Sunday, November 10, 2019

Literary Corner: It must suck to be John Kennedy

Fiddlers Allemande, early 19th-century England? Via Jane Austen's World.

"In three short years, President Trump has doubled the growth in the greatest economy in all of human history. And do you know what our Democratic friends have done for him? Speaker Nancy Pelosi is trying to impeach him. I don’t mean any disrespect, but it must suck to be that dumb." (Senator John Kennedy, R-LA)
Kennedy's Villanelle
The Senate's premiere intellect
regards his audience as scum.
I don't mean any disrespect.
Though Oxford's where he's coming from—
a first at Magdalen, that's correct!
But it must suck to be that dumb.
I wonder if his mind was wrecked
by drugs like methedrine, or rum.
I don't mean any disrespect.
He cannot do a basic sum;
his grade-school taunts have no effect.
But it must suck to be that dumb.
And in faux bayou dialect,
such unremitting pabulum—
I don't mean any disrespect—
it needs to be severely checked
before we're all completely numb.
I don't mean any disrespect,
but it must suck to be that dumb.

It's really too much the way some people accuse other people of "contempt for regular Americans" and the like when they insult their own audiences the way Kennedy treated his in the Trump rally in Monroe, LA, Wednesday night. Suffice it to say he has no idea what he might mean by accusing the Speaker of "trying to impeach" the emperor (she has given the green light to the longstanding desire of some congresspersons to move toward impeachment, and neither she nor they are "trying" to do it—if they decide to do it, as seems likely, they will definitely succeed; where they are likely to fail is in prosecuting the Senate trial, and they're perfectly aware of that, but Kennedy's in the crowd trying to confuse everybody about the difference between impeachment and trial as a vehicle for lying about the legality of the impeachment procedure, so he pretends not to know):
“I didn’t mean disrespect, but I do think what I said is accurate, and let me say it again: I think what Speaker Pelosi is doing is not only dumb, it’s dangerous,” Kennedy said, arguing that the impeachment inquiry is “partisan” and “100 percent political.”
Kennedy added that the impeachment process “offends” him as an American and that the process is “rigged” — despite how Trump is “not nature’s best diplomat.”...
“I think Speaker Pelosi intends to give the President a fair and impartial firing squad, and she made up her mind before she saw the facts,” Kennedy said. (Via TPM)
Shorter: "I think it's dumb because I think it's these other things that I think are bad." I think that's the stupidest argument I've ever heard, but that could be because the current climate is making my memory shorter.

He really did get a first-class hons. degree from Magdalen (pronounced the same as "maudlin", just in case you think I screwed up the rhythm in the second stanza), in civil law, in 1979, after getting BA (Vanderbilt) and JD (U. Virginia). But then he was a Democrat then. He became a Republican almost 30 years later, for his second failed Senate run (against Mary Landrieu), so I suppose that intellectual decline was a gradual development.

What he presumably means by "doubled the growth" is the 80% rise in the GDP growth rate over the two years from 1.6% at the end of 2016 to 2.9% at the end of 2018. Since the rate was also 2.9% in 2015, and will be somewhere around 2.2% in 2019, heading down to 1.9% by 2021, let's just say that statement, in addition to being false on two counts (it would be up 38% over the three-year period, if it were part of an actual pattern), is also meaningless (there is no pattern, other than what looks like a rapid slowdown beginning this year).

Also, as usual, the theory that criminality in a president is justified by a modest increase in growth (it's dumb to impeach a president when the economy was growing 10 months ago—we should be complicit in his crimes because somebody has made a couple of bucks off him) is not deeply only immoral, but in somebody with a law degree extremely dumb; there is no legal principle that you should ignore a crime if you hope to profit from the other activities of the criminal. Harvey Weinstein's work has been great for the economy, should we let him go?

Speaking of dumb, I was so pleased by the rhythm of Kennnedy's idiotic line that I forgot the villanelle rules and inadvertently invented a new form (the two refrain lines are supposed to rhyme with each other, not contrast). This piece should probably be called a villanelle à double refrain.

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