All silly, wherever you looked: A funny thing happened to the American experiment on its way through the first few decades of the 21st century.
In November 2016, in part due to the nation's peculiar electoral system, Donald J. Trump was elected president. He had highly unusual views concerning America's role in the world and, on an alternate track, he often engaged in peculiar conduct and made extremely peculiar statements.
Roughly one year into his term, it was decreed that the national press should not discuss the possibility that his behavior was caused by some form of mental illness, psychological disorder or cognitive impairment. Instead, the nation's influencers agreed to be "shock, shocked" on a daily basis by whatever peculiar thing the disordered president had most recently said.
The president's intellectual disorder tracked that which had prevailed in the upper-end press corps for decades. By the time of the days of impeachment, assessments of this type were commonly being made:
GIVHAN (11/20/19): The uniform did what uniforms are designed to do.In the case of this particular witness, it wasn't just his military uniform which let the nation's influencers assess his character. His "serviceable eyeglasses" let hapless citizens "understand the story" too.
When Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman appeared before the House Intelligence Committee, his striking presence in his serviceable eyeglasses and his military uniform exuded authority, ferocity and patriotism. As one of the Democratic committee members noted admiringly, Vindman was wearing a Purple Heart on his uniform. He also had a Combat Infantry Badge pinned on the left side of his chest, indicating he’d been involved in active ground combat. For civilian viewers, it was helpful to understand the meanings of some of the insignia on his jacket. But even without the details, anyone looking at the vast collage of medals spread across his chest could understand the story they told: that Vindman is one of the many dedicated individuals who choose to stand guard so that others might sleep easily.
Normal intellectual standards had almost completely disappeared. On the highest-rated "corporate liberal" cable TV program, viewers put up with self-referential nonsense like this as the days of impeachment started:
MADDOW (11/14/19): Tomorrow will be a big day. Not only is tomorrow a Friday in the year 2019, tomorrow's going to be day two of the impeachment hearings.Just for the record, we'd have insomnia too, if we were willing to behave that way night after night, on national TV, for very large corporate pay checks.
Marie Yovanovitch, ousted as Ukraine ambassador, her testimony and that second impeachment hearing will start at 9:00 a.m. Eastern. Also tomorrow, a closed door deposition from somebody named David Holmes. He's the first of potentially two staffers from Kiev who heard President Trump on a phone call to Ambassador Gordon Sondland in a restaurant in Ukraine asking Sondland about the investigations into the Bidens that he wanted Ukraine to do.
I should also tell you that tomorrow, we will be awaiting a jury verdict in the Roger Stone trial. The jury is already out deliberating in that case.
It's going to be a big day tomorrow. We'll see you then. That does it for us tonight. Now, it's time for The Last Word, where Joy Reid is in for Lawrence tonight.
Good evening, Joy.
REID: Good evening, Rachel. So, I can tell you that as of tomorrow, you can officially class me as a shut-in. I will not leave my home. No one is to call me. Do not text me. I will not answer.
I am so ready for this. I'm so fascinated by it. I don't know if you've responded to it the same way. I cannot stop watching it.
MADDOW: I have to tell you I'm already nervous now about how fast I need to sleep so I can be awake and do all my business, like have breakfast and have a shower and have a shower and walk the dog and do all the things I need to do so that I'm seated and paying attention by 9:00 because 9:00 a.m. is not my key time of day.
REID: I'm with you.
MADDOW: We're stressed about it.
REID: It's hard because I have insomnia, really bad insomnia.
MADDOW: I know you do.
REID: So I've been trying to trick myself to fall asleep at 11:00, so I can be up at 8:00. So, I'm like trying tricks. I've got like the calm app going because I'm like–my poor husband, I'm like I've got to be asleep. I need to sleep in like ten minutes. I've got to get up at 8:00.
You know, it's really bad. At least with me, it`s really not been easy this week.
MADDOW: Also I love how you and I have the same approach to sleeping. Like, "Must sleep now, focus, sleep fast."
REID: Turn on Matthew McConaughey app where he reads me a story now. Like it`s really bad.
MADDOW: Yes, and then you scream at it and it's weird, it doesn't relax you but you just sleep. I know. We're terrible people. But at least you and I are in the same boat. Thank you, my friend.
REID: There are at least two of us. There are two of us. So, I don't feel alone.
MADDOW: I think there's more. You and I will both be awake all night and sleep on Saturday. Fair?
REID: There you go. Sounds good.
MADDOW: Fair, thanks, my friend. All right.
REID: All right, have a good night. Bye.
You aren't allowed to know how large. But in such ways, the multimillionaire "chattering class" had long since agreed to chatter.
Nothing was clear as impeachment proceeded, except that Candidate Warren had flipped on Medicare for all. She had instead decided to propose a public option, even as she agreed to pretend that she still had a plan to pursue the original proposal in Year 3 of her term.
The gods on Olympus had long since stopped laughing at what was transpiring. It was embarrassing all the way down, as even these great gods acknowledged.
Tomorrow: Maria Butina's boyfriend to jail! Plus, NBC's Watergate theme song!