Returning from its long absence (look, it’s been a weird year for me), it’s THE SILLIEST TAKE OF THE WEEK PROJECT. If you’re new to the project, you can click here to read through the archives! But without further ado or other prefatory material, let’s just get back to work:
I Have Also Watched Television
Stephen Stromberg, “What Robert Mueller and Pickle Rick have in common,” The Washington Post, 7/24/2019.
As you are probably aware, on July 24, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testified in front of Congress about his office’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Consensus is that he didn’t really say anything that wasn’t already clear from the text of the Report itself. (To be clear, I didn’t watch the hearing, because there are more enjoyable ways to watch groups of people masturbate on the Internet.)
Mueller’s unwillingness to elaborate on the text of the Report left a lot of Take-writers rather adrift. There really wasn’t much to be said about the hearing, yet a Take-writer cannot simply turn in a blank sheet of paper emblazoned with a shrugging emoji for their weekly column. Striving valiantly, one writer for WaPo decided to begin his boilerplate description of the hearing in the following fashion:
“Throughout Wednesday’s congressional hearings with former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, I was reminded of the opening scene of the iconic ‘Pickle Rick’ episode of the irreverent Adult Swim show, ‘Rick and Morty.’
‘I turned myself into a pickle, Morty,’ says Rick, formerly a genius mad scientist, now little more than a sentient gherkin, to his grandson.
‘And?’ Morty replies.
‘And? What more do you want tacked on to this?’
On Wednesday, Mueller’s answers could be summed up: ‘I made a report. What more do you want tacked on to this?'”
The rest of the Take has absolutely nothing to do with Pickle Rick, and is a more or less straightforward description of why the Mueller Report means that Trump is bad. There are no remaining pickle-jokes to be found in the rest of the text.
The only things I learned from this column are that Stephen Stromberg watches Rick and Morty on the teevee, and that he was completely out of ideas immediately before this column was due. Fair enough, man – we’ve all been there. But opening a Take with an irrelevant pop culture reference is roughly the same as opening a high school English essay with “Since the dawn of time…”
Leave Marie Kondo Alone
Kate Cohen, “How Marie Kondo would tidy up our presidential candidates,” The Washington Post, 7/26/2019.
Y’all remember Marie Kondo? In her 2014 book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and her Netflix series from earlier this year, she encouraged us all to throw away more of our useless junk. The Netflix series, in particular, inspired a boatload of Takes, and we all had to yell at each other about whether or not we had too many books for a while. It was fun! It was a good time! It was also six months ago, which is an eternity in pop culture time. Yet, here we are, dragging poor Ms. Kondo back into our lives, this time to deal with our politicians.
You see, there are a lot of people running for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States. Most of us think there are probably too many people running for that nomination.
“You know how stuff just accumulates? How one day, you look around to discover you’ve got a cupboard crammed with mismatched food storage, a drawerful of socks you never wear and more than two dozen Democratic presidential candidates? “
So we’re gonna KonMari the Democratic primary, I guess:
“Okay, slow down. Stay calm. To do this right, you have to pick up each candidate in turn and ask yourself, ‘Does this spark joy?’
Try each candidate on and look in the mirror. Be honest about what you see. ‘Am I this conservative?’ ‘Does this make me look old?’ ‘Do I believe that we can defeat President Trump by harnessing love?’”
Should we keep an old candidate that we used to really like, but who is getting a little old?
“Ah, here’s an old favorite, so comfortable, so undeniably right. It still fits after all these years, but it’s starting to show its age. Once upon a time it was the only candidate I would wear. Should I really move on just because it’s fraying a bit?
Let’s see what the book says. ‘You’ll be surprised at how many of the things you possess have already fulfilled their role. . . . To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.'”
wait why are we “wearing” the candidates? i think this metaphor might be getting away from us a bit
“Okay, now, here’s something interesting from Minnesota. It’s certainly practical and it seems durable, but does it spark joy for me?”
The actual thesis of the piece is probably this paragraph:
“Because that’s the point, isn’t it? You shouldn’t worry about what everyone else will approve of. You shouldn’t try to appeal to people whose taste runs toward MAGA hats. Instead, you should “keep only those things that speak to your heart.” The things that make you feel good about yourself when you look in the mirror every morning, make you stand a little straighter, make you volunteer to register voters for 2020 instead of hoping someone else will.”
In other words, the Democrats should look for a candidate who will “spark joy” in themselves, not try to appeal to Trump voters. That’s a reasonable enough thing to say, though the Silliest Take of the Week Project is agnostic as to election strategy. But what’s annoying about this take is that the entire point of a primary process is precisely to winnow out the candidates we like from those we don’t, and eventually arrive on one contender for the Presidency. This whole Take just boils down to saying “Hey, we should really think about what we’re doing while we select a candidate,” which is true, but not particularly insightful.
The Silliest Take of the Week: 7/21/2019-7/27/2019
Maureen Dowd, “Spare Me the Purity Racket,” The New York Times, 7/27/2019
“The progressives are the modern Puritans. The Massachusetts Bay Colony is alive and well on the Potomac and Twitter.”
My goodness! Maureen! What has happened! Who has been pilloried for excessive drinking in the town square? Has Rep. Ocasio-Cortez forced you to wear a Scarlet Letter? Has Rep. Pressley moved to ban lewde, lascivious dancing in taverns?
“After I interviewed Nancy Pelosi a few weeks ago, The HuffPost huffed that we were Dreaded Elites because we were eating chocolates and — horror of horrors — the speaker had on some good pumps.
Then this week, lefty Twitter erected a digital guillotine because I had a book party for my friend Carl Hulse, The Times’s authority on Capitol Hill for decades, attended by family, journalists, Hill denizens and a smattering of lawmakers, including Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and Susan Collins.
I, the daughter of a D.C. cop, and Carl, the son of an Illinois plumber, were hilariously painted as decadent aristocrats reveling like Marie Antoinette when we should have been knitting like Madame Defarge.
Yo, proletariat: If the Democratic Party is going to be against chocolate, high heels, parties and fun, you’ve lost me. And I’ve got some bad news for you about 2020.”
Right. Who could forget the famous Puritans of Massachusetts, building guillotines, calling themselves the “proletariat,” and yelling about Marie Antoinette’s head. Those were definitely things the Puritans did, in Massachusetts, in the 17th century. Who could forget the famous fictional Massachusetts Puritan, Madame Defarge, that Charles Dickens wrote about in A Tale of Two Cities, his famous novel about the Puritans in Massachusetts?
Anyway, I looked up this HuffPost article which apparently advocated for such rigid asceticism. That article argues that Nancy Pelosi is out of touch with the new Democratic Party, and it opens with this paragraph, citing Dowd:
‘On Saturday, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd published an interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that reads like an excerpt from The Great Gatsby reimagined for the 21st century. In Dowd’s telling, Pelosi savored chocolates ‘with delight,’ decked out in ‘purple Manolo heels’ as she regaled Dowd with war stories about ‘her vineyard getaway in Napa’ and the time U2′s lead singer attended a speech she gave in Ireland.”
In other words, Dowd apparently thinks it was ridiculous for HuffPo to make fun of Pelosi for being rich and out of touch, even though she owns a “vineyard getaway in Napa,” hangs out with Bono, and wears $500+ shoes.
In an attempt to link this outrage to something relevant, Dowd talks about impeachment and the Mueller hearings. Dowd is mad because Democrats “are using their time knifing one another and those who want to be on their side instead of playing it smart.” “Progressives” forced Mueller to testify, and are trying to impeach Donald Trump even though that would be a disaster for…reasons?
“You can argue that impeachment, morally and constitutionally, is the right thing to do. But you also have to recognize that, historically and politically, it is not the right thing to do because it will lead to disaster.
The attempt to impeach Trump is one of the rare cases in which something obviously justified is obviously stupid.”
Is it so obvious if some vast legion of unnamed and unidentified “Progressives” think otherwise? Who knows? We will never learn who these “Progressives” are from Dowd’s column, nor will we really learn much about why impeachment is so “obviously stupid.” For Dowd, these truths are ineffable, unspoken, shared by all right-thinking Americans.
“The progressive Puritans think we must honor the Constitution and go for it because it’s the right thing to do.
You can argue that impeachment, morally and constitutionally, is the right thing to do. But you also have to recognize that, historically and politically, it is not the right thing to do because it will lead to disaster.”
Or: “Impeachment would be the right thing to do, both morally and Constitutionally, but it would also be hard, and I don’t want to have to work that hard.”
Anyway, this whole Take attempts to conflate the alleged “Puritanism” of the people who made fun of her being rich on Twitter with this Progressive insistence on impeachment. I don’t really think it works, and I think the conclusion best showcases why:
“The progressives’ cry that they don’t care about the political consequences because they have a higher cause is just a purity racket.
Their mantra is like that of Ferdinand I, the Holy Roman Emperor: ‘Fiat iustitia, et pereat mundus.’ ‘Let justice be done, though the world perish.’
The rest of us more imperfect beings don’t want the world to perish. And maybe justice can be done, without losing the White House, the House, chocolate, high heels, parties and fun.’
No one wants to take away your chocolate, Maureen!
That’s it for The Silliest Take of the Week! Please resume sending the silliest takes you find to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will resume reading them and making fun of them in this small corner of the Internet.