THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2022
"[We're] looking at ghosts and empties:" This past Monday night, ghosts and goblins were reliably spotted in many American neighborhoods.
Last night, we even thought we spotted some goblins right there on cable TV!
To be honest, we also found ourselves thinking of Paul Simon's "ghosts and empties," the traveling companions he was hoping to lose as he journeyed towards a real and metaphorical Graceland.
The lyrics appeared in 1986. To revisit the context, click here.
First up last night was Tucker Carlson, a reliable goblin on Fox. Ranting about Joe Biden's speech, he offered such comments as these:
CARLSON (11/2/22): I'm just fascinated by the president's speech tonight, in front of the slum that he created at Union Station in Washington.
Why do you think, six days before an election in which his party is behind, he's yelling at American voters, attacking them? Why isn't he talking about why you should vote for him? Why is he browbeating the public, screaming at us again?
Viewers who hadn't watched the speech might have come to believe that Biden, standing in front of a slum, had been yelling and screaming at them again.
So it went at the start of this disordered program last night. Tomorrow, we'll offer a possible thought about "the drama of the [abandoned] child"—the psychodrama which is, perhaps, being played out as Carlson performs his nightly goblin routine.
One hour later, we saw an unusual exchange between Alex Wagner and Chris Hayes. At issue was an important question:
Who is driving the lunacy of the current "MAGA Republican" world?
Wagner introduced Hayes as "my dear friend." In doing so, she checked a corporate branding box.
Wagner started by wondering "if there is actually a distinction to be made, as the president insists there is, between Republicans and MAGA Republicans." She was referring to that same speech, the speech in which the president had allegedly screamed and yelled at us again!
Let's return to what Wagner said:
It becomes more and more clear that Wagner thinks that Those People Are All Just Alike—that Biden and other are very silly in thinking that some distinction can be drawn between different groups of such Others.
In response, Hayes said that some Republican officeholders would accept an election defeat. Wagner now moved toward her real point—and as she did, she made a strange remark about who is leading the Republican Party:
WAGNER (11/2/22): I guess I should say, there is a distinction between, not only between MAGA Republican and regular, truth-accepting Republicans, but also, who are we talking about? There are the elected officials, and then there's the grassroots.
And at this point, I truly feel like the grassroots are actually leading the party, right?
WAGNER: And in the numbers, if you look at who is in the Republican Party, 61% of them believe that the election was stolen for Joe Biden.
Are the grassroots "actually leading the party," whatever that fuzzy phrase means? That's what Wagner said she believes, and Hayes seemed to say he agrees.
Wagner also seemed to say that a substantial chunk of GOP voters do not believe that the last election was stolen. Still and all, she continued as shown:
WAGNER (continuing directly): The president of the United States, Joe Biden, who won—I think he wants to believe that that number is smaller. Or he believes in the goodness of the country, and two-thirds of the Republican Party as it is—the people of the Republican Party—do not believe he is legitimate.
Moments before, Wagner had noted the way Donald J. Trump had said, in a recent post, that the United States is "evil." Now, she herself seemed to suggest that Biden is a bit naive when he believes in "the goodness of the country."
For the record, 61 percent isn't "two thirds," but it's a healthy three fifths! In Wagner's assessment, three-fifths of the GOP grassroots believe the election was stolen for Biden.
Three fifth is a substantial chunk! Eventually, Hayes expressed this view about what that figure means:
HAYES: I think they're a majority, the majority dominant faction in the Republican Party, though not entirely, right? There's a minority which is not in that faction.
It's the majority faction that runs one of the two major parties. It's a minority in the broad American populace, which still to this day retains a robust, pro-democracy majority, along the lines of 60 percent, I would say probably. But there is a dominance of this anti-democratic faction in the Republican Party, and that's really the whole issue.
The multimillionaire dear friends had agreed on several points:
They agreed that a majority of the Republican rank and file believe the last election was stolen. More significantly, they seemed to agree on this somewhat fuzzy point:
They seemed to agree that this belief means that these people are "anti-democratic"—that they aren't "pro-democracy." To what extent does that pleasing assertion actually seem to make sense?
Let's review the analysis offered by these ghosts:
In their assessment, three fifths of the GOP rank and file believe the election was stolen. We know of exactly zero evidence in support of that inflammatory claim about that election—but for some unstated reason, the dear friends agreed that people who hold this unfounded belief are "anti-democratic."
That's a highly simplistic claim. On a tribal basis, it's also a claim which is highly pleasing. But to what degree does it make clear sense?
Voter X believes the last election was stolen, Also, Voter X is very angry about that.
On what basis does this make Voter X an opponent of democracy? Wouldn't you be angry if you thought an election had been stolen from the candidate you prefer?
For ourselves, we don't agree with voters who think that the least election was stolen. Two years have passed, and Donald J. Trump has presented exactly zero evidence in support of this poisonous claim.
That said, we also don't approve of the underwhelming work routinely done by the corporate-selected ghosts and empties we're offered on MSNBC. Let's return to this foundational point:
We think Wagner is out of her mind when she says that this dominant faction of Others is "leading the [Republican] Party."
In making that claim, she satisfies an ancient tribal desire—the desire to savage the Others, millions at a time. But in our view, she's also making zero sense.
Dear God! Does anyone think that the lunacies driving the GOP are emerging from the GOP's grassroots—from the Republican rank and file? Whatever became of this fairly obvious observation:
The lunacies driving the GOP bus are largely coming from Donald J. Trump and the people assembled around him.
The lunacies are coming from other high-profile players in addition to Trump. But are these lunacies really coming from the rank and file?
Starting with "Barack Obama was born in Kenya," the rank and file have largely believed the various claims they've been handed. As experts have noted, this teaches a major anthropology lesson concerning the limits of human discernment.
But did these claims emerge from the rank and file? Are they the leaders of the pack? In what way are the rank and file playing the leadership role in the ongoing lunacy which is taking the nation apart?
How empty the ghosts of cable news can turn out to be! Watching Wagner, it's fairly clear that she holds the most ancient instinct of the species:
You simply can't talk to these Others, this multimillionaire Brown graduate says. You shouldn't even try!
She said as much to Tim Ryan on her program Tuesday night. (Why had he been willing to talk to Those People at Monday evening's Fox News Town Hall?)
She was saying as much in her colloquy with her dear friend last night. Astoundingly, she even rolled her eyes at Biden's belief that "Amerika is a good country.".
We think the GOP rank and file has been stunningly gullible as they've come to believe the various things they've been told. That said, we think it has reflected poorly on our own blue tribe as we have come to ape the flyweight work we keep getting handed by our own corporate-selected tribunes.
Carlson was crazy as always last night. He performed his Standard Goblin routine, as he increasingly does on a nightly basis.
One hour later, Simon's line popped into our heads, his line about "ghosts and empties." We also thought we were looking at the route our failing blue tribe has taken on its way toward tribal defeat.
Tomorrow: Tucker and Trump and Lake oh my! Where do these goblins come from?