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Who Understands Political Wrangling?—John Cromshow

Raymond Chandler

Are you looking for a Monday-morning quarterback? Do you long to find someone, anyone who can make sense of it all? Maybe there's somebody out there you could trust to explain those executive orders, tweets, Grammy statements, court decisions, shouting on both sides of the aisle, questions about ethics and ongoing attacks on Sen. John McCain? One woman voiced a frequently expressed sentiment, "I don't watch Reality TV." Of course, you may have found those 100% reliable sources you want to share with your friends on Facebook.

You hear American doctors and lawyers and schoolmasters talking in such a way that it is very clear they have no real understanding of their own language.

Rather than get lost in the blogosphere, I revisited a trio of classic authors. Let's begin with The World of Raymond Chandler - In His Own Words edited by Barry Day. We need to be aware of how language is used because "...its impact is sensational rather than intellectual...which is being molded by writers to do delicate things and yet be within the grasp of superficially educated people." The well educated do not escape criticism. "You hear American doctors and lawyers and schoolmasters talking in such a way that it is very clear they have no real understanding of their own language."

When it comes to lashing out, Charles Dickens has no equal. In Bleak House he writes about a woman who "...has a watchful way of looking out of the corners of her eyes without turning her head which could be pleasantly dispersed with, especially when she is in an ill humor and near knives." In the same chapter he writes about, "A man of very ill-regulated mind...An extremely dangerous person in any community. A man of very low character of mind...He is obstinate"

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None of that matters to hard-core supporters. There's no room for discussion and debate. Eric Hofer explains why in The True Believer, "All mass movements...breed fanaticism, enthusiasm, fervent hope, hatred and intolerance; all of them...demand blind faith and single-hearted allegiance."

To see how these ideas play out all you have to do is turn on the TV. Flynn? Rhymes with spin. Bad West Wing drama. He has the President's full confidence, Conway says. Don't know, is Spicer's analysis. Survivor? Lips sealed, deadpans Miller. Lied to Pence? Words of the Apprentice ring true. You're fired! Or did he resign after all? Fake News at 11. That's another story.

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John Cromshow