FRIDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2021
Also, quoting Kagan: Late last evening, consumed by gloom, Kevin Drum issued a semi-prediction. Our chronicle today will touch several bases.But we'll start right there.
Drum in autumn
It was 9:28 P.M. out in the Golden State. Drum's gloomy headline said this:
Liberals are blowing the chance of a generation
In his post, Kevin imagined a situation in which Democrats "end up passing nothing"—not even the $1.2 million infrastructure bill, which has already passed in the Senate with the help of Republican votes.
It seems to us that Kevin was possibly being too gloomy. That said, when he started his post, he quoted a piece by Li Zhou at Vox—but he failed to include the part of her piece which may have occasioned his gloom.
How badly could the current stalemate end? As she started her piece at Vox, Zhou said this:
ZHOU (9/30/21): For years, progressives have floated the idea of acting as a bloc and using their power to shape the Democratic agenda, a tactic levied by several of the most influential congressional caucuses.
On Thursday, they finally did: Progressives stood by a threat they issued this summer, when they promised to vote against the bipartisan infrastructure bill if it was considered in the House without a concurrent vote on a much larger reconciliation bill (which contains a vast investment in social programs and measures to address climate change). Effectively, they argued, the [$1.2 trillion] infrastructure bill wouldn’t pass unless a broader $3.5 trillion package did first.
By holding their ground and pursuing a course of action that could derail both bills, progressives hope to force moderates in their own party to offer some type of commitment on the reconciliation measure.
Aarrgh! Right at the start of her piece, Zhou imagined the possibility that the progressives' current course of action could end up "derailing both bills"—could lead to no bills getting passed.
No $3.5 trillion reconciliation measure. Indeed, not even the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill!
Is that possible? Is it possible that the current stalemate will end with no bill getting passed—not even the smaller measure, which has already passed the Senate?
Everything is possible! Indeed, Weisman and Cochrane offer an account of the situation in this morning's New York Times which is much gloomier than anything you heard last night on CNN or MSNBC, whose corporate stars labored to put the best face on everything we heard before we drank our glass of warm milk and tucked ourselves into bed.
That's the way partisan corporate "cable news" works. Consider these final days of the nightly "cable news" behemoth known as Rachel Maddow, Our Own Eternal Child.
For starters, it isn't her fault
Just for the record, The Problem The Blue-Voting World Is Facing isn't Maddow's fault. Basically, the situation would be the same if she'd never been put on the air by her corporate bosses.
For the record, the problem is this:
Even after four years of The Crazy under Trump, Democrats were barely able to win a majority in the House last November.
Thanks to Trump's crazy behavior in Georgia, Democrats did end up with 50 Senators, and thereby with procedural control of the Senate. But Democrats have done so poorly at winning elections that, in order to get to 50, they have to rely 1) on a Democrat from a state (West Virginia) which overwhelmingly voted for Trump, and 2) on a free-floating senator from Arizona who has seemed, for quite some time, to be perhaps largely a nut.
Putting it another way, Democrats haven't been very good at winning elections in the past ten years. On cable news, we're constantly pleasured with an explanation for this:
Amerika is full of racists, we are constantly told. (To Maddow's credit, she pushes this line with less frequency than most of our major "thought leaders.")
Amerika is full of racists, we constantly tell ourselves. We never imagine the possibility that some of the problem may resides with Us.
This is Standard Tribal Thinking, major experts say. At any rate, Democratic failure to win elections isn't Maddow's fault.
We Democrats would have lost that many elections without Maddow's help. But can we tell the truth just once?
Maddow has been a (highly visible) part of the problem all through her journalistically ridiculous "cable news" career.
That doesn't mean that she's a "bad person." It does mean that she never should have been put on the air in the way she was.
"Honey, please stop cooking"
How ridiculous has Maddow's performance been just in the past week?
It would take a book to explore all the examples. For today, let's mention a few minor points. Let's start with the massive self-involvement which has characterized her frequently ridiculous years on the air.
As we've noted in the past, Maddow seems to love nothing so much as talking about herself. Consider what happened Wednesday night, halfway through a 15-minute exploration of a local crime.
In the local crime in question, someone tried to firebomb the Democratic Party Headquarters in Austin this past Tuesday night. Obviously, that's a serious type of crime. Unfortunately, such behavior has to be investigated and charged, with perpetrators going to prison.
It was also a local crime. To appearances, it involved one young male perpetrator whose (masked) behavior was captured on surveillance videotape.
In the course of her lengthy segment, Maddow persistently referred to the perpetrator as "the dude" or simply as "Dude." She very much wants him locked up; punishment has long been her thing.
Armed with the videotape, Maddow devoted a full fifteen minutes to this event. As part of the deal, she concocted a ridiculous novelized theory about why the event had occurred.
Forget the way she burned fifteen uninterrupted minutes on her novelized tale concerning a local crime. Instead, consider the sheer stupidity of the various types of behavior one constantly meets on her show.
In this case, we aren't referring to the insultingly stupid exchanges between herself and Lawrence which we reviewed two days ago. In this case, Maddow's absurd self-involvement prevailed as she interrupted her concocted tale at one point to, in effect, "phone home."
Maddow was about to start showing the videotape of the late-night attempt at a firebombing. But before the tape began to roll, she interrupted herself to say this:
MADDOW (9/29/21): I can now show you something that you should see that happened last night, and I will tell you, if you are listening to me and not watching me—
I'm saying this because my partner, Susan, is often cooking dinner or doing other house things and listening to me and not watching me live when the show is on.
So Honey, this is me telling you this is one of those things for which you actually want to sit down and watch. This is a visual. It's not going to work just listening to it. I'm just saying. This is a visual and you will want to see it.
It's remarkable that we have this. But what I`m going to show you is something that all takes place over a period of about 12 minutes...
In this way, The Eternal Child interrupted her concocted tale to tell Susan to stop her cooking (or her other "house things") and to sit down to watch the show. Has anyone ever been so in love with talking about herself?
Lawrence likes to kiss her keister; she's happy to respond. For herself, she very much enjoys engaging in self-involved bullshit like this.
In our Blue Towns, where we blue voters live, it's long been clear that we enjoy this stupid shit from our self-involved Eternal Child. That doesn't mean that we're bad people, but our dumbness is one of the many reasons why we can't win more elections—why we have to rely on an apparent nutcase like Sinema to fashion a tie in the Senate.
We're eager to blame the whole thing on Them. But the problem is also Us.
Maddow quotes Robert Kagan
Last Friday night, Maddow actually did something constructive on her persistently dimwitted program. She quoted from Robert Kagan's lengthy essay in the Washington Post—a widely-cited essay warning about the vast danger the nation is in.
She'd opened the show that night with a typical entertainment feature—with an endless segment in which she mugged and clowned and laughed and snarked about the way the GOP had committed an "own goal" with its Arizona Cyber Ninjas report.
(She should know about "own goals," one of the analysts cried. She's the biggest "own goal" we have over here on our own side!)
Kagan's essay describes the vast danger the republic is currently in. Even in the face of this danger, Lawrence continues to kiss Maddow's ascot, and Maddow continues to use her national platform to tell Susan when to stop cooking and cleaning and to just sit down and watch.
(How ridiculous has Maddow been down through the years? Way back, she explained how she bought her first TV set. She and Susan got blackout drunk and ordered it online! This concocted story extended the a certain egocentric tale—the Storyline in which Rachel was the TV star who didn't own a TV set, not that she thinks she's smarter than you are. In response to an inquiry from a journalist, the network actually backed her up on this apparently ludicrous tale.)
For one brief shining moment, Maddow actually read, at some length, from a serious journalistic essay last Friday night. That said, she'd opened the show that night with a typical entertainment feature about how "hilarious" the Cyber Ninjas project had turned out to be.
She had been too dumb to see that the Arizona report would only further Trump World's claims that more such "audits" were needed. Instead, our Eternal Child pleasured herself with a lengthy opening segment about how "hilarious" the episode had been.
This was a classic example of Standard Maddow Product. It was Tribal Entertainment Product, product in which we're told how unbelievably dumb The Others are, but also how smart We are.
In fairness, The Others are amazingly dumb, but then again, so are We. You can tell this by the way we've tolerated the unintelligent mugging and clowning of this nut-adjacent child.
At any rate, she burned the start of her program away with this standard Entertainment / Tribal Ego Product. Later, she actually read, at some length, from a serious journalistic document—but not before indulging her vast egocentricity by stressing a dull-witted claim:
MADDOW (9/24/21): On the eve of the audit release, the conservative commentator, very conservative intellectual Robert Kagan, somebody with whom I disagree on everything, Robert Kagan wrote a piece for "The Washington Post," the most widely read and shared thing on the Washington Post web page. And he`s writing this as a conservative.
But it's titled, "Our constitutional crisis is already here." I want to read you the lead of this because, as hilarious as this was and as much as schadenfreude as there was today about this failure in Arizona, this own goal, the embarrassing step-on-a-rake failure, this is also a very dark day.
And this is a dark thing we are going through. I'll read you what Kagan said today.
Lurking there, you can see the priorities of this Eternal Child.
This is a very dark day, she said. But before she asked us to contemplate that, we got to laugh, in a lengthy opening segment, about the hilarious step-on-a-rake failure in Arizona, and we got to enjoy our schadenfreude.
We're facing constitutional crisis. But first, let's gambol and play!
In large part, Maddow's show has always been an entertainment program. It has also been a program which serves to create a sense of isolated tribal identity. Note the way she described Kagan, even as she read from his essay at length.
According to Maddow, the very conservative Kagan is someone whom she "disagrees on everything!"
Stating the obvious, that isn't true. If the claim was true, why was she reading his essay on the air, at some length, in plainly approving fashion?
Sadly, Maddow isn't simply committed to entertainment. She's also committed to "the myth of fingerprints"—to the eternal human insistence that Our Tribe is wholly unlike Their Tribe. That Our Tribe is the good pure tribe, the tribe which has nothing in common with what The Others are like.
Because she will always find a way to discuss herself, she said she agrees with Kagan on nothing, even as she approvingly read his essay. After she read from his essay at length, she returned to her basic point:
MADDOW: And that's from Robert Kagan. He was a very conservative thinker, somebody with whom I agree on basically nothing. But who has put a point on this moment.
Maddow loves to talk about herself. She also loves to advance the perception that Our Tribe has nothing in common with Their Tribe, that never the twain shall meet.
This helps explain why our tribe has had so much trouble attracting non-aligned or weakly-aligned "Middle American" voters. Meanwhile, let's gambol and play! Honey, I shrunk the tribe!
There's much more to say about Maddow's program last Friday night. That includes the corporate branding involved in the way she told us, three separate times, that former Republican strategist Steve Schmidt, now an MSNBC employee, is unlike Kagan "her friend."
That is mandated corporate branding, Maddow never stops selling the corporation, just as she never stops selling the car. We liberal voters fail to notice. Everybody else does.
There's much more to say about each of Maddow's shows in the past week. But no such effort would do any good, Cassandra, daughter of Priam and Hecuba, has told us it's much too late.
Will Democrats end up passing some bills? We can't answer that question. That said, the liberal world is forced to rely on an apparent nutcase like Sinema to get anything through the Senate, and on a guy who has managed to hang on in West Virginia.
How did we manage to reach this point? Go ahead and continue your house things! We'll address that question next week.
Next week: How We Got Here