It's a warm, dreary Sunday here in the heartland. April, it seems like, or September. But it's not. It's December, and the long darkness of the approaching winter solstice hangs in the air, and the Republican race for president and the Beltway media coverage of Republican race for president (which Mr. Chuck Todd of Meet the Press very precisely summed up as "Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump...but...") has taken on a lurid, Grand Guignol cast:
Le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol: "The Theatre of the Great Puppet")—known as the Grand Guignol—was a theatre in the Pigalle area of Paris (at 20 bis, rue Chaptal (fr)). From its opening in 1897 until its closing in 1962, it specialized in naturalistic horror shows. Its name is often used as a general term for graphic, amoral horror entertainment...
And so when someone asks, "Watchman, tell us of the night." I must report that the night does not go well. There is a palpable, frantic ache among the Beltway media to get back to the very profitable business of telling the only fairy tail they know how to tell -- the story of Both Sides Do It. But the continued dominance of Donald Trump and the fast-rising horror of Ted Cruz makes that impossible.
Since June they have treated The Donald as if he were some weird-but-transient intestinal blockage which the usual applications of Beltway eye-rolling contempt and Both Siderism would eventually dislodge.
This has not happened.
Instead our media-of-easy-virtue and the shambles of what remains of the Republican party establishment find themselves curled up in a manger, on a pile of money surrounded by the Wise Men of Washington, giving birth to something raving, world-stomping and bestial while continuing to swear that they had nothing to do with its conception and gestation even as it gnaws its way out of their rotting womb.
And so, this Sunday, I report to you the stuff that caught my attention in and around the Sunday Gasbag Cavalcade, since what our esteemed political press corp says after the shows as they swab off the greasepaint is often at least as revealing as the very carefully metered bullshit they extrude while the cameras are on.
The most ridiculous attempt to jam a wedge of Both Siderism in sideway must go to Molly Ball of the Atlantic on "Meet the Press". She apparently drew the short straw today and had to wear the Ron Fournier/David Brooks/Mark Halperin/Harold Ford Junior/On-and-On-Ad-Nauseum costume and say those magic words that some Beltway drone is required to say every week or the FCC will lift their license. This time, she had to put on her Seven League boots to manage the leap from "problems in Chicago" to "Rahm Emanuel" to a rising "Liberal" wing of the Democratic party to (inevitably) "and therefor Both Sides...", pass "Go" and collect $200:
Honestly, if the Gasbag Cavalcade were not required to keep up the pretense that they are presenting actual human beings who allegedly know more than you and I about How The World Really Works and have wise thoughts which escape from their mouth holes in some grotesque parody of "conversation" it would be a whole lot cheaper to just sack the whole lot of them and run a tape loop repeating "Both Sides Do It" over and over again forever.
Also at this point the Ron Fournier/David Brooks/Mark Halperin/Harold Ford Junior/On-and-On-Ad-Nauseum costume has got to smell a 1000 times riper than a sweaty, incontinent strip-mall Santa's jolly red suit on the day after Christmas.
But it's never too smelly for trusted ABC News Contributor and "independent" (except for that time he ran Dubya's 2004 re-election campaign) pundit, Matthew Dowd, who straps himself right in and delivers the Contractually Obligated Phrase That Pays:
But really, none of the same tired lines delivered by the same torpid players even comes close to better encapsulating Conservatism's inbred ideological bankruptcy than trusted ABC News contributor and "brilliant, original thinker", Bloody Bill Kristol, retweeting neocon smut from his own son-in-law's wingnut grocery-store flyer of a "magazine" blaming Angela Merkel "along with her fellow feckless political elites" for the Rise of Donald Trump.
Over on "Face the Nation", peeved potato-bug/human hybrid, Frank Luntz, insisted that the Rise of Trump was certainly not facilitated by decades of constant, reckless, high-intensity, focus-group-tested moronifying of the GOP base by highly paid button man like peeved potato-bug/human hybrid Frank Luntz,
Instead -- surprise! -- the fault for the Rise of Trump lies with another, more, uh, "swarthy" individual (emphasis added):
DICKERSON: Want to play a little more from the focus groups, because a lot of what motivates them that you discovered is an anger about President Obama. So let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LUNTZ: And I want a word or phrase to describe Barack Obama.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pathetic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a great speaker.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jellyfish marshmallow.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Annoying.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Delusional.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Naive.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unbelievable. I just can't believe him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lost.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good talker and tries hard. Out of touch.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A politician.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Full of himself.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clueless.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ineffective.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Elitist.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doesn't respect American values.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Overwhelmingly cocky.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anti-American.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Un-American.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amateur.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Zero leadership.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Out of his depth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Arrogant.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Still waiting on this hope and change.
LUNTZ: Anti-American, un-American, Barack Obama. Seriously?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, absolutely.
DICKERSON: So, Frank, I would suggest that obviously they don't like the president, but could any other Republican -- why couldn't any other Republican just grab onto that feeling? Why is Donald Trump particularly...
LUNTZ: Because no other Republican is willing to say the things that Donald Trump says. I don't believe there would be a Trump candidacy if there wasn't an Obama presidency...
They have been trained like show ponies to make up a lot of purdy words when in public to talk all around the subject (that is Luntz's specialty after all), but mostly Republicans simply cannot stand the thought of having a n*gger in their White House (from me in 2009):
And worst of all, "their country" suddenly had a Scary Black Man living in their Dear Leader's pretty White House, probably having dirty, Muslim sex in the Dear Leader's sacred, Christian bed and putting his filthy, Kenyan hands all over "their county's" pure, white Constitution.
And once their party elites allowed that to happen all bets were off, which is why, over the last seven years, these already-angry, already-deluded, already-bigoted Conservative Americans (from me in 2008) --
Right now there is so much pressure on these voters -- so much torque to their sense of identity being wrenched onto by them by the economic and cultural disasters wrought by the liars and sociopaths they keep electing -- that they are almost in tears, moaning and clawing at their skulls, trying to figure out how to simultaneously:
A) Keep from drowning in a rising tide of ruin and failure of their own making, and
B) Stay faithful to the deep, ugly foundation stones of bigotry they dutifully learned at their father’s and grandfather’s knees and which, up until now, they have been spared the pain of facing by the use of pretty, perfumed code.
-- have become completely unglued by the sheer tonnage of the denialism and cognitive dissonance they now have to chug straight from the Fox News cask just to make it though the day. The GOP Political and Hate Media machine has spent 30 years and considerable sums on specialists like Frank Luntz manufacturing this reliably fact-immune army of reprogrammable golem...
...and Trump has gone and screwed up their timetables and deliverables by swooping in and snatching them off the assembly line before the final upgrades were finished.
Honestly, the most morbidly hilarious part of this whole sad Trump business has been watching the Beltway press scrambling to contain their shock at discovering what Liberals have been trying to warn them about for +20 years.
Which is why, rather than dwelling on the terrifying fact that the Republican party is now certifiably insane from the top of it bright orange nimbus of microfiber "hair" to the soles of its jackboots, the Sunday Kidz got cranked up on sugary drinks and ran around hooting excitedly about a brokered convention until they all got tired and had to take a nap.
From "Face the Nation":
DICKERSON: Yes, the idea of being that maybe the election is now nationalized and you don't have to do what you used to have to do.
Let's not leave without talking, Susan, about a brokered convention, which was usually something we only talk about in our fantasies as political reporters but now there was some coverage of it this week. What's your thoughts on the idea of a brokered Republican convention?
PAGE: First of all, I would like to vote in favor of this because how much fun would that be to cover?
From "Meet the Press":
... CHUCK TODD: I know. Chris Christie is doing all those town halls in New Hampshire, but for the most part, this is a nationalized race and the more nationalized it gets, I think more likely that you see people wanting the reality show to continue.
TED KOPPEL: And I think first of all we have to admit that you are essentially drooling on your shirt at the prospect, as--
CHUCK TODD: You famously walked away from convention coverage because there was no news.
As opposed to this?
TED KOPPEL: Because it was--
CHUCK TODD: You'll come back.
TED KOPPEL: That's exactly right. That's exactly right. Every single of us is going to be saying, "Thank God, finally, an interesting convention." But you're right about all those people out there. All the people who have been energized by the Trump campaign are going to be very, very angry folk if they think that Trump is not well treated.
HELENE COOPER: I've been disappointed so many times because this is every political reporter's fantasy. So let's put that out there. And every four years, we're disappointed, it doesn't happen.. I mean, the idea of a floor fight in Cleveland sounds fantastic...
Translation: Policy stuff and smoothly run conventions are boring as shit, so lets hope the GOP finally has that complete, public psychotic break they've been saving up for, because then...
Finally, I feel sadly obliged to include Mr. Chris Hayes of MSNBC in this weekend's roll call of dishonor.
Over the years, many of us have been alarmed to notice that the usually-excellent Mr. Hayes and several of his MSNBC colleagues clearly have some inexplicable stake in promoting the credibility and career of the odious Ben Domenech. To the outsider, this makes no more sense than David Gregory spending years repeatedly rehabilitating the credibility and career of the odious Newton Leroy Gingrich, but it is clearly a thing, so last week, when Mr. Hayes expressed his scorn at the latest Republican responsibility-avoidance bullshit of blaming Barack Obama for the Rise of Trump, I helpfully suggested the following:
Well wouldn't you know it, just two days later...
And since the good people at MSNBC have inexplicably omitted the segment with Mr. Hayes and Mr. Domenech from their list of offering, I will reconstruct their exchange to the best of my abilities:
Hayes: I, uh, also understand that, uh, you wrote something about this, uh, recently, is that right?
Domenech: Oh Lordy, Chris, my home slice, my broseph with his amazing technicolor dream job, of course , I wasn't blaming Obama. I was saying that these last 10 years with Bush and Iraq and Obama and the end of "Lost" sucking so hard and "Star Trek: Into Darkness" being such a raging disappointment, people are generally bummed my brother from another mother. Bummed enough to give someone like Trump an e-ticket.
Hayes: Well, I'm glad we got that cleared up! Moving on...
In case you wanted to know how fascists win big victories, it starts by winning lots of little victories like this. Small battles where the bad guy with the microphone smirks and lies and is permitted to get away with it because the good guy with the microphone doesn't have the guts to call him out.
I sent the following helpful series of tweets into the abyss because somewhere there should be a record that at least one of the nine viewers MSNBC has not yet driven permanently and entirely away saw what transpired and thought it was shameful:
Crossposted from driftglass' blog