‘Gradually and then suddenly’

David Frum, to explain inevitable failure, instructively quotes Ernest Hemingway on going broke:

A famous line of Ernest Hemingway’s describes how a rich man goes broke: “Two ways … Gradually and then suddenly.” That’s how defeat comes upon a president as well. The live question for Trumpists in 2018 will be whether they can hold onto both chambers of Congress and thereby continue to stifle investigations into presidential wrongdoing. The geographic map is in the GOP’s favor in 2018, but the demographic map increasingly is not. The voters who hear of and are swayed by comments like Flake’s and Corkers’s—more educated, more affluent—are precisely those most likely to show up in an off-year election. Trump and the GOP will not lose all of them. They cannot afford to lose very many of them.

You don’t lose power by losing your base. Herbert Hoover held 39.7 percent of the vote in 1932, a year when Americans were literally going hungry. You lose power by losing the less intensely committed, just enough of them to tip the balance against you….

Via One More Straw Upon the Camel’s Back (“Jeff Flake’s speech won’t be the last straw—but it adds its weight to the growing pile”).

Those of us proudly in opposition and resistance – those of us resolutely committed to centuries of evolving democratic institutions on this continent – will not prevail today or tomorrow. We will see losses, some grievous, in the many days of political conflict ahead.

We will, however, see the demise of our adversaries, and happily our own success, in the shifting cadence that Hemingway describes: gradually and then suddenly.

2 thoughts on “‘Gradually and then suddenly’

  1. Quite a day, yesterday, eh?

    First Corker unloads both barrels on Trump in the morning, doing a full-Ginsberg by going on 5 different networks to trash the Dear Leader. Then Flake does one of the more meticulously crafted valedictories I have ever heard in the afternoon, and then quits.

    Flake’s speech was pretty remarkable. I was driving around color-touring the last of the SW Wisco-World fall leaves and heard it all on the radio. It was a very nice piece of rhetoric. Flake followed it up with a guns-blazing op-ed in the WaPo, invoking the moldering corpse of Wisco-World’s finest senator ever, Tailgunner Joe.

    All of this needed to be done, and said, but what went on at noon was more telling. Trump had a “Unity” lunch with the R-Team senators, and they gave him three standing ovations. Flake and Corker and McCain are all outliers. But only outliers in that they have found their voices after it won’t matter anymore. Flake and Corker have quit, and McCain is unlikely to live out his term.

    Flake and Corker are all over Trump now, but they have voted for every toxic idea Trump has had and every shitheaded judge and cabinet appointment. So has McCain, with the exception of Trumpcare. They are enablers just as much as Yertle and Ryan are. So is the rest of the R-Team, despite their grumblings over Trump’s style. Nobody is bucking him, as they are scared of him and Bannon.

    It is now Trump’s party and the R-Team better get used to it. Trump has the entire Republican party’s balls lined up on a shelf at Breitbart’s in little individually labeled jelly-jars filled with formaldehyde. Some jars, fittingly, are more elegant than others. The Wisco-Kid and Yertle have economy-sized peanut butter jars, rather than the usual Flintstone jelly jars, as befits their status as the bull-goose eunuchs.

    It’s going to get worse before this fever breaks.

    1. Flake’s remarks were both right and movingly delivered. Still: it will get worse, it seems, before it gets better. A period of ‘gradually’ contemplates – sadly but rightly – a significant, continuing range of action for Trump. Even if in slight decline overall, he can still do great harm to a great many. (Latinos, especially in in border states, are routinely feeling how much damage.)

      Standing ovations: they’ll one day hope we’ve forgotten; we should never let their fawning slip beyond our recollection.

      It makes so much sense to say, as you do, that it will get worse before it gets better. (The ‘suddenly’ of Hemingway’s description of ruin is still in the distance for Trump. We’ll get there, but it’s a long and uneven trail before us.)

      The cadence of demise, however, from slow then finally to more rapid, makes sense to me. It make take many happy victories (and the endurance of many painful defeats) before we see Trump’s political ruin. What might seem sudden will be anything but – not quick but a consequence of fortitude.

      It makes sense to say worse before better, as you do, because it’s true, and because it’s practical (one might as well be steeled for the truth of this conflict). We are right to remind ourselves that it’s a long slog, etc., before us.

      Ryan: so empty there’s nothing inside him that might absorb an X-ray. No skeleton, no mass of tissue dense enough to highlight on a radiograph. Straight through, as though nothing were there…

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