience.

As he sat down, the man said he wasn’t going to be voting for Biden.

About Sums It Up

Veritas

Chancellor Angela Merkel, delivering the commencement address at Harvard on May 30 of this year:

I have learned that answers to difficult questions can be found if we always see the world through the eyes of others; if we respect the history, tradition, religion, and identity of others; if we firmly stand by our inalienable values and act accordingly; and if we do not always follow our initial impulses, even with all the pressure to make snap decisions, but instead stop for a moment, keep quiet, think, take a break.

Of course, that takes a lot of courage. Above all, it requires being truthful to others and perhaps most importantly to ourselves. Where better to begin with it than here, in this place, where so many young people from all over the world come to learn under the motto of Truth — to do research, and discuss the questions of our time? This implies that we do not describe lies as truth and truth as lies.