Part 5—Like Jesus, the analysts wept: The long, insulting, brain-dead jihad received its formal launch on Tuesday evening, May 5.
The eventual shape of this ludicrous jihad wasn’t yet clear at that point. On that evening, Rachel Maddow discussed an actual, though fairly minor, problem:
The Republican Party was going to have a very large number of White House candidates, Maddow correctly said. With the help of some unlikely names, she set the possible number at 22.
This creates a management problem, Maddow correctly said. How can a party run its debates with that many hopefuls?
That was, and is, a perfectly sensible question. For reasons only she and her owners can explain, Maddow has devoted her life to this question over the past three months.
She has endlessly cavorted and clowned as she has pretended to discuss this question. She has offered some of the dumbest analyses we have ever seen on cable.
She has burned enormous amounts of time over the course of those three months, time in which she could have been discussing some actual societal problems.
On May 5, it wasn’t clear where Maddow’s penchant for nonsense was going to take her. That said, a hint of her analytical skill in this general area did come clear at this point:
MADDOW (5/5/15): In 2008, the Democrats thought they would have a pretty good chance as a party of taking the White House after two long difficult terms of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. So a lot of Democratic contenders, a lot of potentially viable Democratic contenders, turned out in 2008.In that passage, Maddow stated her preference for “erring on the side of inclusion” when we conduct these debates. As usual, she also also displayed her wonderful specialness, telling us how much she misses the silly nonsense put on display by Mike Gravel back in 2008.
That year, the presidential debate had as many as eight people on stage on the Democratic side. And yes, that included people like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. But also, you know, Dennis Kucinich and Chris Dodd.
You know, for more than ten of the debates that year, there was also a guy up there on stage named Mike Gravel. Mike Gravel, a former senator from Alaska. You might remember him as the guy that did that one amazing campaign ad where he didn’t say anything, he just stared into the camera for a long time and threw a rock into a lake and walked away. That was his whole ad.
Mike Gravel, I miss you!
That same year in 2008, Republicans also sometimes had ten people on the stage at once for their debates. And yes, it does make for a big crowded debate stage. But there is a reason, right?
There’s a “small D” reason to err on the side of inclusion rather than the side of exclusion. I mean, who are the parties or the TV networks to say who should be allowed onto that stage and who shouldn’t?
(“I I I I I I I!” That’s what the analysts always say at such Maddovian moments.)
Should Gravel have been burning up time in those debates that year? Should Alan Keyes have been wasting time in the Republican debate in South Carolina in February 2000, taking time from the two remaining contenders, Candidates Bush and McCain?
There’s no objective way to answer such questions. We’d be inclined to err on the side of telling such vanity candidates to scram. But that is a matter of judgment.
(Keyes ended up with a cable TV show, his probable goal all along. His presence in that otherwise heated debate was an absolute joke.)
Maddow seems to like jokes. She also seems inclined to very strange judgment in the area of this jihad. Consider the question which ends the passage we have quoted:
“I mean, who are the parties or the TV networks to say who should be allowed onto that stage and who shouldn’t?”
Who are the parties to say who should be allowed on that stage? That strikes us as a wondrously strange question.
Who are the parties to do such a thing? The parties are the political organizations which are picking their candidates! Presumably, they should have some say in the way the process works.
Whatever! Maddow loved the crazy Gravel—and she wanted her viewers to know it. She also said she favored erring on the side of inclusion. If we assume that we’re destined to err, there’s nothing “wrong” with that preference.
All in all, Maddow’s (long) presentation that night made perfect sense. She had defined an actual question the GOP would have to resolve.
On that evening, there was no way to know how crazy, and how insulting to her viewers, her jihad was going to get. By May 27, the ridiculous drift of her nightly nonsense was becoming fairly clear.
As she started her program that night, she sat before a graphic she had unveiled on May 5. The graphic showed the head shots of the twenty-two major Republicans who might run for president.
“We started this as a joke,” she said. After that, she joked some more:
MADDOW (5/27/15): We’ve got a lot coming up this hour. I’m very excited about tonight’s show. But we start tonight with this.To watch that entire segment, click here. Standard warnings apply.
Because we started this as basically kind of a joke—the Republican field of candidates and likely candidates for 2016. We started this as a graphic, this thing that you see on your screen, basically as a joke to show how many people were either running, or were likely to run.
It’s such a big field! It’s such a big field that there’s basically not even enough room to get these guys’ names up there, along with their faces.
And we figured, when we first made kind of funny graphic, Well, yeah, OK, we figured there are 22 Republican candidates, or possible candidates, for president this year, but it’s early days. We won’t be stuck with this graph for long. A lot of these guys will drop out very soon. We’ll have a much easier visual to work with soon enough.
That’s what we thought would happen. That is not at all how it has worked out.
We started with 22 candidates and likely candidates. That was weeks ago. So far, we’ve only been able to “poof” three little Republican heads off that very crowded screen.
The first one we were able to take off the list was Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. Poof! Php!
[Snyder’s head disappears]
Second one we were able to take off the list was U.N. Ambassador John Bolton. Poof!
[Bolton’s head disappears]
And then it was Indiana Governor Mike Pence. Poof! Bye-bye!
[Pence’s head disappears]
That was three of them. Buh-bye! Three of them saying they definitely won’t run. But we’ve still got 19 little Republican heads up there; we are still at 19. And maybe we are not going to go down from that number at all, at least we’re not going to any time soon.
As you can see, Maddow was snarking hard this night. Around the nation, liberal brain cells were dying in droves as the wonderful corporate star made three of the “little Republican heads” go “poof.”
Incredibly, that wasn’t the stupid part of that program. The stupid part—the part which truly insulted her viewers’ intelligence—was yet to come.
How stupid has Maddow been as she wastes time, night after night, with this dull-witted combination of tribal entertainment and propaganda? Time which she could have spent discussing serious topics?
If you have some time this weekend, we think you should consider watching the tape of that fourteen-minute segment. If you don’t feel your intelligence is being insulted, it may be time that you conducted a search for same.
Maddow, a corporate TV star, has been entertaining us with this manifest bullshit for the past three months. How dumb have her presentations been? This is where she went as she continued exploring the twenty-two headshots:
MADDOW (continuing directly): I mean, we can add this, right? These people, with the little red boxes around them, they have formally confirmed that they are in.Could Maddow get dumber and live? She went on to roll her eyes at the monumental absurdity of a possible Kasich candidacy, what with Kasich’s “deep national obscurity, and honestly, his lack of any distinguishing political characteristics in this field.”
[Eight headshots are enclosed in red boxes]
All of these people have formally declared that they are running for the Republican nomination for president in 2016.
But it’s very clear they’re not going to be the whole field. And it’s not just that we’re going to add the obvious and very famous people like Jeb Bush and Scott Walker to that list, and we will eventually have to add them.
It’s now becoming clear that even the most obscure and anonymous remaining people on our potential list are not going to be “poofed” off this list either. They’re just not opting out. Nobody’s opting out any more.
One after the other, they keep either announcing that they’re in or signaling that they’re going to be announcing that they’re in.
Like, for example, this guy!
[Large, single headshot appears]
Do you recognize this man? Could you pick this man out of a lineup? Could you pick him out of this specific lineup?
I mean no offense by that! I just mean to say, by virtue of his deep national obscurity, and honestly, his lack of any distinguishing political characteristics in this field, this guy was one of my personal top contenders for a guy who would take a look around and decide not to actually run.
But alas and behold! The Washington Post reports today that he, Ohio Governor John Kasich, is in.
That was the night when Maddow fully unveiled the poisonous cross which would define her silly jihad—the cross between his unparalleled tribal snark and her manifest cluelessness concerning American politics.
Good God, that presentation was dumb! Maddow seemed unaware of the “distinguishing political characteristic” known as Kasich’s 31-point victory margin in his 2014 re-election as governor of Ohio, a hugely important swing state.
Maddow seemed utterly clueless, as she has so frequently seemed during her three-month jihad. How utterly clueless was she?
This past Tuesday night, she and fresh-faced Kasie Hunt discussed that same Candidate Kasich. Maddow didn’t bother explaining her new point of view concerning Kasich. She was still “overly excited” concerning Kasich, though in the opposite direction:
MADDOW (7/28/15): Am I unnecessarily overly excited by John Kasich’s surge in the poll numbers?Rachel did a wonderful job pretending she’d known this shit all along. Two months before, she was mocking Kasich as one of the total jokes of the GOP field.
HUNT: No, I don’t actually think that you are. I am also in some ways excited about John Kasich’s poll numbers, in part because I think that a lot of the other candidates, particularly the Jeb Bush camp, think that John Kasich is for real. And I think when he announced, it was pretty interesting to see the traffic that came out privately from the Bush campaign. They paid a lot of attention to what John Kasich is doing. They are paying a lot of attention to what John Kasich is doing.
And you’re right. He’s doing it the old-fashioned way, on the air in New Hampshire. He’s going to do it the old-fashioned way on the ground in New Hampshire too. And that’s a potential threat. And he is, I think, from the perspective of people who are watching this, in the traditional way, a serious threat.
MADDOW: In terms of John Kasich’s role in this very large group of candidates, one of the things that he has always been able to leverage in terms of his national appeal, and I think a certain extent his power in Ohio, is he is well connected. He’s kind of like Mitch Daniels. He knows everybody else in his generation in politics.
He doesn’t seem to have enemies in high level Republican politics. He knows people from Washington. He knows people on the party machine. He knows people obviously in the Ohio machine, which is so important to Republican primary voters.
Does that mean that people are going to be reluctant to pick on him if he does end up being one of the guys to beat?
HUNT: Well, look, he’s been around a long time. He’s fought the hard fights, the fiscal battles in Washington during the Clinton years in the 1990s. And you know what? He represents Ohio. And whoever is the nominee is going to need him to work on their behalf. That’s not to say he wouldn’t, regardless of how things went down.
The one thing I will say about Kasich—you know, you were pointing out Fox News. Don’t forget, he hosted a show on Fox News—
MADDOW: On Fox News, right.
HUNT: —for quite a long time, Heartland with John Kasich. And that is the center of his—
When he got up on that announcement stage, he was saying, “I am going to bring the lessons of the heartland to the rest of America.” And I think that’s something that, in some ways, he is hitting notes that are missing from the rest of the Republican field.
We wouldn’t vote for Kasich ourselves. But Maddow’s presentation on May 27 was just blindingly stupid. And the dumbness just rumbles along.
Despite three months of nightly obsession, Maddow’s misused viewers still haven’t heard a full discussion of Kasich’s political profile. In just the occasional segment about the GOP race, Chris Hayes’ viewers have been much more fully informed about Kasich.
And uh-oh! Back in May, things only got dumber as Maddow continued her torrent of snark and snide.
Maddow continued rolling her eyes at Candidate Kasich. Mocking his dumbness, she even seemed to misunderstand a joke he had told.
She then presented another headshot of another possible candidate. Warning! If you watch this performance on that tape, some brain cells are certain to die:
MADDOW (5/27/15): So Ohio Governor John Kasich, I mean, (A), even though he’s the governor of Ohio, sadly, at least for now, he’s totally unrecognizable and indistinguishable from all of the other candidates in the field. At least he will be to most Americans looking at him in the midst of this giant field of contenders, (A).Maddow went on to ridicule Pataki, like Kasich before him. Pataki was going to make his formal announcement the next day, she said. Then she offered more of her marvelous snark:
But (B), he’s apparently going to run anyway. And (C), if his initial quotes about running are anything to go by, let alone his well-known tendency toward emotional outbursts in public in Ohio politics, John Kasich might end up being fun to watch.
If we can just remember which one he is when it comes to putting a camera on the guy who we think is John Kasich? Is that him?
Oh, but that’s not at all in today’s news of this sort, though. Because John Kasich’s leading competitor for the national Republican figure least likely to be recognized in a crowded room is this guy.
[New headshot appears]
OK, who is he? Ha-ha-ha!
His name is—I mean, do you know what his name is?
I mean, hit PAUSE. Ask anybody near you! Does anyone in the room watching TV with you right now know who this man is? Do you have any guesses as to who this man is?
His name starts with a “Juh” sound. That’s helpful.
“John” something maybe? “Jim” something maybe? Jehosephat? No?
His name is “George!” Now do you know who he is? Nope?
Time’s up! His name is George Pataki. That’s him.
“That feeling in your chest is your heartstrings thrumming.”
The sheer stupidity of this behavior is its distinguishing characteristic. Let’s try to understand the depth of the nonsense performed by this corporate clown.
Maddow has spent the past three months arguing that the GOP should “err on the side of inclusion” in running its debates. She has treated it like an attack on the republic when she tells us that Fox News is going to restrict the first GOP debate to just ten candidates.
(She almost never mentions the fact that CNN is going to do the same thing in the second debate. Part of the scam Maddow is running involves the tribal joy we feel when we’re turned loose against Fox.)
On May 5, Maddow said the political parties should “err on the side of inclusion.” By May 27, she was treating viewers to mountains of ridicule aimed at Pataki and Kasich.
Question: If Pataki and Kasich are such buffoons, why would the GOP, or anyone else, want to include them in a debate? The obviousness of such a question doesn’t occur to this corporate clown when she serves us her poisonous mixture of self-adoration and snark.
Maddow’s performance has been a disgrace all through this long national nightmare. As Marshall McLuhan said in Annie Hall, she seems to know nothing about this work.
Her basic political cluelessness seems to know no bounds. But neither does her disrespect for her liberal viewers. Throw in her self-adoration and her relentless snark.
Maddow seems to know virtually nothing about American politics. Presumably, her corporate owners have wanted her to do two things as she has pursued her ludicrous jihad. Presumably, they've have wanted her to pleasure us in tribal ways, and to keep us entertained.
Persistently, Maddow has done those things. Last night, the nonsense continued in a wide array of ways. But as we close, let’s return to last week’s “three days in the life.”
Maddow spoke with Rick Santorum last week. She told her “dog pee” story two times and wasted viewers’ time in a wide assortment of ways.
Somehow, she managed to work in some questions for Santorum. When she did, he disagreed with her basic premise about next week’s debate:
MADDOW (7/22/15): This year, the rules are different. I mean, if you’re not on—because of that Fox News rule that they’re only taking ten people. They’re basing on it national polls.Night after night, week after week, Maddow has said that exclusion from next week’s debate will end candidacies, even careers.
I mean, if you’re not there on stage, you and Chris Christie and Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal and all the rest of these people who are probably not going to make the stage, if you guys aren’t there, you’re effectively not running.
SANTORUM: I disagree with that. I just think what happens in July and August, you know, it’s like the Las Vegas ad. “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas?” What happens in August, stays in August.
I don’t think there really is going to be that much of an impact. Lots of thing are going to happen between now and January. Lots of folks are going to rise, lots of folks are going to fall.
And, you know, I always feel like the focus we’re going to have is trusting the good people of Iowa, which I did last time. That when push comes to shove, and when they start to pay attention to this race, which historically is about two to three weeks out, they’re going to look at the candidate who they think is going to be the best person to be the president of the United States, at a time that is critical of this country.
And I feel very confident, after having spent the time there and folks get to know me and kick the tires of all these models in the showroom, that we’re going to do just fine.
Santorum said that isn’t how Iowa works.
In a world which wasn’t a scam, that might have triggered further discussion. Maddow might have interviewed knowledgeable people, asking them what they think about what Santorum said.
The Maddow Show doesn’t work that way. Maddow doesn’t interview people about the shape of the race.
Instead, she issues her standard nightly lecture about the perfidy of Fox News, with the Republican Party occasionally mentioned. Santorum’s statement about the way Iowa works was simply never mentioned again. By Friday, Maddow was back to her regular nightly lecture:
“They’ve only got a few days left to act. If they do not change course on this, the candidacies of a whole bunch of the Republican candidates, including seriously some of the candidates who are most impressive on paper, a whole bunch of presidential candidacies including a bunch of governors, their candidacies are effectively going to end by the end of next week when those debates are set to start and they are not going to be allowed on stage.”
Santorum’s assessment was never mentioned again. We returned to the nightly doomsday lecture featuring the perfidy of Those People at Fox.
It may be hard for liberals to understand this. But Maddow’s three-month jihad has been one of the dumbest episodes in the long, miserable history of cable news.
Bill O’Reilly’s fight against the war on Christmas? The years in which Hannity & Colmes bravely battled the scary spokesmen from the New Black Panther Party?
Chris Matthews’ decade of insults and misstatements aimed at both Clintons and Candidate Gore? Maddow’s ridiculous, three-month jihad ranks right up there with these gruesome episodes, these ghosts of cable news past.
She’s turning liberal brains to dust as she plays this game each night. And in the hours she spends on this silly gong-show, a long list of serious issues go completely ignored.
Sandra Bland has never been mentioned on the Maddow’s show. She weeps instead for Carly Fiorina, whose non-existent candidacy may soon be derailed.
Rachel Maddow has become a self-adoring corporate cable news clown. She seems to know virtually nothing about domestic politics. We wouldn’t swear that she’s “well.”
She’s paid to entertain us each night and to make us feel tribally pure. She’s very good at these corporate tasks, and at hiding what she does.
She’s especially good at the self-adoration. That’s why the analysts wept.
Last week, Maddow staged three days in the life which were an open insult to us, her liberal viewers. At one point, she shared her analytical brilliance with Santorum:
MADDOW (7/22/15): I had an interesting conversation with my staff the other day. We were talking about— I was making my case to them about the fact that I think you are a good communicator.Maddow has been offering that analysis since May 27. Keep an eye on Santorum, she has said. He’s the best communicator in the whole GOP field!
I disagree with you on almost everything. But I think that you—I think that a lot of people have worked very hard on their elocution in this round. People are trying to set themselves apart. A lot of people look like high school debate-losing team captains right now, and you’re a very effective communicator. That’s why I think it will actually hurt you if you don’t get in the debates because I think it’s such an opportunity cost for you.
Today, Santorum, who everyone knows from the last campaign, stands at one percent.
After watching that tape, the analysts sat around glumly. Eventually, we could see that their eyes were swollen and red.
They were hurting for Maddow’s staffers, they were finally willing to tell us. Imagine if you had to sit through that guff each day, they said.
Last night, Maddow played videotape of herself, as she frequently does. Her videotapes help us learn the various ways to adore her.
In the tape, she was conducting another staff meeting. In these tapes, we normally see her telling jokes, with the staffers comprising The Maddow 15 forced to sit there and laugh.
Last night, we watched another such tape. Full of love for the whole human race, our analysts writhed, then wailed.
Later today or tomorrow: Special bonus! Last night’s cons!