Part 4—Crazy all the way down: The American people owe Sally Quinn a major debt of thanks.
Actually, two! First, we owe Quinn a debt of thanks for her lengthy report, in November 1998, about Establishment Washington's loathing for President Clinton.
Due to her standing within Establishment Washington, Quinn was able to report, live and direct, from the belly of the beast. She wrote about the loathing for Clinton which existed among political players—but also among major members of the upper-end mainstream press.
If anyone ever wants to write about the press corps' long war against Clinton and Clinton—the evidence strongly suggests that no one ever will—Quinn's 3700-word report will be an invaluable document.
Four months after her piece appeared, Al Gore began his run for the White House. That same Establishment Press Corps landed on Clinton's chosen successor like a ton of bricks.
If anyone ever wants to write about what happened in that campaign—several name-brand historians have already shown that no one is ever going to do that—Quinn's report offers a way to explain the otherwise puzzling hostility, and open dissembling, with which Candidate Gore was met for the next twenty months.
No one is ever going to write about those topics. In the past two nights, hustlers like Cooper and Maddow have steered away from the parts of Hillary Clinton's new book in which she assails the upper-end national press.
Matt Lauer is assailed by name in Clinton's book, but he's part of Maddow's ownership group. We should thank Quinn for that lengthy report, even though the hustlers who live inside that guild will never go back and review it.
We the people should thanks Sally Quinn for that lengthy report. We should also thank her for her recent book, in which she helps us see how deeply entrenched The Crazy is within that upper-end press corps.
Good grief! Unless Connie Schultz was hallucinating when she read Quinn's new book, Quinn confesses to committing three deaths-by-hex, following two deaths-by-hex committed by her mother.
No one is ever going to discuss the apparent craziness of Quinn's book. But we the people should compliment her for making the role of The Crazy within our upper-end press corps so plain.
Please understand! We're speaking here of the mainstream press, not of the right-wing machine. We're speaking of the crazy Mittyesque tales churned by Brian Williams. We're speaking of a decade of blatantly crazy behavior by Chris Matthews. starting in 1999.
During those years, the role of The Crazy was expanding at Fox, including The Sexual Crazy. But the stink of The Crazy is also found all across the mainstream press, enabled by a gang of hustlers who refuse to discuss the crazy behavior of the very high people holding the reins.
Mika Brzezinski's three (3) memoirs also take us to the place where The Crazy, or perhaps the semi-crazy, intersect with our ability to engage in a sane public discourse. It would take weeks to do credit to the sheer weirdness of Brzezinski's three memoirs—to the litany of bizarre anecdotes, mixed with the endless, amusing self-contradictions, found within those tomes.
Behind these tales is a 13-year-old girl, still just an unhappy child, who began exhibiting symptoms of a major emotional disorder. But the person who is telling these tales is 46 years old by the time the third memoir appears, and her three memoirs are so bizarre that a sensible person can only ask this:
In a nation of 330 million people, how can the person who wrote those strange books possibly be a high-ranking, major analyst—a highly influential architect of the national discourse? Despite her admittedly smokin' hot looks, how can an adult as strange as this possibly hold that position?
How is it possible that Mika Brzezinski is an influential national pundit and analyst? In her books, she repeatedly describes behavior on her own part which seems impossibly weird, though she herself never quite seems to see how weird her anecdotes are.
In her third memoir, she finally describes the effects of an "addiction," an "obsession," which has dogged her since she was that 13-year-old child. The next time you see Brzezinki spouting off on cable TV or passive-aggressively forcing Joe to drag her opinions from her, please remember this account, from Memoir III, of where her mind really is when she sits in the public square:
BRZEZINSKI (page 136): I am in awe of successful women who manage to be free of the tyranny of food. The ones who connect with everyone in a room, while I'm busy thinking about how I can connect with another platter of food...Inevitably, a reader thinks of Sandburg's Lincoln, whose beloved stepmother, Sally Bush, knew that "even when he rode in an open carriage in New York or Washington with soldiers, flags or cheering thousands along the streets, he might just as like be thinking of her in the old log farmhouse out in Coles County, Illinois."
There I am, in conversation with Walter Isaacson or Colin Powell, but my mind is so focused on those appetizers that I barely hear what they’re saying. Instead I find myself wondering, "Where is that waiter with the mini hot dogs?” My eyes are on Powell and I am nodding with fervent interest, but with my peripheral vision I'm looking for the waiter, and with my brain I'm wondering when he might show up. I keep on discussing the conflict in Syria as best I can, but by now I'm thinking that I just might walk back into the kitchen and get those damn mini hot dogs myself!
So too with Brzezinski! Even when she pretends to be talking about Syria with some important political figure, she might just as like be thinking about the mini hot dogs elsewhere on the set.
Let's state the obvious. If we believe what Brzezinski writes in that passage, she's describing a deeply unfortunate affliction. As readers, we may feel we're finally getting a window into the endless weird behavior she has already described in her two previous memoirs.
That affliction apparently got its start with a 13-year-old child. But by the time of Memoir III, that afflicted child who apparently got no help is 46 years old, and she's a major American political pundit and analyst! Once again, we ask our question:
How can a person so deeply afflicted possibly be assigned a key role in shaping America's discourse? Are we possibly seeing, once again, the endless, ridiculous role of The Crazy within our upper-end press?
The craziness of our public discourse is visible all the way down. It's visible in the bullshit we get told, and in the many basic facts which get withheld from our view.
We liberals are skilled at seeing this phenomenon Over There, among The Others. We've proven to be completely unskilled at seeing The Crazy within the major mainstream and "liberal" players who play an even larger role in shaping our misshapen discourse.
Brzezinski is one such player. Of all the crazy actors, from Trump on down, who have crazily shaped our ludicrous discourse, we may find it hardest to be sympathetic to her. That's because of the role she played in electing the current president, who is one of the experts to whom she turned in writing her second memoir, the one about earning the millions of dollars she so richly deserves.
Brzezinski is cast on Morning Joe as the Democrat who balances Joe Scarborough. That said, sad!
Starting in June 2015, she relentlessly fawned over Donald J. Trump, during the time when Morning Joe was pimping him hard. And good God! Even after the program flipped on Trump in 2016, Brzezinski remained the world's most reluctant supposed supporter of Clinton.
Once a week or so, she would offer a "hostage tape" recitation, in which she would unconvincingly claim to be a Clinton supporter. During the rest of the week, she would push all the standard claims about Clinton's endless character issues.
Her endorsements of Clinton were so faux they served as endorsements of Trump. Mixed with the dumbness of her work, this was a hard stew to swallow.
Beyond that, Brzezinski is a terrible pundit and analyst, both by dint of her temperament and due to her general lack of political insight. Once again, we ask the obvious question:
How in the world can a person like this be in a position of such major influence?
With her new book, Sally Quinn has done us another favor. Unless Connie Schultz is hallucinating, Quinn's new memoir helps us ponder the remarkable reach of The Crazy through our upper-end press.
Every part of our national discourse is in the hands of The Crazy. "This whole discourse is out of order," as Al Pacino once said.
We liberals are too dumb to see this. We're too dumb to see the ways we've been played by the parts of the press corps we unwisely trust. But that press corps is riddled by The Crazy—and by the way our grasping stars reach for the wealth and the fame.
Brzezinski's books are a tribute to the crazy drive for the wealth and the fame. The books are full of crazy anecdotes about Brzezinski's crazy behavior. As a basic part of the package, Brzezinski rarely seems able to see how crazy her anecdote are.
Out of this mess, there emerged one of our nation's most influential pundits. Martin Luther once came along and nailed his theses to a door. If you watch this tape of Brzezinski in July 2015 angrily shouting down reporting on Trump, you will possibly ask this question:
How did such an unusual person ever attain the position she holds? And what can we the people do to evict the Crazy from our broken discourse?
The angry person on that tape helped send her one-time friend Trump to the White House. Yes, it's just one videotape; it may look A-OK to you. But in our view, we the people should be angry that a person as weird as Brzezinski could ever end up in the driver's seat, shaping our national discourse.
Brzezinski started as a child in need of help. That deserving child didn't get that help. All these years later, Donald J. Trump is in the White House, in part because of the grasping adult the troubled child became.
In Obsessed, Mika's best friend, Diane Smith, semi-jokingly says, "I have to be honest. She's a little nuts." Smith goes on to tell the childbirth story, one of the weirdest stories in the three books. (Brzezinski told the same weird story, though quite differently, in the first of these books.)
How "nuts" is Diane Smith's friend? You should read her memoirs and decide! Having said that, we'll close with this—and yes, we're skipping past a long array of crazy anecdotes from her peculiar books:
Brzezinski's second book is devoted to the proposition that upper-class women in high-paying fields should get paid what the're worth. Inevitably, women in lower-paying positions completely escape her interest.
She dedicates the book to her daughters, who were teens at the time. They play key roles in all three books, as in this peculiar passage from her first memoir, in which she describes the way she behaved after losing her job at CBS, during a year in which she was a stay-at-home mom:
BRZEZINSKI (page 190): Once I realized I wasn't about to land a new job anytime soon, I decided to dive right in to being there for my family. Home. Available. I thought I'd take advantage of the situation. Trouble was, I was a terrible cook. And as a housekeeper, I was even worse. I was terrible at folding laundry. I'd fold it, and it would look like someone could have done a better job crumbling it into a ball. I could use the washing machine without too much trouble, but once I took the clothes out of the dryer, they were on their own. I couldn't make a bed too well, either—and cleaning and dusting is never too high on my to-do list.Every reader gets to decide what that highlighted passage actually describes, and how much of that overall passage he wants to believe. For the record, this is hardly the strangest set of stories in the Brzezinski oeuvre.
Oh my goodness, it's hard work being a full-time, stay-at-home mom! Ten times harder than doing a piece for the CBS Evening News. I just wasn't up to it, I'm afraid. I have enormous respect for women who can make a go of it at home—men too. My kids saw through me right away. But they humored me. All along, they'd been fairly autonomous, which is how it goes in a house where both parents work. I couldn't even get them to the dentist the first time I tried. I wanted to do all these things for them, even these mundane scheduling things, but Carlie set it up herself. She was about nine, and she was making an appointment on her cell phone because she didn't want to wait for Mommy to get around to scheduling a cleaning.
It's certainly true that these anecdotes can't tell us whether Brzezinski is a capable political analyst. In theory, a person who can't fold laundry or make a bed could be an excellent analyst.
That said, we were struck by the image of the 9-year-old child (more accurately, she was about nine) who had to get on the phone and schedule her own dental cleaning because Mommy couldn't do it.
The person who couldn't fold that laundry could be an excellent analyst. With Brzezinski, that isn't the case, as you can see if you watch the videotape in which she angrily defends the wonderfulness of Donald J. Trump against 1) his first wife's prior claim that he once raped her and 2) the claim by Trump's crazily aggressive, profane lawyer that a husband can't rape his wife.
Angrily, Brzezinski attacked a young journalist who was reporting these matters. How exactly did this person attain the position she holds?
That said, Sally Quinn has helped us ponder a very important question. In the rush of our greedy American pundits to attain the wealth and fame they deserve, to what extent has The Crazy come to play a dominant role in the shaping of our discourse?
Does The Crazy suffuse our upper-end press? We'll let Brzezinski speak for herself. Her second book is about the need for (upper-class) women to attain the level of pay they deserve. She urges (upper-class) women to "know their value," to understand their worth.
That's a perfectly valid concern. Brzezinski stresses the fact that she wants her daughters to know their worth, to respect themselves as women.
But here we go again! She dedicates the book to "my girls" but she signs it from "your crazy mommy." A reader may think of the troubled child she once was, the child who ate and ate and ate and ate and didn't get the help she needed and deserved.
Brzezinski is a terrible analyst. As such, she's perfect for our grasping, multimillionaire pundit corps, which, as Sally Quinn reminds us, is in the grip of The Crazy.
Our discourse is crazy all the way down. It's in the hands of grasping players. Where the heck are our Martin Luthers? Why can't we drain this swamp?