Dan Rather won't endorse F-bombs: On Monday and Wednesday nights of this week, Rachel Maddow has described herself as someone who "explains [American politics] for a living."
She never tells her viewers how good a "living" that actually is. That said, we're always surprised when professional journalists make remarks like the highlighted statement at the end of the chunk shown below.
The comment in question was made last night. As Maddow starts, she's quoting a question from a one-day Bloomberg poll concerning Trump's latest proposal:
MADDOW (12/9/15): Quote, "This week, Donald Trump called for a temporary ban on all Muslims who are citizens of foreign countries from entering the United States. Do you favor or oppose this proposal?"Maddow is bollixed by that polling result; she just can't figure it out. To Maddow, that polling result seems so strange, she feels we live in a different country than she thought we did.
Among likely Republican primary voters, the answer is, they favor this proposal by a huge amount. Nearly two-thirds of Republican likely primary voters say they agree with Donald Trump that all Muslims should be banned from the United States. Sixty-five percent support among Republican voters.
...I should tell you also that the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll is due out tomorrow and we are expecting an answer from that poll on this same question and that's not going to be just a one-day snap poll. That will be a multiple-day poll that includes people being called on their phones, not just being polled online.
So when that poll comes out tomorrow afternoon sometime, 5:30, 6:00 Eastern time, we should expect to get another look at that number from a slightly broader angle. It will be fascinating to see if this holds up because if this is real? If 65 percent of Republican voters in the United States think it is a great idea to ban all Muslims from this country? Then we live in a different country than I thought we did.
Truly, that's high drama. For the record, 18 percent of Democrats also approved Trump's proposal in the one-day poll.
We're always surprised when overpaid corporate stars make remarks like the one Maddow made. If her understanding of the country is that weak, should she perhaps quit her job?
To us liberals, statements like that read as a measure of moral purity, not as a measure of political cluelessness. On Monday evening's Maddow Show, Richard Engel made a similar statement. It happened after Maddow played videotape of Trump declaiming with her friend on Fox:
MADDOW (12/7/15): Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, speaking tonight with my friend, Greta Van Susteren, on the Fox News Channel.In fairness, Engel is a foreign correspondent, not an orange-shoed analyst of domestic politics. He's also courageous and smart, a point that often pops into our head when we see him reporting from around the world.
Joining us is NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel. Richard, it's great to have you here.
ENGEL: What has happened since I last spoke to you? I was in Paris—
MADDOW: You left the country, we broke it I think.
ENGEL: I came back and things have gone totally mad.
MADDOW: Yes. Well—
ENGEL: The country is in a panic. There is demagoguery. This is really not the country that I know.
That said, if Maddow makes one more references to "my friend, Greta van Susteren," we're going to go blow chunks in the yard, the way the analysts always do when she trumpets the friendship. Apparently, birds of a corporate multimillionaire feather make lasting friendships together.
The proclamations have been dramatic this week. According to Engel, this isn't the country he knows. According to Maddow, we live in a different country than she thought we did.
Within our own devolving tribe, dramatic statements of this type are taken as declarations of personal purity, not as disqualifying statements of political cluelessness. By the way—are we sure that independents and Democrats won't end up siding with Trump's proposal in some significant numbers? Why are we sure about that?
More on Trump's proposal tomorrow. It doesn't seem amazing to us that people think it makes sense.
Our view? Under the stresses and strains of the polarization, our liberal tribe seems to be getting dumber each day. We thought reactions to yesterday's University of Texas hearing were pitiful, uncaring, cruel and just dumbfoundingly stupid.
We expect to consider that matter next week. (Warning—it requires some thought about black kids' lives, something our pundits always try not to do.)
We expect to consider that matter next week. For today, let's roll our eyes at what Dan Rather did.
"The great Dan Rather" (Maddow's description) appeared on last night's program as her featured guest. At one point, she gave him the chance to affirm her deployment, on Tuesday night's show, of her collection of F-bombs.
On Tuesday night, all that stupid "Nazi sex orgy" shit was employed as a way to meander toward the eventual claim that Trump is some species of fascist or something. Last night, Maddow sought Rather's blessing for this approach:
RATHER (12/9/15): There are real fears in this country about what's happening in terms of terrorism. These are real, not limited to Republicans or Democrats or independents. It's across the board.Is it unfair to invoke a concept that weighted? Just like that, Rather said that yes, with respect to Trump, he thinks that is unfair:
Now, what [Trump] is in the process of doing is he's showing passion and strength. If you notice, one of the common threads about the criticism of President Obama's speech last Sunday was he didn't show passion and didn't convey strength. I'm not saying I agree with that assessment, but there was a strong strain that ran through the party, he should show some passion.
Well, Trump, like him or not like him, he shows passion and he communicates strength and that is part of his appeal.
MADDOW: On that point—this is sort of a sensitive question. I tried to address it last night on my show with some historical analogies so as to try to take it out of epithet territory, take it out of insult territory, and ground it in basically political science.
But fascism is a real thing. Fascism is a political construct that has given rise to real political movements that have both run countries and that have tried to run countries and that have been substantive movements even in countries that we think of as being a lot like ours—France, Britain—since World War II.
One of the hallmarks of fascism is that the party leader is the great leader who can do things by sheer force of energetic will. It's characterized by willingness to toy with violence, even in political settings, chauvinism, obviously, xenophobia, different forms of racism or anti-Semitism.
Is it unfair to invoke a concept that inflammatory and that weighted for this current political situation we've got with the front-runner on the Republican side?
RATHER (continuing directly): For me, the answer to that is yes. I don't think Trump has reached that point yet.Rather than argue for her own alleged perspective, Maddow simply collapsed. But that's because of the actual way our B, F, X and N-bombs actually work.
Don't misunderstand me—I'm going to be very clear. What he said about immigration and limiting immigrants, this is the best propaganda tool that ISIS has had in a very long time. It's also good news to the Democrats and Hillary Clinton.
But directly answering your question—no, I don't think he's at that point yet. I think it is unfair to call him a fascist.
They work as insults, as substitutes for thought, not as analytical tools. They work as hard markers of tribal belief, as pleasing denunciations of The Others.
They serve as a way to degrade the rubes, a practice Maddow took over the top way back in April 2009, during her ten evenings of dick jokes, the ones she paid Cox to deliver. And alas! When Rather said the F-bombs were unfair, Maddow had exactly nothing to offer by way of some further perspective.
Concerning her question:
Over the past six months, it has been hard not to think of Mussolini at times when one sees the buffoonish Trump at work. But like the R-bomb and the B-bomb, the F-bomb is one of the most inflammatory insults from the planet's last century.
It's guaranteed to produce a lot of heat before it yields any serious light. If you're going to make such comparisons, you need to know how and why you're doing so. You can't just ask permission from Rather, then meekly abandon your pose.
Speaking of substitutes for thought, Maddow returned to some of her favorites last night. On Tuesday, it was maybe six minutes of Nazi sex orgy fun on the long winding road to her F-bombs. Last night, it was two segments of this:
MADDOW (12/9/15): I want you to take a moment and imagine yourself receiving an award from the president, the president of the country. You're getting this big award. You're standing next to the president. It's a really big moment.After a commercial break, Maddow came back with a whole new segment about 1) the VA official who kept masturbating in the window back in 2008, and 2) the admiral who, back in April, "became so intoxicated at an upscale beachfront resort that he struck his head on a bar stool, wet his pants and needed an escort back to his hotel room."
Now, I want you to imagine the most embarrassing thing that could happen to you in that moment. Dropping the award maybe, passing gas audibly, maybe fainting from excitement, falling down, right?
Whatever it is for you, just imagine that. The most embarrassing thing that could happen you to while you were in the act of receiving award from the president. You got it?
Now, allow me to introduce you to Ivan Cicak [videotape begins]. Ivan Cicak heads up one of the leading human rights groups in the nation of Croatia. He was receiving an award yesterday from Croatia's president when tragedy struck. Relative tragedy, at least.
He was getting this big award. He was standing next to the president when—his pants gave up. [Videotape shows his pants falling down.]
Now, to her credit, the Croatian president was unflappable. She artfully lowered the large award ever so slightly in order to protect Mr. Cicak's little Mr. Cicak from public view.
There went the pants! Woo-hoo! Amazing.
And yet, that is not even our top pants-related story of the night. It's not even in the top two actually. I wish I was joking, but I'm not.
Pants, or the lack thereof, are in the news tonight concerning two different high-ranking officials in our country.
Stay with us.
"Oh, but wait, there's more," Maddow reported. "After striking his head on the bar stool and wetting his pants and being helped back to his room, quote, 'a few hours later, still in a haze, the admiral re-emerged from his room without any clothes on as his door automatically locked behind him. As the admiral stumbled around the grounds of the resort looking for a towel to wrap around his waist, he was spotted by two alarmed female guest who reported him to hotel security.' Ta-da!"
Maddow closed her show with two segments about people masturbating, wetting their pants, and having their pants fall down. She asked us to imagine breaking wind while getting an award from the president.
To her credit, she got a big laugh from an off-camera staffer when she offered her wonderful dick joke about "protecting Mr. Cicak's little Mr. Cicak from public view." Staffers are paid to laugh on that set, and staffers seem to know that.
At the end of the two segments, Maddow kibbitzed with Lawrence about her two segments of lost pants-and-dick joke enjoyment. Luckily, nothing else is going on in the world.
It's hard for many tribe members to see, but Maddow is a corporate clown. "This isn't the country we thought we knew," several analysts mordantly said.
Tomorrow: Rejecting our tribal bombs