And of course with his viewers: Lawrence O’Donnell is turning out to be one of the worst cable life-forms ever.
Last night, he toyed with gender; he toyed with race; and of course he toyed with his viewers. Much more should be said about one of the dimmest lights ever to make his way out of Dorchester. But last night, Our Own Sir Galahad played the fool in the follwoing manner. Be sure to see the highlighted pledge he gallantly makes at the end:
O’DONNELL (11/2/11): Coming up, I have a message for the women who might want to tell their side of the story about Herman Cain. It’s OK. You can do that. I’ll explain exactly how can you do that, next. Don’t worry about the confidentiality agreements.Here in Baltimore, everyone must have showered at once. Water pressure was virtually nil. But O’Donnell made this pledge again as he spoke with Lisa Bloom, who basically said he’s a fool.
You have been challenged, you women who have accused Herman Cain of sexual harassment. I know you and your lawyers fear what would happen to you if you did come forward, if you violated your confidentiality agreements.
I am here to tell you that absolutely nothing would happen. The advice your lawyers are giving you is legal advice offered within the confines of a legal matter. Now, you need political advice because this is in fact not a legal matter anymore. This is a political matter.
Your lawyers have told you that if you violate your confidentiality agreements, the National Restaurant Association, a Washington lobbying group, can sue you for doing that. They can drag you into court. They can get their settlement money back from you and possibly get more money from you in damages and legal fees.
I am here to tell you that that can never and will never happen. And I am telling you that as a political fact. That is the political reality you and the restaurant association are facing.
You women have nothing to fear in those confidentiality agreements. They are just pieces of paper.
I know stepping in front of a microphone in a situation like this is something that some women, maybe most women, for very good reason, simply cannot bring themselves to do. Indeed that would probably be my personal advice to any friend of mine in this situation.
The lawyer for one of the women tonight said, quote, "She doesn`t want to become another Anita Hill."
But if any of the others of you want to speak, if you simply cannot bear Herman Cain and his spokesman calling you women "liars," then I personally promise you that if you do come forward, be it on this program or any other program or in a general news conference, and tell the truth, I will provide you all of the funding you might need for a legal defense fund to fight and beat the National Restaurant Association and Herman Cain at their confidentiality game.
O’Donnell will pay the legal fees for these women if they want to step forward!
That performance was plainly shower-worthy. His toying with race was worse. Treating his viewers like absolute fools, O’Donnell played tape of an idiot GOP congressman asking to see Obama’s college grades. Then, he showed us the head shots of all U.S. presidents, asking us why Republicans have asked for the college grades of only this most recent one:
O’DONNELL: What is it about this president that provokes this first-time-in-history demand? Let me see your college grades? What is it? What is it about this guy? They didn’t ask it of have guy. Or this guy. Or this guy. No. And they didn’t ask it of this guy. Or this guy.You pretty much have to watch the tape to see the way he toys with the race card. It’s hard to be more disrespectful about the history of race than this horrible fellow was last night.
What, just what so different about this guy? What is so different about him? I just don’t get it. I can look at these pictures of all of the presidents all day and I just can’t figure out what is so different about President Barack Obama! I just look at that picture. What is it?
It’s very dumb to go around asking to see Obama’s grades. But in the past twelve years, this stupid pursuit has become the norm in our presidential politics as the unyielding culture of dumb has seized control of our discourse.
Obviously, O’Donnell knows this. He assumes you don’t.
Chasing around for college grades is now part of the culture of dumb. In Campaign 2000, the grades and/or SAT scores of all four major candidates came center stage at some point. Dumb as it is—and it’s very dumb—this simply isn’t new with Obama. Surely, O’Donnell remembers this full-length, stand-alone, front-page report in the Washington Post. Yes, this was on the front page:
MARANISS (3/19/00): Gore's Grades Belie Image of Studiousness/His School Transcripts Are a Lot Like Bush'sFor the record, Candidate Gore was white. So was Candidate Bush, whose college grades had already been frisked.
If Al Gore is commonly thought of as a grind, the sort of fellow who during his school days would take notes in precise Roman numeral outline, strive mightily to ingratiate himself with teachers, and bring sterling report cards home to his demanding parents, his academic transcripts go some way toward subverting that notion.
From his lower school years at St. Albans to his incomplete effort at Vanderbilt law school, Gore was often an underachiever. Though his IQ numbers and aptitude test scores were well above average, his grades were uneven, never approaching the plateau of A's and B's that might be expected of one who possesses such a pedagogical demeanor. His generally middling college grades at Harvard in fact bear a close resemblance to the corresponding Yale marks of his presidential opponent, George W. Bush, whose studiousness and brainpower have been more open to question during this campaign.
Gore arrived at Harvard with an impressive 1355 SAT score, 625 verbal and 730 math, compared with Bush's 1206 total from 566 verbal and 640 math. In his sophomore year at Harvard, Gore's grades were lower than any semester recorded on Bush's transcript from Yale. That was the year Gore's classmates remember him spending a notable amount of time in the Dunster House basement lounge shooting pool, watching television, eating hamburgers and occasionally smoking marijuana. His grades temporarily reflected his mildly experimental mood, and alarmed his parents. He received one D, one C-minus, two C's, two C-pluses and one B-minus, an effort that placed him in the lower fifth of the class for the second year in a row.
For all of Gore's later fascination with science and technology, he often struggled academically in those subjects. The political champion of the natural world received that sophomore D in Natural Sciences 6 (Man's Place in Nature) and then got a C-plus in Natural Sciences 118 his senior year. The self-proclaimed inventor of the Internet avoided all courses in mathematics and logic throughout college, despite his outstanding score on the math portion of the SAT. As was the case with many of his classmates, his high school math grades had dropped from A's to C's as he advanced from trigonometry to calculus in his senior year.
When John C. Davis, a retired teacher and assistant headmaster at St. Albans, was recently shown his illustrious former pupil's college board achievement test scores, he inspected them closely with a magnifier and shook his head, chuckling quietly at the science results.
"Four eighty-eight! Terrible" Davis declared upon inspecting the future vice president's 488 score (out of a possible 800) in physics.
This front-page Washington Post report came to us straight from the culture of dumb; it ran more than 1600 words. But this has been completely the norm in the last three or four White House cycles, running right through the recent frisking of Candidate Perry’s grades. We’ve even seen a good deal of prurient interest paid to the college theses of two potential first ladies (Clinton, Obama). Christopher Hitchens went on and on about Michelle Obama’s thesis and what it so plainly showed.
Lawrence O’Donnell knows all these things—and he assumes you don’t.
Last night, O’Donnell urged a nation of young liberals to see nothing but race as they scan the globe. O’Donnell may be the biggest hack ever to make his way out of Dorchester; we’ll devote more time to this question next week. But last night, he showed a world of disrespect for the brutal history of race. He treated the topic like his own toy, as he has done in the past.
For the second straight night, O’Donnell was assisted by Toure. Among his various merits, Toure is the only MSNBC contributor who knows how to pronounce the word “minstrelsy.” Prediction: For that reason, you’ll be seeing much more of Toure on this pasty-faced minstrel’s show.