Wednesday, January 13, 2021



Photo by Win McNamee/Getty, via Center for American Progress, December 1980.

A year or so ago Rectification Central was exercised about the meaning of the word "perfect" as in 

“It was a warm, friendly conversation,” he said, referring to his conversation with Zelensky. “There was no quid pro quo. There was nothing. It was a perfect conversation.”

In what sense was it "perfect"? Without fault or flaw? Is a quid pro quo an "imperfection" that you should avoid, if conversational perfection is your aim? If you're an artist of conversation, would perfection be the standard you aim at? Perfection in some particular aspect, or overall? Who says something like that, about a phone call, and what do they have in mind?

Anyway this morning somebody on NPR—I think it was my girl Nina Totenberg—gave me the clue to what Trump actually meant, by comparing it with the incitement speech Trump gave to the Capitol rioters before their rampage on 6 January, as he described it 

So if you read my speech --
and many people have done it,
and I've seen it both in the papers
and in the media, on television --
it's been analyzed, and people thought
that what I said was totally appropriate.
And if you look at what other people have said --
politicians at a high level -- about the riots
during the summer, the horrible riots in
Portland and Seattle, in various other --
other places, that was a real problem --
what they said. But they've analyzed
my speech and words and my final
paragraph, final sentence and everybody,
to the T, thought it was totally appropriate.

(The theme in the middle section there is the official bothsides line with which the Republicans have approached the achievement, according to which the looting that took place on the edges of the Black Lives Matter marches in Minneapolis and New York in the first days after the murder of George Floyd and the occasional trash fires around the federal courthouse in Portland. were exactly the same as the murderous assault on the Capitol building—"you got to go to the streets and be as violent as Antifa and BLM," said Louie Gohmert on 1 January—though if you don't recall Governor Kate Brown advising anti-fascist agitators to march down to the courthouse, telling them "if you don't fight like hell you don't have a country any more," I think your memory is accurate.)

Whoever it was said it was "a perfect speech", the way the Zelenskyy call was "a perfect conversation", and I realized he meant he thought it was unindictable—that he'd delivered his illicit message with such perfect subtlety that the cops would never be able to finger him for it, with the majesty of Don Vito and his perfect quid pro quo message

That he'd committed the perfect crime. He hoped.

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