Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chuck Todd Skeert Stephen Colbert Will "Marginalize" The Republican Party

As MSNBC consumers we must endure Chuck Todd, their "political director" (a meaningless title, truly) and his trusted iPad taking incoming direct hits from CNN's John King. By ideological disposition Chuck should be working for FOX rather than crunching political numbers (OK) at MSNBC while carrying water for the Republican Party (not OK) every chance he gets. But the Republican Establishment may not be so monolithic after all. Evidently, Chuck missed his pick-up hoops game with Republican strategist John Feehery, hence he didn't get the memo, so to speak.

In a rare outside "the office" moment, Todd let his guard down giving us a rare glimpse inside the peculiar and bizarre mind of the Idiot Punditocracy. Commenting on Stephen Colbert's SuperPac shenanigans in South Carolina, whose "schtick" as Chuck puts it is training a spotlight on the madness of unlimited anonymous money in politics, Chuck allowed as it was a "noble" effort, then followed up with this jaw-dropping assertion:
"He is making a mockery of the system ... it feels as if he's trying to influence it with his own agenda, that may be anti-Republican ... it's almost as if he's also doing his best to marginalize the Republican candidates in a way in which we're spinning that marginalization ... We in the "mainstream media" need to be careful and wonder what is he up to, what is his main agenda? Is it to educate the public about the dangers of money in politics and what's going on, or is it simply to marginalize the Republican Party? And so I think if I were a Republican candidate I’d be concerned about that."
Excuse me? First of all, Chuck, the obvious question comes to mind: We know it's a farce, but whatever happened to your professional "objectivity" with its customary obsequious fawning to the criminal element (mostly Republican) you cover: "Is it fair to say" this, that or the other? Secondly, what's this revolting obsession of yours with defending the honor of that "shrinking violet" as Michael Steele might put it, ironically of course, known as the Republican Party? Your pal, John Feehery, isn't scared of Stephen Colbert's comedy and neither is Reince Priebus, RNC Chairman. It may be spin, but at the end of the night Colbert had no impact whatsoever on the South Carolina result. Third, this notion that a comedian has the power to "marginalize" the Republican Party is not only absurd; it's insane. And it's quite a typical manifestation of how the Beltway bubble distorts perspectives and worldviews of those who, like Todd, have spent literally their entire careers in that insular, incestuous, elitist media environment.

It's fascinating to me — and I use the word mockingly given its prominent station in the Beltway Media's Narcissists Dictionary — that Chuck should be such a worry wart regarding the "marginalization" of the Republican Party but not once pause to consider the facts on the ground: namely, where (1) money is the mother's milk of politics; and (2) the sweeping Republican wins of 2010, orgasmically reported by Todd, were in no small measure bankrolled by Citizen's United which rendered the Democratic Party significantly less competitive against the likes of the Koch brothers and anonymous billionaire donors — consequently (3) the radical assault by Republican governors on voting rights, unions (the major source of financing for Democrats) coupled with collective bargaining, gerrymandering, and ballot restrictions, has threatened not only to "marginalize" the Democratic Party but outright destroy it as a viable political institution.

And for someone who "idolizes" our government institutions, where's the love not only for this nation's but the world's oldest existing political party, the Democratic Party? Where is Chuck's vaunted idolatry for tradition, now? Somehow, I don't think Chuck has ever corrected his Republican pals when they referred to the Democratic Party as the "democrat party." Indeed, it's fascinating to me how worried the Idiot Punditocracy is about process and preserving the integrity of a "system" that is rotten to the core, while being so blissfully unaware of the historical perspective.

It might surprise Chuck to know that American history is replete with examples of comedians satirizing the political process by running as fake candidates for political office, notably for president. Will Rogers ran a fake presidential campaign in 1928 with the pledge that if elected, he would resign. Gracie Allen ran for president in 1940 on the Surprise Party ticket. Pat Paulsen, a Smothers Brothers (60s cousin to Stewart and Colbert) Comedy Hour regular was a perennial presidential candidate in 1968, 1972, 1980, 1988, 1992 and 1996, actually getting votes. Comedian Dick Gregory ran for president in 1968 as a write-in candidate for the Freedom and Peace Party, receiving 47,097 votes including one from Hunter S. Thompson. Howard Stern entered the New York gubernatorial race as a Libertarian candidate in a stunt that shook up the race and parallels the Colbert run. He dropped out when a financial disclosure issue came up, ironically enough, without ever disclosing whether or not his was a legitimate run.

So relax already, Chuckles; your fears are unfounded. Here's Toddy committing hilarious self-parody: 
"I enjoy the parody, I enjoy the satire, but I have to admit I’m uncomfortable when it’s, like, actually merging into the real world. If that makes sense. It’s sort of like I don’t know, as William Hurt said in Broadcast News,“you tell me we’re crossing the line; they keep moving the sucker!”..."
Chuckles goes into this whole hand-wringing schtick about parody and satire "actually merging into the real world" ... then quotes a Hollywood actor in a movie drama about the media business to illustrate his discomfort with parody and satire actually merging into the real world!

Here's Chuckles being defensive and totally condescending toward Stewart and Colbert:
"Both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have this ability to want to mock us in the media, all the time, claiming we don’t do our jobs, and then when you call them out they say we’re just comedians. Actually no, you’re not anymore! YOU are mocking what we’re doing and you want a place in this, then you’re gonna also be held accountable for how you cover and how you do your jobs!"
Aww ... Chuckles is so offended that a couple of comedians have the unmitigated GALL to mock such an important member of the Fourth Estate, trivializing the vital work he does on behalf of the public. (Wagging finger like Rachel) "YOU are mocking what we’re doing and you want a place in this, then you’re gonna also be held accountable for how you cover and how you do your jobs!" Wow, and here I thought this was all about our sublime, commanding, magnificent, arresting, institutions of government. Instead, we learn that Chuckles is actually, really, like upset that a couple of comedians managed to finagle their way into his exclusive little club through the back door. Right back at ya, Toddy. You can't see this, so just imagine it — we're flippin' the bird at you.

Funny thing is, I came close to agreeing with Chuckles on one issue had he not so strenuously reverted to whiny Beltwayspeak. Chuckles said, "I was very offended when (Colbert) testified on Capitol Hill in character. I was more offended that members of Congress allowed him to do that. He is making a mockery of the system." What bothered me is that Stephen Colbert submitted a straightforward written testimony then departed from the script to turn his testimony on the plight of migrant farm workers into a comedy sketch. He disrespected Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a good person, who had invited him to testify before the subcommittee she chaired. It's exceedingly rude when you're someone's guest to embarrass them in that way. 

So yeah, I'm not a big Stephen Colbert fan. But rest easy, Chuckles. He is no liberal much less a Democrat. Stephen Colbert is a libertarian court jester who will stick it to both parties. I actually think he did more harm to the Democratic Party then, with statements like, "I'm not a fan of the government doing anything. But I've got to ask, why isn't the government doing anything? ... Like most members of Congress, I haven't read the bill." Then using his celebrity to endorse Republicans as the midterms approached, with "I endorse all Republican policies without question." 

Indeed, Toddy's worries that Colbert is "doing his best to marginalize the Republican candidates in a way in which we're spinning that marginalization" are misplaced. But our suspicions that Chuckles is totally in the tank for his precious Republican Party are not. By the way, "parodyzing" is not a word; parodying is. And here perhaps you might want to say exacerbate — "I think this is going to exasperate the process" — Freudian slip.

We're not tourists, Chuck. We're citizens. We're not here to take a virtual tour of Washington's institutions, to gaze upon marble statues, heroic frescoes on the Capitol Rotunda, and words carved in stone with Chuck Toddy as our idolatrous tour guide. Sure, it's nice, and the thing to do if you've never been to D.C. But our institutions of government aren't museums to be fiercely defended by gatekeepers like Chuckles, who get to decide who is worthy of access and who, like Stephen Colbert, is not. These institutions Chuck idolizes are not just monuments of stone and marble. They belong to We, The People. They are us.

You need to get out more, Bubble-Boy. Seriously.

If the present Congress errs in too much talking, how can it be otherwise in a body to which the people send one hundred and fifty lawyers, whose trade it is to question everything, yield nothing, and talk by the hour?

Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories.

~ Thomas Jefferson

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