THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2022
Goofus and Gallant meet Kafka: Long ago and far away, Franz Kafka stood out from the rest of the herd.
Along literary types, he best understood the revolution Mr. Darwin had fashioned when he told the world, in revolutionary fashion, that we humans are just an animal too, just like the animals are.
Kafka took it in. He was even able to picture Gregor Samsa, and possibly even himself, as a rather low species of animal, rather than as a celestial figure who had been "made in God's image."
We humans weren't really all that celestial! We might not even be the world-famous "rational animal!"
We thought of Kafka, and of Gregor Samsa himself, as we watched Morning Joe this morning. We also thought of a misconception we ourselves held in the past.
Long ago and far away, we miscalculated the amount of analytical skill possessed by our mainstream press corps. We assumed that these people were far more skilled that they have turned out to be.
As it turns out, they aren't very skilled at all—and they seem to be unaware of this basic fact. We thought of Kafka, and of this unfortunate state of affairs, when we watched Peter Baker, Gene Robinson and Willie Geist Junior serially selling the new Storyline on Morning Joe this morning.
Eventually, Jackie Alemany even joined in, despite her Harvard degree! The analysts sobbed and tore at their hair as visions of Kafka, a mere creature, forced their way into our heads.
Right there on our TV screen, the children were offering script in support of the tribe's Storyline. We refer to the Storyline about the way the RNC once typed these words:
"Legitimate political discourse"
Deeply useful words!
Last night, John Berman, subbing for Anderson Cooper, compounded his conduct of the previous night in a truly remarkable way. Within our segregated news environment, in which the tribes only hear their own Storylines, the children have been pushing this Storyline very hard, much as everyone once rushed out to push this magical script:
Al Gore said he invented the Internet!
There's nothing too dumb for these creatures to say, just so long as it comes out of script. For ourselves, we'll tackle only one task today:
We'll show you what the RNC actually said. This is a service our own news orgs will never, ever provide.
Readers, "the power to paraphrase is the power to spin." We told you that long, long ago.
The national committee's tale:
Long ago and far away, the RNC was pushing endless claims under the direction of its chairman, Jim Nicholson. At the 2000 Democratic Convention, we actually got to interview Nicholson for MSNBC.com—and we failed to pull the trigger as planned when the big moment arrived.
That's a story for some other time. Today, the RNC is headed by Ronna McDaniel. She has been an absolute mess ever since attaining the post.
Ronna McDaniel has been a mess—but then too, there's the basic question of what she and the rest of the RNC actually meant and said. In the main, the announcement which launched a thousand scripts was designed to censure Cheney and Kinzinger, a pair of renegade Republicans.
The resolution appeared at the end of last week. All-caps headline included, it started exactly like this:
RESOLUTION TO FORMALLY CENSURE LIZ CHENEY AND ADAM KINZINGER AND TO NO LONGER SUPPORT THEM AS MEMBERS OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY
WHEREAS, The primary mission of the Republican Party is to elect Republicans who support the United States Constitution and share our values;
WHEREAS, The Biden Administration and Democrats in Congress have embarked on a systematic effort to replace liberty with socialism; eliminate border security in favor of lawless, open borders; create record inflation designed to steal the American dream from our children and grandchildren; neuter our national defense and a peace through strength foreign policy; replace President Trump's “ Operation Warp Speed” with incompetence and illegal mandates; and destroy America's economy with the Green New Deal;
WHEREAS, Winning back the majority in Congress, including the United States House of Representatives, in 2022 must be the primary goal of the House Republican Conference (“ Conference”) and requires all Republicans working together to accomplish the same;
WHEREAS, The Conference must design the strategy to stop the radical Biden agenda and retire Nancy Pelosi, tasks which require that all Republicans pull in the same direction;
WHEREAS, The Conference must not be sabotaged by Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger who have demonstrated, with actions and words, that they support Democrat efforts to destroy President Trump more than they support winning back a Republican majority in 2022...
That's how the brilliance began.
The all-caps headline announced the resolution's main idea. A pair of renegades were being formally censured.
We've highlighted one part of the brilliance—the segment in which we're told that the Biden Administration has "embarked on a systematic effort to...create record inflation," but also to "destroy America's economy with the Green New Deal."
Do those claims seem to make sense? Given the way public opinion works, why would a sitting president seek to create record inflation? Beyond that, why would a sitting president "embark on a systematic effort to...destroy America's economy?"
Does any of that make sense? Sadly, there are probably answers to those questions, and the RNC could provide them!
That said, we're asking you to notice the fact that pronouncements by this group may not always make perfect crisp, clear sense. Also, we'll ask you to notice this:
So far, the RNC hasn't said a single word about any of the conduct in which people engaged on January 6. 2021, at the Capitol Building. In fact, the RNC hasn't mentioned January 6 at all!
At this point, one part of that forbearance would end. As they continued, the RNC extended their list of complaints about the censured parties. At issue was their membership on the January 6 Select Committee, as is described below:
According to the resolution, the censured parties were helping "the Democrat Party" as it tried to buoy its prospects!
WHEREAS, Representatives Cheney and Kinzinger have engaged in actions in their positions as members of the January 6th Select Committee not befitting Republican members of Congress, which include the Committee's disregard for minority rights, traditional checks and balances, due process, and adherence to other precedent and rules of the U.S. House and which seem intent on advancing a political agenda to buoy the Democrat Party's bleak prospects in the upcoming midterm elections;
WHEREAS, Congressional Republicans bear ultimate responsibility for their own success or failure and the RNC supports their efforts by denouncing those who deliberately jeopardize victory in November on which the future of our constitutional republic depends at this critical moment in history...
You can't get much more childish than that, though our own tribe's stars will try. That said, we'll call your attention to this additional fact:
The resolution still hasn't said a word about the violent behavior which occurred at the Capitol Building on January 6. In fact, none of that day's conduct has been mentioned, and we're already nearing the end of the RNC's text.
What has been mentioned in the RNC's text? According to the RNC, Cheney and Kinzinger have misbehaved in various ways in their roles on the January 6 Commission. In particular, they've shown a "disregard for minority rights, traditional checks and balances, due process, and adherence to other precedent and rules of the U.S. House."
What did the committee mean by those complaints? Pretty much everyone knows. Those are complaints about the way the current form of the commission was adopted and about some of the procedures the commission has adopted as it has conducted its task.
At any rate, in behaving in these enumerated ways, the pair of renegades "seem intent on advancing a political agenda to buoy the Democrat Party's bleak prospects in the upcoming midterm elections." In fairness, if they actually believe those premises, the RNC can hardly be blamed for kicking this pair to the curb!
That said, the RNC's resolution was almost completely done—and the specific events of January 6 hadn't been mentioned at all. Below, you see the way the resolution concludes—and you see a fuzzy clause which was quickly paraphrased by the journalists who tumbled out of our own tribe's well-stocked clown car:
WHEREAS, Representatives Cheney and Kinzinger purport to be members of the Republican Party; and
WHEREAS, Representatives Cheney and Kinzinger are participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse, and they are both utilizing their past professed political affiliation to mask Democrat abuse of prosecutorial power for partisan purposes, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the Republican National Committee hereby formally censures Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and shall immediately cease any and all support of them as members of the Republican Party for their behavior which has been destructive to the institution of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Republican Party and our republic, and is inconsistent with the position of the Conference.
That's the way the resolution ended. Also, that's the way a remarkable wave of propagandization began.
What the heck did the RNC mean when it said that Cheney and Kinzinger are "participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse?"
Which "ordinary citizens" did the RNC have in mind? Who was the RNC talking about? What did the RNC mean?
It seemed that this alleged "persecution" was somehow connected to a "Democrat [sic] abuse of prosecutorial power for partisan purposes." But what did the RNC actually mean by this overall statement?
The RNC had included an extremely fuzzy clause near the end of its declaration. As you can see, there was no specific reference to any of the behaviors exhibited on January 6. Indeed, no such behaviors, violent or otherwise, were ever explicitly mentioned in the resolution at all.
The RNC had included an extremely fuzzy clause near the end of its declaration. Traditional norms would direct a scrupulous journalist to ask them what they meant.
The children of our own news orgs skipped right past this task. They'd done the same thing long ago, when they creatively "paraphrased" a wide array of crackpot things Gore had allegedly said.
As for the RNC, it hadn't explicitly mentioned the behaviors of January 6 at all. Normal courtesy—normal human intelligence—would suggest that they should have been asked what the heck they had meant.
That's where Kafka enters the scene. He understood that animals of our particular species don't run on "rationality," or on journalistic norms, or on Enlightenment values.
He understood that creatures of our particular type are perhaps strongly inclined to do what our tribe's "journalists" and politicians stampeded off to next:
Our tribals invented a pleasing version of what the RNC meant. When McDaniel and many others gave a vastly different account of what their fuzzy clause actually meant, the "journalists" of our own failing tribe disappeared those statements.
Late last night, we were visited by Goofus and by Gallant. What do Goofus and Gallant do when they encounter fuzzy statements? We'll paraphrase what we were told:
What Goofus and Gallant do when they encounter a fuzzy statement:
Gallant asks the person or the organization to explain what they meant. When he discusses the statement in question, he remembers to include their response.
Goofus simply creates his own account of what the fuzzy statement meant. He proceeds to bruit his own self-serving account all through the streets of his town.
When challenged about this conduct, Goofus behaves just like Trump. He insists that everything he said and did was completely and totally right.
Tomorrow: What have they done with John Berman?