I don't usually watch the convention coverage on PBS because Jim Lehrer could make a housefire boring. So I indulge in the cable news creeps, who sometimes entertain between the speeches.
Of course, I've long dismissed Fox News as comforter of morons—gee, I think it and so does a feller on TV, so it must be true!
And CNN is the Corporate News Network, so determinedly down the middle and robotically even-tempered that I always imagine Wolf Blitzer announcing that "the missiles [pause here for weirdly timed breath] will hit New York in three minutes. And you're [weirdly timed breath] in the Situation Room."
And now MSBNC, the channel I always turned to desperately during the primaries when my beloved Obama was losing on CNN—maybe he'd be winning on MSNBC!—now these goofs have gone completely off the rails.
MSNBC ranchorman (that's ranter/anchorman) Keith Olbermann has always been a lefty windbag, but he's awfully intelligent and some of his commentaries, humorless as they are, have carried valuable truth and rhetorical power, to my way of thinking.
As with all people who make their living on hyperbole and bombast, the danger is they lose their loose moorings and become caricatures of their own caricatures. Last night in "analyzing" Michelle Obama's speech, Olbermann lost me, and so did MSNBC.
Look, it was a fine speech. I think Michelle Obama's the bee's knees. I hope she and her husband rule the land for eight years. For Godsakes, I spent $300 and seven hours and on a train to catch a glimpse of Obama on Saturday. But even I could not have turned to my wife (who feels the same way about the Obamas) and said with a straight face what Olbermann said last night:
"That could not have done better for them. That could not have done
better for them. Right to the point of the little girls taking the
mikes away and suddenly turning out to be hams. It’s wonderful. It
really was terrific. And notice, did you notice throughout that,
especially as it built towards its conclusion, the woman in that
convention hall the ones we saw at leastwe can’t say every one but there
were tears throughout among the women. And it was not a maudlin
speech, it was not a salesmanship speech. There was just a—I know, I’m
beginning to sound borderline sycophantic on this. So I’ll stop. You
And with that, he turned it over to Chris Matthews, who didn't do what he ought to have done, which was to throw a cold glass of water in Olbermann's face and slap his cheek.
Enough of this clowning around. Jim Lehrer it is.
Post script. 9/8: Now see this. Not discussed in the story is the impact this particular blog post had on the demotions of Olbermann and Matthews.
I’ve always liked Lehrer, but then my need for (indeed, tolerance of) entertainment is pretty low . . .
Well, at least he knew enough to stop. Right?
(Paying no attention to politics now.)
k bosch says
Personally, I think Ms. Obama should’ve spent more time talking about Women’s Equality Day (88th Anniversary of Women’s right to vote), pay equity, reproductive rights, etc. rather than the same ol’ stuffy “I’m proud to be a mother in America” b.s. Disclaimer that I’m a Hillary convert, but seriously – she could and should have said more.
On another note: don’t dismiss MSNBC just yet. On Sept 8, a new host will be taking over the 9pm Dan Abrams slot. The new host is Rachel Maddow, political superstar and genius, who has been a host on the Air America radio station for the last couple years.
She’s also a lesbian (gasp!) – the community is ecstatic.
The full story: http://tvdecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/08/19/rachel-maddow-to-replace-dan-abrams-on-msnbc/
David Murray says
Yes, Maddow is good; and also, Abrams was tiresome! But these guys are going to lose what little audience they have if they blow hot left stuff. The left, for all its foibles, doesn’t go for that one-sided nonsense, which is why Air America is struggling while Rush and about a dozen other right-wing goofs rule.
Steve Crescenzo says
>>>>The left, for all its foibles, doesn’t go for that one-sided nonsense<<<< HA HA HA HA HA HA HA H AH AH AH AH H A HA HA HA HA AH AH AH AH AH AHA HA HA AH AH A A AH AH AH Thank you, David, for some much needed levity at the end of a long day. Steve C.
David Murray says
Okay, Steve, so why does the right dominate the political talk scene? Don’t you agree that lefties, because open-mindedness is an essential part of their self image, are somehow resistant to that “dittohead,” “you’re a great American” mentality that drives right-wing radio?
Oh, the left has it too. It’s just more subtle. It’s a smirk at anything remotely traditional or conservative – a condescending dismissal of anything “other” than liberal thinking. Yes, my friend, it’s there.
David Murray says
Tell me the last time you were so smirked at.
1. Yes, I’m challenging you, in hopes that maybe you just FEEL smirked at but can’t name a time you actually WERE smirked at.
2. If you do come up with a smirking incident, it’s bound to be entertaining.
Come on, Eileen: Put up or smirk up.
Okay, here goes nothing. When Oregon was voting for same sex marriage, we were against it. When my neighbor, a very outspoken liberal lawyer, asked why, I started to explain my thinking: If we okay same sex marriage today, what is going to stop men who are part of a group that promotes sex with minor boys (Man Boy Love or some such name – can’t remember) to say that their relationships should be a legal form of “marriage?” My argument was that it was a slipperly slope. Or let’s say my husband died early, and I asked my sister to move in with us to help with the kids. What’s to keep us from arguing that she should get my health benefits like any other spouse? That seems absurd to me, but you can bet that’s what would happen.
Before I even got that out, he smirked and said, “YOu have no idea what you’re talking about.” Excuse me? I indeed do have some idea or I wouldn’t have an opinion. I would simply say, “I don’t know enough to speak on that subject.” That’s what I experience from liberals on a regular basis. The assumption that I’m a loud-mouth country bumpkin who hasn’t a clue.
David – I am a liberal. In fact, I’m just this side of being a “bleeding-heart” liberal but even I recognize that Liberals can be just as condescending, knee-jerk and rigid with their opinions, and that they can “massage” facts and situations to frame them in a more reasonable sounding way, as can the folks on the right.
I offer two examples: Michael Moore and Ariana Huffington. While I may agree with many of their underlying opinions on issues, I do not necessarily applaud the manner in which they present said opinions.
As to Eileen and her smirk story, I have only this to say – rude is rude no matter which side of the aisle you sit on! You cannot ask someone their opinion and then proceed to steam-roll over them when they attempt to give that opinion.
This sort of behaviour is boorish, small and ignorant, and does a disservice to those of us who try to create a genuine dialogue with those we disagree with on important issues.
In fact, I don’t think its overstaing things to say that the future of our civilization depends on the possibility that we can learn to have rational, respectful discussions even when we disagree.
k bosch says
This is a tangent from the original topic of this blog, but I can’t let it go.
Most of society at one time believed that interracial marriage was a “slippery slope.” Now in 2008, can you imagine the outcry if we didn’t allow it? And, when civil rights were finally accepted, did we suddenly see widows trying to pass their sisters as their spouse for health insurance? Or for that matter, people wanting to marry their dogs (like we hear from good ‘ol conservatives today)?
Furthermore, putting gay marriage rights together in the same context with pedophilia is ignorant and offensive. Shame on you.
This is the type of stuff liberals smirk at – happily.
Steve Crescenzo says
>>>>Don’t you agree that lefties, because open-mindedness is an essential part of their self image<<<< Says who? Some of the liberals I hang out with are the most close-minded people I know. And I know some so-called "conservatives" who are pretty open-minded on many things. There are close-minded knee jerks all over the political spectrum, on both sides. I don't consider myself a liberal or a conservative (voted for Clinton both times, voted for the first George Bush, voted for W the first time, but not the second. Voting for McCain this time, unless he picks a religious wingnut as his VP, in which case I guess I'll vote Libertarian) . . . but, to my way of thinking, someone such as yourself, who is constantly declaring himself a "lefty" or a "liberal" or some other label, is usually an indication that you are pretty set in your views. And to some people, that might be considered close minded.
David Murray says
Steve, I think explained pretty thoroughly why I call myself a liberal, here:
“voted for Clinton both times, voted for the first George Bush, voted for W the first time, but not the second. Voting for McCain this time, unless he picks a religious wingnut as his VP, in which case I guess I’ll vote Libertarian”
What are you so proud of here? You vote like a drunkard.
David Murray says
Eileen, thanks for playing. While I feel about your opinion the same way Kirsten does, I agree with K Ridley that you deserved more than “You have no idea what you’re talking about.” You deserved an argument (like the one you got from Kirsten).
Eileen Burmeister says
Hmmm. I don’t believe I did get an argument from K Bosch, but a slap down for feeling the way I do and a “Shame on you.” Not my idea of an argument.
Ironically, I would have loved to start a discussion as her arguments were thought provoking, but after that last spanking, I think I won’t waste my time.
David Murray says
Well, Eileen, this is a question of style, of urgency. I agree that if KBosch wanted to engage you in a conversation, she wouldn’t have written, “shame on you.”
But consider her argument: She sees you as the equivalent to someone who doesn’t believe in interracial marriage.
How civil would YOU be to someone in a forum who believed that? How interested in dialogue would you be with that person?
Kristen Ridley, that’s why I think it’s more complicated than “civility” being the key to the future.
Some attitudes simply must be dismissed, or censured, because they are outlandish.
Which attitudes should be dismissed and which should be discussed Well, that’s DEFINITELY up for debate.
David – I think you’re wrong, because, unless you, K.Bosch or anyone else with “an” opinion on a contentious issue, have suddenly instituted a coup and taken over the running of the USA, you don’t have the POWER to simply “dismiss or censure” attitues!
In fact, there are large majorities of people (who also get to vote and elect representatives) that hold opinions you may disagree with and who are frequently more organized, more vocal and more active than many people with “liberal” sensibilities tend to be.
That is why I continue to believe that finding a way to actually HAVE discussions about these divisive issues – and I do mean discussions, not lectures, not diatribes, and not speeches – are the ONLY way we will even HOPE to avoid disaster.
Does that mean I think anyone should stop working to further the creation of the type of world they want to live in? NO.
Does that mean I necessarily believe that I can change the opinions of someone who feels differently, and strongly, about an issue than I do? NO.
Do I believe that I should actually LISTEN to the opinions of those people who feel differently than I do? YES. If for no other reason than that I cannot effectively work to either change their opinions, or at least effectively rebutt those opinions with people who MAY be on the fence about said issues, and who could be convinced if I demonstrate, in a calm, reasonable manner, why the other side’s opinion is not the way we ought to go.
Recriminations, disrespect and name-calling does absolutely nothing to further a cause, no matter WHICH side of an issue you sit on.
k bosch says
Honestly, it was never really my intention to engage in a discussion with Eileen about human rights. There is no discussion to be had here.
This is not a “liberal vs. conservative” issue for me. This is not about having a nice, gentle discussion over tea about “gee, do you think same-sex marriage should be legal?”
This is about my life. As a lesbian in a long-term relationship trying to start a family, I deal with people every single day that think I am less than them. People who stare at me for holding my partner’s hand walking down the street; people who think it’s ok to dismiss me from sharing the benefits of marriage, not the least of which is the ability to be seen as an EQUAL member of society. Telling someone they don’t deserve the same rights as you is a sure way to stir up a revolution.
We had to have an entire war to abolish slavery. Alice Paul and several other courageous women were tortured in prison for simply wanting the right to vote. Do you think Rosa Parks could’ve accomplished anything by sitting down to have a rational discussion with a group of white leaders?
So Kristen, it IS more complicated than civility being the key to the future, as Dave said. As nice as it would have been, human rights were not accomplished in our history by having discussions or by demonstrating in a “calm, reasonable manner.”
First off K. Bosch, I understand and respect your passion on this issue, and, just for the record, I am fully in favour of legalizing same sex marriage, in fact I live in a province in Canada where it IS legal and I have same-sex friends who are married.
My question to you, in response to your statement:
“…human rights were not accomplished in our history by having discussions or by demonstrating in a “calm, reasonable manner.”
…is this – what do you feel you accomplished, except perhaps feeling better by speaking your truth (a reasonable thing), by telling Eileen “Shame on you” here on David’s blog?
I’m missing how this furthers your objective, at least part of which I presume, is to increase the number of people working to legalize same-sex marriage?
If you speak WITH, instead of AT, people who either don’t currently support your perspective on this issue, or who are undecided, you have the potential to convince them of the validity of your views and gain the political clout that comes in numbers that, let’s face it, is what you need to make this change happen.
All I’m suggesting is that there is value in creating a dialogue about contentious issues. You don’t LOSE anything by having such discussions, and you also don’t GAIN anything helpful to your cause by just lecturing people who disagree with you.
k bosch says
Kristen, I’m glad your same-sex friends have you to speak positively on their behalf.
To answer your question “what do you feel you accomplished”:
1 – According to Eileen’s comments, I did seem to provoke some thought on the issue.
2 – I also seemed to piss her off, which wasn’t intentional, however understandable because let’s face it, nobody wants to be told “shame on you.”
What perhaps you don’t understand is that I had no intention of “furthering my objective” with my comments. Anyone that equates gay marriage with pedophilia is sure to be someone that I’m not likely to convert to my line of thinking. From my perspective, she was the person that isolated herself on the issue, not me.
I am faced with this reality every day as an activist on the streets and I am constantly faced with deciding whether to try and speak WITH my opposition, rather than AT them. It’s a tough fence to straddle, for sure.
Maybe I should move to Canada.