Life in the party

by Henry on July 20, 2016

This rather unconvincing effort by Paul Ryan to lipstick the pig in his speech at the second day of the Republican convention:

We Republicans have made our choice. Have we had our arguments this year? Sure we have. You know what I call those? Signs of life. Signs of a party that is not just going through the motions, not just mouthing the words from the same old stuff.

reminds me of an old and likely apocryphal story about Daniel O’Connell’s time as a barrister:

One of O’Connell’s great displays of forensic acuteness took place at Tralee.

The question in dispute touched the validity of a will that had been made almost in articulo mortis. The instrument seemed drawn up in due form, the witnesses gave ample confirmation that it had been legally executed. One of them was an old servant. O’Connell cross-examined him, and allowed him to speak on in the hope that he would say too much. Nor was the hope disappointed. The witness had already sworn that he saw the deceased sign the will. ‘Yes,’ he went on, ‘I saw him sign it and surely there was life in him at the time.’ The expression frequently repeated led O’Connell to suspect that it had a peculiar meaning. Fixing his eyes on the old man, he said ‘You have taken an oath before God and man to speak the truth and the whole truth; the eye of God is upon you, and the eyes of your neighbours are fixed on you too. Answer me by virtue of that sacred and solemn oath which has passed your lips. Was the testator alive when he signed the will?’

The witness quivered; his face grew ashy pale as he repeated, ‘There was life in him.’ The question was reiterated, and at last O’Connell half compelled half cajoled him to admit that, after life was extinct, a pen had been put into the testator’s hand, that one of the party guided it to sign his name, while, as a salve for the consciences of all concerned, a living fly was put into the dead man’s mouth, to qualify the witnesses to bear testimony that ‘there was life in him’ when he signed the will. This fact, literally dragged from the witness, preserved a large property in a respectable and worthy family.

Also, Ryan’s claim that Republicans are “not just mouthing the words from the same old stuff” seems rather poorly phrased, considering. But your mileage may vary.



Painedumonde 07.20.16 at 1:29 pm

Sir, I take exception to your comparison of republicans and pigs. The pig is a fine animal.


que_es 07.20.16 at 1:55 pm

“preserved a large property in a respectable and worthy family”

Well, that’s what they do.


RNB 07.20.16 at 6:02 pm

Great scene! Reminds me of the hated Riderhood in a liminal state between life and death in Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend:

“A disreputable man, a rogue, held in contempt by everyone, is found as he lies dying. Suddenly, those taking care of him manifest an eagerness, respect, even love, for his slightest sign of life. Everybody bustles about to save him, to the point where, in his deepest coma, this wicked man himself senses something soft and sweet penetrating him. But to the degree that he comes back to life, his saviors turn colder, and he becomes once again mean and crude.”

Just let him die.


Howard Frant 07.21.16 at 4:59 am

So even back in the 1920s, people were misusing “literally”?


merian 07.21.16 at 5:03 am

“Literally” has been used figuratively [1] for a very long time. It
s a very 21st century thing to get all huffy about it.

[1] NOT “as a synonym for figuratively”. What really annoys me is not the putative misuse of “literally”, but the definite misuse of “figuratively” that this peeving has engendered.


Lee A. Arnold 07.21.16 at 11:18 am

A debacle much more amazing than Melania. Reports about the Thursday night RNC Cruz speech are fascinating. Comes at the same moment that the NYTimes reports that Trump wants to dishonor NATO obligations.

Thus we see the internal dynamics of the U.S. Republican Party: “Wicked Self-Destruction” vs. “Evilly Incompetent”.

This might be the first US political convention after which the party nominee does not get the normal “convention bounce” upward in the opinion polls. We will know this by the middle of August.

Next, the Trumpsters will try to spin Cruz’ speech to say that the phrase “vote your conscience” means “vote against Hillary, and for Trump”. But the conventioneers on the floor already know better, and this may split the post-election GOP wider.

And more! This could be a GOP future without Ted, despite the Cruzian self-delusion that this helps clear the way for his own candidacy in 2020 or beyond. Instead this may cement the judgment that Cruz “doesn’t play well with others”, and destroy any future chance of a party nomination.

(A bit more wisely, Marco Rubio spoke to party “unity” in a 90-second convention video, no personal appearance.)

Will Texans even re-elect Cruz to Senate in 2018? Not if his Republican senatorial primary opponent can blame Cruz for “President Hillary”.

Thus it is, that an evil self-promoter has inadvertently done some real good for the country, both by refusing to endorse Trump, and by unknowingly and possibly ejecting himself out of government.


bjk 07.21.16 at 11:53 am

Chance Trump wins: 20%
Chance Trump is so embarrassing a president he retroactively disqualifies all his former endorsers: 25%
The risk Cruz would have taken by endorsing Trump: 5%
The risk Cruz takes by behaving like a lyin’ weasel: very high


Moby Hick 07.21.16 at 1:27 pm

For no reason at all except that it’s a lawyer story, I’m going to tell a story that supposedly happened to my dad’s boss and that my dad repeats every time the topic of instructing a jury to disregard testimony comes up.

My dad’s boss was a then young lawyer who had gone out to a small farm on business. Because of the remoteness and the length of the business, he had stayed the night at the farm. In the morning, wishing to make himself useful and leave a good impression, while breakfast was being prepared, he went out to help with the milking. He had a full bucket of milk, but being more than a decade off the farm, he was careless and he sat the bucket on the ground behind another cow. The cow pissed in the bucket of milk just as the farmer was coming around to see it. Before he could apologize for ruining the so much milk, the farmer said, “Don’t worry, we strain it.”


Will G-R 07.21.16 at 3:51 pm


if sentence contains textstring: "literally"
     substitute textstring: "totally"
     run subroutines to check for for sarcasm and/or metaphor
if checks result in no error found
     return textstring: "you're being overreflexively pedantic"


kidneystones 07.21.16 at 9:11 pm

Longtime Cruz supporter describes speech as political suicide

The reaction to Cruz’s speech that came in to me and to CHQ was white hot, quick and devastating to Cruz’s personal and political future. Here are just a few of the comments from prominent conservatives who are attending the Republican National Convention with me and from other individuals who attended a private meeting before which Senator Cruz spoke just a few days ago:

1. I’m ashamed that I voted for Ted Cruz in the Massachusetts’ Republican Primary.

2. I thought Ted Cruz was a man of integrity. Tonight he proved — beyond a shadow of a doubt — that he isn’t. He made a solemn pledge to support the Republican nominee. And he broke that crucial promise.

3. I thought Ted Cruz was a patriot. Tonight, he proved he isn’t. However bitter and angry he is at Donald Trump, he knows that Trump is the only person standing between Hillary Clinton (a liar, a fraud, a thief and a traitor) and the presidency. And yet – after meticulously laying out the case against another 4 to 8 years of leftist tyranny — he refused to endorse the one man who can put an end to our long national nightmare.

4. Cruz wasn’t driven by principle, but by ego. He can’t accept the fact that the party chose Trump over him.
5. Ted Cruz made the worst mistake of his political career. Millions of us will never forget or forgive his betrayal. He will never be his party’s nominee for president. He will never hold the highest office in the land.

6. Pence crushed Cruz. Newt crushed Cruz. Ted Cruz looks like a sore loser. He does not look Reaganesque at all.

7. Ted Cruz is a very small man.

After failing to endorse the Trump – Pence ticket last night, in eyes of most conservatives with whom I spoke, Ted Cruz became just another self-centered politician who walked back on a promise, failed to live up to his own Biblical standards and, when the battle raged the fiercest, put his own petty hurts before the future of his country and the conservative cause.

Nice work, Ted!


Moby Hick 07.22.16 at 12:18 am

I’m certainly not going to entertain the idea that Cruz is a man of integrity and I would be perfectly happy to live in a world where he never held office again, but “political suicide” seems like self-serving bluster from somebody who greatly over-estimates the role of values in Republican primary voting. We’re talking about a party where the winner of the presidential primary changed his views on social issues to match those that are supposedly held deeply by that party literally* the day before the primaries started.

*in the figurative sense


Peter Douglas 07.24.16 at 12:17 pm

All this pedantry about the supposed misuse of the phrase “literally dragged from the witness” but nobody mentions the questionable use of the phrase “likely apocryphal”?

If your gonna go grammar police, at least get the charges right.

“Apocryphal” means of doubtful origin or authenticity so “likely apocryphal” would mean possibly doubtful and possibly not, which is Unnecessary hyperbole.

This is only objectionable because it feeds into a common misconception. Many people have used the word apocryphal to incorrectly mean “false” or “unverified”. So it’s impossible to tell if the author is using the word incorrectly here or just being unnecessarily wordy.

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