RUN, TRUMP, RUN! Chris Matthews urged The Donald to run. Why in the world would he do that? // link // print // previous // next //
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 20, 2011
The Miller likes false tales: Lets be clear: Laura Miller isnt a political writer. According to her bio at Salon, she is one of the sites co-founders and a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review, where she wrote the Last Word column for two years. At Salon, she mainly writes about booksa very good thing to do.
(Admittedly, books can take too long. And they can be hard.)
Miller isnt a political writer. But we were intrigued by her take on the flap about Three Cups of Tea, especially by her attitude about the role played by false tales.
Three Cups of Tea has been a very big book. Its author, Greg Mortenson, has now been charged with lying and misuse of money. According to Miller, It's unfortunate that the Mortenson affair is being presented as a publishing scandal rather than a philanthropic one, because the case against the author (the lying) is less compelling than the case against the nonprofit director (the cheating).
Just to be clear, Mortenson is both the author and the nonprofit director in that construction.
Miller seems to believe that Mortenson has lied and that he has misused money. For ourselves, we express no view on either score. But given the political history of the past twenty years, we were struck by Millers thoughts about Mortensons alleged lying. She doesnt think its that big a deal. In this passage, she starts to explain:
To Miller, its largely OK if Mortenson liedif he invented stories which never occurred. Its OK if Mortenson because his lies served a good cause. We find that notion a bit strange on its facepresumably, many political liars think their lies are serving good causesbut we were especially struck by the semi-fatuous nature of Millers rumination. According to Miller, Mortensons alleged lies were intended to present a reassuring picture of the world; they were intended to picture the world as a place where ordinary, well-meaning Americans can make a difference in the lives of poor Central Asians. To Miller, heartwarming anecdotes come with the territory. She seems to applaud the idea that non-fiction writing should ape the happily-ever-after endings of romantic comedies.
Does this picture even make sense on its own terms? In one alleged lie from his second book, Mortenson allegedly concocted a story in which he was kidnapped at gunpoint by the Taliban! In what way could such a heartwarming story further a reassuring picture in which all people are fundamentally the same? Would this story make ordinary Americans want to rush off to help Central Asians? But lets set aside the particulars of these alleged lies. As she continues, Miller enters a rather childish terrain:
That strikes us as strikingly fatuous. But heres the larger problem:
Unfortunately, our national discourse has been driven by invented stories over the past twenty years. Some of these stories were invented to advance the greatness of certain pols (John McCain). Some of these stories were invented to demonize certain others (Bill Clinton, Al Gore). Many of these invented stories were constructed to feature symbols of plucky American virtue, thereby advancing good causes.
Do you like symbols of plucky? Various crackpot Clinton-accusers were endlessly hailed for their plucky virtues on endless cable programs. And lets be frank: If these crackpots and their various handlers had to massage some facts into a better story in order to create sentimental enthusiasm for his cause, many of their fans were more than willing to give them that! Example: Chris Matthews was more than willing to ignore the massaged facts of Kathleen Willey and Gennifer Flowers. After all, his darlings were loaded with plucky virtue! Their massaged facts created great stories! This created sentimental enthusiasm for their cause!
Good God. Our nation had been turned upside down by several decades of false tales. And yet, at the top of the liberal heap, we keep saying this: Bring them on! By the way: If Mortenson can make up stories to serve his good cause, doesnt everyone have to make up stories? Its a bit like steroid use: How can other good causes compete if they dont invent wild tales?
Basically, Miller likes these false stories, since they serve a very good cause. But how are they different from Donald Trumps tales if you dont like Barack Obama? How are they different from that Love Story talethe tale Dowd and Rich once dreamed up?
Eventually, is anything true? To answer that, just look around.
People have always loved stories. For example, Jesus explained things through stories; in the entire New Testament, you wont find a single graph. At bedtime, children say, Tell me a story. We doubt any parent has ever said this: Go brush your teeth and get into bed. Ill come and tell you some facts.
Several hundred years ago, Europeans announced a new age of reason. Truthfully, the basic concept pretty much never took hold.
RUN, TRUMP, RUN (permalink): Did you think you lived in rational, post-Enlightenment world?
Last night, Chris Matthews gave you a chance to rethink that idea. At the end of Hardball, he urged Donald Trump to stage a full run for the White House. He did this despite the weeks of ridicule he has dumped on Trumps head.
Why in the world would Matthews do that? Late in the hour, he teased his closing segment:
The Christopher was going to challenge The Donald! And sure enough! As he closed his program, the challenge was clear. Run, Trump, Run, he said:
Lets be honest, Matthews said at one pointand its one of his rarest suggestions. But rather plainly, Matthews has now urged Donald Trump to stage a full run for the White House.
Astonishing, isnt it? Trump is a full-blown, balls-out buffoonthe rather obvious heir to Mark Twains touring tragedians. In just the past month, he has spread the ugliest kinds of garbage around the political world. Presumably, he has lied through his teeth in the process. He has made an utter fool of himself when asked to discuss real issues. (New example below.)
But so what? Yesterday morning, David Brooks gazed to the ledge. He said he wouldnt want to live in a country which didnt have people like Trump around. And twelve hours later, our biggest cable news buffoon took a similar route:
Run, Donald, Run, Matthews said.
In a rational world, last nights challenge couldnt have happened. Lets get clear why not:
First, you have Trumps massive buffoonism concerning public policy matters. Last night, Matthews devoted his lengthy opening segment to Trumps latest attempt to answer policy questions. Chris asked his long-time enabler, Joan Walsh, to help him batter The Donald.
Given videotape like this, the assignment wasnt real hard. Trump had spoken with NBCs Savannah Guthrie that morning. Gaze on the latest work of a flat balls-out buffoon:
To Trump, this was a very unique way of asking about abortion rights. Does Donald Trump know about Roe. v. Wade? As the great man put it himself: Yeah. Right. Sure.
Just a guess: Most Americans wouldnt know how the right to privacy connects to questions about abortion. But most Americans arent running for president. This big circus clown is.
At any rate, Matthews spent his entire first segment ridiculing Trumps policy ignorance and his ridiculous flip-flops. Then too, Matthews has spent the past many nights battering Trump for his birther campaign; just last night, he spent parts of three separate segments on this topic. Chris has never done a good enough job with this topic. But in recent weeks, he has been building his program around the foolishness of Trumps birtherism.
But so what? At the end of last nights show, Matthews urged Trump to stage a full run for the White House! The best he could manage about Trumps ugly lying was this (see above): I dont like what he said about the president. Ive made that clear enough here and will keep on doing it.
Why would Matthews urge The Donald to run? Hints of the answer ran all through last nights Hardball. But in the next hour, on the Cenk Uygur show, the answer came through loud and clear.
Uygur, who isnt like Matthews, opened his show with Trumps birtherism, just as Matthews had done. Eventually, Pat Buchanan drew the curtain back:
During the full discussion, Bill Press misstated the facts on the long form matter, then blamed the explosion of this topic on Trump and other Republicans. But Buchanan seemed to draw back the curtain a tad. MSNBC loves the issue, he said. And everybody seems to be having a nice time.
According to Buchanan, he has never raised the issuebut the corporate channel keeps asking him to discuss it. Meanwhile, is it true? Is everyone having a nice time discussing Trumps birther bile? Youll note the Laughter that broke out when Buchanan made his first observation. And to our ears, a lot of pickin and grinnin occurred on Monday nights Hardball, when two of Matthews very best boys helped him discuss the topic.
Theres nothing wrong with discussing this topic; in fact, we think its important. But why on earth did Matthews challenge Trump to run for the White House? Just a guess, but its an obvious guess: Trumpism is good for businessand its easy to discuss. Because Trump is such a massive buffoon, he lets Matthews stage the brainless discussions he has always revered.
During Campaign 2000, Matthews invented a big buffoon, presumably at the direction of his owner, Jack Welch. That big buffoon was Candidate Gore, who didnt know who he is and had hired a woman to help him be a man. That big buffoon didnt have his gender straight; he was this protean new person, this new todays man-woman, whatever the hell he's trying to become. For the alleged buffoon named Candidate Gore, Naomi Wolf was the political equivalent of viagra; Gore was wearing three-button suits as some sort of sexual signal to women. Gore was Bill Clintons bathtub ring, as Matthews said on at least forty Hardball programs. Candidate Gore would lick the bathroom floor to be president.
Matthews kept that up for two years. Joan Walsh, David Corn and Josh Marshall kept their traps shut tight as the jihad rolled on. During that two-year period, Matthews was also trashing Candidate Hillary Clinton in the vilest possible ways. At one point, he gave Gennifer Flowers a full half hour to discuss the Clintons murders.
Joan, Josh and David kept still.
In short, Matthews very much enjoys discussing buffoonish characters. They make his program stupid and easy; he can conduct the same discussions night after night after night. Starting in March 1999, he invented a major buffoon; now, he has one ready-made. And the other candidates are so boring! Here was this leading cultural criminal baring his soul last night:
The other hopefuls are just so boring! Matthews pretended that he was discussing the thinking of major Republicans. But if youve watched our cable journalism down through the years, it would be hard to avoid the thought that he was discussing his own preference.
Almost surely, Matthews wants to talk about Trump because the regular candidates are too boring! (Even Palin has fizzled.) Simply put, big buffoons love other big buffoons; they enjoy discussing such people, and Trump is probably quite good for ratings. And so, we reached that puzzling moment, when Chris Matthews bared his own soul:
Run, Donald, Run, Matthews imploredhaving spent the past several weeks calling Trump a buffoon.
Do you live in a rational world? In just one day, David Brooks said he couldnt stand life itself if people like Trump werent around. Later, Matthews trashed Trump for the full hour, then implored him to run! In a rational world, these things couldnt happen but you live in a different place. Mark Twain drew a comical portrait of your world a great many years ago.
Tomorrow, well speak a bit more about the way Matthews has been discussing Trumpism. But for today, lets get clear on one point:
Over the past dozen years, no one has done more harm to progressive interests than Matthews has done. Joan Walsh, David Corn and Josh Marshall have enabled this buffoon every step of the way.
Heres how he closed that segment: Why does Matthews want Trump to run? This is the way he closed his segment with the twins Fineman/Cillizza:
Its easy to talk about Donald Trump! Chris could keep it up all night! Just as it was easy and fun to talk about the bathtub ringto talk about todays man-woman, the invented buffoon who would lick the floor, who didnt know who he was.