October 22, 2020

Strange gesture suggested — "If Biden were willing to grasp the nettle..."

I'm just glancing at the New Yorker... erstwhile home of Jeffrey Toobin, who made a strange gesture the other day — grasping and getting stung. I think I would have laughed at that headline in any case — "Joe Biden and the Possibility of a Remarkable Presidency/If Biden were willing to grasp the nettle, the sting would be real, but history would judge him well for trying." 
 
What is this stinging nettle? 
If Biden’s not guarding his approval ratings for a second run, he could... push to expand and reform the courts. He could embrace the Green New Deal, moving money from the Pentagon to the national-security task of building out solar and wind power and setting irrevocably in motion an industrial transition that would transform our economy over the next generation. He could take millions of undocumented immigrants out of the shadows. He could make sure that we have a commission to examine and recommend reparations for Black and indigenous Americans. And so on.... 
He hasn’t risked much over the years... His biggest virtue is the dull (if welcome) one of decency. But the odd situation he could be stepping into... might give him an unlikely chance for greatness. 

The "odd situation" is that he's so old that he won't be jockeying for a second term and that he'd be succeeding Trump the Terrible. This, we're told, creates an opportunity to go big — to "grasp the nettle."

ADDED: The figurative use of "nettle" goes back to the 1400s, the OED tells us. And Shakespeare used it in 1598 — in "Henry IV, Pt. 1." It's Hotspur (reading from a letter and arguing with it):

'The purpose you undertake is dangerous'—why, that's certain. 'Tis dangerous to take a cold, to sleep, to drink; but I tell you, my lord fool, out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety. 'The purpose you undertake is dangerous, the friends you have named uncertain, the time itself unsorted, and your whole plot too light for the counterpoise of so great an opposition.' Say you so, say you so? I say unto you again, you are a shallow, cowardly hind, and you lie. What a lack-brain is this! By the Lord, our plot is a good plot as ever was laid, our friends true and constant; a good plot, good friends, and full of expectation; an excellent plot, very good friends. What a frosty-spirited rogue is this!

66 comments:

Curious George said...

"His biggest virtue is the dull (if welcome) one of decency."

Yeah, all that sniffing, groping, and finger fucking aside.

walter said...

I hope McKibben turned off his laptop cam while he wrote this.

Temujin said...

"He hasn’t risked much over the years..."

Sure. Getting paid for access by the Communist Chinese, forcing the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor looking into his son's placement on Burisma's Board of Directors, grabbing other men's wives and daughters in front of the camera. Not much risk there.

I'm grasping my nettle just thinking about all of it.

Original Mike said...

Bill McKibben wants us all to go back to living in caves. The stinging nettle is what we would be left wiping our butts with.

chickelit said...

It's all subjunctive mood and "what if" which befits the hypothetical fantasyland that so many inhabit.

Lucid-Ideas said...

Jesus that headline. That is literally the written version of grasping Biden's zipper, taking out his dick, and sucking him off like a Hoover set on high.

Next up, "The New Yorker - How We & Our Contributors Think Endlessly About Cock" edition.

minnesota farm guy said...

Ah McKibben knows what's best for us and for Joe as well. His list of things that Joe should grasp is laughable. At the top of that list is "reparations". Next comes his ignoring of nuclear power which is the only answer for reliable CO2 free power generation. ( No one yet has explained to my satisfaction how CA plans to charge the batteries of all those electric cars.)

What we have seen over the last week - and I think it is only going to get worse - is that the only thing Joe is really good at is grabbing the bribe and banking it.

The "decency" claim is taking somewhat of a beating these days as well. What Joe is is a world class grifter!

Drago said...

In the case of a Biden win, Obama and gang will order Dementia Joe taken out within the first year so, yes, that would be "remarkable".

And we know the lefties can pull the trigger on Biden corruption to help "convince" Dementia Joe and Not-A-Real-Doctor Jill not to put up a fight about it otherwise the obama deep state folks can make life very difficult for the Biden clan.

Whereas by leaving as directed, the Bidens will be allowed to keep their millions and millions of corruption bucks and the family members will never face any legal difficulties.

Robert Cook said...

How fanciful.

If Biden wins, we won't really notice much of a difference in how American operates. We will still have a servant of the wealthy in the White House who will serve their prerogatives--as both parties do--and he will also continue Trump's habit of saying foolish, foolish things, (albeit of a different nature of foolishness).

Wince said...

If Biden’s not guarding his approval ratings for a second run, he could... And so on...

In other words, fuck-over the people stupid enough to vote for him because of his "biggest virtue"-- "the dull (if welcome) one of decency" -- which is Biden's biggest lie of all.

cacimbo said...

"His biggest virtue is the dull (if welcome) one of decency."

Hunters emails show JB is corrupt, but media is hanging on to the old lie.

Iman said...

So Toobin isn't the only pud puller at the New Yorker...

Unexpectedly.

Michael K said...

It's good to see their real agenda for a Biden administration, which would quickly be a Harris regime. He's been denying the fracking ban and some of the other crazy ideas the far left has infected the Democrats with.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Is that what Toobin was doing? Grasphing the nettle?

narciso said...

Mullah mckibben oh my

Sebastian said...

"What is this stinging nettle?"

The far-left treatment, hard and good.

Still abstaining, Althouse?

tcrosse said...

Like Toobin, Biden could extract his pound of flesh.

Mike of Snoqualmie said...

Joe ain't a decent guy. He blames the truck driver for his first wife's death. It was the first wife who blew through a stop sign and caused the accident. He routinely swam nude in front of female secret service agents - what a Toobin. He routinely groped and sniffed girls and women, regardless of what they wanted. He gets belligerent with anyone who challenges him, he wants to take DJT behind the gym for a little fist fight.

He's been in the pay of the Chinese Communist Party for years. He'll open remove sanctions from Russia and Iran. He was a full participant of the Russia/Hillary/Obama-gate conspiracy plot.

chuck said...

It is long past time for The New Yorker to change its fonts, the mismatch with the contents is distracting.

Rick said...

I love it, even they know Joe is lying when he claims to be a moderate. Remember moderate Dems believe it's more effective to pursue far left goals incrementally. They don't actually disagree with the goals, their disagreement is with the strategy.

Isn't it interesting all these supposedly liberal media consistently drop their pants to reveal they are really far left?



Robert Cook said...
If Biden wins, we won't really notice much of a difference in how American operates. We will still have a servant of the wealthy in the White House who will serve their prerogatives-


While Cookie's partly right he doesn't understand how it plays out. The wealthy in this country are left wing because powerful government is a tool they can control. A government which creates rules bureaucratically never has to worry about public opposition and can pursue its goals unopposed. As Biden and Clinton show the wealth and position government officials can achieve is vastly more important than a few percentage points in taxes, and left wing control greatly increases this power.

tcrosse said...

The nettle doesn't sting as much if you grasp it. Quoth Wikipedia:

"In Seán O'Casey's Juno and the Paycock, one of the characters quotes Aesop "Gently touch a nettle and it'll sting you for your pains/Grasp it as a lad of mettle and soft as silk remains". The metaphor may refer to the fact that if a nettle plant is grasped firmly rather than brushed against, it does not sting so readily, because the hairs are crushed down flat and do not penetrate the skin so easily."

PM said...

Biden will not be running anything. He'll be the Queen; Nancy will be the PM.

rhhardin said...

It's a reference to A.E.Housman

With seed the sowers scatter
The furrows as they go;
Poor lads, 'tis little matter
How many sorts they sow,
For only one will grow.

The charlock on the fallow
Will take the traveller's eyes,
And gild the ploughland sallow
With flowers before it dies.
But twice 'twill not arise.

The stinging nettle only
Will still be found to stand:
The numberless, the lonely,
The thronger of the land,
The leaf that hurts the hand.

It thrives, come sun, come showers,
Blow east, blow west, it springs;
It peoples towns, and towers
About the courts of Kings,
And touch it and it stings.

Bunkypotatohead said...

He can hire Hunter as senior adviser...sorta like Kushner.

JRoberts said...

More fan fiction.

Not as bad as the Obama years, no superhero comic books or school children singing for dear leader, but jeez!

Achilles said...

That article is just a request for war.

Mary Beth said...

The New Yorker is wrong.

You're less likely to be stung by the nettle if you grasp it firmly. It hurts more if you pluck it gingerly or just brush up against it. It takes bravery to firmly grasp a plant that you know can cause pain, but by being brave you mitigate most of the damage.

Trump grasps the nettle.

Jupiter said...

Amazing. That idiot gets paid to write crap like that.

Kathryn51 said...

When Obama was elected, he had more good will than any President in modern history (I'm thinking maybe Eisenhower levels of good will). He went big - and the country immediately sent a message: we want peace and prosperity. We want compromise, working together, civility. 2010 was a disaster for the Dems.

If the "Biden" Cabal Goes Big, 2022 will turn things around once again.

The Dems never learn - when they break a norm (such as asking one federal judge to issue injunctions for the entire country), the GOP learns fast. And in case they weren't paying attention, there are a couple of Circuit Courts that are now full of GOP appointed judges.

Nonapod said...

His biggest virtue is the dull (if welcome) one of decency.

I wasn't aware that using your entitled princeling crack smoking son to launder money from foreign governments in exchange for influence is now considered "decent". Or groping women and girls on camera, or publicly challenging an interlocuter to a push up contest and calling them "fat", or being credibly accused of rape, or plagerizing speeches, or...

Robert Cook said...

"The wealthy in this country are left wing because powerful government is a tool they can control."

I can't figure out how the wealthy are left wing because they control government.

tim in vermont said...

As a boy traipsing around the countryside and especially down by the river, of course wearing shorts, the nettles would get you and yeah, it stung, but it was a weird kind of good pain. Not that I would go looking for it. I hated the long grass worse, that would sort of lay flat on your skin and grasp it like a cats tongue, adhered by the dew, and then make a long kind of proto-welt as it dragged on your skin as you walked.

f Biden wins, we won't really notice much of a difference in how American operates. We will still have a servant of the wealthy in the White House who will serve their prerogatives

One difference is that Trump hasn’t started any wars, and Iran and the neocons tried really hard to start one too. If you really think that there is no difference otherwise, then voting against war at least seems to make sense. Once the Davos crowd is back in charge, wiith Biden as their figurehead, the American jihad aginst the “lawless” part of the world, you know, the part not under the control of the Davos crowd, will continue, and our sons and daughters will be sent to fight, while Biden laughs at the supper table and takes another bite of the turkey leg while calling for some entertainment.

Mike Sylwester said...

Tara Reade tells how Joe Biden plucked the flower out of her nettle

PM said...

Biden doesn't radiate the kind of knowing slickness necessary to arrange bribes. Once, yes. But now he's just a foppish old man with a few prerecorded growls. He's running for Resident, not President. The shot of him getting an ice cream cone is dead on.

tim maguire said...

Yep, that's how it works. If we elect the Democrat, the media will give us glorious flights of fancy of what dreams could be. If we elect the Republican, we get dark dreary snuff porn.

Think carefully of what kind of journalism you want for the next 4 years and vote accordingly.

Kevin said...

Tomorrow's article today: Oh Joe's just a moderate, you know. All that stuff Trump said last night about radical changes is INSANE!

Two-eyed Jack said...

As long as we're making wishes for a big bold Biden presidency, I say why not put a bunch of that solar and wind money into perpetual motion? If we're going bold, go bold, I say.

Rick said...

The New Yorker is wrong. It hurts more if you pluck it gingerly or just brush up against it.

Isn't the second line their point? That Joe will pay less of a price for going hard left than he would for a merely left course?

Leland said...

This tells me the New Yorker is afraid true Bernie/AOC/Warren socialists won't turn out to vote for Biden, because he is keeping his distance from their agenda.

Friedrich Engels' Barber said...

tcrosse and Mary Beth - OK, you go first.

stevew said...

Joe Biden's first wife ran a stop sign causing a crash with a large truck in which she and one of their children were killed. Joe Biden publicly accused the truck drive of being drunk that day ("he drank his lunch") and blamed him for the death of his wife and child. The investigation into the circumstances of the crash cleared the truck driver of any and all wrong doing. Joe Biden has never publicly corrected his accusations against the driver.

Joe Biden is many, many things but a decent man is not one of them.

As for his opportunity to grasp the nettle and govern without concern for his ratings, well, I would just say my expectation is that if elected Joe Biden won't be governing - all his back office advisors and handlers will be taking care of that.

stevew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Joe Biden could do so much ...

- He could start a 5-year plan
- He could seize the means of production
- He could kill all the kulaks
- He could collectivize agriculture
- He could launch a Great Leap Forward
- He could march people out into the countryside, shooting the ones who can't keep up

Onwards into the future, comrades!

Yancey Ward said...

It is almost impossible to square the circle of this essay with the reality of Joe Biden. I honestly would be embarrassed to attach my name something like this. It isn't just that McKibben is writing this about a Democrat who will have Democrat priorities- an honest man could have just written an essay about how Biden, despite all the flaws, is a better choice than Trump. However, McKibben couldn't leave it at that- he had to literally get down on his knees and figurative fellate the guy.

Francisco D said...

All of the aspirational bullshit in Biden ads (including op-eds) is directed at less motivated Democrats to actually vote for him rather than sit on their hands.

My (life long Democrat) wife is promising to sit out the POTUS election, just like Althouse. It may take them another 4 years to get over the "Democrats = nice folks, Republicans = bad guys" delusions.

Take the Red Pill ladies and

Make Orwell Fiction Again

MD Greene said...

The only argument for Joe Biden, really, is that he is not Donald Trump.

I don't like narcissistic gasbags either, but if you get into the nettles on Biden's plans, you understand that this year's $3+ trillion deficit is just the beginning, even if there is a 100% effective Covid vaccine available starting in January and even if Joe and Congress levy all the innovative new taxes and tax increases they have promised.

I used to enjoy the New Yorker, but its cartoons and humor columns are pretty much all about what a buffoon Trump is. Its political viewpoint is Jane Mayer and more Jane Mayer. The left has so blinkered itself with obsessive hatred of Donald Trump that it's unable to grapple with any other person or idea in a thoughtful manner. (Okay, maybe that Toobin guy for a few days, but that's it.)

Gunner said...

Toobin is gone but the lefty circle jerk continues.

Paul said...

I bet Biden plays with his nettle every day.... he is clearly a Toobin man.

Paul said...

Robert Cook said...

"If Biden wins, we won't really notice much of a difference in how American operates. We will still have a servant of the wealthy in the White House who will serve their prerogatives--as both parties do--and he will also continue Trump's habit of saying foolish, foolish things, (albeit of a different nature of foolishness)."

Actually Trump keeps his promises. Does Biden ever?

RobinGoodfellow said...

Ann

Do you not having stinging nettles in Wisconsin? Because they are all over Florida.

Actually, properly prepared they tase a little like spinach—cooking seems to get rid of the toxin.

Dagwood said...

If by remarkable they mean that he'd break Harrison's record for shortest time in office, well, yes.

hombre said...

This is nuts! Are there really people who are this economically illiterate or do they just recognize the ignorance of their audience and play to it?

This is pap for bubble people. Not only is the premise absurd, but Demented Joe will be lucky to find his shoes in the morning.

Mike Sylwester said...

Tara Reade tells how Joe Biden plucked her flower from her nettle

Richard Dolan said...

So Biden's "remarkable presidency" will come from his grasping "nettles" to push the complete lefty-land agenda, giving rise to Postmodern Green Nirvana. Got it.

Far more likely will be how "remarkably" Biden will be absent from his own presidency if he wins. Obama at least had the conceit that he was smarter than his advisers, and in that sense was his own man (for better or worse). Trump, too, albeit in a very different way. But Biden? Such a dim bulb, always thinking in clichés and confusing platitudes with wisdom. He is the kind of guy who might actually grasp a fist-full of nettles, if his keepers let him get close enough.

mockturtle said...

I've got Biden's nettle right here.

Rick said...

Robert Cook said...
"The wealthy in this country are left wing because powerful government is a tool they can control."

I can't figure out how the wealthy are left wing because they control government.

There's so much more you can't figure out. The wealthy aren't left wing because they control government. The wealthy choose to be left wing because the unlimited government the left desires is extremely attractive to power hungry people. It can not just defend fortunes but also make them which is 1,000 times harder.

If you try to understand just a little bit instead of pretending people said something different it's much easier.

Bob said...

This pablum comes out in force every time a Democrat may follow a Republican to the White House.

Carter would give us a government as decent as the American people after the Unshaven Evil Richard Nixon (and his un-elected lackey successor Gerald Ford). Clinton would reinvent government after the "selfish, me-first" Reagan-Bush years. Obama would bring Hope and Change after Eight Years of Darkness under Bush II. Clinton would...Clinton would...Well, she would be the First Woman President and St Hillary thank God for that!

Hell, Theodore White acknowledged he hero-worshipped Kennedy in 1960.

Now Biden is the latest ordinary, ambitious, self-serving blowhard politician (and aged and demented to boot) who will wave his Magic Wand and bring Heaven on Earth. "Remarkable Presidency", indeed. Oh, yeah...

Iman said...

Actually, properly prepared they tase a little like spinach—cooking seems to get rid of the toxin.

Can they be steamed, or do they need to be tased?

mikee said...

I have a sister in law who is a perfect progressive - sanctimonious, self righteous, absolutely sure her views are correct, and incapable of hearing anything contrary to her beliefs. My wife and I were out walking a country road with her and her husband, a Forest Ranger, when he said, pointing, "Those are stinging nettles. Don't touch them." Moments later, the all-knowing SIL uttered a scream of pain, having ignored her husband's expert advice. He didn't laugh; he was used to her personality. My wife didn't laugh, she still cared for her sister at that time. I laughed aloud, and asked SIL if she'd tried grasping the nettle firmly, or if she heard her husband and decided he could not be correct. She glared at me in silence, as either answer would demonstrate her stupidity. I remember that moment with great satisfaction. Her silence for just that moment was as good as she has ever been.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

Nettles?

...we don't need no Stinging Nettles!!

They're grasping at straws, not nettles

Lurker21 said...


"If Biden were willing to grasp the nettle, the sting would be real, but history would judge him well for trying."

Nettle grasping didn't work out so well for Toobin ...

BUMBLE BEE said...

Weekend At Biden's -- https://twitter.com/i/status/1319343207713484804
HOOT! HOOT!

John henry said...

I can't remember ever hearing an American writer using the "grasp the nettle" phrase.

I do see it, in various forms, from British writers from time to time. Usually in the context of doing an unenjoyable task of some kind.

British Pol Leslie Titmuss titled his memoirs "Grasping the Nettle" probably not available via the portal.

John Henry

Molly said...

(eaglebeak)

"Out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety."

Hotspur, in Henry IV, Part I

by William Shakespeare

Robert Cook said...

"The wealthy aren't left wing because they control government. The wealthy choose to be left wing because the unlimited government the left desires is extremely attractive to power hungry people. It can not just defend fortunes but also make them which is 1,000 times harder."

Meaningless word salad.

DavidD said...

...and gun confiscation. He forgot gun confiscation.