As a political reporter and commentator, you get used to a certain baseline level of dumbshit, and when a foreign policy issue arises, that dumbshit spreads exponentially like it's been thrown into a jet engine. It's one of the reasons I resist writing about that stuff, because it's just so hard to keep up with all of it.
Such is the case with ISIS and its rampage through Iraq and Syria. Yesterday, I reported on a very narrow strip of ISIS dumbshittery from Monday's White House briefing, but I left out another good 50 minutes of primo brain-feces, because there are only so many hours in a day, and so much virtual ink in the world.
This kind of dumbshit is irritating, if predictably insane, when it comes from the right, and somewhat infuriating when it comes from the more suggestible quarters of the mainstream media, but it becomes absolutely intolerable when it comes from my side. Even there, the brown blizzard is too thick to navigate completely, so I will only attempt to shovel one corner of the sidewalk here.
First, there's Chris Matthews, whom people insist on foisting upon liberals despite his spotty record. On Tuesday night's Hardball (again, in the middle of a whole bunch of other stupidity), Matthews decided it was time to "talk in American gut terms," and suggest that defining a legal and geopolitical rationale to bomb ISIS in Syria is foolish. Also, Obama is a dirty, golf-playing pussy who let America completely forget about James Foley's murder in the course of one week. Seriously, does anybody still care about that guy?
"When the American people watched that execution, that beheading of an American last week, they watched that man with tremendous guts and fortitude, to stand there knowing he was on camera, knowing his family would see it, knowing he was going to die in a matter of minutes, knowing he would be done by a knife in his neck, he stood there and took it.
"The American people are either going to react positively to that, or not. They're either going to get even with the people who did that, or not. Or they're going to cook up another excuse to go to war with ISIS like they are a threat to the homeland. Why don’t we behave, anymore, like a gut country behaves and says, 'No, you don’t do this to our people. We are going to make you pay for this...'
"He went off playing golf when he had the American people’s attention. That execution had our attention. Then he flips off, comes back a week later all dressed up, he’s taken a shower, he's back in his business suit, and now he's talking about some threat to the homeland. It doesn’t sound right. It doesn’t sound real...
"I don't understand why he doesn't fight like a streetfighter when it comes to defending the lives of Americans."
Set aside Matthews' depraved right-wing Obama golf-bashing and idiotic Bush-era "Hulk Smash!" foreign policy doctrine, does he really think President Obama should commit the United States to invading every country in which an American hostage is ever killed, in perpetuity? It's hard to tell exactly what the fuck he's suggesting, but since he mentioned a vote of some sort, does he think American bloodlust over the killing of James Foley will subside in a matter of days? Whatever action the President takes, it necessarily must be well-founded, politically and strategically. The satisfaction of turning every asshole with a bizarro Mystery Science Theater 3000 flag into a pepperoni road pizza will be no less sweet for it.
Then, there's Chris Hayes, who, I will stipulate from the outset, is probably a lot smarter than I am, and is definitely a better human being. His instinct to avoid armed conflict is to his credit, but this isn't the way to do it. In an interview with State Department spokesperson Marie Harf, Hayes suddenly from a sharp commentator into a malfunctioning arm-flailing Robot from Lost in Space, unable to make sense of it all. First, President Obama wanted to bomb Assad in Syria, and now he wants to bomb ISIS in Syria? Whaaaa?
"Isn't war zero-sum at a certain level? The enemy of my enemy is my friend? If, in fact, you bomb ISIS, do you not then, ergo, strengthen Assad?"
The theme of the entire segment was just how complicated the situation in Syria is, which is absolutely true, but complicated doesn't mean confusing. I refuse to believe that Chris Hayes is truly confused about how blowing the living shit out of ISIS in Syria might actually not ergo ipso facto strengthen Assad, because it would free up the Free Syrian Army to fight Assad instead of killing ISIS assholes like this guy. This is a complicated situation, but it is not confusing. ISIS needs to get got. The only questions now are how and when.
If I were in charge, I would send in a few hundred Harrier jets, and have them hover over ISIS encampments turning these assholes into slush with machine guns, and film the whole thing with ultra-high-speed cameras so we could do YouTube videos of every wobbly blood droplet. But what the fuck do I know? That's why I'm not in charge. In a perfect world, the leaders we elect, whose judgment in such matters we presumably trust, would make better-informed decisions than we can, and would be overseen by a zealous free press that served the public by clarifying these issues. Instead, we get an onslaught of dumbassery from the media, and a Congress that would rather stick hot forks in its eyes than take a vote on this.