I mean, just look at this guy, will you? Image from MSNBC.
OK, so Donald Trump is going to be doing another townhall-style thing with Chris Matthews tonight, which means two things: 1) you are going to be hearing a lot about “my old boss Tip O’Neil (the over/under on mentions by Matthews is 987), and 2) you’re going to be hearing a lot of nonsense which is mistaken for “telling it like it is.” This isn’t deep prognostication; everything said during the show has already been dissected by the media. The real clambake is when Trump stumbled onto abortion, a topic about which he is as ignorant as anything else.
He basically managed to be both cruel and politically stupid, which are rarely the same thing for the GOP. On the one hand, he basically admitted that women would have to be punished if they sought an abortion when it was banned, which is correct, of course. That’s the hideously logical conclusion to making something illegal, although it’s something the GOP doesn’t like to admit. But more than that- and Charles Pierce thinks this is the big one– in doing so, he reminded us all that when you make safe abortions difficult or impossible to obtain, people will get unsafe ones.
When Belgium and the rest of the Low Countries fell to the Nazis at the outset of WWII, people around the world saw it in grainy newsreels, filtered impersonally through the impassive eye of a camera lens. As it trickled to us, through history, it got even more abstract, made distant and unreal by dint of black-and-white.
This wasn’t the case, of course, when Belgium was attacked by ISIS last week. We had instant updates, graphic color footage, and the tweets and personal videos recorded by thousands of smartphones. Those who weren’t there were safe and unharmed, of course, but didn’t have the comfort of distance.
Those attacks, and their personal immediacy in our lives, give a certain poignancy to Volker Weirdermann’s non-fiction novel (in the nice formulation of Independent reviewer Lucy Sholes) Ostend: Stefan Zweig, Joseph Roth, And The Summer Before The Dark, translated excellently this year by Carol Brown Janeway. In it, a handful of great European writers, including two of the continent’s best, grapple with friendship, love, literature, alcohol, and the looming madness overtaking their homes, ready to burst forth everywhere, as they spend an uneasy summer in the once-idyllic beachfront town on the Belgian coast. Like with today’s social-media carried attacks, we see the end of one reality in an extreme closeup, with unflinching unease.