"How Evil Beats Craven All Day Long" Edition
In today's edition of my long-running (longest-running?) series on the Sunday Gasbag Cavalcade we dial in real close to a single interaction on the teevee machine to understand why everything is fucked up and shit.
Here is the first half of the interaction...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... So, Matthew Dowd, we just heard Bill Cunningham's take. Your take on the first 100 days?MATTHEW DOWD, ABC NEWS CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I look at it this way. In taking a look at this poll, I would describe it as good news, bad news, really bad news for President Trump in this. And the good news is, as we've talked about, he's got a solid level of support. It doesn't surprise me. There's a thing sociologists called anchoring, and voters anchor. And Donald Trump does have an emotional connection, and you can't break an emotional connection with a rational argument. You just can't. And I remember Richard Nixon kept a majority of his vote up all the way up until the day he resigned.
The bad news is a majority of the country doesn't think he's honest and trustworthy, and still questions his temperament.
The really bad news is, and this is a little fact that I looked up this morning, is no president has ever finished his first term going into a re-election with a higher approval rating than he had at his 100 days. That is problematic (INAUDIBLE)...
And here is the second half:
NEWT GINGRICH, FMR. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: You guys all collectively lived through Trump knocking off the Republicans, Trump knocking off Hillary, being wrong about all of it at every stage. And you turn around and play the same old conventional wisdom. Donald Trump is the most divisive president since Abraham Lincoln. He represents an alternative world so while you have riots at places like Berkeley, he -- you have two parallel universes here. There's actually a very funny Megyn Kelly interview I did two weeks before the election, she's giving me all this polling data. And I said, look, there are two universes.
Now if your universe is right, Hillary Clinton's president. If our universe is right, Donald Trump is president.
We shall, for the moment, skip past much larger, ethical questions raised by American news corporations continuing to put a disgraced, adulterous fraud like Newton Leroy Gingrich on the teevee machine and instead focus on why Gingrich has already won this exchange.
See, being a ride-or-die Both Siderist, Mr. Dowd is stuck trying to linguistically sidle up to and describe the effects of a phenomenon (Republican base voters remain dog-loyal to President Stupid) while never daring to explain the cause of that phenomenon (20 years of Fox News and Hate Radio have turned Republican base voters into a mob of brainwashed meat-puppets.)
His Prime Directive will not permit him to speak the truth, so the closest he can come is by blabbing about poll numbers and talking about "anchoring" and "emotional connection", which are things that "voters" do.
Gingrich, on the other hand, is the man most responsible for turning "1984" into the all-purpose Republican political and media playbook.
Gingrich knows that the Republican base are reprogrammable Orwellian meat-puppets because he built 'em that way, which is why he completely comfortable with taking the moral bankruptcy and cowardice at the heart of Dowd's "Never Judge Anything" Both Siderism and driving it straight to it's logical, Orwellian conclusion.
He represents an alternative world so while you have riots at places like Berkeley, he -- you have two parallel universes here. ... And I said, look, there are two universes.
Now if your universe is right, Hillary Clinton's president. If our universe is right, Donald Trump is president...
Because he is completely unburdened by any vestige of conscience, Gingrich never worries about the moral, political or environmental consequences of anything he says or does. With him it is always 100% pure, will-to-power totalitarian scheming, in which the sustained, collective, weaponized racism, paranoia and ignorance of the party base is sufficient to create any Reality the leaders of the party choose.
Which is what makes him a perfect commissar for President Stupid:
We Control Matter Because We Control The Mind
"Reality is inside the skull. You will learn by degrees, Winston. There is nothing that we could not do. Invisibility, levitation -- anything. I could float off this floor like a soap bubble if I wish to. I do not wish to, because the Party does not wish it. You must get rid of those 19th century ideas about the laws of Nature. We make the laws of Nature."
-- George Orwell, 1984
Of course one might be tempted to ask, well, since Obama was elected twice, doesn't that mean that our universe was "right" for eight years? And if that's true, how come thugs like Gingrich worked tirelessly for eight years to sabotage, slander and destroy anything and everything the Obama Administration tried to do?
But one should not give in to that temptation. Not because it is wrong, but because it is useless. Because just as the Right simply wiped the entire Bush Administration and their complicity in its myriad, clusterfuck disasters from history the minute it was over, so too have they already shoved all of their well-documented madness and sedition during the Obama years right down the fucking memory hole.
Because, as Orwell wrote 68 years ago:
“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”
And although God knows I'm no Orwell, here is what I wrote almost exactly a decade ago today.
From me, April 27, 2007:
Is it Meme-nto?
That inability to form any new political memories after 1997?
Or is it something darker?I was at play in the offerings of the Mouse Circus this Sunday, as is my habit, and there was something just plain “off” and deeply weariness-inducing about the whole morning, which is why I opted not to write about it.Throughout the intertoobs people were a-giggle at the fact that Wan Williams (h/t watertiger) actually stood up on his hind legs and yipped a little truth at his masters. And on the flip side of the coin, there was a background whirr of outrage at the way Newt Gingrich was handled on “This Week…”Here is the snip:STEPHANOPOULOS: How about the broader context? After Columbine, you gave a speech where you blamed 35 - blamed the shootings on 35 years of liberalism. You went - you said, "I want to say to the elite of this country, the elite news media, the liberal academic elite, the liberal political elite - I accuse you in Littleton of being afraid to talk about the mess you've made and being afraid to take responsibility for the things you have done, and instead foisting on the rest of us pathetic banalities because you don't have the courage to look at the world you have created."
Do you stand by that prescription today?GINGRICH: Yes, I think the fact is, if you look at the amount of violence we have in games that young people play at 7, 8, 10, 12, 15 years of age, if you look at the dehumanization, if you look at the fact that we refuse to say that we are, in fact, endowed by our creator, that our rights come from God, that if you kill somebody, you're committing an act of evil.STEPHANOPOULOS: But what does that have to do with liberalism?GINGRICH: Well, who has created a situation ethics, essentially, zone of not being willing to talk about any of these things. Let me carry another example. I strongly supported Imus being dismissed, but I also think the very thing he was dismissed for, which is the use of language which is stunningly degrading of women - the fact, for example, that one of the Halloween costumes this last year was being able to be either a prostitute or a pimp at 10, 11, 12 years of age, buying a costume, and we don't have any discussion about what's happened to our culture because while we're restricting political free speech under McCain-Feingold, we say it's impossible to restrict vulgar and vicious and anti-human speech.
And I would argue that that's a major component of what's happened to our culture in the last 40 years.…And that was it.In a more just and beautiful alternate Universe somewhere, that would have been followed by Stephanopoulos pausing (David Caruso-like) dramatically removing his eyewear (David Caruso-like) and then verbally whipping the living shit out of The Newt.In an alternate Universe, where the MSM had not been completely hollowed out and filled with sycophants, Marshall Petains and access-twitchy power-whores, Stephanopoulos might have followed up with something like:As a serial adulterer, liar and racist who dumped his wife for a newer model while she was on her cancer bed, remind me again of what exactly make you fit to act as anyone's scold or moral arbiter?Or…As one of the giants in deploying hatespeech for political gain…Or…Do you think part of the reason your Party lost the midterms was having unhinged, fascist douchebags who feed on tragedy like gangrene feeds on an untreated chest wound like you as one of their leading spokesmen?Or…Really? Because for six years we’ve had a Republican a foreign policy based pretty much completely on ranting, incoherent, hate-laced, “Kill ‘em all!” xenophobia, brutally realized by bringing overwhelming firepower to bear on people who had done us absolutely no harm in a country that was absolutely no threat to us.So honestly I’d have figured you would have been vest-button-poppin’ proud that the Virginian Tech murderer had modeled the foreign policy half of the GOP hymnal as flawlessly as Tim McVeigh enacted your “Annihilate the Government!” domestic half?But Lil' George didn’t.He just sat there.Knowing the Gingrich was coming on. Knowing this was the topic. Knowing that, being a despicable Right wing shitwhistle, his answer was likely going to be doubling-down -- louder and crazier -- on his previous despicable statements...Lil' George just sat there. Dangling off of Gingrich’s screed as silent and stinky and conspicuous as a turd on a hairy dog’s ass.Why?Whywhywhywhy???Why such profuse cowardice in the face of such soul-shriveling evil?I have long entertained the fantasy of taking down the deans and duchesses of the MSM with a trank gun and rendering them off to my own, private “Come To Jesus” camp in the wilds of Hintervania. There they would be shocked, shivered and dosed to their hairplugs with scopolamine until someone explained to me why the entire fucking media has lost its fucking mind.Why has the Fourth Estate – right before our eyes -- become a bunch of cowardly Fifth Columnists?Why, when confronted with clear and overwhelming proof of their complicity and gutlessness -- when asked the simple question “Why?” -- do they go all squirmy and twitchy and outraged?Why do Conservatives get to stand on desks with their hair on fire and shriek the most ludicrous, vile and mendacious hogwhiz – year after year after year after year after motherfucking year -- unchallenged? Why do these same howler monkeys -– who have been not just wrong but spectacularly, catastrophically wrong about everything, every time -- keep getting invited back in front of the cameras and onto the pages of major newspapers?And when they rise from their crypts yet again to spackle yet another layer of Conservative lies on the wounded world – to send another wave of our kids off to die for no good reason, circle the wagons around another corporate monster, piss another precious pint of what’s left of our nation’s good name down the sewer, tax-cut-and-spend us further into debt – why do the same “journalists” who were ever eager to carve another slice out of Clinton’s ass over trivia, now piss themselves in like puppies in a thunderstorm and hide under the bed as Conservatives rape the truth two feet in front of them and them rub their noses in it?...Why is it that if Dick Cheney were caught sodomizing an underage manatee in the triforium of the National Cathedral, the first three words out of any MSM haircut’s mouth would be, “But the Democrats…”?And then, over the course of this week, first catching the last little bit of “The Smartest Guys in the Room” , and then watching Bill Moyer’s wonderful, expletive-evoking and long-overdue takedown of the press -- "Buying the War" -- on PBS, I was sadly reminded yet again what the Big Story really is.When you widen the lens all the way out, what the history books will note as a the most important factor in the barbarization of early-21st Century America was the complete collapse of a free press. The slow motion defenestration of the heirs of Royko and Mencken. The bodysnatching of the children of Murrow; replaced with alien, oligarchy-friendly pods like Hume and Broder.Which would actually make one helluva story!As would reportage that in broad daylight here in the Land of the Free, an inept human scuff-mark named George W. Bush has managed to arrogate to himself unprecedented and virtually Imperial powers. Has worked every day of his Presidency and spilled the blood and treasure of others to unravel the fabric of American Democracy that so many of his betters spent their own blood and treasure to secure. That he has built a regime that Washington or Lincoln or either Roosevelt would have taken up arms to depose.As would some ink spilled covering the ugly fact that millions of our fellow citizens actually despise democracy. Actually cheered on this two-bit Attila at every fascist step of the way.As would the even uglier fact that, knowing now exactly what kind of monster the Crawford Dauphin really is, so many millions of our fellow citizens still cheer for this butt-end of the mental loaf.As would some mention that one of America’s two major political parties has been completely take over, hollowed out and used as a battering ram to cripple our democracy and loot our treasury by a coalition of the dregs of American society.But of course there are no such stories, because there is no longer a free, well-funded and unfettered press to investigate and report on themThe histories will show that while the Lords and Ladies of the MSM were fielding rock star salaries for regurgitation GOP talking points, they were simultaneously crying poormouth (we can't afford to keep armies of reporters on staff), and Americans who actual care about their country were reduced to cruising Comedy Central and Waiting for Olbermann for genuinely clear and insightful reporting.Like Egyptian slaves, are we: gleaning the fields for stubble by night.Which, above and beyond all other considerations, is sad. Heartbreakingly, tragically sad.Because there are good, meaty conversations to be had on the vital issues of the day, but they cannot be had -- we cannot get on with the important business of healing and governing a great nation -- as long as the GOP exists in its current incarnation and as long as the national press is not held to public account and ridicule for its deliberate complicity in the poisoning of the well of civic discourse and the evisceration of Democracy in the country....
And yet the MSM continues to prop up the rotting carcass of the GOP like the corpse in ”Weekend at Bernie's”, and waltz it lovingly across the national stage year after year after year, protecting it as ferociously as they would their own children even as it goes raving mad, putrefies and crumbles to reek and maggots in their arms.Is it that meme-nto disease? That inability to form any new political memories after 1997? Or is it something darker?Whatever the reason, the story behind it would certainly be gripping, epic, infuriating and a great and lasting service to the cause of Democracy.Too bad we no longer have a press capable of telling it.
And here we are, ten fucking years later.
Stephanopoulos is still making a fine living rolling out the corporate media welcome mat for monsters.
Gingrich is still making a fine living from his inexplicable and unlimited open invitation to the Big Media Table.
Dowd has switched from making a fine living selling Bush Administration snake oil to the public to selling Both Siderist snake oil to the public.
And I'm still stilling here, pounding my fists against the same, big, stupid wall.
So before I curl up and start speaking in tongues let us return from "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" from ten years ago to "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" from yesterday for our hilarious denouement.
GINGRICH: Two quick things. First, there's one study last week, 91 percent of the elite media coverage of Trump has been negative. Trump will have negative coverage. It will have an effect on the polls. That's just the reality. This is the war we're in. Two...DOWD: War of facts and accountability.GINGRICH: No, it's a war you guys make up. But the second thing is...DOWD: You guys?
Poor Matthew Dowd. Like the rest of the Vichy media, he counted on his superior groveling and capitulation skilled to save him from being eaten by the Beast he helped create.
Also that "study" Gingrich was yapping about from "last week"?
For the record, it was generated by notorious crackpot Brent Bozell's "Media Research Center".
And it was "reported" in notorious crackpot online anal leakage NewsBusters.
And it was from back in the peak pussy-grabbing period of October of 2016 and not "last week".
But when your political party has already succeeded in obliterating decades of inconveniently seditious history from the brains of its reprogrammable meat-puppet base, complaining about the difference between six months ago and "last week" seems like quibbling.