That Renly apologist on your twitter thread about Stannis and RR was something else. How can people misunderstand those so bad?
Word of God frankly ends this argument:
“And it is important that the individual books refer to the civil wars, but the series title reminds us constantly that the real issue lies in the North beyond the Wall. Stannis becomes one of the few characters fully to understand that, which is why in spite of everything he is a righteous man, and not just a version of Henry VII, Tiberius or Louis XI.”
I think you gotta look at the Baratheon brothers through the lens of GRRM as an existentialist-romantic who loves the hell out of Beauty and the Beast. For the author, there is a clear and consistent appeal to the off-putting surface hiding worthy substance. It’s the inside that counts, and rarely is that more clear than with Renly and Stannis. The former is charming and handsome, but there’s no *there* there. Unlike his older brother, he has no platform, nothing he wants to do with the crown. “Copper,” “ghost in a golden crown,” “look at me, I’m a king.”
Sansa glanced at Margaery. “I was saddened when I heard of Lord Renly’s death, Your Grace. He was very gallant.”
“You are kind to say so,” answered Margaery.
Her grandmother snorted. “Gallant, yes, and charming, and very clean. He knew how to dress and he knew how to smile and he knew how to bathe, and somehow he got the notion that this made him fit to be king.”
When you peel back the layers of Renly’s onion, there’s no actual onion. It’s allsurface, hence “knights of summer.” They are drunk on Renly’s image, and he is drunk on himself. Not for nothing does GRRM emphasize via Cat’s POV how shallow and self-indulgently Renly lives on the road; contrast that with Stannis, who starved with his common-born men at Storm’s End.
So if you fall for Renly’s con, you are buying into precisely the style-over-substance mindset that GRRM is critiquing. You are being a “knight of summer,” instead of being the onion knight who rose out of merit, courage, and a willingness to tell his king hard truths. There’s a reason GRRM introduces us to Stannis via Cressen and Davos, who love and respect him, while introducing us to Renly via Ned and Catelyn, who are outside Renly’s circle and view him with increasing skepticism. There’s a reason the author killed off Renly halfway through book two and barely brings him up after that; he existed to present a false dream which evaporates like dew come morning. Meanwhile, the author kept Stannis around after his shattering defeat, devoted so much time and care to his struggle and his rejuvenation, and called him “a righteous man” who has transcended the tropes and historical parallels in his story. There’s a reason GRRM has Sam call Stannis “a king who still cared.”