Browsing through the blog of The New Republic I came across this post, entitled “The Not-So-Soft Bigotry of Rachel Maddow’s Low Expectations.”
I was puzzled by the title (and remain puzzled even after reading the post), but I was fairly certain it was not flattering towards Maddow. Since I am a big Maddow fan, I decided to read on. The post was by James Kirchick, and was a response to this piece about Maddow, which appeared in the NYT Magazine.
It was a standard puff piece made up of Maddow’s short responses to items like “Worst Part of Job” and “Hobby.” Along the way she was asked about her “Favorite Republican.” Her answer:
I like the congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul, because I understand what he believes, and he is fearless and civic-minded in his beliefs, rather than personally zealous.
Seemed harmless enough. Pretty hard to find any bigotry in it. Paul was, by a considerable margin, the most impressive of the Republican primary candidates. Since he had the freedom of knowing he could not win, he was able simply to tell it the way he saw it. No Washington double speak from him!
Kirchick was not amused. After ticking off a few examples of Paul’s rather extreme views on various social issues he writes:
As it’s safe to assume that Maddow is fully aware of all these things, one wonders how an ostensibly “liberal” and “progressive” person could voice such admiration for a far right extremist. The answer is that Maddow doesn’t care about Paul’s views on anything other than foreign policy. For many people on the Left nowadays, simple opposition to Bush, the “neocons,” what have you, is sufficient evidence of one’s “anti-imperialist” bona fides. Never mind that Paul’s positions on foreign policy, while seemingly attractive to liberals who may abhor what’s occurred during the Bush administration, derive from the Old Right isolationsim of Charles Lindbergh and Father Coughlin, figures whose ideas any self-respecting and historically aware person calling herself a “liberal” ought to abhor. Paul stands foursquare against American “Empire,” and the fact that he’s a Republican makes the deal even sweeter. Suddenly, a conspiracy-spouting crank is “fearless” and “civic-minded.”
If Rachel Maddow is the harbinger of the new generation of liberal pundits — and having doubled her viewership in just the past several days and currently the subject of a worshipful cover story in the American Prospect, there’s every indication she is — then perhaps the impending progressive era isn’t something to welcome so uncritically.
Goodness! Melodramatic much?
Did you see “such admiration” in what Maddow said? Or anything that praised Paul for specific views he holds? She said simply that she likes Paul for a couple of reasons. Does Kirchick think it’s impossible to like someone while also disliking much of what they stand for? Heck, I could have said the same thing about many of the YEC’s I have met.
So what on Earth prompted Kirchick’s bizarre overreaction? Where’s the contradiction in saying that on the one hand Paul is fearless and civic minded, but on the other he holds a lot of crazy views on things? And let’s suppose Maddow’s statement were as loathsome as Kirchick seems to think. That’s enough to make him wonder whether “the impending progressive era” is a good thing?
The air waves are clogged with lunatic right-wingers showing on a daily basis that they will say anything, anything, to advance their cause. But Maddow is the one who earns Kirchick’s ire? How absurd! I’ll leave it to the commenters to speculate on what motivated Kirchick to write his ill-considered post.