Apparently, we can't have nice things!

THURSDAY, AUGUST 24, 2017

Lemon walks Tuesday night back:
Late Tuesday night—actually, in the midnight hour, on Wednesday morning—things spun out of control on CNN.

As we noted yesterday, Don Lemon was riding the range in the wake of Donald J. Trump's latest disordered tirade. Eventually, James Clapper put some meat on the bones of the question of Trump's "fitness." This was the exchange in question. To avoid confusion, we'll give this a Tuesday night date:
LEMON (8/22/17): You said you questioned his fitness. Is he a threat to national security, the president?

CLAPPER: Well, he certainly could be. Again, having some understanding of the levers that a president can exercise, I worry about, frankly, you know, the access to nuclear codes. In a fit of pique, he decides to do something about Kim Jong-Un, there's actually very little to stop him.

The whole system's built to insure rapid response if necessary. So there's very little in the way of controls over, you know, exercising a nuclear option, which is pretty damn scary.
Oof. Explaining his concern about Trump's "fitness," Clapper pictured the president, "in a fit of pique," creating a nuclear war. Clapper said he found the matter "pretty damn scary."

Clapper's presentation followed a wild and woolly presentation by one of those CNN panels. After Trump's performance ended, Lemon turned to a typical CNN gaggle.

Including Lemon, the panel included five Trump-trashers, versus the one "Trump supporter." In the immediate wake of Trump's Tuesday night rant, the CNN stars really let it go.

As he started the discussion, Lemon said that Trump had been "unhinged." When he threw to CNN's David Chalian, the horrified analyst said that Trump had been "totally unhinged."

Rick Wilson, a never-Trump Republican, said the presentation had been "an astounding chain of lies tied together by a man who obviously is mentally unstable...a man who is not well, not qualified or mentally or morally fit."

"If people around him don't think guy is absolutely bat-crap crazy, they're mistaken," Wilson said. Then, this exchange occurred:
LEMON (8/22/17): Bakari, is it time to start discussing a 25th amendment?

SELLERS: I mean we're going to have discussions about the 25th amendment, no doubt. I think the president is unfit, unhinged, but many of us have known that for 18 months, 19 months.
The discussion displayed an unmistakable drift. Eventually, Maria Cardona got her turn:
CARDONA: Tonight I think was historic on a couple levels. Yes, I believe, after tonight, a lot of people are going to be thinking that he is not just completely unfit, that he is not just completely ill equipped to hold this office, but that he might be psychotically demented and ill of the mind in order to take this office and in order to continue on with this office. In fact, Congresswoman Jackie Spear was on CNN talking about the 25th amendment and whether it's time to invoke that.
Except for the token Trump supporter, the verdict was unanimous. Later, Clapper appeared and imagined Trump, in a fit of pique, starting a nuclear war.

This was pretty tough stuff. We've long made two points about this type of discussion. We've said 1) we need to have a conversation about the president's mental health, but 2) our pundit corps almost surely isn't up to that difficult, delicate task.

Lemon's pundits were possibly ranting a bit, and none of them had any special qualification for the discussion at hand. But as of last night, none of this matters. Last night, Lemon went on the air and rather plainly walked the excitement back. Lemon had been sent on the air to suggest that none of this happened.

The night before, his panel of pundits had gotten a snootful and said what they actually think about Trump's mental health. We're going to guess that the suits at CNN didn't like it.

Last night, Lemon was frogmarched onto the air to say it had all been a dream. After hemming and hawing for some time, he executed this fairly explicit walk-back as he spoke with Mike Murphy and James Fallows:
MURPHY: I don't believe the "crazy Trump" theory. I believe he is a narcissist. I believe he has an impulse control problem, and I believe he is the most insecure person I've ever seen in public life, which sis something that attracts a lot of insecure people. So he is a record setter.

LEMON: Yes. But you know, when—

MURPHY: But his crazy rhetoric has been worse than his actions, which have been more rational.

LEMON: But that's what—you are smart. You know that when someone says, when people say "unfit," they don't necessarily mean crazy. They just mean—

MURPHY: Right. Exactly. Yes. Look, I've said "unqualified by temperament, knowledge, or character to be president of the United States." I've said it publicly for a long time. I believe that. But that—you know, it's easy to get down the slippery slide into the "nuclear madman" stuff and everything, and I'm not sure that's accurate, but he is, he is unfit because he does not understand the role of the president is not only to be the head of government in our system but head of state, which means you have a responsibility to be kind of a reference clock for proper behavior in defending American values.

And he doesn't understand that, or doesn't care. So that's why we have this method of presidential insult comic communication, added with total disregard for the truth, that has become such a toxic stain on this presidency.

LEMON: Well, go ahead.

FALLOWS: Just to take that point one step further. Here is a specific example of what "fitness for office" means. There is a skill that you have as a live performer, which Donald Trump really has, which is knowing the pulse of a crowd, the mood of the crowd and he plays to it really well. When I saw that last night, he was working the crowd for cheers.

Fitness for being president involves being aware that every single second of your life, every single utterance you put out, every word you say or don't say, every phrase has consequences around the world and in this country. And due to his entire inability to even imagine that, I think that is a kind of fitness that he is not getting better at.

LEMON: Yes. And I think that, you know, when people criticize and say they are questioning the president's sanity and all that, they know better. They're doing it just, you know, just because—to make a political point of some sort.
This was just part of the rolling walk-back. We would offer this guess:

The bosses told Lemon to walk all that "Trump is crazy" talk back. In the high-paid world of cable news, good boys do as they're told.

In a rational world, we think this country should have a discussion of this president's mental health. In the world in which we actually live, our TV stars and print performers simply aren't up to that task.

Our pundits' skills are very few, and they're strongly inclined to comply with their bosses' demands. They're being paid for their obedience as well as for their general dumbness and their skill at reciting script. Their jobs are too good to risk.

Clapper said that Donald J. Trump seems so unwell that he could imaginably start a nuclear war in a fit of pique. In the panel discussion preceding that interview, Lemon's kids said Trump was "totally unhinged" and "bat-crap crazy," that he might be "psychotically demented."

The bosses said that should be erased. Lemon went out and did it.

It was just a bunch of talk, he said, "to make a political point of some sort." This is CNN!

20 comments:

  1. Yeah. I find it interesting that all this drivel would've made perfect sense had it been directed at reputable - nay, admired! - in Very Serious Washington circles warmongers like John McCain or Hillary Clinton...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No one particularly cares what a troll like yourself thinks, feels or finds interesting.

      Go away!

      Delete
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  2. "In a rational world, we think this country should have a discussion of this president's mental health."

    You'd love it, wouldn't you? And what about the previous president, who positively promised to end all wars, and ended up starting a bunch of new ones, attacking and bombing at least seven different countries, not to mention starting a new cold war, and a new round of McCarthyist madness.

    That one - let me guess - is perfectly normal? And the guy who hasn't started a single new war so far is insane? Sorry, but you're just as much a hypocrite as the clowns you're criticizing...

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    Replies
    1. "And the guy who hasn't started a single new war so far is insane?" Well, no new wars so far (that we know of), although he has threatened North Korea as well our archenemy Venezuela.
      He has, however, escalated the war in Afghanistan (something he promised not to do), he has changed the rules of engagement in the Middle East so that civilian deaths are now far higher than they were, he bombed Syria without congressional approval (to what effect?).
      And the question of his sanity isn't necessarily tied to his 'starting new wars.' Far more people are questioning this president's fitness for office than with previous presidents, and some of those people are quite conservative Republicans, a few even former Trump supporters. And some of these people have a certain amount of first-hand experience with Trump.

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    2. "although he has threatened North Korea as well our archenemy Venezuela"

      Right, bombing/killing while saying nice words (not to mention: accepting the 'nobel peace prize') is fine; NOT bombing while NOT saying nice words is insanity. Got it.

      "escalated the war in Afghanistan"

      Trump's escalation will bring the total number of troops to ~12,000. Obama's escalation resulted in 130,000 troops. Wake me up when he escalates at least as much as Obama; then we'll talk about insanity.

      As for "people are questioning" - his campaign promises to roll it back is exactly why they (the truly insane warmongers, McCains/Clintons, neocons/liberal interventionists) are questioning. How is it not obvious?

      Delete
    3. Hint to other commenters - don't wake the troll up.

      Delete
    4. Well, Bush started the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan...under false pretenses. And no one is defending Obama's strategies...that's just your interjection while we are discussing Trump.
      "his campaign promises to roll it back"...see, that's just it. He 'promised' to roll it back..to get us out. And he's now doing the opposite. How is that not obvious? He 'promised' to make Mexico pay for a wall..now we the taxpayers have to fund it, or risk having no government...He promised health care cheaper and better covering everyone, and supported a plan that would do none of that..and it failed to pass. He said he alone can 'fix it'...and he blames everyone else when he can't get it fixed.
      How is that not obvious?

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    5. He's definitely not "doing the opposite".

      In Syria, the 'Assad must go' warmongering has stopped, and there is no threat of a military conflict with Russia anymore - the treat a massive thermonuclear war was the most obvious and most compelling reason to vote against the neocon establishment (represented by Clinton). And he ended it. Impressive.

      And in Afghanistan, like I said, the record is inconsistent. The war continues - which is unfortunate - but no escalation (or it's a very minor one) - which is so far better than any previous clown since 2002.

      We'll see, time will tell.

      The wall, I don't care about the wall. That's just a gimmick. Let's distinguish serious things from trolling.

      Delete
    6. 猫城记: “In Syria, the ‘Assad must go’ warmongering has stopped, and there is no threat of a military conflict with Russia anymore”

      So already burnt up in the Memory Hole is Trump’s (unapproved by Congress) missile strikes against that Syrian airbase where Russian forces were stationed, earning ecstatic oohs and ahs from not only his base but also ratings-hungry news media.

      Delete
    7. (For added duplicity, of course, Trump warned the Russians ahead of time, who warned the Syrians, so all critical equipment was moved off-base before the missiles hit.)

      Delete
    8. Like I said: the 'Assad must go' warmongering has stopped, and there is no threat of a military conflict with Russia in Syria anymore. I'm glad we can agree on something.

      Delete
  3. Mao, SecDef Mattis is considering lethal defensive aid for Ukraine. Good idea?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did you watch a cable news channel again?

      Unless I missed Mr Mattis being elected president while I slept, I don't see how can be considering (officially, anyway) changing US foreign policy.

      Delete
  4. Clapped should be in prison, if not hanged. He's one to talk.

    ReplyDelete
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