A freak of nature that simultaneously fascinates and repels, and a caterpillar
Remember when Franklin Roosevelt entranced the nation with his fireside chats? Me neither, but I’m told it was nice. I bet our grandparents did not feel the same apprehension, gathering around the radio, that I feel opening Twitter each morning. I wonder what the president will say today, I think, unlocking my phone with the same demeanor a daylight alcoholic brings to unscrewing a bottle. Here’s what the leader of the free world tweeted today to 27 million followers, including me:
Kombat! kids: Can you find everything that’s wrong with this tweet? Just use a marker to circle the errors right on the screen. It doesn’t matter. None of this matters. Close reading after the jump.
Fox News personality and racism expert Tucker Carlson
Boarding school graduate Tucker Carlson, whose first job out of college was an editorial position at Policy Review, knows something about the relationship between demographics and destiny. His father was George H.W. Bush’s ambassador to the Seychelles and ran the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, as well as Voice of America. His stepmother is the heir to the Swanson frozen food fortune. From these beginnings, Tucker somehow found his way into broadcasting and conservative politics. Yesterday he interviewed Rep. Steve King (R-IA) in this capacity, discussing the congressman’s controversial tweet from this weekend. And he held King’s feet to the fire in his signature, hard-nosed style. Quote:
Everything you said is, I think defensible, and probably right. The problem with the [other peoples’ babies] tweet was it suggested a racial component of American identity.
Yeah, that was the problem, wasn’t it? Fortunately, the two men talked it over, and they agreed there was nothing racist about King’s tweet. Video after the jump.
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) describes a beautiful sandwich only white people can eat.
For the last year or so, Representative Steve King of Iowa has flirted with white nationalism. It’s the kind of flirting where you drink four cocktails and just start talking, although King was presumably sober in October when he tweeted that “cultural suicide by demographic transformation must end.” That was ominous. “Cultural suicide” and “demographic transformation” are vague terms, but the accompanying photo with European ethno-nationalists Frauke Petry and Geert Wilders offered a hint of what he meant. This weekend, the congressman praised Wilders again and got a little more explicit:
To paraphrase an old joke: What do you mean “we,” white man? The tweet raises some obvious questions. Who are we, again? And which babies aren’t ours? While we’re at it, we should probably figure out what the congressman means by “restore civilization,” considering that he is tweeting this message using a cell phone that distributes his words via a worldwide communication network to people who can read. Mad Max it ain’t. The questions about what King means by “we” and “our civilization” and “somebody else” lie at the heart of this tweet and, increasingly, his whole perspective.
Remember a few months ago when we said Combat! blog wasn’t going to be about politics anymore? That was before a cartoon character got elected president. Not the good kind of cartoon character, either—Donald Trump is like a character in one of those nineties cartoons where everyone is bored and sarcastic. He’s the guy who doesn’t move the plot forward but says what we’re all thinking, i.e. what a marketing team thinks children are thinking. In that vein, the President of the United States executed a “not” joke on Twitter yesterday:
Although he does not play the “not” joke strictly according to Hoyle, this tweet is a significant achievement. He manages to make “not!” into a Trumpian exclamation. But there’s a lot of other stuff going on, too, and that’s why this tweet is the subject of today’s Close Reading.
Donald Trump makes his logical discussion face.
Donald Trump won the presidential election. It was a landslide; it was tremendous, one of the biggest votes in history. He won by every metric imaginable, except the total number of people who voted for him. In that minor regard, the popular vote, Hillary won. It doesn’t matter. She’s not going to be president, and Donald Trump is. Yet winning the electoral college when fewer Americans vote for you seems kind of like winning on a technicality. It’s like Hillary ran faster, but Trump ran the inside of the track. This issue nags at him, as evidenced by this morning’s tweet:
The message here is clear: Trump couldn’t have done better in this election, really, but he would have won the popular vote if that mattered—which it doesn’t. So the popular vote doesn’t reflect his competence, and if it did he would have done differently. Case closed? Close reading after the jump.