Friday, October 29, 2010

Amid the Sturm und Drang, a Moment Sublime

This was a week of dizzying visuals--Christine O'Donnell flubbing a radio interview and then threatening to sue the station if they air it. A reporter being strong-armed and handcuffed for questioning a candidate. A woman being thrown to the ground and head-clamped by a jack-booted patriot who now wants an apology from her.  A Democrat thrown to the ground and body-slammed at an Eric Cantor rally.

And just when I thought things were getting about as disturbing as they could get, up pops Charlie Sheen in another installment of his Hey wait!  Watch this! crash and burn melodrama.

Add to all of that the incessant news that the Republicans (now an arm of the Tea Party) are likely going to take over the house and possibly the senate, and I had every good reason to hate this week. I didn't realize, when I kept going back again and again to immerse myself in the few magnificent moments from an earlier "Last Word"where Lawrence O'Donnell apologized to RNC chairman Michael Steele for comments he had made the night before, that this was my therapy, my solace, my way of establishing that there are, in fact, some remnants of humanity still struggling to grab hold. 

I missed the original program, but I heard about it the next day, when the blogosphere was abuzz with the news that Lawrence, just days into his new MSNBC show, had made what looked a whole lot like  racial slurs toward Michael Steele in a pre-recorded intro.  This is what Lawrence said:

 As the first congressional election during his party chairmanship approaches, Michael Steele is dancing as fast as he can trying to charm independent voters and Tea Partiers while never losing sight of his real master and paycheck provider, the Republican National Committee.

Okay, that wasn't good.  I'm a huge Lawrence fan, going back to his days with The West Wing, my favorite TV series of all time, but this--coming so soon after his icky, un-Lawrence-like interview with Alvin Greene, where O'Donnell's main concern seemed to be the origin of Alvin's nick-name, Turtle, and whether or not the poor man was a witch.

I look at the hapless Alvin Greene, the unlikely and astonishingly inarticulate and unprepared  Democratic senate candidate from South Carolina, and see someone who needs protecting.  Alvin Greene needs a mom out there.  Whatever his original reasons for running for high office, he's finding himself the laughing stock of an entire nation, and yet he plugs on.  Time and time again his handlers set him up for the worst kinds of abuses, and he obediently goes out there and does the job as well as he's able.  That he can't now and probably never will be anything other than poor Alvin doesn't seem to phase either his handlers or the members of the media who see his fumblings as great sport.

I sincerely expected better of Lawrence O'Donnell.  And just when I was ready to concede that even someone with Lawrence's integrity can sell out to popularity-grab and celebrity-lust, he makes a dazzling come-back with his apology to Michael Steele:


 I'm not a huge fan of Michael Steele, truth be told, but that was about as classy an act as I've seen from a Republican in a long time.  I want to believe, after watching that clip over and over again, that we have a chance.

If, on Wednesday, November 3, we wake up to a whole new world of the same old crap, I'll somehow manage to get through the day by remembering that fleeting moment of political man's humanity to political man.


  1. Sorry, Ramona, but I don't quite get the same "sublime" reaction to this apology. What I see is Mr. O'Donnell spending a whole lotta' air time being ever-so-proud of hisself for being the kind of stupendously righteous man who would apologize in a situation where (he claims) no one else would. He even issues a passive-aggressive attack of Steele for demanding an apology from him whilst making no such demand of Paladino - essentially taking the opportunity of his apology to attack Steele for his apparent hypocrisy.

    It's the kind of smarmy double-speak and careful construction of the language to create a storyline that I long ago became accustomed to hearing from O'Donnell. And it is his penchant for creating faux-outrage and hyperbole that has caused me to avoid seeing even one episode of his new show.

    On the basis of your glowing accolades here, I assumed I was probably wrong to avoid O'Donnell. I figured maybe he had matured; maybe he had "grown into" responsible commentary with the exercise of putting together a nightly broadcast. So I watched the video clip.

    I was left with the same "Ewwwwwww!" response, made with my nose all wrinkled up as if encountering a very foul smell. I see nothing has changed, wish that I might that it wasn't so.

  2. Oh, Sleepin, you're going to burst my little bubble. . .and just when I was riding high, for a change. I wasn't kidding when I said I've watched it over and over again. You aren't the only one who saw it as insincere, but I just don't see it that way. I've actually seen more responses that mirror mine than the other way around, but I can see how the theatrics and the voice might turn you off.

    I know Lawrence can be an actor, and much of his outrage is phony--especially his tirades on Morning Joe--but this just seemed genuine to me.

    I don't know exactly what you mean by "He even issues a passive-aggressive attack of Steele for demanding an apology from him whilst making no such demand of Paladino - essentially taking the opportunity of his apology to attack Steele as a hypocrite." Yes, there may have been a bit of snark there, but I saw it directed mainly at the Republicans who never would have wanted Steele to do it.

    I think "demand" is a little harsh. It didn't sound like Steele was "demanding" an apology. It sounded to me like two men who are usually in opposite corners chose to meet in the middle and shake hands instead of beating each other to a pulp.


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