As of this writing, "thots-n-prayers" is the undisputed king of hollow virtue-signaling about the predictable atrocities that mass-murder their way into the headlines every week. But coming in a strong second in the media's lexicon of platitudinous synonyms for "We need to feign concern for [insert tragedy here] even though were damn sure never going to do a damn thing about it" are the inevitable calls for various "National Conversations" (from the NYT in 2016):
The term has become the sad equivalent of the jolly drinking axiom: It’s always national-conversation time somewhere. Whenever the mood around an issue ought to change — guns, policing, marriage, the Oscars — somebody will say we need to talk about it. We should be sitting around and figuring this thing out. We need to have “real,” “substantive,” “difficult” exchanges — about our personal biases, about our bad policies — that reach far and go deep. “It’s time for a national conversation” about mental health, retirement savings, drones.
Well thanks to Donald Trump and Republican Party, we are now having ... something. It's not a national conversation exactly, but you and I have been given front row seats to the collapse of the Republican Party. And in the wild fratricidal light of the death throes of the Party of Trump, if you look carefully, you will find the keys to understanding the media's radical avoidance of any national conversation about anything of substance.
First, it is necessary to understand how completely the corporate political media is slave to one and only one narrative: Both Sides Do It. This is the Big Lie that keeps the lights on, the cameras rolling, the mansions paid for and the mistresses paid-off. This is the Hive Queen which must be protected at all costs. And like the Matrix, the Big Lie of Both Sides Do It is everywhere.
You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.
Friends and family repeat it to us endlessly with a rising tone of urgency in their voice that says "Please don't argue with me about it this time. This time just let it go." Pastors preach it from the pulpit, because who wants half or more of the congregation to get up leave? Colleagues nod sagely as they intone it, crediting themselves as wise because some asshole in a suit on teevee or some Respected Public Intellectual in the good, gray pages of The New York Times has vouchsafed to them this subtle secret of the universe
But it's a lie. A Big Lie. Arguably the biggest political lie of all. A lie that tens of thousands of corporate media employees depend on for their daily bread. A lie that tens of millions of Americans out here in the middle of Middle America depend on to keep the terrifying ethical burden of Taking Sides at bay.
And now their Big Lie is falling apart. Right in front of everyone. The sheer tonnage of the unhinged verbal carnage that comes vomiting out of President Stupid's mouth every day and his Administration's open, naked corruption and his Administration's open, naked treason, and his Administration's criminal incompetence, coupled with the invertebrate complicity of the entire Republican Party leadership and the roaring, sneering approval of the party's racist base has shattered that foundational media lie right down to the caissons.
So they need a new Big Lie. One that will accomplish four things.
- Let them continue to slag Imaginary Liberals every time an Actual Republican commits an actual atrocity,
- Let them continue to ignore the obvious fact that the Actual Left has clearly been right about the Right all along,
- To ensure the success of 1 & 2, they require a theory that lets them hang the responsibility for the shitpile their party has become on some very recent, Black Swan event -- a specific, anomalous monster -- and not on a Republican political machine which continues to manufacture monsters decade after decade
- Finally, they need to French leave of their responsibility for the catastrophically toxic consequences of their Old Big Lie.
Nothing less than hitting this Denialist Superfecta will suffice because nothing less than a lifeboat built from all four of these elements will be water-tight and seaworthy enough to ensure a clean getaway. And this weekend, fallout from the Big Fucknozzle Trade Show (as one wag once dubbed it) furnished us with an entire menagerie of Republicans frantically lashing scraps from the wreckage of their party together and putting to sea on a flotilla of ahistorical nonsense.
Today I'll focus on just two.
First, Mona Charen, a standard-issue wingnut welfare queen with a new book on the horrors of feminism she needs to move.
My panel was about the #MeToo movement, which was a natural for me since my new book coming out in June, “Sex Matters,” grapples with the movement and other aspects of our fraught sexual ecosystem.
So she went to CPAC and raised her media profile 1000% by getting herself booed by the meatbags, And overnight she became a Beltway media darling, making appearances on teevee, being lauded in the Respectable and Semi-Respectable media and, inevitably, being handed her own guest column in The New York Times. Here is what she said (with emphasis added):
I watched my fellow panelists’ eyes widen. And then the booing began.
I’d been dreading it for days, but when it came, I almost welcomed it. There is nothing more freeing than telling the truth. And it must be done, again and again, by those of us who refuse to be absorbed into this brainless, sinister, clownish thing called Trumpism...
And there it is. Right there. The dead-giveaway. As my amazing wife wrote over at Crooks & Liars:
...Charen gives herself away in the clip above by using the secret password.
That word is "Trumpism."
Watch that word to be uttered more and more as Never Trump Republicans, who goddamn built this party and goddamn know it, pretend that there is some imaginary honest and moral Republican super-structure out there (represented by whom? Jeb? Marco?) that will stand tall free from the damage Trump has done their brand. They forget what I wrote in August of 2016. There are actual Republican voters behind Trump, and you and your ilk, Mona Charen, built this party of voters.
And since the new shibboleth among these old Republican frauds and degenerates is "Trumpism", there is no need to explain how their party came to be a shithole so depraved that it could produce a monster like Trump. Instead, it just...happened. A liar of unknown origin that took their party away that struck suddenly and inexplicably exactly two years ago:
I spoke to a hostile audience for the sake of every person who has watched this spectacle of mendacity in disbelief and misery for the past two years. Just hearing the words you know are true can serve as ballast, steadying your mind when so much seems unreal.
In case you missed it. Ms. Charen repeats her lie for the slower students.
For traditional conservatives, the past two years have felt like a Twilight Zone episode. Politicians, activists and intellectuals have succumbed with numbing regularity, betraying every principle they once claimed to uphold. But there remains a vigorous remnant of dissenters. I hear from them. There were even some at CPAC.
Except it didn't start two years ago.
And it it's not "Trumpism", any more than it was "DeLayism" when David Brooks was running exactly this same scam 12 years ago:
But Republicans need to do more than bump DeLay. They need to put the entire leadership team up for a re-vote. That's because the real problem wasn't DeLay, it was DeLayism...
It's also not Atwaterism.
It's fucking Republicanism, Ms. Charen, and it always has been.
It's not the monsters, Ms. Charen. It's the Republican political machine that keeps making those monsters.
And this is why we can't manage a National Conversation about anything. Because once you open the floor to talk openly about race or guns or health care or immigration, all roads lead straight back to the obscene origins of the modern Republican Party --
-- the complicity of the entire Republican leadership caste, and corrupt bargain between the Beltway media and Conservative leaders which made it possible for the GOP to build a political monster-making machine so fucked-in-the-head that it could nominate and elect and continue to loudly cheer Il Douche.
Which means the past itself has become far too dangerous for anyone in the media to risk letting any National Conversation about anything wander around back there unescorted.
Which brings us to Mr. Michael Steele, whose would very much like you to believe that he was hired as the emergency "break glass in case the Democrats elect a black guy" stooge for the racist Republican Party, but would instead like you to believe that this is the Timeline of Republican Racism
1968 - 2009 -- Pretty Racist.2009 - Trump -- Suddenly Not Racist.Trump -- Oops, Racist Again.
Because just like Mona Charen, the Big Lie on which Mr. Steele has built his entire life would unravel completely if he were ever to acknowledge that that Left has been right about the Right all along.
And so Mr. Steele is reduced to the pathetic position of feigning stunned disappointment to discover that his Republican Party -- this political home for 41 years -- is full of...OMG!...Republicans. Reduced to scolding his dear friend for Matt Schlapp for not just drinking the Trump Koolaid but "plunging the I.V. needle into his arm".
And by the way, while his media pals are too message-disciplined to mention it every time Mr. Steele brags about his role in winning seats for the Republican Party in the 2010 election, I have no problem repeating once again that you, Mr. Steele, didn't win a damn thing.
These clowns did.
And these Republicans.
And these Republicans.
These Republicans who were out and proud and drunk on rage and racism long before they anointed Donald Trump as their Dear Leader.
Because it's not Trump, Mr. Steele, and it's not Trumpism.
It's the racist Republican political machine that was designed and built to manufacturing monsters like Trump.
The racist Republican political machine over which you proudly presided.
Behold, a Tip Jar!