Rachel Maddow in eastern Ukraine: On last evening’s TV show, Rachel Maddow really seemed to be flying.
To our taste, she wasted a lot of time with a lot of piffle-fed topics. She wasted time discussing herself, as she constantly does.
At one point, she turned to her favorite topic. Early on, she made an odd remark:
MADDOW (8/28/14): The defense rests! Today was the last day of testimony in the federal corruption trial of Republican Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.They’re facing “many decades in prison?” We were surprised by that statement. In its reporting on the trial, the New York Times routinely says that the McDonnells face “up to twenty years” in prison.
Today, the judge in the case rejected a request by the defense counsel for an acquittal. And so, tomorrow the jury is going to hear closing arguments. After the closing arguments, the jury will start its deliberations.
Governor McDonnell and his wife are facing 14 felony charges. If they’re convicted of those charges, they are facing many decades in prison.
The Washington Post, the tabloid of record, rarely seems to say how much time the McDonnells could face. In January, though, when the miscreants were indicted, the Post reported thusly: “The couple could face a maximum of 30 years in prison, though they probably would serve far less.”
For ourselves, this prosecution increasingly seems ill-advised. There is no law in Mr. Jefferson’s state forbidding a pol from taking money and loans from a businessman. Meanwhile, Governor McDonnell seems to have done virtually nothing to help Jonnie Williams, the businessman who extended $170,000 in gifts and loans to the governor and his wife.
(Most of that was in loans. To create a bit of perspective, the amount in question represents roughly one week’s salary for cable stars who are paid $7 million per year.)
To us, this prosecution increasingly seems like an overreach. On Maddow’s show, however, it provides a never-ending chance to imagine one’s enemies being frog-marched off to prison, whether for “basically” the rest of their lives or for “many decades.”
(On July 28, Maddow said the McDonnells are “facing basically life in prison.” Last December, when it seemed there might be no indictment, she said the point of such prosecutions is to see that “people are punished and incidentally humiliated and ruined.”)
Technically, Maddow has a high IQ. With adult supervision, she could probably be a fabulous journalist.
That said, we often marvel at her deportment and at some of her apparent values.
We’re often amazed at the way she longs to see people get ruined. Her longing to see the McDonnells rot in jail has persisted through the course of this underwhelming trial. She loves to complain about this heinous offense described below, as she did again last night:
MADDOW (continuing from above): Governor McDonnell and his wife are facing 14 felony charges. If they’re convicted of those charges, they are facing many decades in prison.Maddow’s complaint went on from there. On the videotape of the segment, you can watch Maddow clowning and snarking at remarkable length about the fact that McDonnell drove Williams’ Ferrari on one or two occasions.
Now, nobody knows exactly how the prosecution and the defense are going to sum up their cases or what image they will try to leave in the minds of the jury.
But regardless of what they say, I think this one probably will stick:
As a surprise part of this trial, the evidence reviewed in court over the course of these many days of testimony in Richmond, included many, many, many photos of Governor Bob McDonnell driving a white Ferrari—a white Ferrari, the use of which was one of the gifts, was from a Virginia businessman, who federal prosecutors say constituted a bribe of the governor.
The governor and his staff and his lawyers seem to have understood early on that the white Ferrari thing, with all of these pictures of it, was not a good look for the governor.
Last year, even before the start of the trial, the governor’s spokesman tried to explain the white Ferrari away. Quote, "The governor’s spokesman said, as a favor to the businessman, the family drove one of Jonnie Williams’ cars and his Range Rover back to the lake house, and then they drove the Ferrari back to Richmond." Quote, "There was no recreational use of the vehicles."
Understand that? The use of the Ferrari was not at all recreational! There was definitely no fun involved!
Bob McDonnell was merely doing an onerous favor for a Virginia resident! As governor, he’s also responsible for being a valet parking attendant of not inconsiderable skill. But it’s not fun! It’s definitely never been fun!
During the trial, Governor McDonnell reiterated the “favor” excuse, adding that he didn’t even want to drive the white Ferrari. He said his kids egged him on to drive the car not once, but twice, during the lakeside vacation that the businessman paid for.
Governor McDonnell even testified that he didn’t even know that the Ferrari was at the lake house. He hadn’t noticed it! It had been tucked away in a garage, perhaps under a cover. He said, at some time during vacation, quote, "We saw it was a very significant high-performance car."
Plus, the Ferrari was white!
“I think this one will probably stick,” the pill-popping star opined last night. To appearances, Maddow wants the McDonnells to spend “many decades” in prison because, on one or two occasions, they got to drive somebody’s car.
We really wonder about Maddow’s innards when we see her performing her Hunt for the White Ferrari shtick month after month after month. What makes a person long to see other people destroyed over such consummate trivia?
On several days this week, we talked about tribal impulses as they surface in eastern Ukraine and in the Islamic State.
We asked if you ever think you see the same atavistic impulses surfacing over here, especially within our own tribe. When we watch Maddow wet herself at the thought of McDonnell being frog-marched to jail, we wonder which wires are hanging loose inside her high-IQ brain.
Go ahead—watch that segment. She’s clowning and snarking and creaming herself as she hopes that two people get ruined.