The little pebbles that change the paths of great rivers

In a round of emails, some friends and I were musing about Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs.  As you know, he has become hostile to many on the right whom he once called his friends.  Omri Ceren, who blogs at the wonderful Mere Rhetoric noted that, while we may be dismayed by Johnson’s current views, we must always be grateful for his stellar contribution in the war against Islamic fundamentalism (a battle he continues to wage) and, most specifically, for his role in Rathergate.  While it’s true that others viewed the alleged “shirker” memo with suspicion, it was Johnson who came up with the perfect visual that proved, beyond doubt, the memo was a recent fake, and it was he who pushed that reality out of the blogosphere and into the mainstream — and damn quickly too.  Had he not acted as he did, we could have had a President Kerry in the White House, a thought that still makes me shudder.

In the last election, it was the National Enquirer, going where all other media outlets refused to go, that exposed John Edwards’ philandering habits, thereby destroying his presidential run.  As we learn more about him, we have reason to be grateful that he’s not occupying the White House (although it’s hard to imagine him being worse than Obama).

In other words, while some things just fall apart and run out of steam, other things are stopped dead in their tracks by a little thing:  a lie or a secret that’s exposed, a stupid remark, a foolishly issued challenge (think Gary Hart), etc.  I wondered if you all would like to share with me what you think are the great pebbles in history:  the seemingly little things that brought down a great enterprise.

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  • Mike Devx

    Book reminds,
    > we must always be grateful for his [Charles Johnson’s] stellar contribution in the war against Islamic fundamentalism […] and, most specifically, for his role in Rathergate.  […] it was Johnson who came up with the perfect visual that proved, beyond doubt, the memo was a recent fake, and it was he who pushed that reality out of the blogosphere and into the mainstream

    It’s true that we should remember the good with all the recent bad.  But the bad vibes from Johnson continue as the good recedes ever deeper into the past.  It’s like loving Sean Penn for Spicoli in ‘Fast Times At Ridgmont High’, and having to put up with his atrocious politics and all the unmemorable performances (at least to me) since then.

    Similarly, I’m watching the James O’Keefe story to see what comes out of it.  (He is the fellow who, with a gal friend, posed as business supporter and whorehouse madam to reveal Acorn’s perfidy.)   I surely hope that the earliest information we’re getting isn’t right, because this earliest information on the Landrieu office infiltration looks bad.  Great moments of high virtue, then followed by undermined by later terrible mistakes.  Ah, our feet of clay.  I hope for O’Keefe it’s not true.

  • rockdalian

    Mike Devx,
    This post by patterico delves into the details and casts a doubt about the coverage so far.
    I had a funny feeling about this from the beginning. I think there will be a few reporters eating crow after this issue has been fully explained.

  • Charles Martel

    Well, not to brag on myself, but at the Battle of Tours in 732, my victory was due to a very small thing that turned out to have big consequences. As you remember from your history classes, I faced a formidable opponent, Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi, who was pretty used to having his way with us French. 

    It was the custom at the time for the generals of both armies to face off before the battle and have a sword fight. Although the winner of that duel wasn’t necessarily going to be the winner of the bigger fray, it was a portent and had a great effect on both side’s morale.

    Long story short, Abdul was one of the silliest looking Arabs I’d ever seen. Even though he was in battle gear, his armor was festooned with silk ribbons and his helmet had little rhinestone inlays. Add to that his rather slender wrists, his ankle bracelets and his long nose, and I was looking at some nancy boy!

    The preliminaries called for us to walk toward each other, salute with our swords as we passed, walk five more paces, turn and then assume the martial position. I don’t know what caused my leg to twitch—perhaps it was just that Abdul was such a twerp. As he walked by, my limb shot out and tripped him. He went diving into a mudhole, silk scarves and refinements flapping, an act that immediately convulsed his troops with laughter.  

    I’m not proud of what I did, but Christendom was at stake. As the Arab soldiers were doubled over snorting and guffawing, I ordered my men to fall upon and slay them.

    Thus we won the battle.

    Thus my leg twitch—a small pebble, if you will—changed history.

  • suek

    >>Thus my leg twitch—a small pebble, if you will—changed history.>>
    Heh.  Chrissy Matthews must have read that particular version of history…

  • Charles Martel

    On a serious note:

    —The Watergate security guard who noticed that an office door lock had been tampered with.

    —Gary Hart’s off-the-cuff challenge to the media to see if they could come up with any dirt on him.

    —Jackie Kennedy’s mention of JFK’s love for the Broadway show “Camelot,” which provided the image needed to turn her husband’s assassination from a terrible blip in history into a permanent lament for a lost golden age.

    —Ronald Reagan’s smiling “There you go again” rejoinder to Jimmuh Carter.

    —TSA’s capture of that quadraplegic Swedish woman who was going to blow up the Smithsonian. TSA’s capture of that six-year-old Down’s syndrome kid with the pretend pistol on that commuter flight to Tarrytown, N.Y.  TSA’s thwarting to the “Girl Scout Bomb Plot” in Cincinnati,-the one where the $6-an-hour inspector thought the ginger bread cookies looked like C4 explosive. 

  • Spartacus

    A couple of meteorological ones:
    * For several days after Gen. Howe had landed an overwhelming force on the southern beaches of Long Island, and as the disciplined British and Hessian forces moved swiftly to outflank the inexperienced, ill-equipped and badly outnumbered Americans, the winds had irritatingly remained from a direction that prevented His Majesty’s fleet from sailing up the East River, which would have allowed them to surround the island entirely, cutting off any hope of escape.  The American situation became quite desperate as they were forced toward the western end of the island.  By the night of August 29-30, the wind had abated, but a remarkably thick fog settled over the East River.  Redeeming himself in leadership and logistics where he had stumbled in strategy, Washington organized an essentially flawless embarkation and evacuation of an untrained army in a very precarious position.  Thousands of men muffled their every sound as they loaded arms and equipment and rowed away under the cover of darkness and fog.  The fog lifted under the morning sun as the last boats reached Manhattan, and the Americans could see the stunned British running into their just-abandoned American camp.  The army survived, and independence fought on.
    * The weather over Kokura on the morning of August 9, 1945 was cloudy.  This was unfortunate for the residents of Nagasaki, which had been designated as Plan B.

  • Gringo

    1)Ted Kennedy’s wrong turn at Chappaquiddick probably cost him the Presidency, for which we all should be grateful.
    2)HenryII’s remark “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?”, which resulted in the assassination of Thomas a Becket.
    3) His grandmother’s denying him seconds on dessert  on June 2 1972, which caused young Barry NObama to decide that  his life’s work would be to make sure  that everyone in the future  would  get seconds on dessert.  To make this dream come true, he decided that very day  that the government should pass draconian laws mandating seconds on dessert for everyone and have universal inspections to insure that all would  get the seconds on dessert mandated by law. Young Barry NObama also decided that only a “typical white woman” would deny her grandson seconds on dessert.

  • socratease

    o The release of the “climategate” emails and source code derailing the global government plans of the Copenhagen conference on climate change.  The full repercussions of this event have yet to be realized.
    o The suspicion of a border guard at an obscure Canadian crossing foiling a plan to plant explosives at LA International Airport.  Who knows where the falling dominoes would have led from that event had it not been averted.