Now is the winter of their discontent… apparently

Benedict Cumberbatch as Richard III in "The Hollow Crown: The Wars of The Roses."

Benedict Cumberbatch as Richard III in “The Hollow Crown: The Wars of The Roses.” We don’t need this…

This is a very dangerous time, a time no Americans have faced before.

A rough beast squats in the White House, refusing to move, even though it’s his time to slouch off (is it OK to mix references to Shakespeare and Yeats, or is that kind of like confusing metaphors?).

Almost half of the country (thank God less than half) voted for him, and has been brainwashed by him into utterly rejecting reality. And now he is rejecting his own rejection. We have never seen this before, ever. And we have never had so many people seemingly ready to accept something so profoundly, shockingly unAmerican. Now is the winter of their discontent, and they are acting as though they wish to bring the cold dark upon the whole country.

I referred to this in a tweet last night:

Four years ago, I flirted with the idea that maybe — in a vain attempt to embrace their duty as Alexander Hamilton conceived it — presidential electors should refuse to vote for Trump.

I realized I was wrong — partly in response to comments some of you, such as Phillip Bush and Dave Crockett, posted to correct me — and did something you seldom see me do: I wrote and published a separate post saying I was wrong, and why. In other words, I did what we’re all waiting for Trump’s supporters (not so much the man himself; let’s not expect too much) to do — I came to my senses.

Aside from the guidance from some of you, I was influenced by the fact that I had been watching the second half of “The Hollow Crown,” a brilliant compilation of eight of Shakespeare’s history plays — from Richard II to Richard III — telling the horrible story of the Wars of the Roses.

I highly recommend the two series. After watching that second one (the three Henry VI plays and Richard III) I put the first series (Richard II through Henry V) on my Amazon gift list, and someone in my family was was kind enough to get it for me. You really should try watching them, particularly the bloody second batch.

That, and my more personal wanderings through history compiling my family tree, impressed me more than ever how fortunate we were to be living in the world’s oldest and most stable liberal democracy. As I wrote at the time:

For so much of human history, no one had much of a sense of loyalty to a country, much less to a system of laws. They couldn’t even be relied on to be loyal to a certain lord for long. Everybody was always looking for the main chance, ready to kill to gain advantage even temporarily.

Our 240-year history, our country of laws and not of men, is a blessed hiatus from all that. We may descend into barbarism yet — and yes, the election of a man who shows little respect for the rule of law is not a good omen — but so far the Constitution has held….

At least, it had held up to that point. But it hadn’t been tested yet the way it’s about to be tested…

"Plucking the Red and White Roses in the Old Temple Gardens," by Henry Albert Payne

“Plucking the Red and White Roses in the Old Temple Gardens,” by Henry Albert Payne

58 thoughts on “Now is the winter of their discontent… apparently

  1. bud

    Geez how ridiculously illogical can you possibly get. Since we have this utterly absurd electoral college system the electors absolutely MUST vote their conscience. That’s what they were elected to do. The presidential “election” is not a democracy. Let’s stop pretending that it is.

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    Hey, y’all keep commenting on previous posts, but you know, this one is like, important and stuff. And it’s got Shakespeare, and British history! Lynn Teague liked it over on Twitter…

  3. Lynn Teague

    This is important and your historical references well chosen. I have never picked the Wars of the Roses as my ideal time in history that I would like to relive and I fear we are much closer than most people believe.

    Both personal observation and professional study as an anthropologist have led me to understand that people almost always vastly overestimate the stability of the status quo. They underestimate risk. As a consequence, they feel emboldened to do things that they would not do if they understood the real risks involved. They poke at the balloon not realizing it might actually pop.

    For a comparative point from South Carolina’s own history, I note an example provided by my first cousin six times removed. Congressman Lawrence Massillon Keitt assured his fellow SC politicians in 1860 that there was no real danger in secession, that his years in Washington made him confident that the Union would never go to war to fight the South. He told them he was so sure of it that he would drink every drop of blood shed if it came to war. He was saved from anyone trying to hold him to it by his own death at Cold Harbor. Poor risk assessment has a long and inglorious history in South Carolina and in the world.

    The United States is at very high risk right now. Even if the risk of a coup overthrowing a presidential election isn’t high, it isn’t non-existent. And even if that doesn’t happen, other very bad things can and will happen. A population with wildly different perceptions of reality cannot sustain a truly stable government. When a substantial group of people becomes convinced, against all objective evidence, that they have been cheated, it will surely harm our nation’s ability to act for the common good. When power-seekers (and we have far too many of those) do outrageous things, some of them will succeed, some will work. Every one that works invites the next more outrageous act.

    The United States is in danger of becoming something quite different than the country we love. The sooner more realize that, the better.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Thanks for weighing in, Lynn. We’ve missed you!

      I’m glad you appreciate the Wars of the Roses angle. The thing that suggested it to me was the careless declarations made for this side or that, with no concern about right or wrong or the good of the country. Maybe it’s Shakespeare’s fault, but those conflicts were particularly lacking in justification of any kind, and they tore England apart.

      Trump has done so many evil and destructive things over the past four years, but the one you mention (“wildly different perceptions of reality”) make be the most damaging. From the birtherism thing on, he has encouraged people to feel they are ENTITLED to their own personal realities. The President of the United States has told them over and over — with a monotony that suggests the hypnopedia brainwashing of Brave New World — that if a fact is inconvenient to them, they can just call it “fake news” and substitute whatever they like. (“Joe Biden won the election? No he didn’t! Fake news! There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration!”)

      When Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts,” we all nodded our heads. It was such a commonsense expression of something we all acknowledged. No one disputed it, because (we thought) no one possibly COULD.

      That was SO long ago now. I miss Moynihan…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Oh, and I should have said that I particularly appreciate your bringing your first cousin six times removed into it. It’s nice to hear from someone who is as into that stuff as I am.

        I had two direct ancestors, and a great-great uncle, who died in that war. All in Virginia, of course. But no one as illustrious as your cousin. My closest relative who was any kind of big cheese in those times was my third cousin four times removed, Sen. James Chesnut. He was a U.S. senator and a general, and for a time was one of five people who I think essentially ran South Carolina — although I’m kinda fuzzy on that thing called the South Carolina Executive Council.

        But he’s probably best remembered now as the husband of Mary Boykin…

        1. Lynn Teague

          What a hoot! Mary Boykin Chestnut actually mentions my cousin Lawrence Massillon Keitt in her Diary. So, our families go way back.

          More generally, family history is local history is state history here. In boring meetings at the State House and elsewhere I sometimes amuse myself by figuring out how the people present are related to one another. For example, SCANA-Dominion meetings were a hotbed of descendants of Conrad Holman who died in 1772 near St. Matthews.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Hey, I need to hang out at meetings with YOU — once we can go to meetings again, which might never happen. But it sounds like fun.

            Moving home to SC back in 1987 was a little disorienting for me. I had always felt nicely separate from the communities my newspapers covered before that, which was nice for a newspaperman. But then I started realizing that if I asked several questions of almost anyone I met, I’d find a relation. As long as I WAS covering those people, it was just better not to ask the questions…

            1. Lynn Teague

              You’re welcome to sit through meetings with me and help me play. I’m on pretty solid ground southwest of the Santee and up from there through Camden and the Waxhaws. However, I’m sure you know the PeeDee far better than I do. Who knows, you might have a lot of fun in Senate Finance!

              1. Scout

                Well this has been an exciting and depressing conversation. I like the genealogy/history parts and am depressed by the current state of affairs parts. Can I come to the genealogy party too? The more genealogy I do, I’m finding if your people were here by the 1700s, we’re likely all related now. I discovered I’m something like 9th cousins to my best friend from childhood through the Strothers (which also makes us both distant cousins to Jimmy Carter). Ancestry DNA says I’m something like 9th or greater cousins to my husband, though I haven’t found the connection yet. I really enjoy finding the connections.

                My most famous SC relative that I know of is my 6th Great Uncle, Simeon Fair, from Newberry who signed the articles of secession. He had a brother who was killed in a duel by SC Governor Gist when they were students at SC College. They had another brother who was in the legislature. The brother I’m descended from was just a farmer who moved to Alabama. I also have McMasters in this same family and some of them married into Grahams, but I haven’t worked out if I’m connected to Henry or Lindsey. Maybe I shouldn’t claim this. Anyway the history and the connections are fun 🙂

                1. Lynn Teague

                  You are very welcome to the genealogy events, although remember I started by saying that this game is especially great during really boring meetings. But we can play other times too.

                  If you have McMasters you are pretty certainly related to Henry M. As far as I can tell, I’m not. The closest I come is a gr x 3 grandfather, Abraham Felder, whose second wife’s mother was a Dargan. That is, of course, how the game is played. When I saw his middle name I thought it looked familiar, and sure enough, there it is on the farthest outer periphery of my family history..

                2. Brad Warthen Post author

                  I love it! We should start a whole separate blog that deals with this stuff.

                  As for you and your husband, I discovered some time ago that my wife and I are 18th cousins once removed. We’re both directly descended from a couple in England in the 1300s. For a moment about a year ago, I thought I had found a much closer connection, just a couple of centuries back. But while one of my ancestors was married to one of hers, they did not produce children that led to us. Both of them had other marriages, and we resulted from those.

                  Whenever I told my children about our connection, I told them not to worry — I’m more closely related to Queen Elizabeth II than to their mother. (16th cousin once removed. And not once has she ever had us over to the palace for tea.)

                  The most awkward thing about this is that it messed up my wife’s whole side of the family — or her mother’s half of it. When I try to determine how someone in her tree is related to her, Ancestry instead tells how they’re related to me from many centuries ago. Her grandmother, for instance, shows up as a distant cousin, rather than “maternal grandmother of wife.” So that’s a mess. If I want to see the normal relationship, I have to go back and temporarily erase the relationship to our first common ancestor.

                  So that’s complicated, but at least I can report that I have no McMasters or Grahams among the more than 8,000 people on my tree. I just checked…

                3. Scout

                  Ok, well I have gone down a rabbit hole of trying to determine if I’m related to Henry. The results are it is highly likely. I have determined that his third great grandfather Hugh McMaster emigrated on the same ship from Northern Ireland in 1772 as my 6th great grandfather Samuel Fair. They circulated in the same communities of Scotch Irish Presbyterians and 2 generations later, my 4th great grandfather Archibald Fair married Eleanor Caldwell, who was the grandchild of a James McMaster. I *think* James and Hugh were brothers. This would mean Henry is my 5th cousin 3 times removed. Even if that is not the connection – I feel there is one since they clearly were from the community of Scotch Irish Presbyterian immigrants. Dear SC, I would like to apologize on behalf of my family.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    And so you should. But we all have plenty of warts in our families.

                    When you said “Henry,” I thought for a moment you meant Henry VII, since Randle was talking about him (you can get confused jumping around among comments on the dashboard, as I do). He’s my first cousin 15 times removed.

                    But I haven’t found a connection to McMaster. I am not of his house, or his side. So I still bear the rose of whatever color that designates being on the side of the James Smith campaign. With James out of office and Mandy just turned out, too, I guess we are a fugitive house, running about and hiding in the moors, like Jacobites or something…

                    1. Brad Warthen Post author

                      By the way, I’m not claiming a royal line in claiming that blood kinship to Henry VII.

                      He and I (perhaps) both descend from Owen Tudor, but I’m from a bastard line. Maybe. I think I’m descended from a natural daughter of Owen’s son Jasper. But some claim that illegitimate daughter (Helen Tudor, daughter of Jasper and a Welsh woman named Myvanwy verch Dafydd, didn’t exist, or had different relationships. If that’s right, I don’t know where I came from. Or rather, where that line came from…

  4. bud

    The biggest problems with our election system:
    Voter suppression
    Electoral college
    Big money
    Gerrymandering (although a bit exaggerated by some)
    Propaganda, mostly on the right, “news”

    Non problems
    Straight party voting option
    Lack of term limits
    Mail in voting option
    Voter fraud

  5. David L Carlton

    Brad, it might calm you down a bit to check out Dan Drezner’s newest blog piece in the WaPo:

    It looks bad right now, but as Dan points out, people have been questioning the legitimacy of our leaders and elections for the past generation. While that’s not good for the country, or for ourselves, we’ve managed to survive our worst behavior so far. Furthermore, a lot of what we’re hearing is just partisan trash talk. That accounts for a lot of the contradictory poll findings; maybe 70% of Republicans think the elections wasn’t free and fair, but most of them actually accept the results, and a lot of that 70% are just saying that because it’s the party line and they feel they have to embrace it. Once the Big Game recedes into the past, they’ll stop saying “We wuz robbed!” and start saying “Wait ’til next year!” Any one who’s ever rooted for a team knows the syndrome.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Perhaps therein lies the cause of my disquiet. I’m no sports fan.

      I just need Donaeld the Unready to leave us, and be heard from no more. “Unbidden guests are often welcomest when they are gone.”

      Wait, one more: “Good Lord, what madness rules in brainsick men”…

      I need to go find my DVDs and watch one of those plays again.

      Or maybe King Lear….

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Anyway, thanks for sharing the link, professor.

        I’ve been reading stuff like that, though, and I get scant comfort from stuff like, “[Trump] advisers privately acknowledged that President-elect Joe Biden’s official victory is less a question of ‘if’ than ‘when.’ ”

        We KNOW when. “When” was this past Saturday…

  6. Ken

    Situation Report:
    The self-anointed fuehrer hunkers down in his White House bunker, raging at his underlings and tweeting out commands about phantom votes, while the coronavirus advances across all fronts.

  7. Barry

    One of my very good friends died from COVID yesterday.

    He was in his early 50s,, in good health, with a young family. They were not sure where he caught it but I know he attended a family funeral right before where he told me they were shaking hands and not following the recommended protocols. This surprised me a bit because I knew he wore a face covering when he went out but I also know that he had been a slight skeptic at first. But again, I also know he had told me many t8mes he worse his face covering and kept his distance when he went on errands. But I do believe he let his guard down when he attended the family funeral. ( I was a bit angry with him because I also attended a recent funeral and we made it a point to announce to everyone we would not be shaking hands or having the usual visitation. )

    However, they did stay at a hotel out of town and travelled a few hours from home so he could have caught it along the route somewhere. There is no way to know.

    My friend was a wonderful guy, and wonderful Christian who enjoyed singing at his church and teaching youth Sunday School. I mean he really enjoyed it. In some ways he lived for it. On work trips, we always hung out together because neither one of us drink alcohol and we liked to avoid the others acting up. But he was a friend to anyone. He, along with his wife, had recently purchased a home that had multiple acres, a barn, and swimming pool. He loved his new house. It even came with a tractor the owner left behind for him. It was perfect for my friend.

    COVID ravaged his lungs quickly and after more than a week on a ventilator took a toll on his kidneys, he passed.

    I know his family is absolutely destroyed. He had young, adopted children and his oldest son was about 16 or 17 and is at that age where you don’t think you need your dad, but you need him more then ever. But I will say he is a fine young man and he learned a lot from his dad because his dad took the time to teach him about life.

    If you have doubts about the virus, I don’t know what to say. I now have seen ot completely destroy an otherwise healthy guy’s body. The strange thing is, my friend’s wife and a few of his kids caught it too, had a fever, didn’t feel God for a week and recovered with no real problems. But how it impacts a given person can’t be predicted.

    Be careful.

    1. Bart


      I want to express my deepest sympathy for the loss of your friend to COVID. From your description, he sounds like someone who made an impact on the lives he touched. Losing someone close to you is a life changing experience and coping with it will require leaning strongly on your faith and knowing that your friend is with Christ now and even though his life ended much too soon, you know where he will be spending eternity.

      Acceptance is a difficult process when you lose someone close to you. I am still coping with the loss last year of my dear wife and best friend, Linda. She was my anchor and from your comments, apparently he was an anchor in your life along with your family.

      Again, my sincere and deepest sympathies go out to you and his family.

      1. Barry

        Thank you. He was a good friend. He lived in another state but I was thinking today he called me more than anyone else outside do my family, and maybe more than most of them.

        But that is over. I’ll miss his voice.

        1. Bob Amundson

          Bart, I can’t imagine the loss you must feel, losing your life partner. I know I would be lost, perhaps forever (certainly after one year), if I lost my “Princess.” Strength to you and everyone dealing with loss. And welcome back; I missed your posts.

  8. Randle

    That is tragic, Barry. I am so sorry for his family and for you, his friend. It is a terrifying virus because it is so lethal and unpredictable, You are right—we cannot let our guard down, mo matter how tired we get of taking precautions.

      1. Bob Amundson

        I feel an incredible sadness after reading this; I am grateful that my life is still unaffected by having a friend or family member pass. This is the type of story “Covid Deniers” need to hear; the denial of the tragic consequences of this awful virus is heartless. I will never vote for anyone, for any party, that is complicit in denying the facts.

  9. James Edward Cross

    Shakespeare is not the first place I would go for a history of the Wars of the Roses; like Hollywood now, he sometimes plays fast and loose with historical facts and was definitely a Tudor propagandist ….

    Saw an article that makes an interesting case that Trump’s response to COVID-19 may have *helped* him in the election. Many people do not know anyone who has died from the virus, since it has “only” killed 247,000 people, which is less than 0.1% of the total U.S. population (ignoring, of course, that masks, social distancing, etc. has kept the death toll far lower than it could be). It’s likely that many people may not know anyone who’s been sick or, if the were , it was either a mild form or they were asymptomatic. And Trump got the disease and he was back in action in about a week.

    Folks *want* to believe that this is no big deal, that they can go on living their lives and making a livelihood. They’re more scared of what the restrictions will do to their finances than they are for their lives. And Trump told them what they wanted to hear.

    1. randle

      I also think Shakespeare has given you an exaggerated picture of England during the 32 years of the War of the Roses.
      “The period of the War of the Roses was a time of trouble and disorder, and not one of constant war. The wars were no more than occasional battles between rival magnates, and there were long intervals of peace. The life of the nation was not disrupted as much as one might suppose. However, because the wars came at a time when the government was close to collapse, they made the collapse more complete.” “A History of England,” David Harris Willson.
      But rereading my history, I did find similarities between our time and theirs:
      “… fifteenth century England displayed the characteristics of a stagnant and declining civilization. The fundamental trouble was a spiritual malaise induced by plague and general uncertainty; among the more important symptoms were the disintegration of society, the violence of public life, the decay of law and order, and the weakness of the crown.” “England under the Tudors,” G.R. Elton
      The end of the conflict gave England Henry VII, who was not Mr. Excitement, but who was one of England’s most important and successful kings. He unified and strengthened his country and set it on the path to greatness,
      Henry had to establish that he had a legitimate claim to the crown, just as Biden is faced with an unprecedented challenge to the legitimacy of his election. Unlike Biden, whose right to the presidency is obvious to everyone but the willfully delusional, Henry did not have a clear-cut claim to the throne, as 15th century England did not have an established law of succession. He simply declared himself king after the Battle of Bosworth Field, and, by acting like it and surrounding himself with the trappings of royalty to impress that fact upon his subjects, moved quickly to solidify his claim. Biden has the same smarts. By assuming his role with confidence, appearing in presidential settings, laying out plans, setting up his administration and conferring with foreign leaders, he is cementing his position as the rightful president of the United States.
      Henry’s most important task, after securing his throne, was to unify his country. “If England was to recover order and the throne stability, the civil wars would have to be ended once and for all. That meant not only the cessation of hostilities, but the healing of wounds left by them, the assuaging of tempers heated by the long controversy. Perhaps the most important quality now required in a king, next to inflexible resolution, was judicious mercy, the mercy of head not heart….” “England under the Tudors.” Again, Biden, facing the same grave divisions, is taking the same conciliatory tack.
      If Biden can unite his country and get it to work as intended once again, as Henry Tudor did, he will be a great president. Here’s to history repeating itself.
      “It was enough that he should restore good and permanent government, an end he achieved by putting new life into old institutions and, in particular, by himself working night and day at the task of king. His reward came when he could hand to his son a safe throne, a full treasury, a functioning machine of government, and a reasonably ordered and prosperous country.” “England under the Tudors.”

      1. Ken

        ” By assuming his role with confidence, appearing in presidential settings, laying out plans, setting up his administration and conferring with foreign leaders, he is cementing his position as the rightful president of the United States.”

        Luckily for us, Biden’s legitimacy does not rest on these actions and gestures alone. Because, thankfully, the United States, in contrast to 15th century England, is not a battleground of competing warlords.

        That being said, I think Americans are naive in our expectation that any figure can “unite the country.” We do not and never had “stood as one,” not even in times of war.

      2. James Edward Cross

        Henry VII was perhaps less conciliatory than careful, patient, and politically astute. One of his first acts as King was to find and imprison the last Plantagenet heir Edward, Earl of Warwick. Henry would later use the Perkin Warbeck rebellion as a pretext to have Edward executed. He did marry Elizabeth of York as he had promised to do but did so months after his coronation to make it clear that he was king by his own actions and not through his wife. He obtained a papal declaration asserting his right to the throne and that anyone who opposed him would be excommunicated. He dated the start of his reign to the day *before* the Battle of Bosworth which made anyone who opposed him prior to that date a traitor.

        He kept a very tight circle of advisors and did his best to marginalize the nobility by keeping them from any offices of importance. Any nobles who opposed him were destroyed and their financial assets seized by the Crown. He levied heavy bonds against others to ensure their good behavior and used various laws to cripple the great families financially. He populated the ecclesiastical establishment with his own supporters and moved them around as financial circumstances allowed, since each move resulted in hefty fees being paid to the Crown. It was this, along with his avoidance of war on the Continent that allowed him to leave a full treasury to his son, Henry VIII.

        Even his sparing of Lambert Simnel after the defeat of the rebellion led by the Earl of Lincoln had a degree of calculation to it. Unlike Warbeck, Simnel was not a threat after his patron was killed and a magnanimous gesture could only redound to Henry’s credit.

        Joe Biden does not have those options open to him. 🙂

      3. Brad Warthen Post author

        Randle, thanks so much for contributing that!

        I do want to say, in response to this and what someone else (I forget who now) said a few days ago… I don’t consider Shakespeare an historian. I don’t look to him to tell me, “it all happened just this way.” He was a great dramatist and poet, and perhaps the greatest writer ever in English. But not a chronicler.

        However, I think he makes good use of his talents to warn us how dangerous it is to live in a time when sides were chosen according to which lord you happened to have a good or bad relationship — you know, the kind of place Donald Trump would like to turn the United States into. Which is why he is a horrifying figure, since one of the main ideas about the United States (and the United States only has meaning as a set of ideas) is that it is supposed to be an antidote to such places and times.

        Things were so random then, which is one reason you see some of those guys changing sides. Nothing was guided by beliefs or principles or ideals, by right or wrong. And it was very scary. Which I think those plays convey rather well.

        It’s not just the Wars of the Roses. I’m struck by the same thoughts whenever a line in my family tree extends before the American Revolution, or the Treaty of Westphalia, or what have you — before liberal democracy started really taking hold in the West. I start reading more about those times, and the principle figures who lived then, and the conflicts they went through, and I’m just really glad I’m not living then.

        Of course, as liberalism is beset on all sides, I find myself being threatened by a time in which I’m expected to choose between Trumpism and the Critical Race Theory (or whatever one should call it) of Wokeness, and I’m less inclined to pick up either than I am a red or white rose…

          1. randle

            I knew you didn’t think of Shakespeare as a historical reference, but thought it was worth pointing out that the drama he and history like to focus on was played out on a smaller stage. His themes are timeless and true, as you said. We should pay attention.
            Also, it’s an excuse to talk about Henry VII; he was a great king who no one talks about; he avoided wars and did the dull work of government successfully under extremely difficult circumstances. He changed his country for the better. More like him, please.
            The Lancaster and York kings were the last of the Plantagenet line; they were considered to be the first truly English kings from that dynasty. Henry VII was a Tudor.
            The two roses, white for the Yorks and red for the Lancasters, were emblems used occasionally by some members of the two houses; Henry VII decided to combine them in the Tudor rose — a symbol to emphasize the stability of the two houses. The term “War of the Roses” was first popularized by Sir Walter Scott in the 19th century.

        1. Lynn Teague

          It is a continuing problem on the left that there is a tendency to forget that successful politics are the art of addition. Jumping people for not conforming to the language and most recent orthodoxy subtracts rather than adds to allies. This was recently brought to mind when I was jumped on a Zoom call with fellow advocates for saying that “defund the police” is a very destructive slogan. I was asked if I didn’t think questioning the slogan was coded racism. I responded that I do not think so (in fact Jim Clyburn has said as much), that the plain English meaning of the words is not acceptable to the vast majority of people and no one is going to pay attention to all the nuance that advocates want to construct around their misleading headline. Most folks don’t spend their lives decoding political speech, they hear what they hear.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Oh, absolutely. Amen, amen, amen.

            If I’d had time today, I was going to do a post about the subject matter of today’s edition of The Daily, the NYT podcast. It’s called “Division Among the Democrats.” I listened to about 15 minutes of an interview with AOC (it seemed like hours), waiting for them to get to someone who speaks to reason. They brought on Conor Lamb, which was nice, but I wanted to hear more from Abigail Spanberger.

            But they did play a tape from her at the beginning, telling her colleagues, right after barely hanging onto her seat:

            “The number one concern in things that people brought to me in my [district] that I barely re-won, was defunding the police. And I’ve heard from colleagues who have said ‘Oh, it’s the language of the streets. We should respect that.’ We’re in Congress. We are professionals. We are supposed to talk about things in the way where we mean what we’re talking about. If we don’t mean we should defund the police, we shouldn’t say that.”

            “We want to talk about funding social services, and ensuring good engagement in community policing, let’s talk about what we are for. And we need to not ever use the words ‘socialist’ or ‘socialism’ ever again. Because while people think it doesn’t matter, it does matter. And we lost good members because of it.”…

            Again, amen.

            If the Democrats want to hold onto the House, and gain the Senate, they’d better start listening to people like Lamb and Spanberger and Mikie Sherrill and others who speak like grownups because they actually want to appeal to a majority of Americans, rather than listening to the members of AOC’s little club (those with the secret decoder rings that enable them to have special understanding of the true wisdom of such idiotic slogans as “defund the police”)…

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Excuse me. I said the Dems had “better start listening to” people like those moderates who gave them control of the House in 2018.

              But Nancy Pelosi DOES listen to them. Which makes me wonder, and worry, what will happen when someone else is speaker.

              What we really need is for national media to stop broadcasting propaganda for Trumpism… which is to say, to stop covering AOC and Bernie and such as though THEY were what the Democratic Party is about — which is precisely what Trump wants people to believe. And he’s got about half the country convinced…

              1. Lynn Teague

                Unfortunately some folks make good theater and get the attention. However, when the American people are polled on issues in a way that doesn’t trigger partisan responses, the majority I this country is really very centrist. A public option for health insurance polls well, while Medicare for All does not.

                Having briefly dissected the sins of the left, however, it is well worth paying attention to the right. They have gone far to the right of Ronald Reagan because people like the Kochs, the Mercers, and others not so well known have poured money into an extreme anti-tax and anti-regulatory agenda that serves no one but billionaires well. For most voters that agenda is hidden behind a veil of social conservatism.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Oh, of course. But you see, I’ve long dismissed the idea of any salvation coming from that crowd. Just one madness after another. It started with Reaganism, and the resulting opposition to paying taxes. Then came the more extreme libertarianism of Sanford and the Club for Growth, which opposed having government even if it were financed by gold falling from the sky, much less taxes. Then that was pushed out by the more anti-intellectual Tea Party, with the addition of nativism. Then that degenerated into barking-mad Trumpism. Then the entire Republican Party bowed down before it, and is now of no use to anyone.

                  There needs to be an alternative to that bunch. And it would help greatly if that alternative were CAPABLE OF WINNING ELECTIONS. Or, as you said before, capable of engaging in “the art of addition”…

              2. bud

                With a much smaller majority in the house Nancy may have to make some concessions to pragmatists like AOC who actually want to move the country in a better direction.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Oops. Sorry about that. Must have had a technical glitch just now on the blog. It cut out some of your words. It may have been full lines, even paragraphs. I’m thinking of all the stuff you meant to put between “pragmatists like” and the utterly unrelated “AOC”… 🙂

  10. Ken

    Speaking of the discontented (or in this case maybe the proper term is “malcontent”), here’s what one SC congressman — Jeff Duncan — wrote in a constituent newsletter regarding the election:

    “First, I’d like to make something abundantly clear: despite what the media continues to tell you, Joe Biden is NOT the President-Elect. It is currently unclear who will be the next President of the United States, and the media should have enough respect for the voters to let the legal process play out. By attempting to will Joe Biden into the Presidency by prematurely calling the election, the media is creating lasting reputational damage not only on themselves, but on our entire electoral process.

    Further, it is an extremely sad time when the threats to our elections come not from outside forces like Russia, Iran, North Korea, or radical Islamic terrorism, but from political operatives hindering transparency efforts in our free election system. I want you to know that I’m doing everything in my power to ensure election integrity is upheld.

    I recently joined my colleagues in urging the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the irregularities we are seeing in various parts of the country to the fullest extent. Every LEGAL vote must be counted, and every illegal vote must be thrown out. With allegations of fraud and abuse in various states, the American people deserve COMPLETE transparency. We asked Attorney General Barr to answer questions such as – What are you doing to ensure the integrity of the voting and counting process right now? Will you commit to using all the resources at your disposal to ensure that only legal votes are being counted and being counted in a fully transparent manner immediately?

    You can read our full request to AG Barr HERE. Thankfully, he heard our concerns loud and clear and responded swiftly by authorizing the DOJ to probe any substantial allegations of voter fraud. Read more about the investigation HERE. “

      1. Ken

        A malicious idiot who was just re-elected by an overwhelming majority — and is likely to be re-elected for many cycles to come.

  11. randle

    Yes, no tower, no writs of attainders for Joe. He will have to rely on other methods of persuasion to unite and strengthen the country.
    As I quoted in my post, Henry’s mercy was a “judicious mercy of the head not heart,” which does not make it less conciliatory or effective. To conciliate is to assemble, unite, win over, reconcile. Henry did those things in spades, as we see from the ensuing 500-plus years of English history.
    Elton writes about Henry’s evolving policy of mercy in “England under the Tudors”: “The first few months of victory in a ferocious enough struggle were hardly the time for such statesmanlike forbearance; his own followers would not have understood it, and Henry – even if he already desired it – could not have afforded it. After the first proscriptions and attainders his policy changed. For the rest of the reign he did his best to make men forget the past and join as one nation under the Tudor aegis; so far from suspiciously seeking out imaginary conspiracies (as one might have expected), he proved uncommonly hard to convince of real ones, and the statute book began to record the reversal of past attainders rather than the further pursuit of vengeance.”
    As for the idea that Henry marginalized the nobility: “…the prevalent impression that Henry VII, and the other Tudors after him, had only to suppress the nobility and elevate lesser men whose interests they protected, dangerously oversimplifies a pretty complex situation. The Tudors were not against aristocracy as such; they were against obstreperous men, whether noble or gentle or common.” Elton.
    Land was the basis of Henry’s wealth, according to every source I have checked; it became the main source of income through his careful management during his reign. He acquired it through inheritance from the York and Lancaster factions, attainders issued against those who opposed him, as was the practice of previous kings, and escheats, as well as what he acquired as king. No other sources came close to supplying as much income, and it was the reason his treasury was one of the most robust in Europe at the time of his death. He was … “incomparably the best business man to sit upon the English throne …. the most uniformly successful of English kings, and a millionaire into the bargain.’’ “Tudor England,” S.T. Bidnoff.
    You mention that sparing Lambert Simnel “had a degree of calculation to it.” Well, yes. What sensible decision doesn’t? So again, Henry was strategic and shrewd in his choices, not vengeful. He could very easily have executed Simnel; instead, he sent him to work in his kitchen. As for Warbeck, who claimed he was Richard of York and was involved in several attempts to overthrow Henry “… of all the men who had to do with him only Henry VII, who treated him with weary contempt and almost offensive leniency, judged him fairly; others were too blinded by his usefulness to take his just measure. In consequence he served as the peg on which hung the events of eight disturbed years.” Elton. He was eventually hanged after escaping from court confinement twice.

  12. bud

    Lindsey Graham just pressured the GEORGIA Secretary of State to find a way to throw out legal ballots in GEORGIA. This is shocking even for Lindsey Graham. I’ve always detested Lindsey but I did give him credit for being a man of integrity. Boy was I wrong.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Well, he WAS. But not any more. He’s lost it. He is so grateful that Trumpism saved him from defeat and gave him another term that he’s gone farther ’round the bend than any other Republican. I said something earlier about the Trumpists being “barking mad.” Well, he’s the poster boy for that…

      1. bud

        Just admit Brad you misread Lindsey. He’s nothing but a shameless political animal. You admired his warmongering and that clouded your judgement. Sadly with Biden in office this warmongering mania is likely to surface at some point. Trump needed to go but damn we landed in a terrible place.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          You said so many absurd things in a short comment that I don’t know where to start.

          But I’ll just say that I have nothing to admit, because I was not wrong. In Lindsey, we had something extraordinary, until he lost his mind over the last four years. We had a senator who was a Republican, but dared to seek rational immigration policies and voted for a Democratic president’s court nominees because he respected the fact that the Democrat had won the election. He was one of the small number in the Senate who worked to try to end the insane partisan fights over judicial nominations. It was remarkable for South Carolina to have such a senator in those years, and he put up with an ungodly amount of grief from the extremists in his party because of it.

          Now, we have a guy who rather than accepting the results of an election, is — perhaps criminally — interfering to try to reverse election results.

          Because he has lost his mind, and everything he once stood for. He has now decided to become the worst of the people who have despised and attacked him all these years.

          Allow me to suggest that perhaps you are the one misled because of your attitudes regarding Iraq, which so distort your perception that you can’t see that Donald Trump is by far the worst president we have had…


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