In an op-ed posted today to the Arizona Capitol Times website, Stump opens with,
“Irony,” says literary critic Harold Bloom, “demands a certain attention span, and the ability to sustain antithetical ideas, even when they collide with one another.”
An ironical stance acknowledges a certain absurdity and humor in life and politics, and is conducive to self-awareness. Irony is an antidote to ideology, leavening it with a dose of intellectual humility. It bursts pomposity. As such, it is a quality much-needed in government today.
Yet our political climate is conducive neither to sustained attention spans nor the consideration of antithetical ideas — let alone irony.
Of course, I am humbled by Stump's (lack of?) pretentiousness and pomposity as he does what shame and vulnerability researcher Brené Brown calls, "armoring up."
That insecurity is present in all of us, and it's so strong that we often go out of our way to avoid situations that might make us feel fragile. In Dr. Brown's talk at the University of Minnesota, she described the ways we try to sidestep the shaky feeling of vulnerability. We emotionally "armor up" each morning when we face the day to avoid feeling shame, anxiety, uncertainty, and fear. The particular armor changes from person to person, but it usually revolves around one of three methods: striving for perfection, numbing out, or disrupting joyful moments by "dress rehearsing tragedy" and imagining all the ways that things could go wrong. Do any of these sound familiar?
All of these types of armor can make us feel safe and "in control" in the moment, but they're really doing us more harm than good. "Perfectionism is a 20-ton shield-we think it will protect us but it keeps us from being seen," notes Dr. Brown. Numbing our emotions is damaging because it has a widespread effect-you can't numb fear without numbing joy at the same time.In Stump's case, it sure looks like his armor is a rich façade of faux intellectualism.
Now, I am NOT psychoanalyzing Stump. Lord knows, I've got my own problems. But I DO analyze what Stump wrote. I DO analyze what he has done in the ongoing self-imposed dilemma he faces regarding his obviously blatant violations of Arizona's Public Records Law.
Every bit of Stump's op-ed is nothing more and nothing less than an incredibly awkward effort to avoid, refuse, deny and otherwise get out of having to account for his unlawful conduct. Yes, I pronounce Bob Stump as a lawbreaker. Isn't it abundantly obvious that he has violated lawful requirements imposed on him by the Arizona Legislature (when it passed legislation enacting public records disclosure requirements)? Oh... yeah, I forgot, those requirements were imposed on him DIRECTLY by the people who voted him into office.
Anyway, back to Stump's op-ed. He invoked literary critic Harold Bloom. Not being as well versed in literary matters as Stumpy (claims to be), I had to look up Mr. Bloom. He is, of course, a highly-regarded literary critic. One of his books is How to Read and Why.
In an interview he gave about that book, Bloom did have something to say about irony. But I'm not so sure any of it provides Stump with any armor that's going to keep his feelings from being deeply wounded.
You talk in the book about contemporary readers having difficulty comprehending irony in literature of earlier times. Why do you think this is a problem?
Irony by definition is the saying of one thing while meaning another, sometimes indeed quite the opposite of what overtly you are saying. It's very difficult to have the highest kind of imaginative literature from Homer through Don DeLillo, as it were, and entirely avoid irony. There is the tragic irony, which one confronts everywhere in Shakespeare, that the audience, the auditor, and the reader are aware of--something in the character or predicament or inward affects, emotions of the protagonist or protagonists, that the heroes and heroines are totally unaware of themselves.
It's very difficult to convey this quality of irony by purely visual means. Visual ironies tend to fall flat or they vulgarize very quickly or they become grotesque. Really subtle irony of any sort demands literary language. The way in which meaning tends to wander in any really interesting literary text, so that the reader is challenged to go into exile with it, catch up with it, learn how to construe it, make it her very own, is essentially a function of irony. If we totally lose our ability to recognize and to understand irony, then we will be doomed to a kind of univocal discourse, which is alright I suppose for politicians' speeches and perhaps for certain representatives of popular religion, but will leave us badly defrauded.
I wonder if Stump will recognize himself in this reflection Bloom made on literature, politicians and religion. Look back to Stump's opening statement in his op-ed,
An ironical stance acknowledges a certain absurdity and humor in life and politics, and is conducive to self-awareness. Irony is an antidote to ideology, leavening it with a dose of intellectual humility. It bursts pomposity. As such, it is a quality much-needed in government today.Does Stump explain how the irony in his words (this op-ed and several other proclamations he made about his dilemma with public records disclosure violations)? Does he use irony to burst anyone's bubble or to enhance his own (highly deficient lack of) authenticity? You decide.
Case in point: The media coverage of the tiresome soap opera invented by the far-left, dark-money fringe group, The Checks and Balances Project.
Checks and Balances has spent months concocting increasingly fantastical conspiracy theories by connecting random dots and events. Their campaign of innuendo and insinuation, worthy of Joseph McCarthy, is payback for my criticism of TUSK’s hardball tactics in the 2014 election and my support of last year’s compromise forged by the Residential Utility Consumer Office and the rooftop solar industry — a compromise, ironically, which APS and Checks and Balances both opposed.Rather, Stump (implausibly) casts Checks and Balances Project as the real Dark Money villain in the ironic tragedy in which he sees himself as the victim.
From the start, my stance on dark money has been clear: I would prefer it play no part in the election of commissioners. I am a regulator, not an elections officer, and my duties do not entail unearthing the source of the anonymous spending that engulfed the 2014 commission election, nor the “clean energy” dollars footing Checks and Balances’ romps in the mud.IF Trash Burner Bob really wanted to claim the role of victim, and prove C&BP as a sinister actor in this drama, wouldn't he have to actually DISCLOSE all of the records at issue? IF those records demonstrated that Stump has been truthful and candid this entire time, wouldn't he then succeed in what now seems to be a fool's errand with his latest declaration of self-pity.
Remember, Stump, the Arizona Corporation Commission and its mercenary "legal" mouthpiece (Cantelme) have contended all along that Stump's text messages no longer existed, and were irretrievable from the iPhone Stump surrendered to the ACC, which phone in turn was seized by the Attorney General last summer.
Well, the good news is -- but perhaps not for Stump -- that the lawsuit may have succeeded in getting Brno to s*it rather than get off the pot. Howie Fischer today reported,
State investigators are working to recover text messages that utility regulator Bob Stump sent and received right before last year’s Republican primary, Capitol Media Services has learned.
Ryan Anderson, spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, said Wednesday that multiple forensic examinations of the phone turned up “thousands of texts.” Potentially more significant, he said the equipment being used has the capability of recovering texts that Stump sent and received even before he had this particular phone.
That could prove crucial to answering questions about what information Stump was exchanging both with the candidates who he was supporting as well as outside “dark money” groups that were trying to influence the race but could not legally coordinate with the candidates themselves.I wonder how Stump is going to be able to deflect attention away from his Public Records Law violations, and the potential discovery of even more problematic illegal activity. Is it not currently an open secret that Arizona Public Service purchased a majority (three of the five votes) on the Corporation Commission?
Who knows whether anyone at the "prestigious" Capitol Times, or the even more widely read Arizona Republic, will even question Stump's nonsensical crap. However, to me, it is obviously just more misdirection on Bob's part.