Tag Archives: Nick Kristof

A funny thing happened…

On the way to the golf cart—

Out of breath, Donald Trump was slowly trudging back with his golfing buddies, all captains of industry. Suddenly, the wind howled, the sky opened, and the rain came pouring down. The shaggy, soggy, orange tuft left its perch on Trump’s head and blew drunkenly across the green. Glowering, Trump lurched into his cart and pulled a towel over his head, barking orders to the caddy to take him back to the clubhouse posthaste.

As far as we know, this didn’t happen, but having witnessed his vanity and his sensitivity to any degree of humiliation, we can easily imagine Trump’s reaction. He does not have a sense of humor, Trump’s erstwhile personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, writes in his tell-all memoir. Cohen, who saw Trump up close and personal for a decade before they fell out, notes that Trump doesn’t laugh and he can’t tell jokes.

Consequently, humor and ridicule may be Joe Biden’s best weapons against the taunts and lies Trump habitually hurls against anyone who dares to cross him.

Writing in the New York Times, columnist Nick Kristof and psychiatrist Richard Friedman both advise Biden to use humor in the presidential debates to put Trump on the defensive. Humor and ridicule, counsels Friedman, may be Biden’s most powerful weapons. Barack Obama skewered Trump so wickedly at White House Correspondents Dinners that Trump– alone among U.S. presidents– has skipped every one since he took office. He even forbade his staff to attend.

Donald Trump at 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner with his White House as imagined by President Barack Obama

Biden can rattle Trump, writes Friedman, by “mock[ing] the president as weak and unaccomplished.” His extreme narcissism makes him “exquisitely sensitive to criticism and especially to ridicule.”

Recounting the experiences of dictators, Kristof observes that “sly wit sometimes deflates them more effectively” that denouncing them. “Authoritarians are pompous creatures with monstrous egos and so tend to be particularly vulnerable to humor,” explains Kristof. He points out that skeptical voters who don’t trust liberals resent the negative press and criticism of the president. But they do enjoy jokes, so they are more likely to be won over by mockery of the president that is funny and mordant than by a familiar litany of Trump’s lies and his scorn of American traditions and institutions.

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Filed under 2020 Vote, Politics, Trump

Personal reaction to the Newtown Massacre

A Newtown woman reacts with horror, disbelief and anguish In this iconic photo

A Newtown woman reacts with horror, disbelief and anguish In this iconic photo

The news of the Newton horror struck me dumb. I’m a writer, but words failed me. The enormity of the crime, the acute pain, the loss of little children, the parents’ loss, the futures lost, the unspeakable suffering— so many thoughts flooded my mind. I’m haunted by my imagination, a nightmare of the harrowing scene of terror, blood, screaming and dying of those little innocents. I envy the people who were able to write their reactions and opinions.

Garry Wills wrote about the idolization of firearms in this country: we keep offering human sacrifices to the god; we dare not offend him. “That horror cannot be blamed just on one unhinged person. It was the sacrifice we as a culture made, and continually make, to our demonic god [the gun].”  Continue reading

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Filed under Personal, Politics, Random, random shooting

Sudanese grit rewarded by Yale

Paul Lorem's African journeys

With all the distressing news swirling round today — the senseless death of Trayvon Martin, the potential dismantling of universal health care, the growing possibility of a nuclear showdown in the Middle East — it’s hard to be optimistic about the future. But Nick Kristof’s column about a South Sudanese orphan who made his way from a dirt-poor African village to a premier American university restores hope and inspires faith in the human capacity to overcome staggering adversities.

Any freshman at Yale has to make many adjustments, but Paul Lorem is overcoming a great many more, including learning English. Nevertheless, he has a great deal to teach his new colleagues.

Update: Be sure to read Kristof’s column!

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Filed under People

Crackdown in Tahrir: Egypt bleeds

Graffiti on Egyptian armored personnel carrier: "Down with Mubarak", "No Mubarak", "Mubarak the tyrant has fallen" and "30 years stealing and unfairness.. enough is enough.. leave.. NOW"

It’s hard to concentrate on anything but Egypt and the horrendous turn of events. Mubarak has sent thugs armed with machetes, straight-razors and clubs to provoke and attack his citizens, reports Nick Kristof. Al Jazeera shows the attackers mounted on camels and horses charging into the peaceful crowd. Egyptians are tweeting that Mubarak is deliberately instigating violence to provide the pretext for a brutal suppression of the yearning for democracy. Continue reading

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Filed under Musings, Politics

Banana Republic

What will it take to wrench America back to the principles and ideals that seemed immutable in the mid-twentieth century? We believed in America the Beautiful because it really was, before the oil spilled, the great forests fell to loggers’ saws and strip miners decapitated the mountains. We believed in Justice and Freedom even as the South lived under the rule of Jim Crow, much of the North had de facto segregation and the Greatest Generation fought World War II in segregated units. Fifty years ago we were bloodied by the struggle for civil rights. In the following decade women fought for the privileges men had always enjoyed.

Was there ever a time when the rich were considerate of the poor and politicians weren’t corrupt? Were we ever less venal than other countries? Were we ever justified in feeling morally superior to the rest of the world? Despite the self-deception (or lack of self-awareness) that blinded us to the inequities all around us, we believed that American democracy would save us and show the way to the rest of the world. We strived to form a more perfect Union.

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Filed under Musings, Politics