On short notice I did a take for The Baffler with probably the best title ever – "Attorney-Tyrant Privilege." Ha. Get it. See what was done there.

My adviser in graduate school was known for her work, which I've mentioned many times here over the years, on the "constructed explanation." That is, when an event happens in politics there is an industry of media and political insiders who work to propose various explanatory narratives. Over time, one or two of these are settled upon as "the" explanation. Similarly, parties as organized coalitions have a running narrative that, in the age of Trump, requires more regular updating than usual.

Check it out, I'm pretty happy with this one.

31 thoughts on “THE SHIFTING STORY”

  • Awesome, as always. I fantasize about what its going to be like when its all over and we can mock these idiots mercilessly, reversing everything they tried to do while we try to piece back together a functioning federal executive.

  • When this is all over, assuming we are not all dead or in the throes of terminal radiation sickness, I say we nail the first asshole who tries to "whoda thunk it??" this slow-motion trainwreck to the nearest tree with rusty railroad spikes.

  • "I say we nail the first asshole who tries to "whoda thunk it??"

    If you've paid any attention you know that this kind of introspection and self-awareness is well beyond the reach of any and every GOP partisan. Expect at best to hear crickets and at worse a "it was really the democrats, evil left, feminists fault".
    The sane portion of the population already know what a shit-show we're living in and could tell it was going to happen before it did.

  • Paul Ryan bailed rather than deal with it. I've been saying for a long time that Trump's term in office would end on the day that Paul Ryan decides he's better off without Trump than with him. I never dreamed that Ryan one day would wake up, feel the waters lapping around his hairless tail, and jump ship, leaving Trump to rave in the wheelhouse. Whoda thunkit? I guess Ryan's pusillanimity proved in the end to be greater than his lust for power. What would Ayn Rand have said about that?

  • Rats go down with the ship, but weasels get off at the port ahead.

    I’m not a fan of Paul Ryan or his Rand worship, but I will begrudgingly admit that he seems to have principles after all.

  • Ed- Great work. Would be nice if self-awareness ran even skin deep on the right, though. Dadude is right, though. There will always be people ready to believe that Obama/Hillary/the UN is responsible for all bad things. Facts currently in evidence have not changed their minds. Why would ANYTHING Trump says or does be any different?

    Safety Man!- Ryan’s got the same principles and ideals as Trump: use whatever leverage you have to make yourself rich. Just because Trump poisoned the RNC well and Ryan has to find a new one now doesn’t mean he’s acting out of conscience. He just sees how optically bad an election loss as Speaker would be for his political future. Honestly, I think he’d probably still win if he ran. The misinformation campaign run under the banner of Both Sides Do It is so entrenched. There is nothing Trump can do that won’t lead to immediate whataboutism, followed by the facts escaping down the memory hole.

  • Emerson Dameron says:

    It's going to be interesting to see how Trump's rhetorical defense strategy works for Eric Greitens. He and Roy Moore have tripled down on Trump's big insight that most of these knuckle-draggers will accept any and all right-wing conspiracy theories on their face.

  • Both siderism appears in strange places. I think I have been banned from commenting at Naked Capitalism because I question a common meme that Trump was a good thing attacking the deep State and all that stuff.

    Heck…I don't like the Dems myself, so…

  • Emerson Dameron says:

    @Brian M:

    A lot of leftists are still so angry at Hillary Clinton that they flirt with Trump apologetics, but anyone who think Trump is a threat to any DC corruption, at this point, is disingenuous or dangerously deluded.

  • Bart Hobson says:

    I think it's part of the pathology of America's pseudo conservatives that they can't imagine the future. Remember Condi Rice saying "no one could imagine" a terrorist using a plane to attack a building, when Tom Clancy had written a novel about it years before? Maybe if you want the world to return to a misremembered past, you can't project into the future to imagine what could happen, even when you have all the necessary evidence in front of you.

  • Paul Ryan will be running for President in 2020, 2024 latest. He's gonna be an "outsider" who'll "drain the swamp" ha ha.

    And JFC there IS no explanation for the Pres*'s behavior. I thought we were all gonna DIE Wednesday night thanks to his "shiny smart missiles" tweet. But that's already been walked back, and who the fuck even KNOWS what's going on with North Korea?

    Anyway, the GOP's NEVER gonna impeach, and I'll be really surprised it the Dems tried it even if they win a House majority in November. Remember 2006? Trump may be a frightening idiot, but W. started a war based on a bullshit campaign and approved torture and warrantless wiretapping. (Pelosi: "impeachment is off the table".) Even if they win majorities in the House AND Senate (unlikely imo, esp. the Senate) the Dems won't pull the trigger either. I think we're stuck with the GEB for at least 2 more years, assuming we don't end up toe to toe with the Russkies in Syria or Iran.

  • Yes. A concise demonstration of why I feel like a gnat in jello these days.
    This could all be stopped. But it won't be. An no one will ever take the blame or apologize or go to prison.

  • "Looks like nothing matters anymore, kids. Go ahead and eat the fucking Tide pods. Why not."

    I'm dyin' here.

    "The true narrative of all 446 days of this Dadaist exhibition…"

    Yeah, but at least Dada was absurdity with a point.

  • good to see you getting more and more published articles, ed.

    a small critique: you could have done without the "fucking" in "eat the fucking Tide pods". it seemed out of place – like the tide pod stupidity was irking you more than the situation with trump and his sycophants' behaviour.

  • Emerson Dameron says:


    I don't think Paul Ryan is nearly as tenacious or shameless as Newt Gingrich. And I think the X-treme Libertarian era of conservative politics is coming to an end. His tax cuts will be as popular as Dennis Hastert in 2024.

  • postcaroline says:

    Brilliant. And surely getting to write for a publication where you can state "Looks like nothing matters anymore, kids. Go ahead and eat the fucking Tide pods" has to be far more satisfying than negotiating the peer review process, no?

  • One week after he's gone, Trump will be "not a true Republican." They'll use him while they can, then discard him for the next shiny white guy in a suit.

  • My Quatloos are on Ryan securing a nice, cushy lobbying job while he's still got some of that steamy one-percenter jizz on his chin from the Billions for Billionaires bukkake party.

    Ryan hasn't grown a conscience; he's always been a self-serving turd and notoriously not-particularly-thrilled with being in a leadership position that would require, yannow, Doing Stuff. Yeah, I get it. Herding a bunch of racist cats every damn day can definitely harsh your mellow, and you're accustomed to bullshitting your way through everything. You're also surrounded by cowardly assholes that will happily throw you under the bus to save their own hides. Boehner's lifestyle is probably looking pretty damn sweet right now.

    The GOP has proven that they're all a bunch of whores who would gladly put up with anything in any orifice if it meant they'd get a blank check from a blithering idiot to implement all the bullshit their hearts desire. As mercenaries that will use Trump until he no longer serves their purpose, it's a matter of simple cost-benefit analysis. They are scattering like cockroaches because he's finally becoming more work than he's worth.

    The Usual Suspects are already trying to No-True-Scotsman the fuck out of this (starting by divorcing themselves of all responsibility for producing the leader of their party by dubbing it "Trumpism", rather than what it is; Republicanism):

  • "In any country in which The Leader’s bad moods are breaking news, the line between wild-eyed predictions and likely chains of events blurs perilously."

    Holy crap. Curls up in ball. Whimpers at the thought of a Pence Presidency. Weeps at the thought of a Ryan Presidency. Pulls covers over head.

  • @Dave Dell; yeah, it's reprehensible monsters all the way down. This is one reason why I don't feel strongly about impeaching Trump; Pence would be much worse because he's not openly appalling; he's SNEAKILY appalling. And Ryan? :::shudder:::

  • Indeed, who knows what even now is slouching towards Washington? Somewhere out there might be effective fascists…

  • "My Quatloos are on Ryan securing a nice, cushy lobbying job while he's still got some of that steamy one-percenter jizz on his chin from the Billions for Billionaires bukkake party."

    That might be the lovliest bit of teh HAWT "Males on Males KKKonservKKKongrifterz porn" that I've ever read!

  • The epitome of "constructed explanations" are the daily headlines attributing capital market moves to this or that. I prefer reading goat entrails.

  • "I’m not a fan of Paul Ryan or his Rand worship, but I will begrudgingly admit that he seems to have principles after all."

    Oh, STOP!!!
    He's made a (smart) bet that the implosion of tthe Trump president is going to be very messy and he's getting o0ut of Dodge while the getting's good. We haven't heard the last of that creep.

  • Ryan needs to spend more time with his strategery committee to plan his run for 1st and Only Dear Leader for Life of the great state of RandMurKKKa.

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