Friday, February 18, 2011

Losing "Last Word"

It’s beginning to appear that Lawrence O’Donnell is actually trying to replace Keith Olbermann as demagogue/comedian-in-chief on MSNBC.
I’ve lost count of the number of times he’s rambled at length about the “Christopher Lee incident,” but it’s at least three and may be up to four now. I seriously doubt that a Congressman sending a picture of himself shirtless, end of story, was worthy even of a single mention, let alone “discussion” on three or four nights of a national news show.

Bob Somerby calls him out on a cheap shot at Bill O’Reilly. I hold no truck with O’Reilly, but if you are going to be critical of him, I’d prefer that it have at least some semblance of honesty. O’Donnell was discussing the sleaze of the criticism received by Lara Logan and said,

Making a bad situation worse, there have been many reactions to what happened to Lara Logan. The worst from conservative commentator Debbie Schlussel, who brags about her appearances on The O’Reilly Factor.

Somerby did an Internet search and discovered that the last time that Schlussel was on any Fox News program was back in 2003, so O’Donnell’s attempt to connect her admittedly disgusting commentary to O’Reilly was disingenuous at best. It could reasonably be called dishonest.

One of his annoying habits is to browbeat guests into providing “yes or no” answers to questions of the “Have you stopped beating your wife?” variety, shouting them down when they try to avoid providing the answer that he wants to hear. On Wednesday night he badgered Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah about “voting no to extend the Patriot Act before voting in favor of it.” Chaffetz tried repeatedly to explain that he voted against a one-year extension before voting in favor of a 90-day extension, but O’Donnell was having none of that, insisting that Chaffetz had “waffled on the vote.”

He also had a lengthy harangue about the Congressman sleeping in his office and thereby “cheating on his taxes,” but failed to describe in what manner his failure to rent lodging in Washington constituted cheating in any manner. O’Donnell is certainly outraged about it, in any case; how dare this man sleep in his office? This is, to Lawrence O’Donnell, a matter of grave national importance, and he is seriously pissed off about it.

Why are we on the left so incapable of presenting any honest discussion of our principles? Why do we insist instead of making our presentation consist of trivial ridicule and dishonest demagoguery? We criticize the right for talking about "death panels," call them "unserious," and then we attack them for sleeping in their offices. We have some good arguments and good policies, and all we do is this nonsense.

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