Posted by: Ali Davis | October 19, 2010

Two Steps Away from Actual News

You too, Dr. Maddow?

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m a fan of Rachel Maddow and of the fierce geeks who work on her ridiculously good show. In a saner world, her crackerjack opening rant from Monday night would be rebroadcast on every news and comment show in the country while a hell of a lot of media talking heads hung their heads in shame and resolved to do better.

I haven’t always agreed with her opinions, the show’s take on the news of the day, or the choices about what stories get covered, but all of those things are always well thought out, well presented, and well worth a listen.

Well, almost always.

For the first time, I am genuinely baffled as to what Dr. Maddow and company were thinking.

Monday night marked Meghan McCain’s third (at least) appearance on The Rachel Maddow Show – her second in the past two months.

And, once again, Rachel Maddow is acting like Meghan McCain has something new and insightful to say. I know Dr. M is famously polite, but this tests the limits of patience. Not to mention my willing suspension of disbelief.

Ms. McCain caused quite the conservative media sensation by saying – accurately – that Christine O’Donnell is a nut job.

(Personal note: You have no idea how long I just spent trying to decide whether to write “nut job” as one word, two words, or as a hyphenate. There is a logic behind my decision to go with two words, but you should trust me when I tell you that you don’t want to hear it.)

Apparently the conservative blogosphere’s reaction was to dismiss Ms. McCain and her (completely, obviously correct) opinion in crudely physical terms. That was unfair and steeped in jerkassery. McCain didn’t deserve that treatment and both she and Maddow were right to call out the stupidity and sexism of it.

But, really, did we need to have McCain come on for a guest segment – two of them – for that? Couldn’t Dr. Maddow have taken care of it with a quick skewering between commercials?

The problem with actually having Meghan McCain on the show is that it gave the impression that the real news was her entirely unremarkable statement that Christine O’Donnell seems unstable and is a completely inappropriate candidate for public office. People had noticed that before.

Everyone had noticed that before.

In fact, so many people had noticed it that Christine O’Donnell is in no danger of winning her election without the help of several thousand incredibly precise meteor strikes.

The interesting news to me is that the Republican establishment is falling into such lockstep behind all the nut jobs who have muscled in. I want to know how far mainstream conservatives are willing to let the crazy go, and what kind of monsters they are willing to let steer just so they might be able to claim they won something, damn the costs.

The interesting news to me is that in 2010 the conservative movement is still churning out males – young males at that – who can only deal with women in terms of their looks and sexual availability.

The whole reason the latest James O’Keefe dumbfuckery happened at all is that he couldn’t think of a single reason CNN might send a female reporter to interview him unless it was an attempt to seduce him. A man of 25 could not wrap his mind around the idea that the award-winning reporter might be there to do some reporting. Because what else are ladies good for?

In that vein, it is also interesting – and disturbing – that the fans of Christine O’Donnell and her Ice Princess mentor have been so fascinated by both their beauty and their promises to control female chastity. Why do so many adult, allegedly thoughtful conservatives still demand hotness above all in their female leaders? And if that’s the case, can they be called leaders at all?

And while we’re talking about dubious leaders of the conservative movement, let’s get back to Meghan McCain.

Ms. McCain is neither a leading light nor a cutting-edge thinker of the Republican party. It’s high time we stopped pretending that she is.

Each time she has appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show, McCain has pointed out that she doesn’t agree with the social conservatives in the Republican party. OK, so she’s a hip young prejudice-free gal who just happens to have a passion for stupid, economy-crashing tax cuts for the super-rich and trickle-down economics, right?

…Except that on her first appearance on TRMS, McCain made it all too clear that she knew nothing about the economy or what Republicans want to do to it.

So she’s not with them socially and she has no idea whether she’s with them economically. Essentially, Meghan McCain is a Republican for the same reasons a kid growing up near Pittsburgh likes the Steelers: It’s the team she’s always rooted for, and she doesn’t seem to have thought about it much beyond that.

Ms. McCain seems like a nice (if a bit spoiled) young woman. She does not understand how many advantages she has had, but that isn’t quite her fault. No one can see her own blind spots.

I’m sure McCain has many fine qualities. She supports treating people in the LGBT community like full-fledged, thinking, feeling citizens and dislikes racism (and also the Tea Party’s tacit acceptance of racism at its rallies) and those are good thoughts to have.

But, as I’ve mentioned, those things are not revolutionary. They are not hard-thought, hard-won convictions. They are the basics of human decency.

Ms. McCain thinks that Ann CohIwillnotgivethatpusdemonaGooglehit is loud and awful and not helping anybody or civilization in general.

That is an accurate observation, but it is not a particularly astute one.

Coulbigotter is essentially a child who once caused a flurry for saying “fuck” at the dinner table and is now trapped in a vicious, self-perpetuating cycle of constantly scrabbling through the dungheap of her mind for something even more shocking to say in the desperate hope of getting some attention again.

One day Ann Coulbigotter will eat herself, and we will pause and note that it is sad that sometimes the world comes to this. But we will not miss her. And we will not be surprised.

It is not interesting or revelatory that Meghan McCain said that Christine O’Donnell is a nut job.

It is not bold or revolutionary that Meghan McCain said that the Republican Party should not become a haven for gay-bashing and racism.

None of these things are news.

What is news is that the Teapublicans, in their quest to grasp any shred of power at any cost, have fallen so hideously, wretchedly far away from the basic standards of human morality that they howl and gibber in protest when Meghan McCain says things that are only common sense.

Maddow herself pointed out during the interview that at one time conservatives used to show the lunatics the door.

Now Republicans are not allowed to say that Christine O’Donnell, the habitual liar who toyed with joining up with a Satanic cult or the Hare Krishnas before finally deciding on the Anti-Sex League, seems unstable. Because she’s one of theirs, and what if she’s able to buy or churn enough votes out of the muck to win?

And it won’t matter if she has no idea what she’s talking about or if she thinks she’s getting visited by secret agents or if she tries to start a war with Luxembourg, because their team will have won, and all the crazy we have to put up with and the lost reproductive rights and the crashing economy will be worth it if only they can win.

The real news is that Republicans will no longer speak out against open, violent racism – Remember a year or two ago, when it was shocking that they wouldn’t speak out against subtle racism? – because, hey, maybe those dirtbag white supremacist filthtongue bastards might be able to deliver a few votes. Wouldn’t want to offend them.

And while they’re on a roll, why not do some loud bellowing in favor of the warty-souled “family values” folks who would literally rather see gay teenagers dead than happy? Sure, they are foul, but boy can the American Family Association whip up a fundraising dinner.

That is the news, not that Meghan McCain is willing to say such ordinary, obvious things.

Aside from the snowballing overestimate of her own importance and the sense of entitlement she seems to have picked up from her wealth and fawning treatment by the media, Meghan McCain seems like she might be a nice enough person.

She has not said anything that will cause the sky to crack or the Thames to dry up, and I doubt she ever will. There is nothing wrong with that.

But there is nothing particularly interesting about it either.

Let’s stop pretending she should be on the news.



  1. Do you think it has something to do with Dr. M. wanting more Republicans on her show? Maybe if they see that she has nice, civil interviews with reasonable people, more will come? This was my theory last night after I stared in wonder at the “valley girl” turned social commentator. I must say that a head cold kind of helped calm down the girly-twittery-ness of her speech and I could listen…

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