“A man can’t write successful satire,” Mark Twain wrote in a letter to his friend William Dean Howells, “except he be in a calm judicial good-humor…. in truth I don’t ever seem to be in a good enough humor with ANY-thing to satirize it; no, I want to stand up before it & curse it, & foam at the mouth,—or take a club & pound it to rags and pulp.”
Most of my professional literary output has been satirical in nature, and I’ve always empathized with Twain on the difficulty of achieving a calm judicial good humor when confronting objects of particular displeasure. Humor is an act of aggression, but it needs to be handled with clinical dispassion: otherwise the product won’t be humor, but anger, and anger isn’t funny.
(Except when it is.)
I offer all that by of foreword because Steffen Kretz has apparently received his marching orders from the DNC and produced the first of what I’m sure will be many adoring tongue baths of the Biden administration.
ANALYSIS Farewell to Trump’s America, Steffen Kretz, DR.dk, February 7
“…I want to stand up before it & curse it, & foam at the mouth,—or take a club & pound it to rags and pulp...”
Most Danish coverage of America is execrable partisan slop, but that doesn’t mean the journalists behind it are all execrable partisans… except for those who are.
Ace correspondent Steffen Kretz is one such creature, and he stands head and shoulders above the rest of his crowded field.
He wouldn’t be if his title at DR were “Chief US Democratic Party Propagandist,” or “Cheerleader for American Leftism,” but it’s not. His job is to explain American goings-on to the Danish public, and we pay his salary for that service.
He has failed us, over and over and over again, with a persistence that would be comical if it wasn’t so infuriating. I don’t dispute for a minute that his observations would be considered penetrating by a great swathe of the American public: the problem is that it’s not his job to describe America as it’s viewed by the American left, nor as it’s viewed by the American right, but as it is.
Can you imagine an American journalist assigned to cover Denmark, funded by American taxpayers for the effort, whose reporting amounted to recycled press releases from one political party? What if everything Americans were told about Denmark was filtered through the press office of Enhedslisten, or Nye Borgerlige? The problem isn’t which side Kretz has taken, it’s that he’s taken one.
To be clear: I don’t object to Steffen Kretz being a leftist, or a moron, or even a leftist moron. If DR ran his pieces in their opinion section, they’d be entirely unobjectionable. (And I wouldn’t feel compelled to read them.)
But they don’t. And if my Danish taxes are going to fund coverage of America that’s as wildly partisan as the leftist swill barfed up by the insufferable Kretz, then I feel an obligation as an American citizen to address it. Not to argue with his opinions, but to highlight them as such.
In the vomitous specimen of hack opinion masquerading as journalism before us, he can’t even get through the opening sentence without befouling us:
It’s only a month since thousands of extremists and Trump supporters stormed Congress in Washington D.C. and attempted to carry out something that can best be described as a coup.
That’s not journalism, it’s a Democratic talking point. The idiots that stormed Congress weren’t attempting a coup. They were a mob of idiots trying to disrupt the certification of the November 3 voting results.
They are “best described” as a confused swarm of lunatics, but since that’s ordinarily a Democratic constituency I can understand Kretz’s confusion.
Kretz glides effortlessly from the mendacity of his first paragraph into a brand new talking point in his second:
It was only two weeks ago that the U.S. Capital was surrounded by a military force of 25,000 armed troops and blockades and police all over. All to secure the inauguration of a new president.
If the troops and barricades were all put in place “to secure the inauguration,” why are they still there more than two weeks after the inauguration? And was such a militarization even necessary? These are questions a lot of Americans would like answered, even Americans who are generally left of center (for example, “The Military Occupation of D.C. Is a National Disgrace,” Jacob Silverman, TNR.com, January 19).
But today the city is transformed.
After four years of daily political chaos and constant conflicts and provocations, a new sheriff has come to town, and his America is almost the diametric opposite of his predecessor’s.
The city isn’t transformed with respect to its military occupation: the troops and barricades are still there. Kretz needs to work on his transitions.
And let’s not forget that the “four years of daily political chaos and constant conflicts and provocations” were seen by half the nation as being the product of a political opposition that for the first time in American history styled itself as a resistance instead of the loyal opposition.
The “new sheriff” is a doddering old political fossil in thrall to the very forces of chaos, conflict, and provocation that made the past four years such a horror show. That’s how half the country sees it.
In any case, Biden’s America is exactly the same as the America of his predecessor: a nation that is intensely divided right down the middle.
America’s New Face
For example, Biden’s government looks completely different…
This is Kretz’s example, remember, of how “(Biden’s) America is almost the diametric opposite of his predecessor’s.” And its placement suggests that Kretz considers it to be among the most important of those differences.
Just within the last few days, the USA has gotten its first black Secretary of Defense in the country’s history with the nomination of Lloyd Austin.
So different! So groundbreaking!
I wonder if Kretz realizes that the Secretary of Defense is the top civilian post in the DoD: the top military post is Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and Colin Powell smashed through that glass ceiling back in the 80s, in the administration of George H.W. Bush. Powell then went on to become Secretary of State under Bush fils: as such, he was fourth in line to the presidency. (He was succeeded in that post by Condoleezza Rice, who was black and female and a concert pianist.)
There are lots of black Americans in the military, but until now the leadership has almost exclusively consisted of white men, so the nomination of a black general is seen by many as a breakthrough.
If you’re into that kind of thing I’m sure it’s grand, but it’s hardly a radical or transformational thing. (And “is seen by many as…” is usually journalese for “is something I consider to be…”).
America got its first openly homosexual cabinet secretary. Pete Buttigieg, who many surely remember as former presidential candidate, has been nominated as Secretary of Transportation and may come to play a large role in Biden’s plans for massive infrastructure investment: both roads, bridges, and internet, and more.
America’s first openly gay cabinet minister was Ric Grennell. You could look it up. Or you could just take dictation from the DNC and write whatever they tell you to.
Kretz is so excited about it that his article includes a picture of Buttegieg and his husband and says it’s “a picture of the new times in Washington.”
Which would be true, I guess… if it were true.
Women and Latinos
An immigrant from Latin America has been nominated to the top post of the powerful security ministry, the Department of Homeland Security.
Alejandro Mayorkas was born in Cuba, before his parents moved to the USA and brought him along. As the first Latino in that post, he’ll have responsibility for, among other things, the nation’s border security — including immigration policy.
A woman, Janet Yellen, as new Treasury Secretary conquers for the first time one of Washington’s absolute power centers: all of her predecessors were white men, all the way back to the country’s first Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton, appointed in 1789.
A woman — Kamala Harris — is the USA’s Vice President. She belongs to another minority as the daughter of an Indian mother and a father from Jamaica.
A Latino immigrant! A woman! Another woman… who’s of Indian and Jamaican descent!
(I’m frankly astonished that Kretz didn’t include transwoman Rachel Levine, nominated to serve as Assistant Secretary of Health, in this identity politics booty call.)
That’s what Danes need to know about Biden’s cabinet: what color they are, what sex, and where their families came from. That’s what matters to the left. They’re not people, their ideas are irrelevant: they’re tokens.
Don’t take my word for it: Steffen Kretz is laying it all out there for you. After spending a couple of paragraphs literally counting how many “women, colored, black, and LGBT” cabinet secretaries have been nominated by Biden, and comparing that to how many occupied those posts at the end of Trump’s term, Kretz can no longer contain his excitement: “Said another way: It’s like waking up in another America compared to just two weeks ago.”
Well, two weeks ago the capital wasn’t an occupied military territory, so he may have a point, but that’s not what he means. He means that because there are a few more women and minorities in positions of power, the country is radically different. Like a whole new country! Because Steffen Kretz thinks sex and skin color are just that damn important.
The white men’s power has shrunk now that Donald Trump (is) gone. Biden’s government bears a much closer resemblance to Americans as they actually appear: a motley crew whose roots are all over the world.
“Looking like America” is lovely. But this is the classic leftist delusion: conservatives don’t care what people look like. They don’t. The whole “white supremacy” thing is a bogeyman the left created in a blind panic because Trump started pulling minorities to the right at hitherto unseen rates, up to and including the November 3 election. I would happily embrace “minority women” like Nikki Haley or Condi Rice as President or Vice President or any other damn post in the Executive Branch, I’d love to see the Latino Ted Cruz as Attorney General, the openly gay Ric Grenell as Director of National Intelligence (again)… not because of what they look like, but because of their ideas.
But if we’re going to roll with this concept, maybe DR could find an ace USA correspondent that doesn’t look like an Aryan poster boy:
In any case, Kretz may have realized he’d taken the whole identity politics thing about as far as it could go, because here he finally transitions to substance.
But it’s also a new time politically. Biden’s USA wants something completely different and nearly diametrically opposed to Trump’s.
DR’s ace U.S. correspondent is telling you that Democrats want something very different from what Republicans want. Insight like that doesn’t grow on trees!
He begins with the pandemic. After a little stage-setting by explaining how hard-hit America has been, he jumps excitedly into this:
Now everything is being done to get the pandemic under control.
The effort is being led by the country’s best scientists in the field, the federal government has taken control of the vaccine roll-out, and a great big economic help package is on the way to Americans.
These, too, are Democratic talking points. The Trump administration enabled “Operation Warpspeed,” which is why there are vaccines to distribute in the first place. The great big economic help package on its way to Americans is not the first; not only that, but attentive followers of America may recall that this time around Trump had to push the Democratic Congress to increase the amount of direct financial aid they were offering from a paltry six hundred dollars. Even AOC sided with the president on that one.
And of course what DR article about Trump would be complete without a reference to one of the classic leftist libels: that Trump had urged Americans to inject themselves with bleach.
Let’s review this one more time. The leader of the Science and Technology Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security had just been describing new government research showing that the virus died very quickly in sunlight, warm temperatures, and humidity… and that disinfectants were very effective against it. Trump then says:
And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it [the virus] out in one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning, because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it’d be interesting to check that, so that you’re going to have to use medical doctors with, but it sounds interesting to me. So, we’ll see, but the whole concept of the light, the way it kills it in one minute. That’s pretty powerful.
You’ll notice Trump is asking (“Is there a way”) whether we could do something like that (ie, disinfect), and that he says it would be “interesting to check that” and that “you’re going to have to use medical doctors.”
Anyone who represents that as “advice” (Kretz speaks of Trump’s “shocking advice on chlorine and light treatments against corona”) is either a hopeless idiot or a malicious partisan. In Steffen Kretz’s case, I won’t rule out the possibility of both.
Moving beyond the pandemic, Kretz notes with pleasure that “now the effort against global warming has the highest priority.”
The highest priority! Fantastic!
Except, of course, Americans themselves consider climate the 15th highest priority:
I mean, look at those Pew results: Americans rank “dealing with climate change” just a hair above “strengthening the military,” and several hairs below “reducing budget deficit.”
Americans’ clear priority is the economy. That they chose Joe Biden as the man to deal with it is one of the great comedies of our era.
In any case, the left’s obsession with the climate is entirely their own. So is Kretz applauding Biden for turning his back on Americans’ priorities? I guess that’s irrelevant, as long as his cabinet looks like America.
Next Kretz turns his adoring eye to foreign policy.
The U.S. is Back
And then there’s foreign policy. Brutal dictators like North Korea’s Kim Jong-un had better not expect to be able to continue exchanging “love letters” — that’s what Trump called them — with America’s new president.
Biden’s America has a worldview which in most areas is the opposite of his predecessor’s. “America’s back,” President Biden likes to say.
In recent days he’s reached his hand out to allies in Europe and elsewhere who for the last four years have been holding their breath and just waiting for Trump to disappear.
Remember when Trump was a warmongering lunatic who was going to start a nuclear war because of his reckless war of words with Kim Jong-un? “He called him little rocket man! Is he trying to get us all killed?!” And remember when he was an appeasing patsy for chumming it up with a butcher like Kim Jong-un?
If it’s wrong to push against dictators, and wrong to try to work with them, what’s the right approach? Are we back to issuing strongly worded letters and then ignoring them, like Clinton did? Remember how that worked out? They developed a nuke while we were looking the other way.
Kretz doesn’t get into any of that. There’s no time! He’s too excited to talk about the vacuum Biden wants to create in the middle east and south Asia so our arch-enemy Iran can get back to the important business of destabilizing everything. So he splashes around in that for a bit. And he babbles a little about all the spankings Biden’s going to deliver to Putin’s backside.
Then it’s time to drizzle a little more contempt over half of the country it’s his job to help Danes understand.
Living in Alternate Universes
So one can easily allow oneself to believe that everything is back on track in America.
One can wake up without first having to take a worried look at one’s mobile phone to see what the president has said or done now. Politics is again an intellectual, strategic, and tactical exercise — not a reality show. Adults are back in the room.
(Probably he meant the adults are circling back.)
This is another persistent conceit of the left: that they’re the smart ones, the intellects, the wise and mature “cooler heads” that everybody always wants to prevail.
I’m sure the Americans who voted for Biden share Kretz’s relief at having a boring old dunderhead like Joe Biden in the Oval Office.
But it’s not that simple.
Wait, what? Is he finally actually onto something?
Over 70 million Americans would rather have continued in Trump’s version of America.
He’s finally acknowledged that not all Americans think alike! We’re near the end of the article, but maybe this is the part where Kretz will give the other half of America a fair shake.
A very large share of them still believe the fantasy that Biden’s election was a fraud.
Not a fraud, necessarily. More like a fortification. But maybe in his rush to get this obsequious ode to Biden to press in time, Kretz missed out on Molly Ball’s article over at Time (a publication whose orientation is every bit as leftist as DR’s), in which it’s explained how “a well-funded cabal of powerful people, ranging across industries and ideologies, working together behind the scenes to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information” put in the fix for Joe Biden.
Millions of them live in alternate universes on social media, where they’re convinced that their political adversaries are Satanists who drink the blood of children — and a lot of other nonsense.
Attention, DR: your ace correspondent, who says he’s worried about people living in alternate universes on social media, has just declared that “millions” of Americans believe that their political adversaries drink the blood of children. And your editors apparently saw no reason to fact-check the claim prior to publication.
Millions of Americans believe that? Or lots of hysterical leftist social media addicts, possibly including ace correspondent Steffen Kretz, believe that millions of Americans believe that? (I ask sincerely, because I’ve noted in the past that twice as many “liberals” as “conservatives” have ever even heard of QAnon.)
As an American citizen and as a Danish citizen, I look forward to one of two things: seeing the empirical data supporting this claim, or an immediate apology and retraction.
The anger, the lies, and the conspiracy theories that were the driving force behind the coup attempt a month ago in Washington D.C., and which were the reason the city was encircled by a military encampment just two weeks ago, are still there.
Kretz has just shared a leftist conspiracy theory as though it’s an established fact, and here he goes along with the DNC talking point of calling a riotous mob a coup attempt. Do you think he wonders what conservatives could possibly be angry about?
Right now that side of America has been pushed into the background, but it hasn’t disappeared. And that must make every one of America’s friends and allies to hesitate a bit when Biden insists that America’s back.
For Trump is indeed gone, but the conditions that made Americans desperate enough to choose a leader with his background and personality have only been strengthened over the past four years.
If more Americans could read Danish and got their hands on this article, those conditions would have been strengthened even more in the past four minutes.
The Challenges Remain the Same
America’s a country with extreme inequality; economic, social, in relation to education and jobs, access to health — on all conceivable planes.
According to a 2021 study by the World Population Review, Denmark has the world’s highest “standard of living.” So I’ll assume Kretz will accept its findings. Eight of the top fifteen are northern European countries: the likes of Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Estonia, Sweden, and the Netherlands. Also Germany. Beyond northern Europe, you’ve got Austria, Slovenia, New Zealand, and Australia in there, too. Also Oman. America places fifteenth on the list, but has a population greater than the top fourteen combined. Japan is down at number 17, the UK at 19, Canada’s at 21, France is at 26, South Korea’s at 37, China’s at 63, and Russia’s at 70.
“Income inequality” is a metric, but it’s not the only metric. Many countries with a lower standard of living than America (such as France, Canada, and Portugal for example) have less income inequality. So what? Income inequality doesn’t even register on Pew’s survey of American’s priorities, so why even bring this up?
America is to a worrying degree a country where super-rich people and companies have power to pay for the laws and regulations that will benefit themselves, and not the community and the nation.
Ah, that’s why: because to a “worrying degree” all those super rich people can twist the laws and regulations whichever way they like. Interesting.
Let’s follow that logic. Let’s say it’s correct. Would Steffen Kretz like to identify the “super rich people” and their politics? Because if their names rhyme with Mezos, Morsey, Muckerberg, and Mates, he may be on to something. Maybe the super-rich are buying the policies and politicians that suit them. They’re all leftists, so I guess we know what kinds of policies and politicians they’d buy. Hell, you take a notion like that, and add it to Molly Ball’s “well-funded cabal of powerful people,” and you might begin to think that the ultra-rich oligarchs of America conspired to fortify America’s election to their liking.
Interesting hypothesis. And yet, I don’t think Kretz has the sense to realize that’s what he’s saying.
So maybe the madness is gone. Sense is back. But the challenges for America are foundationally the same.
And there has the work for President Biden and his diverse new cabinet only just begun.
“So what you’re saying is, Biden and his gloriously diverse new cabinet were bought into power by the oligarchs and have now cemented their position with a military occupation of the capital?”
Of course that’s not what he’s saying.
He’s saying that it’s a damn good thing Joe Biden is president, but that none of us should let our guard down until those 70 million lunatics have been… dealt with.
Which is exactly the kind of penetrating insight that keeps Danes paying for DR.
Well, that and government compulsion.
But probably mostly that.