This is probably a job for Twitter, but even though I have a sort of a presence there (@GingrichsEgo) I don’t care for long threads of that nature and also people will see it here. So I’ll just do it as a list here because why not? Some people will be bothered by “Shades Of Grey” not being last (dude, it’s bad but not offensive, there were some episodes that were both!) or really by any number of these choices. These things are more debate starters than debate enders anyway, so without any further ado:
Sub Rosa: Aside from a few camp touches like the reanimated dead grandmother, this is unwatchable. And also, not for nothing, deeply misogynist. I don’t buy that Crusher would act this way or that other people would just let her even if Ronan were the greatest lover in history. Women are more than their sexual desires. On a writing level, the scenes seem poorly sequenced and underwritten. On a direction level, it’s leaden and phony.
Angel One: I sort of can’t believe they made this episode. This is a misogynist nightmare concept and there’s no fixing it. It’s like HBO’s upcoming Confederate but for women. I guess some would say that seeing Riker wear mimbo clothes is a draw, which maybe it is. Man, is the first season bad.
Code Of Honor: Ironically named as this is as dishonorable as Star Trek gets. Racist, misogynist, derivative and stupid. But don’t hold that against it!
Birthright II: Worf tries to create a new Klingon reich, essentially. Really, he’s sort of behaving like Kirk here, just deciding that a working society is wrong and needs to be like he wants it to be. Only Kirk wasn’t racist.
The Child: Crusher’s out, Pulaski’s in. She’s a bigot toward Data. Troi has a rape baby. Wesley’s still around because why not? Welcome to Season Two, where everything is fine and under control. Well, at least Guinan’s here now. There is that.
Shades of Grey: It’s a clip show and it does what clip shows do. The new material isn’t great. No real reason ever to watch it.
The Outrageous Okona: Outrageous indeed.
Lonely Among Us: I agree with the guys of Trekabout that this is a painful rock bottom. They referenced the cannibalism joke at the end of the episode more than probably any other moment in Star Trek, and it’s simply bizarre. The rest of it is just the usual nonsense about energy beings, and that Picard would go along with the energy being just shows how far they were from having him figured out. Painful.
The Last Outpost: Some say that the introduction of the Ferengi was the worst thing this show ever did. But if they had actually been introduced well, you wouldn’t have had Quark five years later! That aside, it’s pretty off-putting, particularly Riker’s falsely-modest, humblebraggy speech near the end. You acknowledge the faults of humanity, then sit in judgment of the Ferengi five seconds later? Fuck off.
Liaisons: A couple of aliens decide to explore various aspects of human nature. In generally the most obnoxious ways imaginable. Also, there’s a “Sub Rosa” style mystery subplot for Picard, though unsurprisingly, it’s not sexist (but just as boring). This was the first volley for season seven after the cliffhanger, incredibly.
The Naked Now: “Hey, you know what our new Star Trek show needs? A sequel to one of the best-known and loved episodes of the original series, only make sure that it’s painfully anti-funny and makes no sense, thus illustrating the gap in quality between the two shows, and also include a bunch of jarring tonal shifts because that won’t piss anyone off.” “Agreed, but only if Brent Spiner can ham it up with bad drunk acting.” “That’s so stupid. I love it!”
Masks: Masaka is waiting! About as ill-considered an episode as the show ever did. They really refused to acknowledge reality as pertained to Spiner’s range. At least it failed for being too ambitious, though, I suppose.
When The Bough Breaks: Maybe the stupidest alien race in all of history in this episode. Hey, we’re all infertile, let’s just steal someone else’s kids and hope the people we stole them from go away? Never mind that this doesn’t solve the problem of the infertility unless they plan to keep doing it, also like a dozen kids of a different genome are going to restart this civilization? Dumb, dumb, dumb. This is just terrible. After over half a season they weren’t getting any better at this.
Time Squared: Great hook, garbage everything else. This isn’t how time travel on Star Trek works any other time, and while having Picard confront a version of himself who abandoned his ship is almost character development, it ultimately isn’t. The show did the time loop thing better on “Cause And Effect” a little later.
Transfigurations: I have a hard time even remembering what happened in this episode but I remember that I hated it. But at least it cured Geordi’s woman troubles forever, right? He definitely nails the nurse from Doc Hollywood, right? (You don’t know Doc Hollywood? You know Cars though, right? It’s that story but with people.)
Up The Long Ladder: Space Irish. Seriously.
We’ll Always Have Paris: Another really bad one. Frankly I don’t even understand how the whole time conundrum works and I’m fine with that. Really wondering why the episode thinks I’m going to care about a will-they won’t-they story featuring Picard’s ex from like 30 years ago. Picard’s ex prefers surprisingly revealing everyday clothing, which means that at least someone was trying to drum up some interest in the episode.
Cost Of Living: Ugh. That mudbath. Just ugh. The dignity level of Lwaxana Troi really just veers wildly depending on who’s writing the episode apparently.
Too Short A Season: I guess it’s well known that this was supposed to be an “old Captain Kirk” story but Shatner declined to appear. It would have been an interesting sequel to “A Private Little War,” Gene Roddenberry’s brave Vietnam allegory that said, well, actually, you see, maybe we should fight it, perhaps. Without that it’s not all that interesting, though it apparently envisions the future as an ableist dystopia where old men have to ride around on dogshit Rascal scooters the size of a small planet. Maybe this one should have gone higher?
Home Soil: Didn’t we see this already with the Horta? That episode is great, this one just sucks. Also, the Enterprise’s computer puts together so much of the episode’s plot that I think that she’s really just a woman named Flo in a cubicle somewhere on the lower decks.
The Schizoid Man: Brent Spiner sets the range-o-matic to Lore, with poor results. The series’ addiction to building stories around guest stars is undeniable at this point, and problematic. It would change soon, but it’s a bummer.
Menage a Troi: This is the stinker you get after a legendary run of episodes. I really don’t need a story about a Ferengi’s sexual obsession with Lwaxana Troi. Oh, and Wesley figures it all out again.
The Royale: You know, the early TNG writing staff was apparently not that keen on asking, “Hey, what is this episode trying to communicate?” because if they’d asked it and thought about it, they’d realize the answer was nothing. It’s like they’d come up with a decent concept and then throw out a hackwork script based on it and then just shoot it. This one involves a casino, and it uncomfortably recalls the pilot of the original, extra-Mormony Battlestar Galactica. Not the most appalling episode but not good in any way.
Coming Of Age: How does Starfleet have the resources to figure out the greatest fear of every single applicant to Starfleet Academy? Why would they do this? What if someone has two (or comes from a species with a different evolutionary process that doesn’t experience fear)? What happens if a kid has a nervous breakdown confronting their greatest fear and their parents sue Starfleet? Just some of the many questions about this unbelievably dark practice that everyone just kind of accepts. Anyway, dear God, what a bad episode this is. They thought we actually wanted to see a Wesley romance! Talk about a greatest fear.
Force of Nature: Warp speed is bad now. Well, at least for a few episodes. Bet you forgot they did that, didn’t you? I appreciate the effort at a message episode about ecology, but half-baked is a generous description of this concept.
Eye Of The Beholder: Essentially Star Trek: Jacob’s Ladder. Preposterous telepathic nonsense combined with cheap melodrama. The end was in sight.
Time’s Arrow (II): This falls flat in every way it can. An alien motivation that makes no sense (it would have been way easier to build the human farms of The Matrix), Doctor Who nonsense and Mark fucking Twain being key to the plot.
In Theory: Married With Data.
Violations: Another undistinguished entry in the “Troi dates an abusive asshole” series. The twist is, it’s a different abusive asshole who tortures her than the one you think. It’s muddled at best and unacceptable given the subject matter.
Qpid: Pandering, sort of awful. People like this one for various reasons (“I am not a merry man!”) but this is like season one Q again. It’s just a better made version of “Hide and Q”, basically, with everybody being forced to play an elaborate fantasy for no real reason. This time it’s Robin Hood instead of Napoleonic soldiers. Really not trying.
The Game: There’s an interesting take in there on the addictiveness of pleasure here, but it’s so damn goofy in execution. Pretty good chase scene through the Enterprise though. And I do enjoy the memes at least.
Elementary, Dear Data: People seem to love Data as Sherlock Holmes. This episode isn’t really all that interesting to me: some cool production design, but it’s essentially a retread of “The Big Goodbye” in every meaningful way, and while there assuredly are stakes it’s again marred by structural problems. The beginning and end are fine, the middle is a mushy nothing.
Firstborn: Jesus. Old Alexander travels back in time to get young Alexander interested in Klingon stuff. It’s like a shitty “Yesteryear” from The Animated Series.
Identity Crisis: Geordi almost becomes an invisible lizard person. Somehow this isn’t a season seven episode.
Samaritan Snare: Without fail, they follow up a classic with dumb shit. Love the Picard/Wesley scenes. Lose everything else. Everything!
Imaginary Friend: Well, no false advertising with the title, at least. If you’re into that sort of thing.
The Dauphin: Wesley falls for shapeshifting squid alien girl, other stuff happens, who cares?
Manhunt: The scene where Picard, in desperate need of a buffer from horny Lwaxana, calls in Data to drone on about whatever and then acts genuinely enthralled by what he says is classic, perfectly executed comedy. It’s the only joke that lands in this “comedic” monument to misogyny and ageism. Older women have sex drives, isn’t that hilarious? You know that it is.
The Battle: A lot of people hate Crusher’s remark about how headaches and the common cold are things of the past. It’s not a great choice. You know what else isn’t a great choice? Introducing MIND CONTROL to your universe and then taking that pretty lightly. If that technology existed PEOPLE WOULD FREAK OUT ABOUT IT! Also, the special effects can’t pull off the Picard Maneuver, it looks so easy to track visually.
A Matter Of Perspective: Holodeck Rashomon. That’s literally all it is. I guess people who never saw the original or the first few dozen things to rip off its structure found something of interest. But it did lead to this, which is one of the greatest things ever made for the internet.
Man Of The People: I get this and Violations confused sometimes. In this one it’s mind-rapist ambassador, in the other it’s mind-rapist dad. Think they felt so guilty about sticking Marina with so many of these storylines that they gave her a particularly juicy one a few episodes later and would soon let her wear a real uniform.
Haven: I feel like the female guest star was rejected as the main female Edo from a few episodes prior, but got this episode as a consolation prize. “Please, continue with the petty bickering,” is kind of funny. Tryin’ too hard though. The Riker-Troi stuff is the only stuff that works for me. I hate pretty much everything else. Also, first appearance of Lwaxana Troi. It is acknowledged.
Encounter At Farpoint (2): The die was cast here for Troi to become a hated character with all the “PAIN!” stuff–although the two space creatures holding hands does get me, manipulative as it is.
Unification II: It doesn’t deliver. Data gets a funny joke off at Sela’s expense, who is so done by now. The goofiest “impending war” subplot ever. Some nice scenes with Spock and Data. Still, for all the build-up, they really just had nothing here.
A Matter Of Time: This is one of the bigger Mary Sue offenders of all time. I like Matt Frewer but this is an original series episode in the worst ways.
New Ground: Worf’s a dad. Bet that’ll be a character note they’ll always remember!
Hero Worship: A kid wants to be an android like Data. Twist is, turns out he’s got no issues whatsoever!
Rascals: It’s stupid but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It feels like an episode that is not just about kids but explicitly aiming for them–only in a kid’s version of TNG would the Ferengi actually take over the Enterprise. But it’s fun to watch some kids Ocean’s Eleven it back.
The Masterpiece Society: Another original series-y entry from the fifth season. Only difference is that Kirk would have destroyed this society by the end.
A Fistful Of Datas: So Eli Hollander is basically just Lore. Other than that, this is essentially “The Royale” but in the Old West with a lot more Brent Spiner characters involved. Whether that is an enticing prospect or not is entirely up to you.
Contagion: There are some cool concepts here: the Iconian gates get revisited in Deep Space Nine but I kind of feel like they’re a cool thing that’s underexplored in the universe. (Though they also kind of suck in that you can go to six places and apparently can’t come back.) The episode, though, is another of the pointless high-concept mysteries that the show apparently thought it was good at making at this time. It wasn’t.
Descent II: Like wow. Data almost lobotomizes Geordi and would have killed them all, but he was under Lore’s influence so no problem, I guess. All’s well that ends well. Also, the emotion chip.
Descent: Why do they evacuate the entire ship to find Data? Why do we need Lore back again? Who thought that ending was a good idea? Also known as the one with Stephen Hawking.
Encounter At Farpoint (1): Well, we all have to start somewhere, and that somewhere means seeing saucer separation and reconnection in real time for several minutes. Feels too much like the Roddenberry-produced The Motion Picture than it should, though that’s no accident.
The Loss: Troi loses her empathic powers and this essentially gives her stereotypical PMS symptoms. A creative choice!
Aquiel: You know, for all the criticism of Troi and Crusher stories being only about their sex lives, most of Geordi’s are as well. It wasn’t only a problem with the woman characters! In this one, Geordi falls for a dead girl who isn’t dead. This leads him to behave stupidly. Also there’s a murder mystery and the dog did it. Seriously! Sort of…
Bloodlines: Hey, who was missing Daimon Bok from “The Battle” out there? Nobody? Also, who wants a tepid story about how Picard maybe has a son and he’s a dick? Also nobody? Um…
Genesis: This is a blast. It’s not at all good, but it’s campy as fuck and goes with it. The scares/laughs are well paced. My only complaint is that Geordi doesn’t get to become a manimal. Was LeVar busy that week?
Skin Of Evil: Lot of ideas here that this show (and other shows) would pull off better later. The basic plot of this isn’t bad, but they badly botched Yar’s death and the structure of the episode is wanting. Escalating tension? Nah, who needs that! We’ll climax in minute twelve of the episode and then just wait it out until the end!
Redemption Part II: Wow, the Yar/Sela gimmick gets old real quick. And honestly, I don’t really care about the Klingon Civil War or even Worf’s return to glory. Captain Data, though, is one of the best things the show ever did. That should have been the spine of this.
Journey’s End: Probably the best proof that The Traveler isn’t a pedophile, as he’s still interested in Wesley even though he’s like 20 now.
Evolution: Season Three is where the show’s tentative, halting efforts toward character-centered stories finally get institutionalized. Probably not the best idea to kick off with a Wesley episode, even if it retcons the character into having a few flaws, though it also inadvertently makes him into a god too. Much of this is well-trod ground for Star Trek, a new life form that needs to be understood. It’s okay.
Where No One Has Gone Before: Season One is so bad that something not truly terrible gets a pass from most. Well, guess what, this one sucks too, just not as much and in a little different of a way than the others. So much dated New Age-y garbage in this one, it practically begs you to laugh at the pretension. The snowflake dimension looks kind of cool though.
Legacy: Another family-themed episode, this time with Tasha Yar’s sister, who turns out to be kind of an asshole. Kind of nice Data moment at the end though. I kind of wish Tasha’s sister had revealed that Yar had only dated androids.
Justice: Having a bunch of WWII Generation guys trying to figure out how to navigate the sexy world of the MTV Era is sort of interesting. Pretty much all the Edo are toned, blonde and dumb, which apparently is all people wanted to fuck in the ’80s. Meh. At least the contemporaneous Working Girl satirized that stereotype in fun ways. Nice Picard speech at the end.
Galaxy’s Child: Man, Leah Brahms finding Geordi’s hologram of her is contrived beyond belief. Would have been better if he’d let it slip. And her reaction is kind of nuts too. Why did we need a sequel to this?
Emergence: Since every other goddamn mechanical thing is doing it, the Enterprise’s computer decides it’s sentient too. It proves this via Murder on the Orient Express. These ideas are gold, Jerry!
The Vengeance Factor: Revenge is bad. I don’t know that we need 45 minutes to make that point. It’s well-intentioned, but I’m not sure that it really gets all that interesting in terms of plot or character (this is a Riker episode FWIW). Sad that the main lady can’t get pleasure from fucking. Also, she’s like 100 years old. Also, she dies! It’s sad. Revenge is bad. Onto the next one.
Hide And Q: I really question the initial conception to make Q manic. Were we intended to see him as a child somehow? Someone on the show seemed to think that manic meant menacing, and while it can (Alfred Molina in Boogie Nights), not so much with the Ferengi or Q. Some interesting moments in this one, had some potential, but in the end it isn’t very interesting.
The High Ground: Fake IRA takes Crusher hostage and she Patti Hearsts a bit. I’m beginning to think that TNG is better off when it’s not trying to make grand statements.
Devil’s Due: This was a never-produced script for a prior Trek series and man does it feel it. The concept facing off against “the devil” maps better to Kirk, and Kirk doing all the stuff in the cross-examination makes more sense than Picard doing it. There’s no real depth to any of it either. Would have made a great episode of The Animated Series.
Suddenly Human: Not a huge fan of this one, honestly. If I wanted to watch custody dramas there are other programs out there to watch. It’s fine enough for what it is but sort of sitcommy, what with Picard being mad at the kid for his loud music and all that.
Schisms: Another Brannon Braga creepsy things going on episode. This one’s got a UFO abduction theme. I just don’t get much out of these after the first watch.
The Icarus Factor: On the one hand, having Riker interact with his father is an early attempt at a character story, and we get an attempt at some Worf development too. Shame the Riker stuff is dull and uninteresting, even when they fight. Also there’s some sci-fi thing in there too I guess? Also, I prefer this interpretation of Worf’s anniversary.
The Chase: Amazing build-up, fairly ho-hum ending for an episode that essentially turns the entire mythology of the show upside-down and is never referred to again (outside of novels).
The Arsenal Of Freedom: This is sort of like a bad Philip K. Dick story where he wants to nail a social message so badly that he kind of botches it, and you have to wonder what it’s even about. The Geordi-in-command story would have been better with better actors around him. Some halfway competent mystery and action. The plotting and pacing here are problems, it must be said.
Interface: Geordi becomes a human drone. Thinks he sees his mother on a wrecked ship. It’s not her though. Aliens become involved. The inspiration was becoming a bit frayed at this point.
The Perfect Mate: I think I’ve only ever watched this episode one time and I don’t plan to change it. Kinda think this was supposed to be a critique of the male gaze that forgot the critique a little bit.
Symbiosis: TNG’s drug allegory is, um, okay? Nice ending Picard speech, decent concept, but the show really has a problem translating concepts into watchable episodes of television. So many long, boring scenes in a circular episode that just doesn’t catch fire no matter how hard they try.
The Price: It’s fine–I do think it’s a bold choice for a 1980s show to let a woman have a casual sex life without judging her for it–but this is just sort of dull to me. I don’t think business negotiations are what TNG does best.
The Neutral Zone: We have two subplots but no theme, some tension but it’s jumpy. The Romulan stuff amounts to little, I hate all three of the 20th century yokels, and pretty much the only pleasure I got out of the episode was thinking that the woman’s son from Secaucus probably went straight from freezing mom to a taping of The Morton Downey Jr. Show. What else was there to do in Secaucus in 1988?
Allegiance: Picard gets abducted and is trapped with a couple of rando aliens, and a fake Picard almost destroys the ship. It’s a decent episode for Picard as we see him as a commanding leader outside of his element.
11001001: Honestly, not all that bad of an episode. I like Minuet and I like the scenes with her, Riker and Picard in the holodeck. The main plot could have been good but it isn’t quite handled right, the buildup isn’t there. But it’s certainly watchable, and in season one, that’s a W.
Sins Of The Father: It’s a major episode for Worf, well-structured, and has a good mystery plot. But it’s hard for me to accept that Worf ultimately makes the right choice here. It makes sense that his character would make it, but frankly none of the elite Klingons are worth it, and he merely delays the inevitable bloodshed and civil war.
Captain’s Holiday: Did we need an episode where Picard plays a pricklier Indiana Jones? I guess we did. It’s an amusing, very light change of pace, a minor episode that just tries to be good at being that, and succeeds. Not everything has to be an all-timer!
Datalore: It’s important to note that it is difficult to play multiple roles in a show or movie that appear in the same scene, and Brent Spiner pulls that off here. (Also, we find the precise limits of his range, from Data to Lore, though also “generic old man” is one he can do as well.) Lore is kind of a shitty character, though, essentially a silent movie mustache twirler with no motivation. He gets a bit better later, then worse.
Heart Of Glory: Too much filler–seeing through Geordi’s visor is just a visual distraction that recalls the useless imagery of Gene Roddenberry-produced Star Trek: The Motion Picture–but this is the moment where Worf became a real character. He goes from being a visual joke to a credible person before our eyes. It’s pretty amazing. Also, bad Klingons want to steal the ship. Like two of them. The gun they put together in jail is awesome, but it’s a real lapse in security that it wasn’t caught. Whose job is that anyway?
The Mind’s Eye: TNG does The Manchurian Candidate, seeds Sela for the finale. Some momentum on the Worf subplot. Fine for episode #24 of the season.
Birthright I: Worf’s dad isn’t dead? At least they didn’t have him actually be alive, only to die before the end of the episode. A wasted opportunity for a real crossover with Deep Space Nine, another role for James Cromwell in Star Trek (I believe this was the second of four), Dr. Bashir and Data’s dreams. That’s pretty much it.
True Q: A mid-level Q episode. The scene where Amanda Rogers brainwashes Riker into loving her makes a good point about the Q’s power versus self-determination. The resolution makes sense. Could do without the second-rate Picard speech but we take what we can get.
I have to admit that Roy Moore has lost any real menace to me during this election. I mean, he’ll be terrible in the Senate, but in many ways he’s precisely the adversary we could use right now. Moore (who to be fair was a very divisive figure within Christian right circles back when I still was still somewhat plugged into those circles) comes back at a time when the Christianists are desperately in need of a visible leader, any leader. (Trump is more a (literally) Faustian bargain than a leader of their group.) Moore is inevitably going to be slotted into that position and the good news is that he’s as big a fool as has ever made it to the upper echelons of American politics. Regardless of their ideas and values, in the past there have been plenty of smart, calculating figures atop the religious right. Think about Billy Graham, for example. Moore, though, is a total dolt. Like Trump, he knows nothing about policy of any sort. But while Trump at least offered his (illusory) dealmaking and leadership skills, Moore offers literally nothing except God. Crime? We need to believe in God. Natural disasters? God again. On issue after issue, literally nothing doesn’t boil down to this with him. This is, it should be said, more related to cult psychology than to any plausible form of Christianity. It also makes him an obvious target of mockery and jokes, and given that he’s likely to become a high-profile media figure after winning the election, his entire larger group is going to be associated with this oversimplified, ultrastupid take too. Secularists have been pining for a foil this toxic and stupid for some time now and they’re just about to get him.
Again, to be fair to Christian conservative types, many of them specifically resist this sort of thinking for reasons that are all too obvious. Disasters happened even back when upwards of 95% of the country believed in God, after all. They still happen regularly in nearly-unanimous Christian countries too. Also, it is hard to believe in a loving God who just murders huge numbers of people who simply don’t believe in him (as well as, just numerically, quite a lot who do).* It also makes the Christian faith out to be little more than an exercise in elaborate self-interest than anything else if you’re only believing to avoid disasters and crime, which Christianity has never, ever promised it can do. God’s role in Moore’s scheme would seem to be as the ultimate blackmailer. Really, Moore’s thinking here is a mishmash of prosperity gospel, fire and brimstone, and various other Christian traditions that don’t really join well because he’s a fool. It makes you yearn for the relative intellectual and philosophical sophistication of Jerry Falwell.
*Also, I do get that “belief” doesn’t mean simple belief to people like Moore. So do we all. But I’ll acknowledge it here.
I remember when people were relieved by McMaster taking over for Flynn. But honestly, whenever he speaks he sounds as paranoid and derpy as any of these Trumpian assholes, repeating the same debunked hardline cliches, which it should be stated are in many cases just outright lies. Not really seeing how this is an improvement on Flynn’s nearly-identical lies and conspiracy theories. Maybe it’s for Trump’s consumption, I don’t know. Maybe McMaster vehemently disagrees privately but feels the need to present a unified face! Maybe he’s worried that Trump will fire him otherwise and replace him with someone truly crazy. But if so, the guy wrote a whole goddamn book about how military commanders during Vietnam were derelict in their duties by playing LBJ’s game and not following their consciences. Maybe they deserve an apology…
This TNR article got me thinking. On the one hand, it’s probably a good idea for Democrats to talk up Obama’s legacy as a restrained, realist foreign policy president. That’s largely how the media portrayed him, after all, and it’s a good idea for the same reason that Republicans tie all their ideas to Reagan. On the other hand, just like a lot of those Reagan associations, it’s not really true at all. The president who backed infinite Saudi bombing of Yemen was not really a dove or any sort of foreign policy idealist really, and the only real peace-y element to his foreign policy was nonproliferation. He himself badly damaged that by changing Libya’s regime. (That Trump will finish it off altogether soon by wrecking the Iran nuclear deal is not his fault, though it is poignant.) Mostly he just did whatever got more critics off his back, unless it was something that could be a tentpole legacy item. Usually, doing the hawkish thing got more critics off his back. On occasion, it was the dovish thing, as it was with Syria. Given how fumbling and flat-footed he was when the hardliners came back with a vengeance after the emergence of ISIS, I suspect he thought that Iraq had discredited them for good, but this could be wrong. It would explain a lot, though.
Overall, it’s probably better to print the legend, at least in the short term. Obama’s still very popular and well-respected among Democrats. I have no issue with temporarily forgetting his record and pretending it was all Iran deals and openings to Cuba and not bombing Syrians if it moves the needle in the right direction! Eventually, though, we need to remember the facts and deal with them.
It’s interesting that Lindsey Graham is the frontperson for the POS healthcare bill Republicans try to jam through. Honestly, it’s hard for me to think of another time old Butters actually was at the forefront of a domestic policy initiative. I do think he signed onto a climate change bill in the early Obama days that he dropped literally the day after FOX News attacked him. So I’m not sure to count that. But Lindsey Graham is the person who appears on all the Sunday shows and tells us we need to adopt a maximally aggressive policy toward X and then shrugs off any conceivable criticisms about what the outcomes of that would be. Sometimes the host of the program asks him a follow-up question he can’t answer, often they make him look like an idiot by giving him just a little bit of rope, but they always have him back. In a sane nation, his beliefs would make him a crank who is treated extremely skeptically by the press and by other members of his party. In our nation, this gives him endlessly positive media coverage and this odd “venerated statesman” image, even if his base fundamentally hates him. I don’t get it. He has some “bipartisan” aura even though he was a Clinton impeachment manager, after all. I guess he voted for Sotomayor…
Anyway, the point being is that he’s basically just using the same approach for his domestic policy that he does for his foreign policy, but it’s a lot harder to hide the stupidity in a different context. We just need to ram through a maximalist policy against X, ignore the waverers: in both cases it’s much the same. Just substitute “socialists” for “isolationists” and the rhetoric and logic is no different. Of course, in the domestic policy world, it’s plainly obvious that Graham-Cassidy is a bad bill that would have dire political consequences for Republicans if it passed and offers them no benefit other than relief from big-dollar donors, and while Graham’s entire pitch is patently ridiculous, it plays to their particular biases perfectly. “This’ll stop socialism!” Why? How? It just will, I guess. He’s just found a different value for X and it’s all the same shit. Of course, the world of domestic policy is much more scrutinized and much more cause-and-effect based than the foreign policy world, where it’s all about ideology and donor money, essentially. (Admittedly, that’s also largely true of domestic policy, but “TrumpCare led to people losing their insurance” is going to be the narrative, whereas in foreign policy “Obama pulling troops from Iraq created ISIS” is what passes for causality among the very serious people.) He’s the same idiot as always, only because there’s a different kind of idiocy that prevails on foreign policy than on domestic policy, it’s much more obvious than it otherwise would be. Really, the major takeaway is that people should realize that he’s just an overall idiot and treat him like the crank he is. That is all I ask!
I think this is largely a fair critique of Coates, but let’s be honest, the “white working class can’t be that bad” meme boils down to “white people can’t be that horrible.” It is interesting that elite white pundits and journalists have fallen victim to this a lot, probably for many reasons. Overcompensation, for one. But ultimately this sort of thinking ends with putting two traitors who killed many thousands of U.S. soldiers on a goddamn U.S. coin. We’ve done this before is all I’m saying.
It’s also always struck me as odd that “middle America” is always given the connotation of being hardworking, decent, morally upright (and, invariably, white). I mean, we can blame everything on the South if you like (and in some cases it’s merited–my wife recently told me all about the many horrors of modern-day Alabama from her education studies), but it wasn’t Brown v. The School Board of Arkansas, and if you’re looking for that pure, untouched America that never failed to live up to its stated ideals, it’s just as bad a place as any to try to find it.
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