Using the word “human” and Mitt Romney in the same sentence is such a weird concept that his campaign’s mission is to “humanize” him. When the man is a 1 percenter who brags of joy in firing people, describes corporations as people, and needs an elevator for his cars, it’s a tough order. Not everyone comes to comedy naturally – like Sarah Palin.
“BARACK OBAMA REPORTING FROM CAPITOL HILL” – Every politician will run afoul of evil video or audio tape. The good ones will get the hang of it and mostly stay off the Daily Show, the bad ones will get virtually bludgeoned on the evening news.
Six years after noted grifter and late Alaska Senator Ted Stevens showed his impeccable technology credentials by likening the Internet to a “series of tubes”, our erstwhile Presidential nominees struggle with the most basic pre-21st Century gadgets. Gadgets like cameras and audio tape. This is a disturbing trend for a gaggle of walking egos intent on becoming the most audio and video-taped person on the planet.
I’m not really a pundit, I just play one on the web. And on occasion, commensurate with my faux punditly duties, I write a parody post. I may do this as a commitment to one of my core principles, “Scorn is mightier than ignorance”, or I might be bored or ready for a rant or just because I want to have a little fun – a pundit’s work is never done.
However, one of the consistent things about these parodies is that they always draw some proportion of people who actually believe them. One a few months back required me to add a disclaimer for fear open warfare would break out between the people who believed it was real and defended its “truth” and the people who believed it was real and tried to refudiate it.
Refudiate something that wasn’t true. Odd concept that.
Causing an Ideological War of the Worlds
I like to think I can sling a pithy narative as well as the next guy – certainly better than Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh – but, I find it hard to believe that my parodies are so great and realistic I might accidentally cause some sort of an ideological War of the Worlds.
I used to be mildly pleased by this. Ha ha, look how I pulled the wool over their eyes! It made me feel superior in the same way watching Jerry Springer makes me feel superior. I may be a goob, but at least I’m not an uber-goob who takes DNA tests to prove which of the 37 trailer park coquettes he’s been banging carries his child (it turns out about 34).
But as I rack up my tally of rubes, I’ve begun to wonder about the wider implications.
Our national discourse has become so rancorous and full of outright lies and gross distortions, you can’t even make things up anymore. People actually believed my piece on the affair between Suzanne Malveaux and George Bush. Ditto my recent piece covering the Tea Party’s outrage over Obama pardoning Thanksgiving terror turkeys.
This may explain the popularity of The Daily Show or Stephen Colbert‘s testimony to Congress. We know people watch those shows for their news, but the assumption that viewers understand they’re seeing imaginary news may be too broad.
The REAL Thanksgiving
Even when people watch mainstream news outlets like Fox, their common sense takes a powder. As I write this, Rush Limbaugh is pontificating on how the Indians scammed us on Manhattan and the pilgrims failed because they were socialists, a view supported by an honest to God US Congressman.
There was a day when that would’ve caused most people to shake their heads and think, “DAMN, there are a lot of imbeciles.” These days it draws a yawn, and in a truly troubling number of cases, more people who believe the blatant fantasies.
One of the core principles of the Founding Fathers was that of a well informed electorate. For example, believing horses could talk would at least cause the Founders to question your critical thinking skills. Today, pro-horse talking and anti-horse talking factions would form, there would be rancorous debate, and new laws enacted that both forbade and supported talking horses as a dozen different talking horse lobbies demanded.
We may have become too stupid and gullible to vote, particularly when the people we vote into office think the pilgrims failed because they were socialists. I’m tempted to write a parody about this, but it’s impossible.
There’s not enough believable reality left to craft a decent faux reality.
- Stossel: Pilgrims Failed At Socialism [Video] (realestateradiousa.com)
- Rush Limbaugh Outraged Obama’s Thanksgiving Declaration Thanks Native Americans (mediaite.com)
- The Thanksgiving Wars? Just Say No (themoderatevoice.com)
- Rush Limbaugh: “Keep Your Hands Off My Teabag, Mr. President” (mediaite.com)
- Limbaugh Attacks Obama For Honoring Native Americans; Ridicules Them (alan.com)
- The Right Word: a lot of hot air | Sadhbh Walshe (guardian.co.uk)
- Rush Limbaugh: Harry Reid Is The Lucifer To The President’s ‘Imam Obamadinejad’ (mediaite.com)
- Why we trust and respect Oprah and Larry King and not Dr. Laura or Rush Limbaugh (psychologytoday.com)
- Entertainment Weekly Parodies Infamous New Yorker Cover [Magazines] (gawker.com)
- ‘Baracka Flacka Flames’ parody causes heated debate (thegrio.com)
- LISTEN: Limbaugh Rips Obama’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, Calls ‘Scoreboard’ On Native American Deaths (huffingtonpost.com)
Given the plethora of political pinheads roaming the streets and licking babies this year, it’s a several times daily thing when one says or does something incredibly stupid. When you speechify for a living things like that will happen, but this is an amazingly talented bunch when it comes to crapping in their own rhetorical mess kits.
When something goes awry, the tried and true tactic is for the candidate – or some unlucky bastard of a surrogate – to come out and explain why what they said isn’t really what they said, even though they said it in front of several thousand people, while being broadcast on 144 channels around the globe, and Jon Stewart is playing it unedited and nonstop for nigh onto a month.
Sometimes the stupid statement is so egregious and unmistakable there is no way to explain it away. In those cases, the candidate usually runs away and refuses to give interviews.
Being ‘Cracker Lite’ is All the Rage
It’s one thing to be aggressively ignorant, but it’s another to run from who you are and what you say.
Perhaps the most common scenario lately involves racism. Racism is hard to prove, but it’s like porn – you know it when you see – at least if you’re honest about it.
Provable or not, there are a lot more cases of possible racism now that all the angry white guys are trying to get back in with the voters and there’s an African American in the White House. It’s fashionable to be “cracker lite” these days. I vaguely recall that when George the Indifferent was President few people said things about him being dumb white cracker from Texas or question whether he was a closet Muslim, Kenyan escapee, or a socialist far to the left of Uncle Fidel. But now, mysteriously, these things keep happening and keep being denied.
Not all racially-tinged speech or behavior is clearly racist. Sometimes people just don’t think before they talk. Not all Tea Partiers are racists, although statistically there does seem to be a dearth of color at their rallies. Face it, if you were black, would you go to a rally with a bunch of people with whom you vehemently disagree?
But sometimes, racism is unquestionable. I don’t believe that Sharron Angle, ignorant sow that she is, would say something like the clearly Latino people in her anti-immigration ads (BTW, since yanked from the web over copyright claims) possibly being Asians who cross the border from Canada, and then imply she is all Asiany herself…to a room full of Latinos. You don’t say things like that unless you are clearly and stupidly trying to draw attention away from your own asshatted agenda – at the expense of an ethnic group – or you really believe that claptrap.
Though granted it could be one or the other or both in Sharron’s case.
Then, there’s the case of David Bartholomew, Virginia Beach Republican party chair. He emailed a “joke” about a man trying to get welfare benefits for his dog.
The Lazy Black Dog Jumped Over the Fat White Cracker
“My Dog is black, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English, and has no frigging clue who his Daddy is,” goes the punchline. When called on it by some GOP bigs, Dipshit Dave resigned and hid in an undisclosed location to keep the email from becoming a “distraction”. To their credit, several Republicans spoke against the hate message.
But one, Gary Byler, a congressional district chair, left no doubt where he stood. Byler said he was “horrified” by the email, but that didn’t stop him from sticking his own racist boot in his mouth by saying Diamond Dave forwarded the email when, “he was first getting familiar with the Internet.” Losing a document is something a newbie does, sending racist emails “accidentally”? Not so much.
There were other apologists too. Independent candidate and former GOP swell, Kenny Golden, said Bartholomew was being thrown under the bus too quickly. “David would never do something like that on purpose.” Several GOPstoppers thought the Democrats were at fault for “blowing the email out of proportion.” And one suggested, “Oh, absolutely they are!” she said it was possible Bartholomew sent the email “for awareness,” what she characterized as “sending it to somebody and saying ‘look how pathetic people think this is.’”
Oh, heavens to Betsy!
Here’s the thing. If you say racist things and can’t come up with a better excuse than the dog ate my concept of equality, don’t say them. Better yet, if you say racist things, own up to them and don’t offer excuses.
Hell, there’s not even any reason to resign. Be a modern day David Duke. Stand up and be a proud racist. Tell people that darkies just aren’t for you. It’s the best PR move you could make.
If you’re pandering to racists, they’ll be happy to have you join the club. If not, voters will see you for who you are, not withstanding your hiding out with The Big Dick™ at the Undisclosed Quail Hunting Ranch and Whiskey Emporium. As Ben Franklin once said, “If you must fart, fart proudly.”
“If you must be a bigot, be a proud bigot.” We’ll all be happier.
- Virginia Beach GOP chairman agrees to resign after hitting ‘forward’ and ‘send’ on a racist e-mail (pinkbananaworld.com)
- The Southern Strategy lives (washingtonmonthly.com)
- NV-Sen: Arpaio rallies Angle’s racist vote (dailykos.com)
- Darryl: Racist Email Flap Blows Up Virgina Beach GOP | TPMDC (tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com)
CNN’s Rick Sanchez decided to go toe-to-toe with faux newser Jon Stewart and suffered the same fate as the last CNNer to do so – Tucker Carlson. However in the aftermath, we have a sort of “how many J-Words can dance on the tip of the tongue” argument brewing.
Stewart had been doing to Sanchez what he’s done to so many others for weeks – made fun of him. It’s the penalty one pays when one is famous and says dumb things. It’s all too easy for Stewart’s crack staff to find double-speak video and other public statements to hold crapweasels up to ridicule. I think Stewart’s brand of ridicule, despite its definite bite, is far less passionate than Keith Olbermann‘s skewers of the famous and inane. One gets the sense that Jon knows it’s a joke while Olbermann actually believes his targets are the Worst Persons in the World.
But then, I ain’t famous so what do I know?
If you live under the glare of studio lights and talk for a living – incessantly – you’ll punk yourself occasionally. It happens. And when it does, you have to either have a great sense of humor or develop tough skin, because the dumber you are, the more you’ll be held up to ridicule. Exhibits A-D, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Christine O’Donnell, and Sharron Angle, et al.
Sanchez’s skin is apparently as thin as John McTheusela’s, as is the skin of Sanchez’s CNN overlords. Sanchez let the J-Bombs fly, CNN fired him, he apologized to Stewart soon after and Jon and Rick rode into the sunset, at least if not BFFs, OK with things. And, Christopher Hitchens takes up Sanchez’s cause.
Hitchens? Really? Famous crusading atheist? Has cancer?
One in the same.
Hitchens argues that Sanchez’s anti-Jewish statements are literally true. Despite the anti-semitic overtones, he says Jews (along with white Christians) actually are disproportionately represented in media and entertainment boardrooms. To Hitchens, Sanchez simply stated a fact no more problematic than saying African Americans are under-represented. And as boneheaded as Hitchens often is, he has a point. But, it was never about THAT point and it isn’t a necessarily a socially polite thing to say.
It all boils down to a “who can safely say the N-word, or in this case, the J-word”. Sure, Sanchez was unbelievably stupid, but if we’re going to fire every TV personality who’s stupid, TV would consist of lots of HD snow and annoying test pattern buzz.
But, you could make an argument that would be an improvement.
Not a White Supremacist Candidate
I personally find Sanchez annoying and I suspect his assumed anti-semitism may be real to some degree, although, barring any information to the contrary, I’m not so sure he’d be a good candidate for your neighborly white supremacist enclave.
I don’t condone what he said. In fact, I don’t think it is as literally true as Hitchens does either. But, I’m not sure if it’s a firing offense when put in context.
Sanchez did the right thing in calling Stewart to apologize – though he wimped out by letting his wife announce it to the public on Facebook. Everyone might have been better served if the apology was both personal and public. A true mea culpa with some teeth – perhaps a show or series of shows devoted to anti-semitism coupled with some work with Jewish charities and up close and personal exposure to Jewish people. The Jewish religion believes in atonement, and this would be an earthly one to be sure, but atonement nonetheless.
If Sanchez refused to do these things, if his superiors had to co-opt him to do them – in a very public way – they, and those calling for his resignation, would have every right to say, “don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.” Or, if he did it again, ala Mel Gibson, away with him. No one has to cut the man some slack and some believe no one should.
But we might all learn a little about ourselves and each other if we did.
- Jon Stewart Responds To Rick Sanchez (buzzfeed.com)
- Dan Sweeney: It’s the Stupid, Stupid: Rick Sanchez Fired for the Wrong Reasons. (huffingtonpost.com)
- Rick Sanchez Melts Down, Says Jews Control the Media [Rants] (gawker.com)
- “Should Rick Sanchez Have Been Fired From CNN?” and related posts (vivirlatino.com)
- Jon Stewart, David Letterman mock Rick Sanchez (popwatch.ew.com)
- Beyond Rick Sanchez: Who should Jon Stewart fight with next? (latimesblogs.latimes.com)
- Jon Stewart: Rick Sanchez Could Replace Steve Carell on The Office (omg.yahoo.com)
- Hitchens calls on CNN to reinstate Sanchez (reuters.com)