Here are your television viewing options tonight:
1. Watch the Trump rally.
2. Watch the White House Correspondent’s Dinner
3. Watch Samantha Bee
4. Watch something (anything) else.
5. Turn off your fucking TV and get a life!
I plan on doing #4. (I have no life)
If you don’t want to watch the WHCD that’s okay, the news media will make sure you get the highlights whether you want them or not. I’m really getting sick of the news media.
After Bush won, Democrats fought back by doubling down on the ridicule. Before long they were getting their news from Jon Stewart’s smirk. Stewart spawned a whole range of imitators. Today you can find numberless clones of the Daily Show across cable and even on CBS and, soon, on NBC.
The left is devoutly convinced that this snickering can save America. That it’s better than the news.
The Peabody awards celebrated the Daily Show as “a trusted source of news for citizens united in their disappointment and disgust with politics and cable news”. But the media was the first in line to anoint the politics of contempt, ridicule and disgust as the future of journalism. Now the future is here.
The Washington Post, once a paper of record, swarms with snarky Stewartesque headlines like, “Jeff Sessions doesn’t think a judge in Hawaii — a.k.a. ‘an island in the Pacific’ — should overrule Trump”. Journalism is dead. And replacing it with snarky lefty spin hasn’t saved the Republic. Or anything else.
But the left’s faith in the power of its contempt has nothing to do with its tactical effectiveness.
The left remains convinced that Jon Stewart brought down Bush and Tina Fey brought down Palin because ridiculing the right isn’t just an ugly tactic. Instead it carries an almost religious meaning. Mocking Republicans can save us. Every ideology expresses its superiority through its own triumphalism. Sneering is the left’s own invocation of its own superiority. These are the grown up politics of kids who were convinced that they were better than everyone else because they looked down on them.
Much as Allahu Akbar denotes the superiority of the Muslim and the inferiority of the non-Muslim, the knowing smirk, the lifted eyebrow and the braying laugh of the audience when the unironic applause sign flashes is the prayer of the progressive to the cruel little god of his own ego.
The ritual is tribal. A lefty dons the mock wig of the hated enemy and is ritually humiliated for the entertainment of the tribes of Manhattan, Berkeley and Marin County. The foe is destroyed in effigy. The video of his destruction is virally spread with titles such as, “Saturday Night Live Destroys Trump”.
And yet Trump, like all the other viral subjects of destruction, is never destroyed. The tribal ritual lets lefties vent their anger on a totem that, unlike Trump, can actually be destroyed by liberal laughter.
Satire isn’t trying to save the Republic. It isn’t stopping Trump. It’s saving the left.
Trump has proven even more indestructible than Bush. It’s hard to think of any insult that the left hasn’t hurled his way. A dictionary of them could run all the way from Abuser to Xenophobe. To no avail. Instead he has proven exceptionally adept at treating the left with as much contempt as it treats him. When lefties bemoans his cruelty and vulgarity, what they really mean is that he is beating them at their own game without wasting time on their pretenses to saving the Republic on Saturday Night Live.
Saturday Night Live is still the only place that progressives have been able to beat Trump.
Mocking Bush didn’t save the Republic from him. If anything, liberal disdain helped make him a two-term president the way that it helped put Trump in office. Obama won by taking the opposite road. He kept his contempt and arrogance just enough in check to appear aspirational during his original race.
Elitist contempt isn’t an effective tactic. American politics is anti-establishment. Stewart, Colbert, Oliver and Bee are only revolutionary to likeminded lefties in lavish condos. To the Tennessee coal miner, the New Mexico checkout girl and the Pennsylvania steelworker they convey the smugness of an establishment in all its insufferable disdain for flyover country, for the working class and for everyone outside that golden circle of the tall towers and hot clubs in the big cities that really, truly matter.
What a piece of work is a progressive. How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty. In action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god.
Beneath the Midtown Manhattan sound stages and green rooms, the million dollar contracts of the performers, the Ivy League degrees of the writers and the suave sophisticated five-star restaurants where they rendezvous is the dark and primitive world of the firelit circle in which enemies are bound and destroyed by a magic fed on the anger and hatred of the watchers.
The tribal signifiers of power have changed. The totems are class, cool and hip. And much of the country does not recognize their claim to lead the tribe. Each time America dissents, the left wears out its lip sneering at them. Contempt is the final refuge of failed tyrants. If you can’t rule, you can always sneer.
I’m gonna get high and binge-watch Justified.