"The Menace from Someplace Else" Edition
If the Vatican had had a teevee show in 1519 during the reign of Bad Pope Leo X that both cynically smirked about Vatican corruption while celebrating all things Vatican, it would look exactly like The Sunday Shows, which is why you should never, ever watch them.
On the one hand, on Meet the Press, you had a panel of Beltway swells bemoaning the bitterness and bile of our national political dialogue as if it were The Mist or The Blob. Some alien horror that just suddenly fell from the sky or rolled in from who-knows-where and is gobbling up or tearing apart everything in its path.
It's indestructible! It's unstoppable!
But most importantly, it's existence is not the fault of any particular group of individuals or organizations, and certainly not the fault any of the pundits who gather around tables to talk on teevee about this Menace from Someplace Else!
CHUCK TODD: Back now with endgame. David, after this shooting, it's eight members of Congress have been shot I think in the history of Congress, two in the last six years. After both Gabby Giffords and Steve Scalise, one Democrat, one Republican, the immediate reaction by nonpartisans was, "Has our politics gotten too vitriolic?" I think we all believe that that's a yes. Will it change?
DAVID BROOKS: I don't think so. The poll result that bugged me the most is in 1970, they asked people, "Would you mind if your son or daughter married somebody in the opposing party?" And it was, like, 5%. Now it's, like, 35%, 40%. It's like politics has become our religion, like, an indicator of your soul, of how you are as a friend, how you are as a person. Politics is an argument about tax rates and how we structure a healthcare bill. It's important, but it's not about your soul -- And so if you turn it into a religion, then you get lunatics like this guy who starts shooting people over some sort of religious war.
For the record, this is exactly the same twaddle Mr. Brooks was peddling during his Friday appearance on The New Hour, because Mr. Brooks only has one Deep Thought per week, and the hosts of the shows on which he appears tailor their questions to that Deep Thought.
This time, however, there was no Mark Sheilds on-hand to drop a time monkey-wrench into the machinery, or a Judy Woodruff there to ask Mr. Brooks the one question one is never, ever supposed to ask Mr,. Brooks.
AMY WALTER: Right. We don't disagree anymore on issues. That's not the issue, that over the last 30 years, we've pulled apart ideologically or on the policy.
What a remarkably stupid and facile thing to say. I predict Ms. Walter has a bright future at this goat rodeo.
CHUCK TODD: Where we've pulled apart is our feelings about each other, that we dislike each other more, not that disagree on the issues more. And that the president said that what brings people to Washington is their love of country, and I think that's fair. But we may love our country but we don't love each other. And that's the bigger problem.CHUCK TODD: You brought up the president. I want to bring up something here, because I wonder if he's done enough. Here's Ted Nugent pledging to change his tone. Take a listen to this.(CLIP)TED NUGENT: I cannot and I will not and I encourage even my friends-slash-enemy on the left, in the Democrat and liberal world, that we have got to be civil to each other.(END CLIP)CHUCK TODD: The reason I point this out is that Ted Nugent said it. And we can say, "Look, this guy's in the hall of fame of incendiary rhetoric." President Trump never said, "You know what, I'm going to tone things down this week."EUGENE ROBINSON: No.CHUCK TODD: I just think, it would have helped.EUGENE ROBINSON: Yeah, I guess it would have helped. I mean, I think the underlying forces are more important here, frankly.CHUCK TODD: Totally agree.
Oh goodie! The Underlying Forces!
And those would be...?
EUGENE ROBINSON: We have self-sorted by political views, geographically, we tend to live around people who think the way we do, and we can't imagine living where people don’t think the way do and as that continues, I just think we become more tribal. And that's where we are...DANIELLE PLETKA: And a good comment this week. And [Trump] deserves credit for that. The bigger problem is that there are larger fissures growing in our society. It's not just left and right Republicans and Democrats. It's racial, it's class, it's very much income and education levels. And that, amplified by social media and the feeling that people have, that they're in the game against others, is really what makes this so toxic.AMY WALTER: Well, and think about all the ads that are run by the very people who are denouncing all of the incivility in Washington, only 20% of all ads run are positive ads. The grand majority are attack ads.CHUCK TODD: Yeah, Paul Ryan's super PAC is the Kathy Griffin thing. And it's like, look, if you're outraged by it, it was disgusting, don't put it in a paid ad.
Self-sorting. Demographics. Social media. Giant bugs and tentacled beasts.
Once again, the only acceptable Beltway narrative is that the Menace from Someplace Else is to blame for it all. Which is why, to be invited on the Sunday Gasbag Cavalcade, one must first solemnly swear not to bring up certain uncomfortable facts that the Beltway media absolutely does not want to discuss because it fucks up the Menace from Someplace Else campfire boogie-man story so badly.
Which brings up back to Friday evening, Mark Shields, Judy Woodruff, The News Hour, That Which Much Not Be Spoken --
MARK SHIELDS: ... And there was a time, I will be very blunt, when I came to Washington, when the legitimacy of your opponent was never questioned. You questioned their judgment. You questioned their opinions or their arguments, but you never their legitimacy.
And that changed. And it changed. And one of the reasons it changed is that a man was elected from the state of Georgia who ran on the book, and the book was, you use these words. You use sick. You refer pathetic, traitor, liar, corrupt, shame, enemy of normal Americans.
This was Newt Gingrich’s bible. It wasn’t an idea of a policy. It wasn’t a program. He used it and he became successful. He became speaker of the House.
Donald Trump is a clone of Newt Gingrich. Donald Trump used, Donald Trump, lying Ted, and lightweight Bobby Jindal, and Mitt Romney choked like a dog, and used that language...
-- and the First Question, the oldest question in the Beltway, that must never be answered, hidden in plain sight --
JUDY WOODRUFF: Just 45 seconds. Is one side more responsible than another? And are we going to see any of this coming together last, or is it…
So why the Hell can't these wildly over-paid Havers Of Opinions ever add to their bill of particulars the fact that one side, one party, and the premeditated schemes of one group of evil men are responsible for the lion's share of bile and ruin we see everywhere? Go ahead and bag on Instagram and demographics to your heart's content, bit why in the name of Odin Glad-of-War can't they just speak openly about the simple and painfully obvious truth that is hiding in plain sight?
Well it turns out, the answer to this question was only two clicks away, on This Week...
[MARTHA] RADDATZ: OK. Thanks very much, Pierre. And I'm joined now by Trump ally and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, author of Understanding Trump. Good morning, Mr. Speaker.[NEWT] GINGRICH: Good morning.
I guess Alex Jones was too busy.
Yep. After a quarter of a century of profiteering from his relentless campaign of lies, hatred and paranoia, Newt Gingrich-- the Typhoid Mary of the wingnut rage virus -- remains a Respected Beltway Insider and honored guest at the Gasbag Cavalcade.
And Martha Raddatz, who used to be a journalist, is now just another callow, corporate employee reduced to playing Judy to Newt's Punch, the Lord of Misrule in this ghastly, endless freak show.
RADDATZ: I want to start with the Russia investigation. Of course, we saw "The Washington Post" headline and attorney general Rod Rosenstein's cautioning people on reports from anonymous officials. But then, as the president tweeted, “I am being investigated for firing the FBI director by the man who told me to fire the FBI director. Witch hunt.” We know people close to the president's legal team say he wasn't confirming any sort of investigation. And you just heard what Pierre said that President Trump was just commenting on The Washington Post headlines.You're the man who wrote "Understanding Trump." How do you understand that tweet?GINGRICH: Trump has a compulsion to counterattack. And is very pugnacious. I don't think it serves him well. I don't think that tweet helped him. But it's almost like it's who he has been his whole life. I mean, he's been a fighter his whole life. He is infuriated, and legitimately, in my judgment, by this whole Russian baloney. And notice how it's evolving.I mean, you started over here with Russia. Well, they don't have anything on Russia, but maybe, maybe there was obstruction. We may not get anything on obstruction, but maybe there is going to be perjury. And maybe there will be -- I mean, you go down the list, and we have been here before. We watched Comey appoint Patrick Fitzgerald, who was the godfather to Comey's children, and Fitzgerald knew there was no crime.RADDATZ: But let's go back to what you just said, this Russian baloney. If people are involved in collusion with Russia, don't you want to know about that?GINGRICH: There's no evidence. I mean, first of all, if you want to investigate Russia, fine. How about Bill Clinton's $500,000 speech. How about Podesta's brother who is a registered agent for a Russia bank. How about the Iranian deal...
Yes, it turns out. the answer to the question which must never be answered is very simple and very sad.
Our mainstream political media is a machine designed to lie to the American public in order to insure two outcomes.
First, that Quisling Conservatives like David Brooks are perpetually protected from the host of inconvenient realities that lurk in their own past:
Second, that genuine Conservative hellbeasts like Newt Gingrich who have been admitted into the Beltway's exclusive club never suffer any permanent damage to their careers or their standing in the Beltway community
From me, a long time ago:
The Gingrich Rules.Once upon a time in sport of professional basketball, there existed a thing called "The Jordan Rules". It was a special strategy developed by Chuck Daly of the Detroit Pistons to cope with one person -- Michael Jordan. To smother him, double-team him every time he touched the ball and play him as "physical" as possible (short of actually decking him) every minute he was on the floor.
In the game of professional punditry there also clearly exists a special set of rules designed with one person on mind. Or, rather, one sort of person: Conservatism's parade of bomb-throwing, hate-mongering, race-baiting bottom feeders. That breed which makes their daily bread from grifting the Pig People by generating an endless flood of books, magazine articles, broadcasts, speeches and videos all telling the GOP base over and over again that them their bigotries are noble and their paranoia is patriotic.
Of course, part of the downside of wallowing in the wingnut sewer and trafficking in slander and lies is that, sooner or later, you become a toxic mess. Your stink becomes unacceptable to the general public, which s where the Sunday morning talk shows -- the Mouse Circus -- comes in. Because despite having long ago devolved into a sinkhole of Beltway centrist twaddle, it is still viewed by altogether too many people as a bastion of Very Serious people -- it's the strip-mall of political opinion where casual shoppers go to feel smart and validated.
And so a bargain is struck; the bottom feeders deliver a temporary hike in the only thing these show's owners really care about -- audience share -- and, in exchange for being teevee friendly and keeping the worst of their batshit crazy on a leash for a few minutes, their Mouse Circus deburrs the bottom feeders' public image, replates and burnishes their credibility and temporarily transfuses them with Seriousness, which can then be redeemed at ten times its face value back among the Pig People.
And in the key to that bargain we find "The Gingrich Rules"...