Will Mark Twain’s irony of wit work for Hillary’s peccadilloes?
Samuel Clemens is America’s seminal author of the 20th Century; from his pen, the American author was defined. Armed with imagination and an orator’s wit, he is more well known and remembered by his pen name Mark Twain.
Ernest Hemingway said of Twain:
“All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn. American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.”
Hopefully most readers have read some of Hemingway’s novels and Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn”; since, you will be better equipped to understand the efforts of Hilary’s staff to recreate the moral equivalency of Twain and stolen watermelons. If Hilary’s latest indiscretion can be reduced to the euphemism of a stolen watermelon, she may end up with an apology from the public.
Mark Twain was not only a good writer, he was a great speaker as well; in fact, his ability as a speaker with a dry and sharp wit enabled him to overcome bankruptcy from a lifetime of bad investments. He conducted tours of the US and the world performing speaking engagements to sold-out crowds. The speeches were always modified to reflect the mood and composition of the audience. This speech on Practical Morality was given to the New Savage Club, in London.
“You do not learn practical morality at Sunday School,” he said. ” There they teach you to avoid temptation. That is theoretical morality. Now, I would teach you to familiarize yourself with crime, so that you will know what you must, not do. That is practical morality. I begin by teaching you how to steal.
“It is by the fires of experience that you are purified. By the commission of crime you learn real practical morality. Familiarize yourself with every crime. Take them in rotation. There are not more than two or three thousand. Stick to the task diligently. Commit two or three crimes every day, and by-and-bye, when you have done them all, you will be proof against the- temptation to. commit any one of them, morally perfect, vaccinated against all wickedness.
“I will tell you a story about the first time I stole a water-melon. That is, l think it was the first time. ‘Anyhow, it was right along there somewhere. I stole that melon out of a cart while the farmer was attending another customer. ‘Stole’ is a harsh term. I will modify it, and say that I withdrew the melon. I carried it to a secluded bower and broke it open — and it was green! It was the greenest watermelon that was raised in the valley that year. The minute , I saw that watermelon was green I was sorry. “I began to reflect. Now, ” reflection is the beginning of reform. If you don’t reflect when you have committed a crime — why, that crime is no use to you at all. I said to myself, What ought a, boy to do who has stolen a green water-melon?
What would George Washington do? George Washington, father of his country, couldn’t tell a lie. He was the only American who couldn’t. What would he do? Why, there was only one right and high and noble thing for a boy to do who had stolen a watermelon of that character. He must make restitution. He must restore the melon to its rightful owner.
“And I said, ‘I will do it !’ The moment I made that good resolution I felt the noble exaltation that comes after you have done wrong and. you determine to do right. I rose up spiritually strengthened and refreshed, and I carried that water-melon back — what was left of it— I restored it to the farmer, and — made him give me a ripe one instead.
“It is this constant impact of ‘crime upon crime, this stacking up of iniquity after iniquity, and thus protecting yourself against the commission of those crimes in the future — it is this which builds up your moral edifice, and completes it. You cannot become morally perfect by stealing one water-melon, nor by stealing a thousand. It has been tried. But every little helps.”
Now, it is fairly obvious that Hilary is not erudite nor does she have anything similar to the wit of Twain. She is a boor, but she is a survivor, and survivors know to hire intelligent people. Why read when you can hire people who have spent the hours necessary to be erudite? Someone on her staff is clever enough to realize the advantage of admitting a slight indiscretion and creating an aura of innocence through morale equivalence. Bill Clinton employs the same technique:
Bill Clinton: I believe we have done a lot more good than harm.
“We do get money from other countries and some of them are in the Middle East,” he said. “For example, the U.A.E. gave us money. Do we agree with everything they do? No, but they are helping us fight ISIS, and they built a great university with NYU.” Similarly, he said, “Do I agree with all the foreign policy of Saudi Arabia? No.” But he said that country is making advances in education for women and girls.
He said the money will be used for an endowment to provide for the foundation’s future support. “The money that we raise for next couple years for an endowment so all these programs will run forever even when I get to the point when I can’t raise the money every year,” he said. Some of it, he added, is from “people who have helped us before.”
Of course, using Bill’s moral equivalency or by referring to Machiavelli’s Prince, doing enough good in the world can justify almost any level of evil or corruption as long as it is outweighed by good deeds. Despots and homicidal maniacs like Stalin used the same moral justification.
Mark Twain had no favorites in politics or anywhere else, he eviscerated them all for being low life scum, but he also knew how to defuse a situation.
On Saturday, August 3, Twain arrived in Helena for an appearance at the Ming’s Opera House. The event attracted the rich and famous and powerful of the state and they all attended a reception afterwards at the opulent Montana Club. Once again, Twain’s Western past jumped up and bit him from behind. As the state’s political and financial elite proposed a toast to the guest of honor, suddenly one diner rose to object: “Hold on a minute; before we can go further I want to say to you, Sam Clemens, that you did me a damned dirty trick over there in Silver City and I’ve come here to have a settlement with you.”
After an awkward silence, Twain spoke, “Let’s see, That was before I reformed, wasn’t it?” Senator Sanders used the opportunity to defuse the situation by suggesting that as Twain’s challenger had not reformed, all should forgive him for his outburst and drink together, which everyone did.
Despite Hillary’s years in Arkansas, she can’t quite spin the homespun country ethos played so well by Bill, but you can’t fault her for trying.
“Looking back, it would have been probably smarter to have used two devices but I have absolute confidence that everything that could be in any way connected to work is now in possession of the State Department.”
Although Twain laid out the template, being able to use it effectively requires certain qualities. Bill was effective with the technique, but Hilary is having a hard time with the watermelon story.