Wednesday’s Tribune was full of opinion, but Ron Grossman, the editorials, Garrison Keillor, Richard Longworth and Jack Rakove, and Catherine Rampell were all about the same task: We think about Donald Trump so John Kass doesn’t have to.
Grossman in particular. Determined “to prove that shrinking government is good for America,” Trump has named a series of cabinet heads who—said Grossman—”are opposed to their department’s function. . . . They want no part of the philosophy upon which those departments were founded.” If they’re faithful to their words, they’re taking over their departments to dismantle them.
Grossman didn’t sound excited about this prospect—he referred to millions of Americans deprived of services they count on as “the experiment’s guinea pigs”—but the important thing is that the government Trump’s putting together interested him enough to write about it. This left Kass free to write about what interests him most: “two-faced” Democrats. His premise was that there is a “Clinton Democratic left.” I’m not sure what this left is composed of, since the Democratic left is what Clinton had so much trouble pulling votes from, but apparently it’s a big bunch and I have a hunch I’m in it. If Kass was talking about all the Democrats who are acting like poor losers, I know I am.
Kass said this bunch has moved into a “safe space, ” into a “vast mind palace” where the reasons for Clinton’s defeat don’t have to be confronted. I’m a little surprised to find out they don’t, as I’ve spent hours talking, reading, and arguing about the blunders that brought Clinton down. The CIA’s report of Russian subversion is a promising addition to the list of culprits; but when someone loses as narrowly as Clinton did, you can never settle on just one reason why.
“The CIA is now the left’s champion of truth and beauty,” said Kass. And the Russians are now the bad guys, the same Russians we once championed against the “war-mongering conservative troglodytes” who never trusted them. Kass might not be following our logic. It’s simply that the CIA—famous for toppling governments in Central America, the Middle East, and Asia—knows its trade. And the Russians were simply doing what Russians do—messing with an American election because they could, and because one candidate talked nice about their leader and apparently was into Russians for many millions of dollars in loans.
Kass made the point that “none of the ‘hacked’ and leaked e-mails of Clinton campaign manager John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee were said to be untrue.” But what about the “bucket of losers” e-mail, which Megyn Kelly reported on Fox News and later apologized for? And also the e-mail supposedly written by Podesta complaining that Hillary Clinton “rarely showered” and had started smelling like a “combination of boiled cabbage, urine, and farts”? Both these e-mails went viral and were then said to be untrue by Snopes.com, and yet here’s Kass’s pal Dan Proft and cohost Amy Jacobson savoring and wisecracking about the boiled cabbage e-mail on AM 560 a few days before the election.
Kass’s column had little to say about Trump, other than to concede Trump’s “flip response” to the CIA claim was “defensive and somewhat childish.” But also “understandable,” said Kass, “since the Democrats aren’t using the Russia hack story to protect the republic.” Again the reasoning of the crowd Kass disdains seems to be sailing past him. A lot of us think a “childish” response to an accusation of international espionage is not understandable from the next leader of the free world if the next leader is a grown-up—one more reason we’re trying to protect the republic from a President Trump.
I was also reading the New York Times Wednesday morning. I came across a review of the Met’s new Nabucco that made this observation:
Its climactic number is the great “Va, pensiero,” a prayer for God to give these Israelites the courage to endure their suffering and a lament for the homeland from which they have been exiled—a country “so beautiful and lost.” The audience kept applauding until the lilting, sinuous melody was repeated. It may be just what people need to hear right now.
What could critic Zachary Woolfe possibly have meant by that last line? He doesn’t say. We know. Kass knows. Is it to him just more of the self-pity that plagues a pouting left that won’t take its medicine? It isn’t that to Americans who believe we’re watching a childish, impulsive, spiteful lout mindlessly turn the government over to ideologues who intend to tear it apart. It would mean so much if someone with Kass’s acumen would explain to us why we’re wrong, not just why we’re babies.