Pundit Wire

Clinton and Corbyn: The Fine Old Art of Dissembling

At the No More War event at Parliament Square in August. A Creative Commons stock photo. You don’t hear the verb ‘to dissemble’ so much these days, although Edgar Allan Poe knew just when to use it. Its synonyms include pretend, deceive, feign, masquerade, sham, bluff, pose, and counterfeit. It’s all about projecting a false if not dishonest impression, with a view to misleading.

Dissembling may have drifted towards desuetude, giving way to the more robust idea of ‘lying’, but the practice is alive and well. This week sees momentous examples from two ambitious politicians on either side of the Atlantic, both with a problem. How to deflect public attention from what they have really been doing, as their doings look embarrassing when subjected to closer scrutiny?

Read More »
Also posted in Campaigns & Elections, Politics | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A Speechwriter’s Hell

2Barton Swaim’s new book, The Speechwriter: A Brief Education in Politics, took me back to my own fumbling beginnings as a wordsmith. Flipping through the pages, I felt again what it was like to be sitting in the audience as fledgling speechwriter, listening to an important public figure deliver a speech that I had written, with “ears greedy for my own words.”

Read More »
Also posted in General, Politics | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Trumpery

Donald_Trump_by_Gage_Skidmore_3_(cropped)The American Heritage Dictionary defines “trumpery” as follows:
1. Showy but worthless finery; bric-a-brac.
2. Nonsense; rubbish.
3. Deception; trickery; fraud.

In all, not a bad word to describe Donald Trump’s campaign for president.

Read More »
Also posted in Campaigns & Elections, General, Politics, U.S. | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Republicans have the best bullies

mk_trump_72015_539_332_c1It’s too soon to know how badly Donald Trump damaged himself by belittling John McCain’s war record on July 18 in Iowa. After all, George W. Bush wasn’t hurt in the 2000 South Carolina primary when his operatives rumored that McCain had an illegitimate black child, nor was W hurt in the 2004 election when his Swift Boat surrogates defamed John Kerry’s war record, nor was McCain’s campaign for the 2008 Republican nomination derailed by his reputation as a bully and hothead.

Trump himself has until now been helped, not harmed, by insulting his GOP rivals as losers, clowns, dummies and lightweights. But his McCain slam gives other candidates an opening to mime indignation. For them, it can’t come a moment too soon, because Trump was on the verge of owning the machismo brand.
Photo by L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via Reuters

Read More »
Also posted in Campaigns & Elections, Politics, U.S. | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Have you no decency, sir?

Donald_Trump_March_2015So Donald Trump says that Sen. John McCain, who was a POW for over five years during the Vietnam War, who was tortured horribly during his confinement and who refused an offer of early release is “not a war hero.”

I am reminded of what a lawyer named Joseph Welch said over 60 years ago to another blustering bombastic bully who, to the shame of the GOP, was also a Republican: “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

Read More »
Also posted in Campaigns & Elections, General, Politics, Religion, U.S. | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Prejudice is a powerful force

obamacharlestonIn the aftermath of the Charleston church shooting and the recent police incidents leading to the death and harassment of black men and women, many are calling for a national conversation on race.

Read More »
Also posted in Civil Rights, Culture, Economy, Education, General, Health, History, Media, Politics, Race & Ethnicity, U.S. | Tagged , | Leave a comment

“A Conservative Government is Organized Hypocrisy.” Benjamin Disraeli

InhofeSnowball“One of the wonderful things about hypocrisy is that it so often comes around to bite the hypocrite on the butt.”

Of all the more popular political sins, my personal favorite is hypocrisy. One of the wonderful things about hypocrisy is that it so often comes around to bite the hypocrite on the butt. It’s widely practiced by people on both sides of the great political divide, but my friends in the Republican Party are working hard to raise the level of insincerity to new and dizzying heights.

Read More »
Also posted in Campaigns & Elections, Culture, Environment, Media, Politics, Science, U.S. | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How Lafayette Routed Napoleon—With a Speech

Gilbert_du_Motier_Marquis_de_Lafayette_-_high_resThe history books tell us that Napoleon was decisively defeated at the Battle of Waterloo two hundred years ago on June 18, 1815. Four days later, on June 22, he abdicated and was exiled by the British to the remote island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic where he died in 1821.

This compressed version of events leaves out a wealth of fascinating details. It particular, it doesn’t tell us how Napoleon schemed to hold power even after Waterloo, and how the immediate cause of his abdication was not the bayonets of Wellington and Blücher, but a courageous speech by the Marquis de Lafayette.

Read More »
Also posted in General, History, International | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment