SAME OR DIFFERENT! How would you rate the recent nonsense? Is it pretty much the same? Or is this nonsense different? // link // print // previous // next //
WEDNESDAY, MAY 4, 2011
Watching us becoming like them/Ed Schultz Il Duce edition: In the past two days, the New York Times has published some fascinating letters about the death of Osama bin Laden.
Yesterday, we were struck by the letters urging Americans to maintain their basic values. (For all Tuesday letters, click this.)
It pains me to see our idea of justice perverted into an expectation of reciprocal murder, a man from Virginia wrote. In a similar vein, a man from Maryland criticized the unseemly chest thumping over bin Ladens death. (Even more significantly, he opined, current policies of the U.S. and its western allies will continue to generate the hatred and resentment that give rise to terrorism.)
An associate professor from Seton Hall criticized the celebrations of the death of Osama bin Laden, noting the feverish chants and flag waving. He continued: With the deepest sympathy for our innocent dead, isn't it time to begin to recognize that there are also innocent dead abroad?...Unexamined enthusiasm, it seems, blinds all people similarly.
Whatever one may think of these views, we thought this theme was most plainly expressed in a letter from an Illinois woman. For the most part, she restricted herself to comparisons from our own nations history. In our view, she asked a good question:
We had similar reactions to the some of the celebrations staged by college students. One night later, we had the misfortune to watch Ed Schultz in a near-fascistic display on his progressive cable program.
Schultz is supposed to be on our side, but he started his Monday night program like this. No, we arent making this up:
Your DAILY HOWLER keeps getting results! After February 9, Schultz dropped the opening format in which he would excitedly say, These stories are hitting my hot buttons at this hour. He now implores us to get to work each evening.
On Monday night, Schultz got to work with a near-fascistic display. He gloried in the death of bin Laden (and his son) while urging his impressionable viewers to worship their commander in chief. As we watched his long, loud, bumptious, reptilian display, we thought of Jack Oakies performance in Chapins famous film, The Great Dictator (1940). More specifically, we thought of Oakies bumptious portrait of Benzino Napaloni, dictator of Bacteria.
Oakies portrait of Mussolini was (and is) funny, cutting, insightful. But on Monday night, that wasnt an actor crafting a portrait of the deeply bumptious Il Duce. Instead, that was the host of a progressive TV news programand the great man was soon saying this:
As Il Duce creamed in his pants about the greatness of his Dear Leader, he said wed have lots of fun that night talking about rotting corpses and our Italiansorry, our American exceptionalism. And dont worrythings quickly got worse! As he continued, Schultz began helping us see that the troops love their Dear Leader too.
Soon, that claim would become explicit. But Il Duce started like this:
Schultz praised Obamas lack of jingoism as he spewed his own all over the screen. He prayed that we might be entering a time of political unity. Soon, though, he took us to the Naval Academybut not before asking us which major party loves the troops more:
Schultz played video of young midshipmen being led in a cheer by their commandant. (Their chant: I believe that we have won! I believe that we have won! I believe that we have won! I believe that we have won!) As Schultz felt his manhood rising, he helped us see what this chant so plainly meant.
And no, once again, were not making this up. Il Duce actually said this:
You can forget all about Jack Oakie now. By now, this had gone beyond any pattern derived from Mussolini. Schultz was now recommending love for Dear Leader in a way thats most reminiscent of life in North Korea.
This is not a criticism of those midshipmen. This is not a criticism of the Navy SEALS who risked their lives last weekend, performing their mission quite capably. This is not a criticism of the man who led those midshipmen in that slightly odd chant. This is a criticism of Ed Schultz, who gave as fascistic a performance as weve ever seen on our TV machine. And trust us: Il Duce was just getting started! As he continued, he lavished extensive praise on Dear Leaders many infallible recent judgments. In these judgments, Dear Leader astounded his military commanders, not unlike Jesus in the temple.
Then, he returned to this:
Il Duce gave details of the way the bin Ladens were taken out, even explaining which eye got shot out.
He then informed us that, as Americans, we love such ghoulish details.
Schultz is a very strange person. This long, near-fascistic paean ran almost eighteen minutes. You can watch the whole thing, minus the short opening taunt about change you can believe in: To do so, just click this.
Tomorrow, well discuss another part of Il Duces ranthis abiding love for American exceptionalism. But for today, lets leave things here, adding only this:
Schultz has near-fascistic instincts. He flashed these instincts on March 29, in a pair of long, bizarre segments about the incursion into Libya. On that program, he kept insisting that his guests should call the Libyan opposition freedom fighters; he complained bitterly at the idea that they could be described as rebels. And he complained that Republicans who criticize Obamas approach to this matter simply arent being patriotic. This fascistic strutting went on for 22 minutes. Finally, Laura Flanders had the pluck and the simple good sense to say this to her host:
Im in the camp of those who think it is patriotic to criticize the president.
For twenty-two minutes before that statement, Il Duce had strutted all about, offering a truly bizarre display.
We commented on that display at the time. At Salon, Justin Elliott cited this strange performance in an otherwise underwhelming report about Schultzs unfortunate history as a right-wing radio crackpot (click here). But on Monday, Schultz gave full head to his near-fascistic instincts. We thought of his disgraceful strutting when we read those letters in the New York Times the next day.
Ed Schultz resembles a big jar of nuts. This is what happens when corporate suits select your progressives for you.
Tomorrow: A pair of progressive good Germans
PART 1PARKERS QUERY (permalink): Kathleen Parker asked a good question in Sundays Washington Post. Trash talk, her headline cried. Why is our discourse being driven by buffoons?
We think thats a darn good question.
Why are buffoons in charge of our discourse? In case readers werent sure which buffoon Parker meant, a photograph of Donald Trump appeared above her headline. As Parker started, she sketched her very good question in a bit more detail:
Parker was asking good questions. That said, she quickly wandered off course with an unfortunate rumination about the presidents late mother. She also wasted time wondering why Obama released his long form when he didwhy he didnt do it sooner. Parker failed to establish a basic fact: In the summer of 2008, Obama released his sole legal birth documentthe document any Hawaiian gets when he asks for his birth certificate.
Obama did do that, three years sooner. It doesnt make sense to ask that question while withholding that fact.
In these ways, Parker pretty much bungled her columns middle passage. But her basic questions are very strong. We think they deserve to be answered.
Why is our discourse driven by buffoons? Why do so many voters believe so many ludicrous claims? When exactly did we the people become so freakin crazy? These are three different questionsbut each of these questions deserves to be answered. And in the current context, these questions connect to one more:
What role has race been playing in the ludicrous claims about Obama? Many people, especially Republicans, tell pollsters they believe these claims. What role has race played in the way this crazed faction has thus lost its mind?
This questionthe question of racehas been raised by many liberal observers. For one example out of many, lets return to last Thursdays New York Times editorial.
A Certificate of Embarrassment, the headline said. The president is finally forced to react to a preposterous political claim about his birth.
Obama had just released his long form documenta document the editors couldnt even describe correctly. That said, one part of their headline was plainly true: Barack Obama had in fact responding to a preposterous claim. But even if these journalistic stars couldnt establish the facts of the case, they felt quite certain about the motives which lay behind this vast nonsense. In the following passage, they described three motives, then advanced what we would call a semi-preposterous claim:
To adopt the language of Parkers column: Why had members of this crazed faction lost their minds in this matter? The editors listed three reasons; the most insidious reason was race. They said it was inconceivable that a campaign like the recent campaign against Obama would have been conducted against a white president.
This raises the question we will explore in this special report. Simply put: Is the recent nonsense about Obama the same as other political nonsense? Or is it essentially different? Surely, even these hapless editors understand a basic fact: Ludicrous claims have been raised against all presidential-level Democrats in the past several decades. This dates back to (take your choice) Bill Clinton or Michael Dukakis.
Are the ludicrous claims about Obama the same as those earlier ludicrous claims? Or are they in some way different? And is it absurd to think that claims like these would be advanced against a white president?
For ourselves, we would argue that these recent claims dont differ much from those earlier claims. We would argue that they are the same much more than they are than different.
How would you rate the recent nonsense? Is it the same as previous nonsense, or is it essentially different? We think the evidence favors the former, but lazy white liberalsand low-IQ editorshave lost their minds just a little bit too.
This represents a very large problem for the progressive enterprise.
Tomorrowpart 2: Candidate Dukakis was un-American. Candidate Kerry was French.