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"nearly half of those surveyed saying Biden has done a worse job as president than they expected,"

That is one of the scariest things I've read lately. It means that at least half the country did not realize ahead of time just how bad a Biden presidency would be. I suppose one has to add in those who still don't believe it is as bad as it is.

It is not necessary to be a big fan of the narcissistic loudmouth New York asshole to realize that he is less bad that the psychopathic megalomaniac he beat or the corrupt incompetent gasbag that beat him.

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Nov 14, 2021Liked by Matt Labash

One of the things I dislike the most about my current workload is that I don’t get to read your essays as quickly as I would like. Just got through this one. Truth to all sides. Thanks for putting this into words.

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😂😂you are correct, wrong to assume. Keep up the good work with providing smiles

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I’m not saying you can’t critique Biden. But you can’t have one with the other. Like you can’t have anti-semitism and Palestine in the same piece. I read your entire piece btw. I do adore your writing. I recently got attacked for a mild criticism of Harris. But you can’t ‘I hate Trump’ and here’s a funny fart thing. Just my opinion. I’m no writer, so I’m not adept at debate. But there is something crooked (as in structurally, not as in corrupt) in this kind of thing. I don’t want to make you crazy. Maybe you’ll think about it. Maybe not. I’m just a reader.

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Matt,

Guess the era of " the buck stops here " is officially dead. Bless Truman, his vaunted attempt to foresee , and prevent " bothsidesism " included his request to select a one armed economist. To strange queries asking why, his response was that such an economist would never be able to say, " on the other hand. "

And, because you brought it up, has any artist other than Joni Mitchell had an initial monster success with a song , " Both Sides Now ", and lived in a twilight of that ever since ?

Jim Saunders

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My issue with bothesidesism is that when I point out the flaws of this party or that political figure, I'm often met with the response that, well, the other side is just as bad. Even those who are disenchanted with both parties fall into the trap of not making distinctions and/or delineations that is sometimes needed in order to address specific issues and say "this specific thing is wrong." It's basically throwing one's hands in the air and giving up. It makes any further discussion tedious.

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Dear Matt,

Here Marco, a reader from Padua, Italy.

I’m a big fan of yours writings since the Weekly Standard days and I consider your book an excellent specimen of that kind of journalism we sorely miss here in Italy. There’s humour, there’s weirdness, there’s real understanding for the characters animating your stories. It also depicts the portrait of a sometimes horrible, sometimes irresistible, always rambunctious country (heck, in one of your articles even sleazoid David Duke, albeit for a fleeting moment, was able to take human form and this is not an easy trick to perform). Above all, what really attracts me in your articles is your special brew of disenchanted conservatism (and conservatism at its best should already be a healthy exercise in skepticism of mankind never changing motives).

In your stories there is care. You marvel at the unexpectedness of the human freakshow. You definitely have your own ideas but do not judge easily. You’re also ready to listen. It is a good thing, especially today, when listening to people with different opinions is considered a weakness if not a sin. That’s why I like your writings: it’s the work of a Christian writer acutely aware of how frail and twisted people can be (unfortunately I can’t believe in God but I truly appreciate this point of view).

For some reason (maybe intellectual colonialism?), I’ve been always interested in American culture. Moby Dick is my favourite book, I love John Ford, Orson Welles, Buddy Holly and the Velvet Underground. American books, films and music (good and bad) shaped my teenage years. Since I was a kid, American politics and history interested me too: slavery, Indian wars, the caning of Charles Sumner, John Brown, Huey Long, Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King, you know, that kind of stuff. It is a wild and tragic history, bubbling with hope, savage crimes and complications. For every crooked politician there was a compelling, if troubled, political figure fighting for the right cause – and vice versa. I found it scary and intriguing: after all, America is really Mark Twain’s country.

This interest led to many discussions with my mostly Leftist friends: when they tried to convince that America was basically an evil superpower, my usual answer was that the United States were badly flawed but the other guys were way worse. I still think I was right.

This rambling introduction only to say that I’m really mystified by what happened in America in the last 4-5 years. I do not know if Donald Trump is a cause or an effect (probably both) but certainly in the last few years American politics first became a travesty straight out of Melville’s “Confidence Man”, then took a way darker turn. Everything peaked with January 6: an assault that you can expect happening in Ruritania but certainly not in Washington DC.

I am sincerely afraid that things will go from bad to worse: there are clear indications that there will be more violence (the spectacle of decrepit Claremont professors planning the future coup is certainly something to behold). Traditional conservatism is dead, the new hip things are apocalypse and revolution, always a bad combo.

I fear America is quickly approaching the tipping point after which it won’t be possible to defuse the crisis: too much tribal hatred, too much emotional commitment to dreadful causes. After that point, bad things will just happen: political disasters move slowly but surely, like plate tectonics, and there’s no way to scale back.

Please also consider that I do not have any sympathy for wokeism in general. I find it simplistic, anti-historical, vaguely totalitarian. I see its dangers. But right now the real risks for American democracy (sorry, republic) are an ex-president peddling big lies, his clique and several millions of resented people. Again, a very bad combination.

I hope I’m completely wrong, because violence and political instability would be a big big problem for you Americans and consequently for us welfare-loving Europeans. Regretfully, right now I do not feel too optimistic about the future.

So, Matt, thank you again for your writing, forgive the bad English and just tell me I’m mistaken about the whole matter.

Un caro saluto,

Marco

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Meh.

Matt: 'Just because slavery is awful and Jefferson Davis is a screwball, doesn't mean you can't make fun of old Abe not being able to handle his nutty Mrs.'

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I am absolutely, positively and most grievously...unoffended by anything written here. I'd really like to work up a good mad about something, but I just can't seem to get one going. Maybe I should read the darned thing again...with my glasses on, and perhaps a magnifying glass. There must be something worthy of a rise in blood pressure lurking in all those words.

Come on, Matt. After all, it does say "Or, something to make everyone angry" at the top. I was so looking forward to being p.o.'d by the end.

In desperation, I even read all the comments posted so far. Nada.

But, in fairness ( uh-oh, entering bothsides territory here? ) it's probably my own fault, being a non-denominational, "lukewarm Christian", and hair-on-fire unaffiliated voter. Just plain laziness on my part I suppose...don't have enough ambition to fill out the application for tribal membership and go through all those litmus tests, which I'm sure I'd fail anyway.

Probably should have read the piece yesterday when it was posted, a Covid booster from the day before having put the crimp on my normal Mary Sunshine disposition. Might have been a bit more incendiary under those circumstances.

But, thanks for trying. Better luck next time. Oh, and btw, Props.

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I find myself pondering all the comments. I keep seeing new things in them. and through them. I'm a newbie in social media--never joined in a discussion like this one before. I am enjoying having my mind opened.

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To be honest, I’d never heard of you until I ran across your article last week, but man alive, I’m hooked!

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Nov 10, 2021Liked by Matt Labash

Very well said. I love your droll humor. Even though I lean left, I took your message to heart and you are absolutely right. Does that make me a bothsider now?

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Nov 10, 2021Liked by Matt Labash

Thanks Matt. I appreciated this and all the other meanderings you’ve posted on Slack Tide, and with the older, wiser Joni Mitchell song, I believe you stuck the landing as well. This piece led to my own tangential musing, in particular about the Christian spiritual discipline of confession. In his own time, G.K. Chesterton was said to have responded to the question “What is wrong with the world today?” , with “I am.” One version of this discipline goes something like “I have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what I have done, and what I have left undone. I have not loved you with my whole heart; I have not loved my neighbor as myself. For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.” If I, and the Christian community I identify with, allow ourselves to be formed and shaped by this discipline, many of our conversations, whether on social media or in person, would also be transformed. Thanks again, Dave Cerling

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That's it! It's time to start paying you. Loved this.

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Matt, we'd love to have you on Tablet magazine's podcast. Drop me a line at mark.e.oppenheimer@gmail.com. Thanks, Mark Oppenheimer

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Nov 10, 2021Liked by Matt Labash

‘life is complicated. Rarely are our heroes pure or our villains pure evil. It is helpful to remember that the world rarely sits still long enough for us to make complete sense of it.’ I will occasionally collect quotes as I read and share them with my children and the medical residents I train. You have been deemed quotable, in my humble opinion. Thanks

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