Saturday, June 30, 2018

Well Said, Mr. POTUS

John William Waterhouse (1845-1917), The remorse of Nero after the murder of his mother, pen and ink, via Artnet.

Do I detect—this is going to sound weird—a note of remorse in our poet-president's response to the newspaper office slaughter in Annapolis on Thursday? Because what does he mean, otherwise, with "shocked the conscience of our nation"? What "shocks the conscience" other than the awareness of guilt?

I'd Like to Address
By Donald J. Trump

I’d like to address the horrific shooting
that took place yesterday at Capital Gazette
newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland.
This attack shocked the conscience of our nation
and filled our hearts with grief. Journalists,
like all Americans, should be free from the fear
of being violently attacked while doing their job.
Horrible, horrible event, horrible thing happened.
In your suffering, we pledge our eternal support.
The suffering is so great... My government will not
rest until we have done everything in our power
to reduce violent crime and to protect innocent life.
I always feel the formula "I'd like to address" is apologetic in its own right, in the sense of if you'd like to, why don't you just do it? But yes, I'm thinking about the intemperate violence of the president's language toward journalists, the way he keeps them caged at his rallies and mocks them for the delectation of the fans, and the failure of society at large to recognize the signs, especially in the murderer's Twitter feed, as reported in the Baltimore Sun:
In a 2014 court filing, Ramos threatened that he wanted to kill Eric Hartley, The Capital columnist who had written about his harassment case.
“Plaintiff has sworn a legal oath he would like to kill Hartley, and he still would,” Ramos wrote.
In October 2014, McCarthy, the lawyer representing Ramos’ harassment victim, asked a judge to order a mental health evaluation for Ramos. McCarthy included a printout of Ramos’ Twitter feed, which he called “disturbing.”
“There exists a very real possibility that at some point in time, Mr. Ramos will take these violent fetishes as expressed in print, and will try to carry them out in person, and the nature of the posts provides proof that threats have escalated over time,” McCarthy wrote. “This Court should absolutely consider a mental health evaluation before a tragedy occurs.”
Hartley and the then editor and publisher, Thomas Marquardt, don't work there any more, but that didn't stop the killer. The killer was out to kill journalists, in general. And Trump almost defers to that with his hint at a kind of "JournalistLivesMatter", that they don't deserve to be killed while they're doing their jobs, though he quickly comes back to clarify he doesn't quite mean that: "Journalists, like all Americans".

Also interesting, to my mind, how his syntax breaks down after that effort, "horrible event, horrible thing happened," and a strangled diction of fragmented clichés conveys his literally inarticulate grief —"we pledge our eternal support" (to whom?), "the suffering", "My government will not rest" (more like a British sovereign than a US president), "protect innocent life" (an odd way of designating the folks he's so often called the "enemy of the people").

Vice President Mike Pence took an unusual descent on the Twitter into the land of poetry in his own right, in enthusiastic response to the president-emperor's remarks, in the form of a sort of blank limerick:

Well Said, Mr. POTUS
By Mike Pence

Well said, Mr. @POTUS. No journalist
should ever feel afraid to go
   into their newsroom and do
   the important reporting they do
for their communities.
Broadening and extending the list of thing journalists shouldn't be afraid of from violent crime to, well, virtually anything, and in this way subtly recasting the blame, and the shocked consciences, on them: we're not talking about how they were killed any more, we're talking about how they were frightened about something. And nothing, of course, about the easy availability of firearms to people who openly say they're homicidal.

In Other News:

Artlessness from ex-governor Mike Huckabee, the press secretary's and by extension the president's concerned dad:
"If he put Moses up for the possibility of being Supreme Court Justice — the ultimate lawgiver, the Ten Commandments — they would still be against it," Huckabee said during an appearance on Fox News’s "America's Newsroom.”
You bet I would! Moses? I can't believe so-called conservative Mike Huckabee is entertaining such a terrible idea. Talk about legislating from the bench! And Moses has extreme radical views on the Free Exercise clause.

Moses destroying the Golden Calf, Andrea Celesti, 1681, via AKG.

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