Make Donald and Hillary birthers: Let's imagine a startling event—an event which won't occur.
In the not-too-distant future, some documents are uncovered. These documents, which are unassailable, make it unassailably clear:
Joe and Mika were paid $10 million each to shill for the Trump campaign.
Presumably, nothing like that will ever happen. Presumably, nothing resembling our premise is true. Still, if that startling event did occur, sensible people would draw at least one conclusion:
Ohhh, those sensible people would say. That explains the first twenty minutes of the September 16 Morning Joe!
This morning, the children devoted their first twenty minutes to the birther question. As you can see if you watch the tapes, Joe played his initial moral equivalence card right in the program's first minute.
"There also, of course, Mika, is the lingering question of where this all began," Joe said.
"Right," Mika deferentially said, and Joe wound it forward from there.
Quickly, let's run through some of what happened:
At 6:03, Mika read the full text of the Trump campaign's claim that "it was Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign that first raised questions about the president's birthplace."
Later, it became clear that Mika knew that this statement was false. But she didn't say anything like that until 6:12.
When she did, she garbled her explanation so much that confusion remained about who actually did start the birther claims, whether it be Clinton herself, "the Clinton campaign" or perhaps "Clinton supporters."
At 6:05, the Washington Post's Robert Costa authored one of the segment's strangest moments. Costa wrote today's front-page report, in which Trump refused to say where Obama was born. Believe it or not, at 6:05, Costa jumped in and said this:
COSTA (9/16/16): With Trump, it's always good to remember—when I'm reporting on him, I like to remind myself that this is someone who was really devoted to the birther issue at one point in his political career. It was not a flirtation for a small period, it was something that dominated his thought.No, we didn't make that up. Costa almost made it sound like Trump deserved sincerity points for all these years of apparent lies. They dominated his thought!
At 6:06, Joe offered some messaging advice. Trump "can even say, 'I proved it by making Obama release his long-form birth certificate," the presumed non-employee said.
One minute later, Mika lamented the way Trump's refusal to drop his birther pose was "stepping on his doing things pertaining to policy." She referred to Trump's ludicrous economic policy speech. She seemed to think that it had been a policy masterwork.
Eventually, some ugly truths were actually put on display. At 6:12, Mika read prepared text describing the many times Trump has questioned Obama's birthplace in the years since 2012. She even played videotape of Trump questioning Obama's birthplace in 2014 and then again in January of this very year.
These obscenely stupid tapes refute Rudy Giuliani's recent attempt to claim that Trump abandoned the topic long ago. Needless to say, none of Morning Joe's stooges made any such observation.
The tapes were obscenely stupid. Kevin Drum wants these claims to be called lies. To us, we'd have to include the possibility that they represent derangement, some form of mental illness. But if we assume their author is sane, we can presume that they're also disgraceful lies—disgraceful mostly for the way they dumbnify the public.
(Disgraceful lies? No one raised that possibility at any point today. According to Costa, they were just part of Trump's "thought.")
Whatever those statements are judged to be, the videotapes extended into this very year. And that's when Mika and Joe brought out the moral equivalence. Their play turned on Mika's earlier semi-conflation of Clinton herself, the Clinton campaign and mere "Clinton supporters."
At this point, Mika played tape of Clinton on that ancient 60 Minutes program. The tape showed a thoroughly pointless, repetitive exchange which literally started like this:
STEVE KROFT: You don't believe that Senator Obama's a Muslim.On the basis of outrageous statements like that, the pair of non-employees made their play. After playing fuller tape of the pointless exchange, Joe had seen enough:
CLINTON: Of course not!
"How Trumpian was that, Mika?" Mika's boss demanded.
"That was Trumpspeak," the underling said. "No, that was— Something's going on!"
From there, the moral equivalence rolled down like a mighty stream. Trump had spent years advancing the craziest claims since the endless crazy claims about the Clintons' endless murders. Equivalently, Clinton had once failed to give a perfect answer when she was asked the same question for the third time about her knowledge of her opponent's religion.
On that basis, Joe dared to speak loud and clear:
SCARBOROUGH: Is this not just one more reminder of why voters are saying, "A pox on both of their houses," that nobody seems to have clean hands?A highlight: Don't miss the timid, deferential way Gene Robinson pretends to counter.
Eventually, Joe and Mika offered political advice to the fellow who doesn't employ them.
"Just put it behind you," Mika implored. Joe then jumped in with his best guess. After today, Trump "will not talk about it again for the rest of the race."
We tried to remember! Was Candidate Clinton granted the right to speak about the emails once, then "just put them behind her?" Because all the stooges seemed to agree that that's what Trump should do!
If it turns out that Joe and Mika actually were getting paid by Trump, that will at least begin to explain this morning's performance. Of course, that won't explain the overwhelming cowardice of Robinson, Halperin, Ratner.
As we watched this display in real time, we thought of the gods on Olympus. Sacred Homer always said they watched the mortals and just laughed and laughed.
Today, we wondered if Homer was wrong. Surely, even the Olympian gods were looking on with tight faces.
Feel free to watch the whole thing: For the first eight minutes, just click here.
To complete your review, click this.
Very much worth reading again: No, we really aren't making this up. Yes, he actually said it:
COSTA (9/16/16): With Trump, it's always good to remember—when I'm reporting on him, I like to remind myself that this is someone who was really devoted to the birther issue at one point in his political career. It was not a flirtation for a small period, it was something that dominated his thought.It was something that dominated "his thought." On Olympus, embarrassed silence obtained. Even the gods didn't laugh!