Tuesday, February 7, 2017

This Isn't Funny Anymore


Did you get a chance to watch Melissa McCarthy’s brilliant takedown of Sean Spicer on SNL? I missed it, but I watched it on You Tube. And did you also get the chance to watch Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump making insulting phone calls in the Oval Office to various heads of states while a skeletal Steve Bannon stood behind him egging him on? Again, I missed it, but I’ve watched it several times since. These are but two very funny and incredibly well done skits out of many that I’m sure have given millions of people more than their fair share of chuckles.

But here’s the thing: This isn’t funny anymore. In fact, it stopped being funny a long time ago.

This isn’t George Bush butchering the English language as only he could do. I wish it were. Hell, I wish it were with all my heart. What is happening here is no laughing matter. It is as serious as a heart attack.

Think about what has happened in just two and a half weeks. The President of the United States – the leader of the free world – has insulted two foreign presidents, accused the media – and CNN in particular – of spreading fake news, got into a pissing contest about the size of his inaugural crowd (yes, that actually happened), issued a gag order on federal workers, instituted a ban on all immigrants entering the country from seven Muslim countries, fired a sitting attorney general who wouldn’t enforce the ban, impugned the integrity of a judge who issued a restraining order against said ban, spread lies about fraudulent voters in the last election, promoted a white supremacist to head the National Security Council, had his staff berate anyone who dares to question the validity of his actions and policies, and, oh yeah, practically gave Vladimir Putin a reach around in an interview with Bill O’Reilly; an interview, I should add, where even O’Reilly pointed out that Putin was a killer.

Somewhere in hell Richard Nixon is laughing his ass off.

If you aren’t worried about what is happening, you’re either not paying attention or you’re on something. I know Democrats and progressives have been focused on making sure they stop the nominations of Betsy DeVos and Neil Gorsuch and I’m not poo pooing that cause. But there’s more at stake here than an incompetent secretary of education or a right-wing Supreme Court justice. Let’s not forget Bush appointed Michael Brown to head FEMA. Next to him DeVos is practically Neil deGrass Tyson and Gorsuch is Thurgood Marshall.

Laugh it you must, but I’m not. I’m done with laughing. I am VERY frightened by what is going on in this country. None of us have ever seen anything like it. Not even the McCarthy era can compare, for Joseph McCarthy never became president. The Fourth estate is under assault and with it the Constitution and a large percentage of the country would rather watch Dancing With the Stars or Big Bang Theory. Talk about your bread and circuses.

Even some of my more reliable liberal columnists have become distracted by the antics. Michael Tomasky’s most recent piece is about how Bernie Sanders can save Obamacare. First of all, Michael, Bernie is hardly the ideal spokesman for Obamacare; the man has made it abundantly clear he wants single payer. He ran on replacing it. Secondly, the GOP has no replacement for the ACA and is currently facing something of a split within its ranks over how to deal with it. Why on earth would Bernie or any sane person want to step into that hornet’s nest? When your opponent is drowning you let them drown. The last thing you do is throw them a life preserver.

The White House Correspondents Dinner is fast approaching and some publications have said they will boycott it. Good for them. Here’s a question: why isn’t every news publication and media outlet boycotting it? Why hasn’t the White House press corps simply walked out of the briefing room en masse? I’m serious. Where is it written that the media in this country have an obligation to provide an administration with a platform with which to blatantly lie and chastise them and the institutions of this country? This president has behaved like a four year old and, with a few notable exceptions, he has gotten a free pass. Indeed, for the better part of a year and a half the press has been trying to figure out when this manchild will finally grow up and act presidential. At what point do reasonable people stop hitting their heads against a wall?

The media’s obsession with not being perceived as biased is at the heart of the problem. It has prevented them from seeing the obvious and doing their jobs. This must stop, for the sake of the Republic. Trump isn’t going to let up. Indeed, anyone who has followed his depraved career knows all too well that he destroys those he perceives as weak. He has made a living taking advantage of his lenders, his partners and his customers. The media’s unwillingness to take him on is only encouraging him, and late-night comics who poke fun at him are trivializing the grave threat he poses to our democracy.

Murrow took down McCarthy, Cronkite took on Nixon. It’s time for someone to step up and speak truth to power, before power ends up devouring everything in its path.

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