Thursday, June 11, 2015

They Know But They Do Not Say: Chuck Todd Edition -- UPDATE

As a student of dialogue, in a writerly way it is adorable to hear Shuck Todd on The Moment with Brian Koppelman tangle with the King's English as he tries to avoid saying that the problem with our politics is that the Republican Party is insane.

He does go so far as to say (starting at around the 11:00 minute mark) that he understands that every week elected asshats come on his show and lie to his face.

And that our politics has become a game of pandering to the "idiots" and that that is why the public is cynical.

And that all core truths about the catastrophe our politics has become are perfectly well known to everyone in The Club, but are only ever whispered about off the record. Because, as Mr. Todd confesses (at around the 18:15 mark), he is a creature of The Business of Show. A clown, in the employ of corporate executives whose faces we will never see and whose names will never be mentioned, but who make it clear to Mr. Todd that his show is all about gettin' them ratings, and fuck the substance. 

And what's better for ratings than putting red ants and black ants in a jar and watchin' 'em fight! (h/t alert reader Walt for sending me a head's up about this interview).

It is also kinda hilarious to hear the host of the most influential political show on teevee hoping (starting at around the 25:00 mark) that somehow, someday, maybe the Millennials with their Twitters and their Instagrams and suchlike will start demanding that politicians be on the record all the time, and then something something a big change might happen.

Yeah, Chuck, or you could, y'know, put your money where your mouth is and use the enormous media platform you have been handed to come to the aid of the democracy which you claim to love so dearly, and, as Gandhi said, for once in your life actually be the god damn change that you wish to see in the world.

(Video Note:  This clip is preceded by a long ad, and the YouTube start parameter which lets you begin a clip wherever you like does not work on this video for some reason which)

Bonus Listen at the 38:00 mark where Shuck Todd "explains" that he and his colleagues can't just say that Dick Cheney is a lying shitbag or that Michelle Bachmann is nuts even when they know it's true. Mr. Todd shovels up a whole Denver omelet of words, but as far as I can translate, it comes down to a confluence of "the danger of knowing people" and the fact that all human beings exist in within the space/time continuum in three-dimensions.

Or something.


At minute 49:00, after Mr. Todd has explained how it is not his job to call people out then they flagrantly lie (because that is your job as the viewer) that some of "these people" are very sincere in their batshit beliefs.  Off the record (of course) apparently various elected officials have confided in Mr. Todd vast and intricate conspiracies which they have constructed in their own heads about the nefarious activities of the IRS.  See, Shuck Todd knows for a fact that none of this is true, but since Senator Teabagger McCrazypants sincerely believes the voices in his head, Mr. Todd believes that A) it is his job protect Senator McCrazypants' by actively withholding what he knows about the senator's dangerous delusions from you the viewer, but B) that it is nonetheless up to you to figure out for your own damn self whether or not Senator Teabagger McCrazypants is crazy.

At the one hour and seven minute mark, Mr. Todd let's us in on the secret that -- shhhh! -- laws only get enacted with the permission of or at the behest of special interest groups.  That, for example, the Affordable Care Act (or, as Mr. Todd refers to it, the "Keep Insurance Companies in Business Act") is not the health care law Barack Obama wanted -- it was the law which health insurance lobbyists would permit him to have and voters and constituents don't enter into it.

Just before the 54 minute mark, Shuck Todd tries to Both Siderist gavotte through the minefield of intransigent Republican obstuctionism and manages to sound just as dropped-on-his-head-once-too-often ridiculous as you might imagine..  Here is my rush transcript, which I'm sure is fraught with errors:
Brian:  ...would any of what happened -- Obama winning and the Republicans coming up with the strategy of defiance and obstruction...

Chuck:  Well you know [Tim Russert] was the ultimate political strategist.

Brian: Yes.

Chuck:  So I think he would be, um, both impressed with the strategy, disappointed in how the White House had none to counter it.  Because, y'know, he thought as an operative, right?  And that's where it's sort of like, y'know, when you sit there and lament your station, well, why dontcha do something to change the equation a little a little bit? There's some parts of it that maybe you couldn't have changed...

Brian: But when you know that that's there strategy... So they've acknowledged it in enough stuff that clearly that was their strategy.

Chuck:  Right.

Brian: You've written about it, right?

Chuck:  Right.  We've all written about it.

Brian: There's no doubt that that that was their strategy.

Chuck:  Right.

Brian: Like I do thing the difference in the past, even, even when Newt Gingrich was doing it to shut down the government, it was never, ever overtly stated that they were doing this for ... the were constantly saying it wasn't about politics and, like, no one ever leaked that it was about politics.

Chuck:  It was more honest.  We all knew it.  That's what amazing.  And half the country was OK with it.

Brian: This thing now was more... it was like ... well... so you think half the country is now just looking at this like, um, we need our team in place.

Chuck:  That's what's happened to politics.
No, Chuck.  We didn't all write about this.  A bunch of despised, disreputable Liberals wrote about this and were told that there was no place at the Big Boy Table.

Your colleagues were all busy sporting giant political boners for this Brand!New!Thing! called the Tea Party (There.  Is. No.  Tea.  Party.)

Your fucking colleagues were all busy writing about how, no matter how made times they spit in his face and called him an alien terrorist monster with whom all compromise is capitulation with the Taliban...if the President would just bend over for the Grand Old Seditionists a liiiiitle bit more then maybe -- just maybe -- they'd let him govern the country as he was elected to do.

Your fucking colleagues were all busy maundering on and on about how this was all the fault of Both Sides.

And when The Kenyan Usurper finally gave up trying to treat the GOP as responsible adults and pushed back on them ever so slightly, your fucking colleagues lost their damn minds.  See!  See!  He's as bad as everyone else!  He was lying all along!  From me in 2011:

The Man Who Mistook His President for a Hat

Do you really want to hurt me
Do you really want to make me cry
Precious kisses, words that burn me
Lovers never ask you why

So Our Mr. Brooks is "a sap"
Yes, I’m a sap. I believed Obama when he said he wanted to move beyond the stale ideological debates that have paralyzed this country. I always believe that Obama is on the verge of breaking out of the conventional categories and embracing one of the many bipartisan reform packages that are floating around.
So the White House has moved away from the Reasonable Man approach or the centrist Clinton approach.

It has gone back, as an appreciative Ezra Klein of The Washington Post conceded, to politics as usual. The president is sounding like the Al Gore for President campaign, but without the earth tones. Tax increases for the rich! Protect entitlements! People versus the powerful!
because he wanted President Obama to stay in Centrist Neverland, playing Very Serious Moderate Pirate games with him and Tinkerbell
The president’s goal in 2012, I suggested, would be to try to paint himself as the moderate bipartisan grownup, and dismiss the Republicans as extreme, intransigent, and hyper-ideological.

Based on the actual details of the deficit plan that the administration just released, though, I would like to retract that analysis. Between the size, scope and design of the tax increases and the skimpiness of the entitlement reforms (nothing on Social Security, minimal tinkering on Medicare), it seems that the president will be running for re-election as Nancy Pelosi instead.
and all the other bloated, corrupt and inexplicably still-employed --
Barack Obama is careening down the wrong path towards re-election.
He should be working as a president, not a candidate.
He should be claiming the vital center, not abandoning it.
He should be holding down taxes rather than raising them.
-- Lost Boys, forever and ever...

...and then, one day, the President had to finally face the very ugly fact that the GOP -- Our Mr. Brooks' GOP -- is actually completely mad, intractably evil and deeply committed to annihilating what's left of our country and laying their fascist eggs in its still-warm corpse.

Which at long last compelled the President the leave Centrist Neverland, at least for a moment.

Which, in turn, reduced Our Mr. Brooks to weeping hysterics.

So sad.
A few other gems from the Shuck Todd interview...
Chuck:  Technology has destroyed the American political debate.
Chuck:  No political party engages in persuasion anymore.
And then literally ten seconds later.
Chuck:  Obama was a politician who was not wired for the 21st century.  He wants to be a persuasion politician.
And five seconds after that.
Chuck Todd:  Bill Clinton was great persuasion politician.
So if the last, two Democratic presidents -- both of whom were elected to two terms -- were both "persuaders" how the hell can it possibly be the case that "no political party engages in persuasion anymore"?
Brian: So...Bush? 
Chuck Todd:  What I'm saying is the political class -- meaning the strategists and the operators -- they are not persuaders anymore.  They have decide to become, um, niche marketers.  Look, it's happening in television!
After which Shuck got a giant boner for Ross Perot and my brain fell out of my head.


Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

Todd will not do what Drifty wants him to do, because that would force Todd to surrender his chubby-cat lifestyle.

bowtiejack said...

One of the greatest mistake that can be made is to mistake a dynamic situation for a static one. Or, as whatever Greek philosopher it was observed, "you can't step in the same river twice".

We live today in a world of puppets dancing to their ambitions (career-anxious types like Todd, the vast right-wing cadet corps that staffs AEI and Congressional offices, the GOP clown car and their billionaire patrons, the surveillance state apparatchiks, and on and on).

it wasn't always like this and it won't stay forever. The Thousand Year Reich lasted what? 12 years?

And because I'm trying to irritate them (the CIA and friends), why is it still a secret that Obama's family, his mother and her parents, were CIA? It's a wilderness of mirrors when everything is treated as if it were something else, and nobody, Chuck Todd or otherwise, will speak the truth out loud.

Fair warning Drifty:
They undoubtedly filter for these Obama family comments and have censured me on other blogs.
Madsen's book The Manufacturing of a President lays out the obvious case from public documents. Hint: Obama's mother was not a "hippy" but a young women in her 20's without wealth who nevertheless popped up all over the Far East, the Middle East and Africa, during times of political upheaval, and learned 10 or 12 foreign languages.

LasvegasJessica said...

I only could get to about 25 minutes. He has an opinion of himself that rivals Kim Jong Il.

Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

Jack, the ancient Greek philosopher whom you quoted was Heraclitus.

tony in san diego said...

Keep Insurance Companies in Business Act



Neo Tuxedo said...

DG, your brain did not fall out of your head; it jumped, with a hearty "Oh, to be gone from here, to a place where things are sometimes done in kindness..."

Ivory, if a tree falls in Brooklyn and no dog's leash will let it reach the scene, how loud is the lack of barking in the night-time?

Victor said...


*ahem*... "wat".
That is all.

Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

NT, the answer to your question is, of course, "42".

Anonymous said...

I take that Todd thinks a great show is filled with tangents, non sequitur and canards. The audience is frustrated and turning away because this softball treatment is beneath their intelligence.

Kathleen O'Neill said...

You know who else was sincere in his beliefs....

Also, too, how could he say PBO was not wired for the 21st century? PBO? Chuckles must have just seen the sales reports from the remainder bins for "The Stranger" (DG, maybe Malia can do some guest Chuckles posting. Her takedown of Todd in that video clip where she, Sasha and PBO are in the bookstore and she sees the Toddler's book is classic).

Kathleen O'Neill said...

Also, too, DG, Toddles did not concede that PBO WAS a persuasive leader - he only WANTED to be a persuasive leader but as we all know PBO totally failed to lead. I'm kind of surprised that the interviewer posed some intelligent questions.

Cheyanne (Shy Ann) said...

Chris Hedges sums up e-very-thing about the media and where Chuck Todd's coming from in this Tavis Smiley inner-view. The media, Hedges says, IS not doing their jobs.

WV 1st District DNC Delegate said...

Love this discussion