The Historovox Complex

by Corey Robin on February 20, 2019

I’ve got a new gig at New York Magazine, where I’ll be a regular contributor, writing on politics and other matters. Here, in my first post, I tackle “the Historovox” (my wife Laura came up with the phrase), that complex of journalism and academic research that we increasingly see at places like VoxFiveThirtyEight, and elsewhere. Long story, short: while I firmly believe in academics writing for the public sphere—Crooked Timber remains the Gold Standard as far as I’m concerned—there are better and worse ways to do it. This should be a topic of interest to lots of folks around here, and I’m grateful to Henry for offering his initial thoughts on the matter to me, though in retrospect I wish I had incorporated one of his points.

Here are some excerpts:


There’s a bad synergy at work in the Historovox — as I call this complex of scholars and journalists — between the short-termism of the news cycle and the longue durée-ism of the academy. Short-term interests and partisan concerns still drive reporting and commentary. But where the day’s news once would have been narrated as a series of events, the Historovox brings together those events in a pseudo-academic frame that treats them as symptoms of deeper patterns and long-term developments. Unconstrained by the protocols of academe or journalism, but drawing on the authority of the first for the sake of the second, the Historovox skims histories of the New Deal or rifles through abstracts of meta-analysis found in JSTOR to push whatever the latest line happens to be.


When academic knowledge is on tap for the media, the result is not a fusion of the best of academia and the best of journalism but the worst of both worlds. On the one hand, we get the whiplash of superficial commentary: For two years, America was on the verge of authoritarianism; now it’s not. On the other hand, we get the determinism that haunts so much academic knowledge. When the contingencies of a day’s news cycle are overlaid with the laws of social science or whatever ancient formation is trending in the precincts of academic historiography, the political world can come to seem more static than it is. Toss in the partisan agendas of the media and academia, and the effects are as dizzying as they are deadening: a news cycle that’s said to reflect the universal laws of the political universe where the laws of the political universe change with every news cycle.



The job of the scholar is not to offer her expertise to fit the needs of the pundit class. It’s to call those needs into question, not to provide different answers to the same questions but to raise the questions that aren’t being asked.


Everyone knows and cites Orwell’s famous adage: “To see what is front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.” Less cited is what follows: “One thing that helps toward it is to keep a diary, or, at any rate, to keep some kind of record of one’s opinions about important events. Otherwise, when some particularly absurd belief is exploded by events, one may simply forget that one ever held it.” To see what’s right in front of one’s nose doesn’t mean seeing without ideology. It means keeping track of how we think and have thought about things, being mindful of what was once on the table and what has disappeared from view. It means avoiding the gods of the present.


The job of the scholar, in other words, is to resist the tyranny of the now. That requires something different than knowledge of the past; indeed, historians have proven all too useful to the Historovox, which is constantly looking for academic warrants to say what its denizens always and already believe. No, the job of the scholar is to recall and retrieve what the Marxist critic Walter Benjamin described as “every image of the past that is not recognized by the present.” The task is not to provide useful knowledge to the present; it is to insist on, to keep a record of, the most seemingly useless counter-knowledge from the past — for the sake of an as-yet-to-be imagined future.



The whole thing is here.

{ 32 comments }

1

Semanticleo 02.20.19 at 8:06 pm

The everlasting dichotomy of seeing an accurate reality and that which we wish to perceive is the human gadfly in the journalistic ointment.

Great people have great tragic flaws just ask Macbeth

2

Sashas 02.20.19 at 11:19 pm

Very thought-provoking, Corey. Thank you.

I read both Vox and FiveThirtyEight quite regularly, and have since their respective inceptions. Both were born (according to their public statements) out of a desire to improve journalism by adding context. In the case of Vox, their founding mandate is to “explain the news”. They argued that simply reporting the news without an accompanying explanation is negligent, bad journalism. FiveThirtyEight rose to prominence by providing statistical analysis related to political and sports claims, eventually branching out into journalism at large. In particular, I suspect that the writers and editors at Vox would specifically call out this

a news cycle that’s said to reflect the universal laws of the political universe where the laws of the political universe change with every news cycle

as an apt description of the phenomenon that their organization was created to fight against. If I read your article correctly, you are accusing these organizations and those like them of perpetrating a scam where they pretend to undertake the project I’ve described above, but where they actually engage in simple propaganda, using context (and the authority-laden trappings of that context) to promote the journalistic fad of the moment. That’s a pretty damning accusation, and I’m not sure you get there.

I am pretty sure most theories, fad or otherwise, contain a “because” clause. For example, I remember that the “weak presidency” theory as applied to Obama went roughly that the presidency is weak because they cannot magic legislation into being in the face of an uncooperative Congress. This would only then be relevant if a president both (a) wants legislation and (b) faces an uncooperative Congress. Trump has largely met neither qualification. I haven’t done a thorough check of your examples, but the one from Vox seems to be talking about a president’s power to erode norms, for example, which is entirely compatible with the “weak presidency” theory.

The case of Trump as tyrant versus Trump as “flailing” is also interesting to me, because I remember reading about Trump’s incompetence and incoherence all the way back to before he became president. Given that I feel both are simultaneously accurate descriptions (and have been consistently throughout his term), it’s a little weird to see you call someone out for using one and then the other.

Moving away from specific examples, I read your article as putting forward a pretty bleak picture for non-academics who want to improve journalism. I would, to the contrary, suggest that organizations like Vox or FiveThirtyEight are a massive improvement on “traditional” journalism, and I would like to see a reduction in the amount of news that is reported without context.

3

NickS 02.20.19 at 11:26 pm

I recognize the pattern you’re describing, but I also note that the institutions that you name also make attempts* to be self-aware about those risks.

So, I wonder, isn’t it possible to avoid throwing the baby out with the bathwater — to criticize “explanatory journalism” done badly while recognizing and praising it done well?

* Also multiple follow-ups.

4

b9n10nt 02.20.19 at 11:48 pm

But how exactly does a society incentivize institutions to go deep (or “thick”) into topics, to slow us down, to rescue us from current tunneling preoccupations?

So far, the only half-answer that modern society has provided is “insulate researchers and students from market forces.”

Mine’s a well-worn analysis, of course. Not gonna generate much content. But I don’t think anything particularly novel is happening with the Historovox Complex.

When middle class suburbanites became health conscious, the food industry gave us the spectacle of healthy eating (low fat! low calories!). Nowadays, we are more literate and more educated than we’ve ever been before. And so now the info. industry is giving us the spectacle of in-depth analysis.

What else should we expect? What would a Michael Pollan (“eat whole foods, mostly plants, not too much”) of academia say: Read books, mostly academic, not too news-worthy?

5

politicalfootball 02.21.19 at 2:34 am

How did we get here? Fourteen months ago, Vox’s Matt Yglesias was making ominous comparisons to Hitler, warning that Trump was “organizing an authoritarian regime.” Now he thinks Trump’s “flailing” and can’t “get anything done.” Where did all the tyranny go?

You seem to misapprehend Yglesias’ comparison from 14 months ago, and you don’t provide a direct link to him — here is the link — but you do quote him accurately:

Even Adolf Hitler was dismissed by many as a buffoon.

Yglesias’ plain intent was not merely to compare Trump to Hitler, but to contrast him with Hitler as well. I think you ignore the work that “Even” does in that sentence. Yglesias is explicitly stating that Trump is no Hitler, but being a buffoon doesn’t exempt someone from being dangerous. That seems correct to me, but in any event, you make no attempt to rebut the point that Yglesias is actually making.

As for your rhetorical question about where the tyranny went, Yglesias couldn’t have been clearer, even 11 months before the election. Here is his first paragraph:

If Republicans hold on to both houses of Congress in this year’s midterm elections, the American system of government could very well collapse into Donald Trump’s distinctive — and disturbing — vision of a personalized, authoritarian state.

In fact, in the 2018 election, the Democrats took the House. That’s where the tyranny went.

Yglesias is explicitly not saying that it was likely the Republicans would keep both houses, merely that it would be dangerous for democracy if they did so. Yglesias devotes a number of paragraphs in the very item you quoted to an alternate vision of what would happen if Democrats took control of a house of Congress. So — again, 14 months ago and 11 months before the election — Yglesias directly, explicitly, unambiguously explained where the tyranny would go if one of the houses of Congress went to the Democrats. He wanted people to vote for Democrats.

You fall prey here to the same issue that led you astray when you mocked the people who worried about Trump becoming president in the first place. The people you denigrated were not worried about Trump because they were sure that he would be elected, but because they thought his election was a live, dangerous possibility. Eleven months before the congressional election, Republican control of all three branches of government was a live possibility, and Yglesias was right to regard it as dangerous, even if he thought that scenario was unlikely.

Again quoting the actual Yglesias article:

Public opinion polling suggests that the merged Trump-establishment party is hideously unpopular and headed for electoral defeat.

Yglesias was completely clear on the likelihood of the scenario he was discussing.

6

Patrick 02.21.19 at 2:47 am

Vox isn’t completely terrible, but they do have a tendency to treat “common wisdom” within their particular journalistic circle as the equivalent of fact and as a result I read them with a very skeptical eye. I don’t know that Vox counts as furthering

“a news cycle that’s said to reflect the universal laws of the political universe where the laws of the political universe change with every news cycle”

but I do think they’re a lot closer to it than they’d like us to think.

They make the sort of missteps their target audience is least likely to want to catch.

7

Alan White 02.21.19 at 3:21 am

Thank you for this–scholars should indeed shun the magnetic pull of commentary allied with historical trappings just to produce an ongoing present-sense notoriety.

A worry I have is a meta-one. In the old days media had such few outlets that major powers could set themselves against one another. I’m thinking about the fact that CBS used to have Eric Sevareid actively commenting after the news against Buckley on PBS. But now sources of info and commentary have multiplied via the Internet to the proportions that invoke complexity theory–chaos theory–where initial causes, small and large (FB, Tweets, etc.) can multiply into proportions that drive the commentariat climate, much like the Butterfly Effect. I know it’s only a partial and imperfect analogy, but it seems to be relevant to explaining the fact that the trajectories of comment and overall political reaction seem just as unpredictable as complexity theory holds.

8

Mark J. McPherson 02.21.19 at 4:47 am

Congratulations Corey and good luck on your new endeavor! You have hit the ground running in a thought-provoking first post. Whether in the right or wrong direction is a matter for the comments at your new gig!

9

Marc 02.21.19 at 12:14 pm

Thanks Corey. One striking thing about operations like Vox is that they almost never contradict the biases of their audience. Propaganda that is more subtle than Fox News is still propaganda.

10

politicalfootball 02.21.19 at 3:36 pm

Congrats on the new gig, Cory. As noted above, I think your reading of the specific case you are describing — liberal pundits’ worries about Trump’s impact on democracy — is flawed, but I also wanted to take issue with your larger point about the effort to incorporate scholarship into journalism.

As a New York writer, you appropriately grant yourself an exemption from those concerns (“I firmly believe in academics writing for the public sphere”), but I don’t think you’ve made the case that the “Historovox” is a systematic problem worthy of the label that you give it. The actual issue, to the extent that it exists, is the normal human fallibility of journalists and academics, and not something systematically corrupt about their interaction.

I’m onboard with part of your point: That there is an inherent conflict between academic thinking and journalistic thinking, but I think Vox and others have made a generally valid effort to reconcile the priorities of the two disciplines.

I think your thesis requires two components:

1. Journalistic misuse of historians.
2. Complicity of historians in that misuse.

How Democracies Die is prominent among your cited examples of the way that journalists employ academics. It is clear that Harvard political scientists Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have been used by journalists, and are complicit in that use.

But have they been misused? Well, I haven’t read the book, but I have read a lot of the journalistic commentary on it. Everybody seems to agree on what the book says, and if Levitsky and Ziblatt object, I haven’t heard about it.

But of course, your point is that they are complicit — that they are allowing the misapplication of their work. Or maybe the Historovox exists because poorly thought-through academic work is given a systematic preference by Vox-type journalists. This is different from merely observing a case where the journalists or the academic sources they rely on are wrong.

You’re making a point about process, so you have to go beyond the results and discuss how the process fails. If you could show us that Levitsky and Ziblatt’s work is being abused by journalists, or that journalists have selected their work because it is flawed, then I think you’d make your case.

But I think that Vox and 538 and their ilk are admirably aware of the potential for abuse of academic work, and do a good (if not flawless) job of avoiding that. They exist, in fact, because they correctly recognized the failure of conventional journalism to appropriately use academic sources, and have made significant strides toward addressing that problem.

11

politicalfootball 02.21.19 at 3:37 pm

I’m grateful to Henry for offering his initial thoughts on the matter to me, though in retrospect I wish I had incorporated one of his points.

Don’t just leave us hanging here! What point of Henry’s did you omit? (Did I miss something?)

12

LFC 02.21.19 at 4:35 pm

@Alan White
Buckley was not a commentator on a PBS newscast the way Sevareid was on CBS. Rather Buckley had his own program. So the two stood in a different relation to their host channels. Prob doesn’t affect your broader point but thought worth noting anyway.

I think Corey”s piece should have been more specific about what “counter-knowledge” is (and isn’t).

13

Lawrence Maggitti 02.21.19 at 5:44 pm

I know it doesn’t go to the heart of Corey’s argument, but to expand on #5’s point:

Even setting aside the very good point that a big difference between 2017 and now is the fact that the Democrats control the house, it is entirely possible that a president can be “flailing” and yet still an authoritarian threat. How? Partly a product of the power of the office, and partly because he is normalizing authoritarian tactics. His flailing unfortunately isn’t discrediting his authoritarian tactics in many people’s eyes. This is not a new or subtle point.

Corey is great to read because he is right about a lot, and in ways that are outside “mainstream” opinion. But he has blind spots a mile wide.

14

Jim Harrison 02.21.19 at 5:48 pm

That Trump is weak and incompetent in obvious ways and very likely to self destruct has been a common view from the beginning. It was and is mine, for example. From the point of view of his enablers, however, it is far from clear that his administration is a failure. The Republicans got their tax cuts and right-wing judges. The cultural nationalists got their license to surface in public debate. The Russians got a serious disruption of the American alliance system. The fossil fuel industry delayed measures to curb emissions. Corporate agriculture got the ability to profit from dangerous pesticides. Of course it may be that these victories will prove ephemeral and the temporary triumph of the right will reenergize a progressive left. Who knows? As Corey himself points out, politics is more dynamic than we (or at least the pundits) suppose; but if the right is fighting a rear-guard action, it’s a damned impressive one and they’re already fortified their gains. In the long run we’re all dead, but supreme court justices can take a long time dying.

15

anon/portly 02.21.19 at 6:21 pm

Ensconced at Vox, FiveThirtyEight, dedicated pages of the Washington Post and the New York Times, and across Twitter, the explainers place great stock in the authority of scholarship — and in journalists who know how to wield the authority of scholars.

There’s one thing that’s missing from the world of the explainers, though: facts.

But where the day’s news once would have been narrated as a series of events, the Historovox brings together those events in a pseudo-academic frame that treats them as symptoms of deeper patterns and long-term developments.

And the article helpfully links to a perfect example:

https://nplusonemag.com/online-only/online-only/the-politics-trump-makes/

At the end of each regime—after it has completed its three-quarter orbit of reconstruction, articulation, and preemption—comes the politics of “disjunction.” Jimmy Carter is the most recent case; before him, there was Herbert Hoover and Franklin Pierce. Disjunctive Presidents are affiliated with a tottering regime. They sense its weaknesses, and in a desperate bid to save the regime try to transform its basic premises and commitments. Unlike reconstructive Presidents, these figures are too indebted to the regime to break with it. But the regime is too dissonant and fragmented to offer the resources these Presidents need to transform it. They find themselves in the most perilous position of all—hated by all, loved by none—and their administrations often occasion a new round of reconstruction. John Adams gives way to Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams to Andrew Jackson, Carter to Reagan.

A lengthy discussion of political “regimes,” where with respect to presidents like Carter and Hoover, there is almost nothing about the monetary policy regime (failures) of their time. (An “inflation” crisis and Volcker’s appointment are mentioned; not their importance; hence “almost”). The single most important “fact,” or set of facts, obviously, that anyone who wants to understand the Carter or Hoover administrations needs to think about and take into account. How more “pseudo-academic” could such an account possibly be?

16

Kenny Easwaran 02.21.19 at 6:38 pm

Isn’t this just the problem with interdisciplinarity generally? We want the best of both worlds. We more often get the worst of both. But if we get the worst of both, with the insights cross-pollinating each other, we still get something of real value. I don’t see that it’s better to keep journalism and academia separate, and I don’t see something that does what Corey Robin would imagine to be a better blend of the two getting any sort of market share. (Then again, I wouldn’t have expected Vox and FiveThirtyEight to get much traction beyond me and my closest friends.)

17

Manoel Galdino 02.21.19 at 7:49 pm

It seems to me that the problem is not of Vox and the likes, but the problem of applying science results of complex phenomena to single instances. If something very likely doesn’t happen, what does this mean? Not much, since there was a small porbability of it nothing happening.
What Vox, 538 and the like do when they apply findings from science to singular cases is hard, specially because the science is probably underestimating the uncertainty of their results.
Another question I have is this: If I understand your argument correctly, academy does not have anything to say about current events? If we take this seriously, should climate scientists say nothing about the fact that the earth is getting warmer every year, and talk only about the long term (when we will be dead and the planet burned)? Really? Social scientist should not assess criminal reforms? Or the basic income? How many of CT contributions would stand in this regard?

A lot of good academic pieces are devoted to understand how racism shaped Trump’s election, or the effect of fake news and they are motivated by current events. Causality and transportability (see Pearls work) are key features of good empirical research and they allow us to talk about current and future events. So, I don’t get why academia should not be concerned with the present. It should, even if it takes more time than journalism to provide some answers to the questions that we have about the now.

18

Dave 02.21.19 at 10:18 pm

Drawing on academic institutional knowledge to produce and inform journalism seems perfectly reasonable and generally successful. Really unpersuasive piece here!

19

eg 02.22.19 at 3:47 am

@14

Yes, they do die slowly.

So I foresee court packing …

20

MaryS 02.22.19 at 7:59 am

I agree with those who are unconvinced by this argument/analysis. I work for a unlock policy think tank and our researchers most definitely want to contribute to ongoing discussions and debates. Of course, these contributions do not keep step with day-to-day news cycles — it takes a while to obtain, clean, and analyze data, after all. Not that we get all that much play in major media outlets, but there is, naturally, some concern about findings being misrepresented. I gotta say, though, that the worst distortions i’ve seen have occurred in conservative media.

There are many Vox articles with framing and/or analyses that I find lacking. If I think I know anything about the subject being covered, I often write to object or complain or whatever. This just seems normal — I do not expect to find everything I read convincing.

21

marc 02.22.19 at 1:10 pm

I find the responses here fascinating and depressing. Corey’s point, as I understood it, was that outlets like Vox don’t use sober analysis to interpret current events: they use them as support for whatever agenda they were currently pushing, one that favors the prejudices and preferences of their team. This is *not* the same as saying that scholars should not engage with the general public.

To pick a random example: scrolling down the Vox website there is an article about how hate crimes really are a problem, despite a high profile apparent fraud. Perfectly believable, right? Except that the use of statistics in that article is appalling and sloppy. The article implies that there are hundreds of thousands of violent hate crimes a year, on painfully thin grounds. It’s simply a repetition of a mantra, with a few numbers thrown in at random to lend some authority. There could be a fruitful discussion, but this sort of analysis is painfully lacking *even if the headline is true*.

Another difference between Corey (and me) and a lot of the people pushing back is where we stand on the political spectrum. If you don’t buy into the Vox mindset – the solution to all problems is a complex formula on a spreadsheet – then the level of propaganda becomes easier to see.

22

politicalfootball 02.22.19 at 4:10 pm

anon/portly @15:

Hah! I didn’t realize right away that you had linked to Prof. Robin. I do think that article demonstrates a contradiction in Corey’s thinking, but I’m inclined to spin it the opposite way that you do.

If I read you rightly, you regard the nplusone article as an example of the “Historovox.” (And are thus you are tweaking Corey for hypocrisy.) As I suggested @10, I would propose instead that the nplusone article shows that the Historovox isn’t a useful concept.

I actually am onboard with your critique of Skowronek’s work. I’m not terribly impressed with the analytical rigor of his thesis about presidencies. But he’s a serious-minded scholar whose work deserves a hearing, and Corey’s interpretation strikes me as reasonable and appropriate (even though I disagree with that, too).

There is a difference between saying, “I disagree with this scholar or journalist,” and “There is a systematic problem with the way outlets like Vox and 538 employ the work of scholars.”

In the case of the nplusone article, as with other work in this category, honest and intelligent journalistic treatment of legitimate scholarship is fine with me, and I think that’s what Robin, Vox and 538 do, by and large.

23

MaryS 02.22.19 at 4:18 pm

Oops! Should be “public policy,” not “unlock policy” — probably a combination of bad typing and autocorrect overreach.

24

William Timberman 02.22.19 at 5:37 pm

Pundits remind me a little of the Salieri of Amadeus. The appearance, seemingly out of nowhere, of a phenomenon like Trump leaves them staring at a single page of manuscript, hearing in their inner ear a music that simply cannot be, and yet right there in front of them is the proof that it did indeed come from somewhere nearby. Astonishing, unprecedented, they tell us. Possibly dangerous, they tell us.

Then, after that first out of body experience, they remember that as far as any of the great unwashed are aware, they’re still the experts, and in any event there’s no way anyone can hold them personally responsible for the Almighty’s notoriously capricious sense of humor. Order is restored, and on we all go. Democracy Dies in Darkness, tra la, tra la….

25

Lawrence Maggitti 02.23.19 at 2:19 pm

“Pundits remind me a little of the Salieri of Amadeus. The appearance, seemingly out of nowhere, of a phenomenon like Trump leaves them staring at a single page of manuscript, hearing in their inner ear a music that simply cannot be, and yet right there in front of them is the proof that it did indeed come from somewhere nearby. Astonishing, unprecedented, they tell us. Possibly dangerous, they tell us.”

Okay, this is monumentally wrong even by typical CT standards. The pundits can be legitimately criticized on all too many fronts, but on this point they understand Trump all too well. One can certainly argue that they don’t understand how to counter him, but what he IS, and why he appeals to a large minority of the populace, is all too obvious. And comparing him to Mozart … I realize that you’re being intentionally provocative, but that’s too absurd to work even as a troll.

26

John Garrett 02.23.19 at 6:53 pm

I value journalism with its nose in the dirt of day to day reality. Adding the academic spin pulls away to greater abstraction, which dilutes the core of journalism. In WAR AND PEACE Tolstoy discusses the histories of the great battles of 1812, which stressed strategy and tactics and had nothing whatsoever with what actually happened on the ground, which was governed by individual and small group action unrelated to planning. That’s how the real world works and great rooted journalism takes me there.

27

Semanticleo 02.23.19 at 11:23 pm

#21 ,Mark

I certainly hope you use similar metrics on those of the Trump Bund.

Propaganda is perceivable only when you are paranoid in pursuit.

Apply thy mustard plaster on thyself.

28

William Timberman 02.24.19 at 12:51 am

Lawrence Maggitti @ 25 (02.23.19 at 2:19 pm)

Now that he’s arrived, of course they’ve got him all figured out. That’s what pundits are for — after the fact confirmation of the status quo. All I’m saying is that they didn’t see him coming. More to the point, they couldn’t possibly have seen him coming, any more than Forman’s Salieri could have anticipated being undone (after all his conniving) by an apparent idiot savant.

No, LM, I wasn’t comparing Trump to Mozart. What I was trying to suggest was that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in the commedia dell’arte We’re pleased to think of as political prognostication. This is a good thing, I think. Even the worst possible manifestation of the holy accident can at least teach us a little humility. Or we can blame the Russians. Yeah, that’d be the ticket. Going forward, as we pundits like to say….

29

stewart henderson 02.24.19 at 1:05 am

I found this piece rather tedious, and full of itself – I started skimming by halfway through. I thought of the difference between showing and telling. It tells us what the ‘explainers’ think, without really showing us – providing the evidence. And it over-generalises wildly. I read pundits as individuals, not as part of a category – explainers, scholars, historovoxers, whatever. All this talk of ‘they’ doesn’t really go anywhere. It creates straw people to feel superior about.

30

Dave Heasman 02.24.19 at 2:17 pm

” on this point they understand Trump all too well”

Yes, it’s America they’re thrown by. How a rapey moron would-be thug crook coward could be nominated by “conservatives” and voted for by over 50% of white women.

31

nastywoman 02.24.19 at 2:30 pm

”Why Has It Taken Us So Long to See Trump’s Weakness”?

It only took ”highly educated” and ”serious” pundits and scholars so long.

Anybody ”deeply superficial”-(or ”comical”) right away identified Von Clownstick as a ”Poor German Baron” pretending to be a ”Rich American Billionaire” in order to impress the ”Deeply Superficial” with his ability to s… on golden toilets.
so wonderfully point to the simple fact –
(a fact only European Historians might be able to recognize right away) –

It’s all about ‘taxation’ –

How an American idiot can make all other American idiots belief he is on their side.

And about:
”Ever since the election of Donald Trump, pundits and scholars have been sounding the alarm over the authoritarian or fascist turn of American politics, preparing us for that moment when the president would throw off the shackles of his office and seize power”.

If Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert and Alex Baldwin wouldn’t have stopped him – he would have done it – if he could have done it –
As didn’t Von Clownstick tweet ”SNL should be looked into – as US comedy will be his downfall and NOT useless pundits and scholars.

32

TM 02.25.19 at 5:18 pm

Good points politicalfootball. It is sad that CR is still flogging this sick horse “Trump isn’t nearly as dangerous as everybody thinks”, after all the damage he has already done. Willful blindness seems at work. Confirmation bias is all too common among academics, not just pundits or journalists (cf the Yglesias quote that CR presents as confirming his bias while in fact as shown in 5 doing nothing of the sort).

The last quoted paragraph is well written but it is easy to misunderstand Benjamin’s quote as a call to mere contrarianism. And that is getting old.

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