Interlude—Heroes and bigots: Good grief. This is really bad journalism!
Jackie Calmes wrote the featured news report on the front page of today’s New York Times. This is the way she starts:
CALMES (5/10/12): Before President Obama left the White House on Tuesday morning to fly to an event in Albany, several aides intercepted him in the Oval Office. Within minutes it was decided: the president would endorse same-sex marriage on Wednesday, completing a wrenching personal transformation on the issue.Good lord! That makes a good novel. But as reporting, that’s cosmically bad.
Has President Obama experienced “a wrenching personal transformation” on the subject of same-sex marriage? Has he experienced a “transformation” at all? Plainly, Calmes can’t know.
As of yesterday, Obama has changed his public position on this topic. But have his personal views really changed? And if his views have changed at all, was the transformation wrenching?
Calmes can’t possibly know such things. As she starts this morning’s report, she is crafting a hero tale. She is writing a novel.
That said, quite a few hero tales were told last night on MSNBC. Liberal viewers were encouraged to see their tribe’s leader in an heroic light.
For ourselves, we have no problem with Obama’s new public stance. We would complain about the "journalism" involved in these hero tales.
What is wrong with the hero tale? On The Last Word, one of the tribunes narrowly hinted at an obvious flaw in the tale. Lawrence spoke with Dorian Warren, a professor at Columbia:
WARREN (5/9/12): I think we’re a long way from the mid-1990s, when you have now the mainstream position of Democratic politicians is to support marriage equality. That’s a huge, huge leap in a short amount of time.Somewhere yesterday, we’re fairly sure we saw someone make the obvious point. In saying this should be left to the states, Obama is adopting the standard position of historical southern opposition to civil rights for blacks—the position MSNBC pseudo-liberals deride when discussing immigration today.
I think the president should be applauded. I mean, his evolution of personal beliefs is very important. But there is still a lot of work to be done of translating those personal beliefs into public policy because this is now— Thirty states ban gay marriage. The president said it’s a states’ rights issue.
But MSNBC isn’t a journalistic concern. For the most part, it is a collection of clowns hired to treat you like children. Last night, they took turns telling you that President Obama had been very brave, even as they made absurd comparison with President Clinton’s actions on same-sex issues in the 1990s.
For ourselves, we have no problem with Obama’s new stance; we had no problem with his previous stance. We don’t think either stance was heroic. But then, we don’t expect (or want) heroism from such a major elected official, especially as he he seeks re-election.
This is another way of saying that we aren’t seven years old. Whatever! Hero tales were unfurled last night—and then too, they gave us Chris Matthews.
At highly tribal times like these, the ugliest players will roll out the bombs. Matthews is a total hack—a hack who worked to defeat Al Gore when his billionaire boss was Jack Welch, a hack who pretends to be in thrall to progressive values now that the official line of his corporate owner has changed.
Matthews will do and say almost anything to keep his five million bucks rolling in. Last night, as others spun hero tales, he made tribal viewers feel very good by dropping a heartfelt B-bomb.
Matthews spoke with Clarke Cooper of the Log Cabin Republicans. Finally, Matthews couldn’t help himself. He said what he deeply feels:
MATTHEWS (5/9/12): Let me ask you about what I said this afternoon right after this announcement by the president on ABC.Finally! Someone dropped the B-bomb! Good lord, how good it felt!
I said every Republican staffer who is gay, man or woman, should go to their boss, man or woman, and say to them right now, “Why aren’t you out on this issue? Why aren’t you supporting this issue?”
Do you think there was a response, or do they continue to put up with this refusal to support equality? The Republican bosses of so many gay people on Capitol Hill, for example, have they gone to their bosses? Have they said, “You have got to change on this? The president has done it. Why don't you do it to neutralize the issue so it doesn`t become a campaign issue?”
If both sides agree support it, it won’t be a campaign issue. If one side opposes it, all the bigots out there will go to the other side and vote for the other candidate, won’t they?
Matthews became a supporter of marriage equality like maybe ten seconds ago. But now that he supports equality, those who don’t are bigots! According to Nexis, only one other person dropped the B-bomb in last night’s discussions on The True Liberal Channel. That was Melissa Harris-Perry, subbing for Al Sharpton:
HARRIS-PERRY: Bigotry is the only basis for denying marriage equality. So, we should debate policy, we should debate which legislative plan we take. That's reasonable. But the basic rights of citizens should not flip and flop, they should not be erased like an etch-a-sketch at the whims of the intolerant. Our rights should be permanent, constant, and abiding. Thanks President Obama for reminding us of that.On Tuesday, Obama was a bigot. As of today, he isn’t.
But wait! Are you a bigot if you’re willing to let the various states vote on this civil rights issue? If you want to let the various states vote on same-sex marriage, how have you reminded us that our rights are permanent, abiding?
Crafting their hero and demon tales, folks like these aren’t likely to ponder such questions.
For himself, Obama didn’t drop any B-bombs as he spoke with ABC News. At present, about half the country would deny marriage equality; to Matthew and Harris-Perry, they’re bigots. But Obama seems to be soft on bigots! In her report in the Times, Calmes revealed what he said:
CALMES: Long a proponent of civil unions, Mr. Obama said his views had changed in part because of prodding by friends who are gay and by conversations with his wife and daughters.Disgusting! President Obama was “sensitive” to the bigots! We’ll guess that he still is!
“I had hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought that civil unions would be sufficient,” Mr. Obama said. “I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people, the word marriage was something that invokes very powerful traditions and religious beliefs.”
We live at a time of high tribal division. Part of the joy of the liberal sect is the joy of dropping those R- and B-bombs.
We enjoy calling the other tribe bigots. In a similar vein, we say their limbic brains don’t work, that they’re “wired” for hate.
Tomorrow, we will look at some of the ways the two tribes demonize one another. For today, just note the way you’re juvenilized when you watch our liberal channel—just as conservatives have long been done when they tune to Fox:
Barack Obama came out for states’ rights—and we were told that he is our hero! We have no trouble with Obama’s new stance. But we do reject the jugglers and clowns who are hired by NBC News to treat you in such childish ways.
As one time, Matthews lied for Jack Welch. His owners now want different novels.
When Boxer was a bigot: Barbara Boxer was a bigot until 2008. Arms drawn back like a Chinese convict, Boxer confessed her crimes to Harris-Perry:
HARRIS-PERRY: What are Americans facing at the ballot box on this question of fundamental civil rights?The arc of history bends toward inclusion. As it does, we remember our scripts:
BOXER: There’s a huge choice in this election everywhere you look. And you could look at this issue of equality, and we see Mitt Romney now, not only has he flip-flopped all over the place on this, which says a lot about a human being’s heart and soul. But more than that, he does not even support civil unions anymore. I mean, this is unbelievable.
And I think, if you asked Americans do you support gay marriage or civil unions, if you added that up, it would probably be 80 percent of the people. So he’s just stuck on the far right on this, and I think it isolates him certainly from the younger people.
I’m glad you mentioned that because it took me a while to evolve, I say to you, on this issue myself. And it wasn't until I read the Supreme Court decision written by Ron George, this great California justice, basically said you can think it's equal all you want when you say civil unions are marriage, but it has to be marriage. That's just the way it is because of all of the rights and benefits that go with it.
And so, after that, that was 2008, I changed and my kids of course had been bugging me for years on it and I said you can have equality without it and I realized I was wrong.
Republicans flip-flop; we change and evolve. By definition, the bigots aren’t us!