We think of Jack Coen’s old joke: We haven’t seen Jack Coen in years. He’s one of our all-time favorites.
Today, he’s Leno’s head writer (or some such thing). Thirty years ago, he was a young, very strong comedian we worked with in various places, from Atlantic City and Baltimore all the way down to Fort Myers, where we jointly chickened on getting towed behind a boat, high up in the air.
We’re sure there’s a name for that.
For two main reasons, plus several more, he’s one of our all-time favorites, a guy we admire. Moving right along:
Way back then, Jack did a bit about the brave new world in which women were (gasp!) pursuing careers. (This was the early 1980s.) In reality, the butt of the joke was the poor behavior of certain types of men. But as the joke played out, Jack pictured career women coming to resemble such men in the future: throwing down too many drinks, laughing about the way they were cheating on their “old men,” and of course sporting highly elaborate comb-overs.
We’ll assume Jack hasn’t turned out like that! Increasingly, we find ourselves thinking of Jack’s old bit when we watch Rachel Maddow.
Good lord, can she shovel the shit, just like The Others have always done! Last night, the analysts started wailing when they heard her peddling this:
MADDOW (11/5/13): NBC has projected the winner in the Virginia governor’s race tonight. It’s the Democrat in the race, Terry McAuliffe, over Republican Ken Cuccinelli.Already, the wailing was general. Rachel was playing her familiar “Beltway media” card, in which she invents all kinds of outrageous things “the Beltway press” are said to have been saying.
You know, when you read the Beltway press about this race, all along there has been the gauzy wonder about how it is that Terry McAuliffe is doing disproportionately well among women. What is it about Terry McAuliffe?
Is Terry McAuliffe particularly appealing to voters of the lady persuasion? Is Terry just an androgynous name—maybe people think he is a woman? What could this be? Why would women has such a strong partisan preference in this governor’s race?
It may be hard to believe. This is not the way we are wired as a country to understand politics, but it could possibly be a matter of policy!
In this case, had “the Beltway press” really been puzzled by the gender gap in Virginia polls? We found that claim a bit hard to believe. But Rachel was working very hard to pimp this shit to the gullibles.
For the ten millionth time, she discussed the gender policies of “Governor Ultrasound,” Bob McDonnell. At that point, she played her card again:
MADDOW: But now, heading into tonight’s race in Virginia, the Beltway press, the national press, have been sort of mystified at this big gender gap in the Virginia polling.That goddamned Beltway/national press! They had refused to explain why Ken Cuccinelli was losing the women’s vote!
It turns out, you know, Ken Cuccinelli is not that much of a mystery. He is the harder to spell, dark-haired, human embodiment of Bob McDonnell’s social conservative agenda.
Third time being the charm, Rachel went there again:
MADDOW: History says Republicans should have had this election tonight in Virginia in a walk. There is a Democratic president. For more than 30 years now, that means it has been guaranteed a Republican would win the Virginia governorship.That goddamned “Beltway press!” They had refused to understand Virginia’s gender gap!
If you ask Virginia men tonight, that would have been the case, but Virginia women are so strongly against the way Republicans have been governing in Virginia and propose to keep doing so that they have changed that political streak entirely.
The Beltway press has never seemed to understand that this is about policy.
To stop the wailing of the analysts, we had to make them a promise. First thing today, they could look at Maddowblog, we said.
Like us, they thought Maddow’s repeated claim was extremely implausible. Would Maddow offer any links to support her repeated claim?
We promised them they could check. Soon, they were fast asleep.
This morning, the analysts checked it out. Who in the Beltway press had been mystified by that gender gap? Who in the national press had expressed that “gauzy wonder?”
Was it perhaps the Washington Post? Clearly, they’re part of the Beltway press.
But uh-oh! Below, you see part of the front-page summary of the race from this Sunday's Post. Marc Fisher and Laura Vozzella didn’t seem mystified about that gender gap:
FISHER AND VOZZELLA (11/3/13): The gender gapHow odd! The Washington Post explained the gap the same way Maddow did!
Holsworth said a gender gap of "unimaginable proportions" was clear from the day in 2012 when hundreds of women "showed up at the Capitol—organized by Facebook, not the parties—to protest transvaginal ultrasounds," the invasive procedure Republican legislators proposed requiring of women seeking most abortions. "Cuccinelli’s folks underestimated the continuing and fervent interest that many women have in this campaign as a result," Holsworth said.
Former governor L. Douglas Wilder, a Democrat who publicly flirted with endorsing Cuccinelli before siding with McAuliffe, said the Republican unnecessarily "united women against him."
Cuccinelli could have maintained his principled opposition to abortion yet assured women, as McDonnell did four years ago, that he would not roll back their rights, Wilder said. He said Cuccinelli should have told women that he opposes abortion on religious grounds but that " 'I am a protector of the law, and the laws relative to the rights of women will not be changed under my direction. . . . I am going to be a governor for all Virginians.' "
John H. Hager, a former lieutenant governor who later served as head of the state Republican Party, said Cuccinelli has been damaged by McAuliffe's ads focusing on abortion and by Cuccinelli's decision to withhold support, along with only three other state attorneys general, when the Violence Against Women Act was renewed last year.
"He's got his reasons he did what he did, but they're easy things to use against somebody," Hager said.
Campaign advisers say they urged Cuccinelli to find ways to appeal to women and independents. One adviser, who asked not to be named because internal deliberations were confidential, said he pressed the candidate to adopt the cause of Elizabeth Daly, a University of Virginia student who was arrested and charged with three felonies after state Alcoholic Beverage Control agents saw her outside a supermarket carrying a carton of bottled water. The agents believed that Daly was an underage customer who had just bought beer. Charges were dropped, but only after Daly spent 36 hours in custody.
"Hundreds of thousands of Virginia women who find Ken anathema to some degree would have rallied to how that unfortunate young lady was bullied by the ABC thugs," the adviser said, but Cuccinelli was reluctant to criticize law enforcement.
Was USA Today the culprit? Oops! Yesterday morning, a page 3 news report ran under this double headline: “Virginia's race for governor may rest in women's hands/Gender gap gives Democrat McAuliffe significant edge.”
Catalina Camia didn’t seem mystified by the gender gap:
CAMIA (11/5/13): The portrayal of Cuccinelli, the state attorney general, as a hard-line social conservative has gained steam in recent months. President Obama and Vice President Biden both focused on Cuccinelli's opposition to abortion rights and his views on women's health issues as they helped McAuliffe make his closing arguments before Tuesday's election.Frankly, we were puzzled. Who in “the Beltway press” had behaved the way Maddow described? Maddow seemed to say that they all played dumb.
McAuliffe, a former national Democratic Party chairman, has been leading Cuccinelli for several months in statewide polling, with women voters providing a significant margin in his favor. The Democrat had at least a 14-point advantage over his GOP rival among women in polls released last week by Christopher Newport, Quinnipiac and Hampton universities. A Washington Post poll had McAuliffe leading Cuccinelli among women by 24 points.
By comparison, Obama defeated Mitt Romney by 11 points among women voters in 2012 and John McCain by 7 points in 2008.
"Women voters are energized around issues of health, concerns about abortion and birth control," said Quentin Kidd, a political scientist at Christopher Newport University in Newport News and director of the Wason Center for Public Policy. "The gender gap is real."
In Arlington, as she waited for Obama to rally support for McAuliffe on Sunday, Precious Crabtree used a phrase that Democrats often trotted out last year against Republicans.
"I believe there's a war on women," said Crabtree, an elementary school teacher from Burke, Va. She said she supports McAuliffe because she believes women would have "opportunity and make decisions on our own" if the Democrat were governor.
At her blog, where her staff presents links, did they have any examples?
Pathetically, they offered one link, to a piece at The Hill. The headline said this: “Enormous gender gap costs Cuccinelli.”
We’re sorry to be the killjoys here, but The Hill didn’t seem real mystified either. (“McAuliffe’s lead in the polls was built on a clear gender gap. The former Democratic National Committee chairman exploited a big fundraising edge to deluge the airwaves with ads focused on Cuccinelli’s opposition to abortion, his views on contraception and his failure to support the federal Violence Against Women Act.”)
We’d have to say that Maddow has become a routine dissembler. She constantly plays this particular card, in which she tells us gullible viewers that “the Beltway press” has been conspiring against us.
She rarely names specific culprits, presumably because there are none. She’s simply making this bullshit up, filling us full of faux rage.
Maddow was treating her viewers like fools as he pimped that shit last night. Once again, we thought we saw our own fiery leaders behaving a great deal like Them.
We couldn't help it! When we saw Rachel playing that card, we thought of Jack Coen’s old joke.
Coen way back when: The Los Angeles Times previews Jack at the Irvine Improv, December 1993.