Khris Khristie’s Kangaroo Kourt


I didn’t watch a whole lot of last night’s RNC festivities, because… Well, I can only take so much of any party’s convention these days, with all the morally and intellectually offensive blackguarding of the opposition, which tends to lower my opinion of the human race.

And I got a headache.

The last straw, for me, was Chris Christie saying, essentially, Hey, wouldn’t it be fun if we play lynch mob, and I whip y’all up to condemn Hillary Clinton?

His excuse was that he’s a former federal prosecutor, so this ostensibly would be an appropriate format for a speech from him. But the fact that he has been an officer of the court is what makes what he did so shameful. As though this were a proper way of finding someone guilty of something. On national television.

The call-and-response in which the mob had the role of roaring “GUILTY!” on cue was… wearying… to watch.

Alexandra Petri tried to have fun with it, and bless her for attempting to lighten things up:

Then Chris Christie took the stage. Christie had honed his speaking style in Salem, 1692, and he opened by announcing that he had seen Goody Clinton with the Devil. (Well, to be fair, he did not literally say that Clinton was in league with Satan, but this restraint on his part was unnecessary, as a few minutes later Ben Carson did.) “Let’s do something fun tonight,” Christie suggested: specifically, hold a mock trial of Clinton. The crowd loved this idea and began chanting “Guilty!” when prompted. Given that much of the convention so far has been dedicated to blaming her for the deaths of Americans (“I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son,” said Pat Smith) and intentionally sabotaging our prestige in the world, this felt like the logical, fun next step. “How do you live with your own conscience when you reward a domestic terrorist with continued safety and betray the family of [a] fallen police officer waiting for decades for justice for his murder?” Christie asked, to give you a sample. “Hillary Clinton, as coddler of the brutal Castro brothers and betrayer of the family of fallen Trooper Werner Foerster: guilty or not guilty?” “GUILTY!” the crowd shouted.

If the speech had gone on any longer, Christie would have brought out an effigy of Clinton to see if it weighed the same as a duck, then handed out torches on which you could still see the “TRUMP­CHRISTIE” logo that had been hastily scratched out and replaced with “TRUMP­PENCE.”

Yes, this is the party of hope and fresh ideas, the one shouting, “GUILTY!” and “LOCK HER UP!” as it holds a mock trial of its opponent in absentia….

Yep, all that was missing was Christie saying, “She turned me into a Newt!

Anyway, I’ve been busy today, so I thought I’d put up something new for y’all to post comments on.

But I didn’t enjoy it.

Life will be more pleasant when both of these conventions are over. I hope.

I suppose I’ll have to watch the Cruz speech tonight. But I’d rather be watching another episode of “Vikings,” which I did after turning away from Christie last night.

The discussions are on a higher plane, and if someone gets tiresome, our hero bashes his head in or heaves a spear into him. It doesn’t go on and on…

And did I mention it has vikings in it?

33 thoughts on “Khris Khristie’s Kangaroo Kourt

  1. bud

    Once again your false equivalence is wrong. In this case you’re making it even before the Dem convention! Frankly Brad you’re part of the reason the GOP is so flagrantly offensive. By condemning in equal measure you assure no accountability is ever rendered to these scoundrels.

  2. David Carlton

    What Bud just said. What happened to all that self-righteous insistence that you are resolutely opposed to “normalizing” Donald Trump? It could scarcely survive the temptation to fall into your usual “all the politicians are equally bad and inferior to me” schtick. And that is in fact what you are doing here; *normalizing* Donald Trump by arguing that his convention is no different from Clinton’s (never mind that you have no evidence for this assertion, given that the Democrats haven’t even met yet). If Trump has a chance to win this election (and he really does), it will be precisely because the media will depict the candidates as equally unworthy, and make who wins the presidency a matter of a coin flip. There is, of course, just enough evidence against Hillary Clinton to make this line plausible, but to make them equivalent is both grotesque and utterly at odds with what you claim to stand for. I’ve been observing politics for well over half a century (back to 1960, when my earliest memory was of the fight over the civil rights plank in the Democratic platform, and a guy in the balcony waving a Confederate flag every time a seg scored a point), and I’ve *never* seen a convention like this one–never. The Dems would have to meet a really high standard to be equivalently offensive, and–given the fact that they’re perforce about far more than the tribal resentments of old white people (full disclosure; I’m one myself)–it would be counterproductive as well. I don’t know what sort of show my party will put on in Philadelphia, but I think it’s at least plausible that they’ll try the equivalent of what Black Lives Matter did in Wichita, a joint cookout with the police. That may be a wan hope, but it would be a great comeuppance to all you phony equivalence people–and would certainly be in keeping with what is still Obama’s party

  3. Brad Warthen

    Did I say “equally?”

    I need to put you fellas in the same room with all those people who demand to know, after every criticism I level at Trump, “When are you going to say stuff like that about Hillary?” Maybe y’all and they can, between you, get me sorted out.

    Or maybe not. My concern is this: There are a lot of Republicans out there who have already “normalized” Trump, and they want to be able to put me in their neat little cliche, “The media are all liberal Democrats,” so they can dismiss what I say. I’m not about to let them do that, and I can’t for the life of me imagine why you would want me to.

    Y’all are confusing different things. There’s the choice between this nightmare Trump and the one person remaining standing against him — which really isn’t a choice at all. Anyone bright enough to see what Trump is who refuses to vote for the one viable alternative is guilty of something far worse than false equivalence. Hillary’s got her problems, but anyone who thinks they’re anything like the nightmare Trump represents is seriously deluded, and a danger to the country.

    But fellas, I’m not going to pretend that I like either one of these parties. I truly find both parties’ conventions painful to watch. The things I dislike about the parties is on magnified display during those events. I find the notion that anyone could find either party’s convention a pleasant experience as hard to believe as the fact that anyone would vote for Trump.

    There can be positive moments. As I enthusiastically wrote at the time, Bill Clinton’s convention speech four years ago was the best political speech of the century so far. It was amazing. But that doesn’t mean I liked the rest of the convention. That same night, we were subjected to Elizabeth Warren.

    Maybe after the conventions are over, we can put all this party crap behind us, so people can see this is NOT a conventional choice between a Democrat and a Republican. This is not a time for people to retreat into “I can’t vote for HER because I’m a Republican.” That paradigm MUST be shattered, or at least eroded to the extent possible, to help people see their duty to save our country from fascism. This is SO much more important than whether anyone is a Democrat or a Republican.

    I’m going to keep stressing that, and I’m sorry if it bugs y’all…

    1. Claus

      Have you alerted the authorities that I’m apparently a “danger to the country”? Me and millions of other people who will vote for Trump? We already know you’ll go ahead and vote the straight Democratic ticket. You’ve all but said you’re a Columbia-wannabe Democrat living in Republican Lexington. You come off on this blog about as impartial as Chuck Todd on Meet the Press.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Facts just mean nothing to you, do they?

        Here I am, probably the only person you know who has meticulously documented his preferences in election after election going back at least to 1994 — all of it on the record, and since I started the blog in 2005 easily accessible — and yet you can type something as ridiculously, obviously untrue as “We already know you’ll go ahead and vote the straight Democratic ticket.”

        What is it like in your universe, where evidence means nothing?

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Oh, and before anyone says, “The newspaper’s endorsements are not the same as how you, Brad Warthen, vote”…

          You would be technically correct, but wrong for practical purposes. I voted in accord with The State’s endorsements about 95 percent of the time. Once or twice (our endorsement of Bush in the GOP primary in 2000), I disagreed with the endorsement. In other, very rare, circumstances, I agreed with our endorsement as editorial page editor — because that candidate was more consistent with our collective positions — but as a private voter, preferred someone else.

          But generally speaking, I voted a straight “State newspaper ticket”…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Oh, and that trend continues even though I’m not longer at the paper. That’s partly because the editorial board functions a lot like the courts — precedent is respected. But it’s also because Cindi is still there, and in all my years on the board, no other member thought as closely to the way I do as she did. Which is kind of an understatement. One other member accused us of sharing the same brain.

            So, if you think I write something particularly stupid one day, it’s probably because Cindi was using it that day…

            1. Claus

              “Oh”, and I noticed that you came back with two “and I’ll tell you another thing” responses and deleted my reply. I guess maybe you don’t like hearing the truth.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Yeah, that MUST be it. It couldn’t be that I’m enforcing my civility rules or anything.

                Given your track record of ad hominem comments, all of your comments are held for moderation. It’s not that some of your comments are deleted; it’s that only those in which you make points without engaging in personal attacks are allowed.

                The comment I’m responding to violates the rules; I only allowed it so that I could respond to you.

                The choice is yours — stick to arguments about ideas, or get used to your comments not appearing.

        2. Claus

          Well in my “deranged, and dangerous to the country” universe we tend not to lump everyone we disagree with as we would as an enemy to the country.

          Your blog, your rules,. Your opinion counts more than anyone else’s on your blog/universe.

          I could do without the lecture, if it’s not for facts I couldn’t do my job. I don’t have one of the social science related jobs where feelings and opinions take presidence.

    2. Sen. Cruz

      “There’s the choice between this nightmare Trump and the one person remaining standing against him — which really isn’t a choice at all. Anyone bright enough to see what Trump is who refuses to vote for the one viable alternative is guilty of something far worse than false equivalence. Hillary’s got her problems, but anyone who thinks they’re anything like the nightmare Trump represents is seriously deluded, and a danger to the country.”

      I get you bro. Vote your conscience.

    3. Doug Ross

      “This is SO much more important than whether anyone is a Democrat or a Republican.”

      But it’s less important than whether anyone must be a Democrat OR Republican, apparently, for you.

      There are options. You could invest 10 minutes and review the background and policy proposals of the only sane candidate in the race – Gary Johnson – to determine if he offers a reasonable approach. Probably not for you, though, as he is fiscally conservative (balanced budget, smaller government) and socially liberal (pot, gay marriage, pro choice, non-interventionist military) and that’s the opposite of your views. But at least then we could discuss policy and not personality.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        No, Doug. There ARE no choices. You know how the paranoids, such as Bernie Sanders, like to tell us that “the system is rigged”? Well, the way THEY mean it, it’s a ridiculous statement.

        But the system IS rigged to make sure either a Democrat or a Republican wins. Actually, I take that back. What I mean is, the marketplace — the electorate — is so attuned to the idea of a two-party system, that a Democrat or a Republican will win no matter what you or I do or say.

        For a moment, consider reality as it is. If you do not want Donald Trump to be president, you have no alternative to voting for Hillary.

        Yes, yes, I know the argument about how one less vote for Trump is one less vote for Trump. But here’s the unavoidable, unassailable truth: The only way Trump will lose is if Hillary Clinton beats him.

        Step back for a moment from your liking for Johnson, and think: Do you honestly believe that he can win, that he can beat both Donald and Hillary? Do you think there’s ANY chance whatsoever of that?

        I don’t see any way you can conclude that he can win. So if he can’t win, who CAN beat Trump? Because that’s what matters here.

        You don’t have to feel good about voting for Hillary; you just need to do it. That’s the ONLY way to stop this horror. The only way…

        1. Doug Ross

          You supported McCain who had no chance of winning. I’m doing the same with Johnson. I’m voting for the candidate who best represents my views.

          And there is the dream scenario of the apathetic, in the moment electorate seeing Johnson and saying “Hmmm… why not?” more this year than any other year. If Johnson could win just a couple states (Coloradoi, New Hampshire, Mass.???) it might throw the election to Congress. That might yield a compromise choice. I would love to see that scenario play out.

          Anyway, I am not in the paranoid camp that thinks a Trump victory will end civilization. Any President is severely restricted in what he can do by the balance of powers. He’s not going to start wars unless our military leaders allow him to (and they CAN stop him). He has no control over the economy. He can’t do anything legislatively without the support of Congress (which maybe will see some united action AGAINST him).

          I just don’t live in fear of a Trump presidency. Not any more than I am disgusted by a Hillary / Bill round 2.

          1. Doug Ross

            And then there is this news today:

            “Military troops favor Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson for president over Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, according to a new survey. Johnson garnered 38.7 percent of the active duty vote, versus 30.9 for Trump, and 14.1 for Clinton, according to the survey, which was conducted via the popular military personality Doctrine Man. ”

            Think about that, Brad. If those poll numbers are correct, 86% of those in the military would rather have anyone but Hillary as President. Can you imagine what her election would do for morale?

          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            “You supported McCain who had no chance of winning.”

            Come on, Doug, be serious. If Obama had not won, the only person who could have won was McCain.

            For that matter, all the signs indicate that Hillary is better positioned to win than Obama was in 2008 — certainly at this point in the race. (The odds didn’ turn against McCain until the economic collapse in September.)

            But that’s not good enough for me. Trump having a 38 percent chance of winning is far, far too great a chance in my book.

            As Nate Silver says, “Clinton’s Lead Is As Safe As Kerry’s Was In 2004.”

            That should strike terror in the hearts of anyone who understands what a threat Trump is to the country….

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Also, 2008 is a weird year to compare to, for this reason…

              EITHER major-party candidate was completely fine that year. I endorsed McCain because I preferred him, and was concerned about Obama’s inexperience. But I was completely fine with Obama winning. Either way, a good outcome.

              Similarly, in 2012, I preferred Obama, but was OK with Romney — it wouldn’t have been awful for him to win. The country would have done fine.

              This year is as different from those as night is from day. And we’re talking about an unprecedentedly dark, stormy, unthinkably disastrous night, if Clinton doesn’t beat Trump.

              I’ve cared deeply about other presidential elections in my lifetime, and generally had someone I was rooting for, but in every case since I started voting in 1972, if the person I didn’t vote for won, that would be OK.

              That is absolutely not the case this year. As much as I disliked seeing Reagan beat my man Jimmy in 1980 (probably the most disappointing election to me before now), I figured we’d weather it OK.

              But if Trump rides this wave of fascist sentiment into the White House, that may be it for the American Experiment. It absolutely can’t be risked…

              1. Doug Ross

                I hope we never have to deal with a real fascist. Calling Trump a fascist negates your arguments. He’s an egotistical boor. That’s it.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  No, I mean it. I don’t use words carelessly. The elements are all there — the burning desire for a strong man who can sweep aside all obstacles to achieve what his movement wants, a careless disregard for law (such as all those treaty obligations, the bars to religious tests for immigration, etc.), the demonization of “the other,” who is blamed for all the countries ills, a desire to punish those scapegoats as well as political opponents (barring Muslims, wanting to imprison Hillary Clinton, etc.) and the urge to create a police state (which would be necessary to round up 12 million illegals and deport them).

                  It’s all there. This is no exaggeration. This is an egotistical boor who has gladly played to fascist aspirations in an alarmingly large portion of our electorate.

                  I refer you back to Robert Kagan, who explained it better than I just did…

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    To save y’all the trouble, here’s an excerpt from the Kagan piece. He describes the situation quite accurately:

                    But of course the entire Trump phenomenon has nothing to do with policy or ideology. It has nothing to do with the Republican Party, either, except in its historic role as incubator of this singular threat to our democracy. Trump has transcended the party that produced him. His growing army of supporters no longer cares about the party. Because it did not immediately and fully embrace Trump, because a dwindling number of its political and intellectual leaders still resist him, the party is regarded with suspicion and even hostility by his followers. Their allegiance is to him and him alone.

                    And the source of allegiance? We’re supposed to believe that Trump’s support stems from economic stagnation or dislocation. Maybe some of it does. But what Trump offers his followers are not economic remedies — his proposals change daily. What he offers is an attitude, an aura of crude strength and machismo, a boasting disrespect for the niceties of the democratic culture that he claims, and his followers believe, has produced national weakness and incompetence. His incoherent and contradictory utterances have one thing in common: They provoke and play on feelings of resentment and disdain, intermingled with bits of fear, hatred and anger. His public discourse consists of attacking or ridiculing a wide range of “others” — Muslims, Hispanics, women, Chinese, Mexicans, Europeans, Arabs, immigrants, refugees — whom he depicts either as threats or as objects of derision. His program, such as it is, consists chiefly of promises to get tough with foreigners and people of nonwhite complexion. He will deport them, bar them, get them to knuckle under, make them pay up or make them shut up….

                    Republican politicians marvel at how he has “tapped into” a hitherto unknown swath of the voting public. But what he has tapped into is what the founders most feared when they established the democratic republic: the popular passions unleashed, the “mobocracy.” Conservatives have been warning for decades about government suffocating liberty. But here is the other threat to liberty that Alexis de Tocqueville and the ancient philosophers warned about: that the people in a democracy, excited, angry and unconstrained, might run roughshod over even the institutions created to preserve their freedoms. As Alexander Hamilton watched the French Revolution unfold, he feared in America what he saw play out in France — that the unleashing of popular passions would lead not to greater democracy but to the arrival of a tyrant, riding to power on the shoulders of the people.

                    This phenomenon has arisen in other democratic and quasi-democratic countries over the past century, and it has generally been called “fascism.”…

                    Yes, that’s exactly what it’s called…

                2. Brad Warthen Post author

                  If y’all would find it helpful, I can start linking to that piece whenever I use the word “fascist” or “fascism.” Unfortunately, I think I’m going to have to use those terms a lot over the next few months…

          3. Phillip

            Doug, I don’t think Congress can come up with a “compromise choice” if Johnson’s winning a couple of states denies either Clinton or Trump an electoral majority, unless you mean if they settle on Johnson himself. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong, but I think they have to pick from the actual candidates in the field. And it’s the House of Representatives, right, so that would be a Republican majority, though each state only gets one vote, determined by its delegation.

            So it would almost certainly still be either Clinton or Trump, and there would be an unbelievable amount of wheeling-and-dealing in the days leading up to the vote.

            1. Bryan Caskey

              “Somebody correct me if I’m wrong, but I think they have to pick from the actual candidates in the field. And it’s the House of Representatives, right, so that would be a Republican majority, though each state only gets one vote, determined by its delegation.”

              That sounds right to me. The 12A to the Constitution states:

              “[If no candidate gets a majority of the electors]…then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice.”

              The House has to pick from the people running, so they couldn’t just elect Paul Ryan, for instance. And each state gets one vote. In this cycle that would likely mean Trump.

              1. Doug Ross

                Who would Republicans vote for? Trump or the team of two ex Republican governors? I’ll take my chances.

  4. Brad Warthen

    David, it really pains me that you would accuse me of inconsistency here.

    I am perfectly consistent, on this of on nothing else. I don’t ever want people choosing between PARTIES. Doing THAT, making the choice between “a Republican and a Democrat,” is precisely what WOULD “normalize Trump.” (Democrats who keep trying to put it in partisan terms, who keep yammering about how Republicans brought Trump on themselves, really must not care about beating Trump.) It is essential that people see this as a departure from that dichotomy, as a choice between the nightmare and the one way out. They must NOT put these people in the usual boxes, and then just choose between the boxes. They need to see the contents clearly…

    Democrats concentrating on making this election a “win for Democrats” are as blind as Paul Ryan, who thinks an overall “win for Republicans” is so important that it justifies acquiescing to Trump…

  5. bud

    Here’s what you wrote:

    Well, I can only take so much of any party’s convention these days, with all the morally and intellectually offensive blackguarding of the opposition, which tends to lower my opinion of the human race.

    That makes you guilty as charged. Seriously you are really part of the problem and sadly you don’t get it.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        But you know what I hope? I hope you and Prof. Carlton are vindicated next week. I hope the Democrats ditch the usual pep rally for whipping up the most extreme partisans among them, and have the good sense to reach out to the people they cannot win without — us independents, and the large number of Republicans who are deeply alarmed that Trump is their nominee, but have big problems with Hillary.

        Now is the moment for historic outreach. Which means ditching the sort of convention that both parties are accustomed to having…

  6. bud

    What is with that urine colored background? Is that the Republican’s way of saying we’re going to keep on peeing on the American people?

  7. Bart

    Well Brad, you have been duly chastized by bud once again and perhaps it will suffice for the rest of the week if you are careful with your choice of words.

    I get what you are trying to convey because my mind is not closed to the truth and obvious facts about both sides. It is fair to say that Republicans are in trouble because of the changes in the demographics of those who identify with the Republican party. It is a strange amalgam of diverse ideologies that prove ignorance and anger are the driving forces behind the “new” party. Even the well educated members strongly identify with the anger and damn the ignorance of the reasoning. Therefore, we have the nominee, one Donald Trump, i.e., “The Donald”. No need to wander into the briar patch with Brer Rabbit on this one along with sycophants who could care less about civility, reason, and intellectually honest discourse. The old guard has been kicked to the curb and are waiting until their turn comes again. The problem is that by the time their turn comes again, most will be six feet under and only their memoirs and memories will be available but irrelevant.

    I do know what I speak of because I will readily admit I have some friends and relatives who under normal circumstances are reasonable individuals but now are confirmed and committed to voting for Trump. Discussions about politics with relatives is a dangerous undertaking and for the sake of family peace, I simply smile and tell them I plan to vote my conscience.

    As for the Democats, they are trotting out a relic from the past who was seriously challenged by a member of the old 60s guard and he almost succeeded. Some of the liberal activists, reliable Democrat voters like Susan Sarandon, have publically declared they will not vote for Hillary Clinton. A chameleon on the same stage with her would be put to shame because it couldn’t keep up with her ever-changing persona of the moment. The poor chameleon wouldn’t be able to change its speech pattern from WASP to dropping “g’s” at a moment’s notice depending on the make-up of the audience at the time. I think the background color bud referred to would be the appropriate color to replace the white of her eyes because like Trump, she is full of it but she is packaged a little better. If she were a poker player, she would “Trump” (pun intended) every hand the other players hold by playing just 3 cards – race, gender, and income inequality. The other cards in the deck become irrelevant.

    I steadfastly refuse to watch a political convention after the one when John McCain was the nominee. That was the low point until now. But, Democrats are quick learners and you can bet any discord will be handled swiftly and with precision before the convention starts and the week will be a massive kum-by-ya event with singing, swaying, and smiles all around. Unity personified.

    A reality type show for the Republicans this week and a boring documentary of paint drying for the Democrats next week. Guess I will watch reruns again, work late, or just go to bed earlier than usual.

  8. Karen Pearson

    I understand that they were booing Cruz–which normally I would agree with, it being Cruz and all– because the phrase “vote your conscience” was used by the ‘dump Trump’ group (the only sane group in the GOP), but it sounded to me like they were booing the idea of voting one’s conscience. What do they want a person to do, vote for someone she thinks will destroy the country; give someone who is too unstable to be entrusted with a slingshot the control of our nuclear weapons?


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