Wednesday, October 22, 2008

the rules changed

I watched Friday's appearance by soon-to-be-former Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann on Chris Matthews' "Hardball" in real time with absolute amazement at the scene that unfolded before my eyes.

Bachmann, for whom I have had a long personal revulsion as a result of her support for teaching religious dogma in schools instead of the scientific fact of evolution, has suffered dramatically since her nine-minute, McCarthyesque rant against Barack Obama's "anti-Americanism," even to the point of having her previously unthreatening opponent in the coming elections suddenly having over a million dollars of new contributions in a few days and rising dramatically in the polls, and she was also informed by the NRCC today that they were withdrawing financial support for her Minnesota campaign today. She has been backpedalling furiously since she appeared on MSNBC on Friday, but her political career has suffered the worst implosion since the submarine Thresher sank in 1963.

Her main strategy for getting out of the hole she dug herself into on Friday is claiming that she had never seen "Hardball" before, and didn't realize that Chris Matthews was going to set a "trap" for her by letting her speak uninterrupted and even offering her the chance to walk back her accusations while she was spouting them. Bachmann said "I just didn’t recognize — I never watched the Chris Matthews show before. I should have before I went on. I didn’t recognize that he would lay a trap the way that he did."


In a way, she's got a point.

Think about it. Ever since President Clinton was in office, the cable television news has been a place where the right wing could go to say anything they wanted about other Americans - as long as they were "liberals" or "democrats." The Clintons were accused of murdering people and running drug cartels, Gore was called a liar despite all evidence pointing to the falsity of that claim, Kerry was accused of shooting himself for a Purple Heart, and the list of hits goes on and on and on.

On virtually every political cable television news show for the last fifteen years, republicans would sit down with the interviewer, and they would spew a barrage of slanderous vomit about their own countrymen, labeling liberals as treasonous and complicit in a plot to destroy the United States of America, and were never challenged on that point.

As a matter of fact, more often than not, they were not only not challenged, but were actually encouraged to go farther and farther by their hosts. To this day, it's a staple of the FOX "news" channel. Right-wing authoritarian sits down with Sean Hannity and screeches out a diatribe against "libruls." Hannity asks a question that is just an invitation for the guest to ramp up the invective, and the guest is delighted to cooperate. Hannity throws in a few verbal co-signs, ("you're so right") and invites a further escalation of the rhetoric. After a few rounds of this game, both of them climax, shake each other's sweaty, sticky hand, and after a commercial break, the next guest appears to perform the same dance. Rinse and repeat.

So, if you watch the video of Bachmann's bout with Tweety, you'll realize that he is asking her the same exact kind of questions that hitherto had been tacit invitations to move up a rung on the invective ladder.


It really sucks when the rules get changed on you in the middle of the game, doesn't it? Believe me, we former anti-americans know it does.


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