By Chez Pazienza: In case you missed it, Rachel Maddow handed Alex Castellanos his ass this past Sunday morning. It happened on Meet the Press during a debate over whether the Republicans are currently engaged in a legislative “war” on America’s women. While I’m not a big fan of calling what the GOP is doing an all-out war — only because I feel like that term has been run into the ground — there’s no doubt that what we’re seeing from the right at the moment is simply the latest fusillade in an ongoing push to turn back the clock to time when women were largely free to come and go as they pleased but were also fully aware of their place beneath the white guy power structure. They were often highly regarded, but their rights were still little more than the largess of the real people in charge — which is the definition of condescension.
Speaking of which, it took all of a couple of seconds into the discussion for Alex Castellanos’s big orange face to contort into a smug smirk and for him to begin patronizing the hell out of Rachel Maddow, and needless to say Maddow wasn’t having any of it. First, Castellanos tried to interrupt her several times and did it in a manner that seemed to suggest that he and his hyper-Republican take on things should be the objects of deference because, well, they represented obvious common sense. To her credit, Maddow didn’t make it personal and firmly asserted that she be allowed to finish her point despite Castellanos’s supposedly uncharacteristic behavior as someone she considered a friend. Castellanos followed that up by filibustering on the ways in which the Democrats are creating wedge issues designed to pit various groups of Americans against each other because they don’t have any strong policy points to stand on or victories to tout. Yeah, he said that with a straight face.
What’s interesting, though, isn’t the fact that Castellanos proved once again that he’s a shameless turd who’s really in no position to lecture anyone on political ethics — it’s the deft way that Maddow smacked him down, using not empty rhetoric or robotic talking points but indisputable facts and figures. She used math, which made her wide-eyed shock understandable when Castellanos actually did dispute it all — when he took issue with proven reality. We’ve seen that kind of thing before from the right, but it’s still an astonishing thing to behold.
Over the past couple of weeks on the podcast and radio show Bob Cesca and I do, we’ve discussed the role of progressive commentators on Fox News — more to the point, the kind of progressive they always seem to trot out to supposedly counterbalance the the army of right-wing blowhards that are Fox’s stock-in-trade. Bottom line: liberals on Fox News are always tomato cans. They’re either pencil-necked weenie clichés like Alan Colmes — who’s certainly a bright guy, but one sure to confirm every preconceived image the NASCAR Nation has about progressives — or they’re slovenly, slow-witted schlubs like Bob Beckel, who always looks like he’s one step away from wetting his Depends when he goes on one of his rants after being ganged up on by the cast of reactionary doofs on The Five. Fox knows full well that if it brought a Rachel Maddow or a Thom Hartmann on to debate a clown like Greg Gutfeld or Steve Doocy, it’d be a massacre — one Fox News couldn’t prevent or deflect short of pulling the plug on the camera and putting up color bars.
Why? Because as I’ve said many times lately — what should really be a Democratic campaign slogan somewhere — the Republicans have nothing. They’ve got nothing. They don’t have a thing in the way of policy other than screwing a substantial portion of the American public while standing obstinately against anything and everything President Obama wants. They’ve got horseshit bumper sticker sloganeering and shameless fear mongering aimed squarely at aging white people who feel like they’re losing the country bequeathed to them by the Founding Fathers. They’ve got a pervading desire to re-fight culture battles long-since decided in the minds of most Americans and in doing so to return this country to some hyper-idealized version of what we were in the 1950s.
And when it comes to the ubiquitous mainstream media pundits who act as political surrogates for their cause, they’ve got people who either support them in a full-throated manner or who simply enable them by being largely impotent. At least that’s what we see on many so-called news networks — and that’s why it’s so important when people like Rachel Maddow beat the living hell out of hacks like Alex Castellanos on national television. She proved that when it comes to actual facts, the GOP these days doesn’t have a leg to stand on, regardless of how hard it and its advocates may try to prop it up. The more honest — and uninterrupted — interaction that people like Maddow have with the pundits and politicians the Republicans send out to speak for them, the more it’ll be shown to everyone just how flimsy their case is to the American people.