By cheerful happenstance I had a few empty minutes last night prior to The NewsHour. (Al Qaeda? If you ever want to cripple the nation’s intellectual class, consider hitting living rooms in Cambridge, New Haven, Providence and Philadelphia at 7:00 EST!) I clicked over to MSNBC, where the Reverend Al Sharpton was delivering a personal message to Rush Limbaugh about the possibility that the Cenk Uygur show (where Sharpton has been guest hosting as the network determines Cenk’s fate) has a racist teleprompter. WTF? I said to myself, which is professional blogger-speak for “Sounds like a post to me!”
So over to YouTube I ran this morning, to discover helpful advice from Limbaugh for his MSNBC colleague that Sharpton go back to his real calling, which (to paraphrase) is picketing various arms of the state and protesting social injustice. The Rev’s blooper of the night before, Rush explained, was a sign that he isn’t suited for broadcasting, and evidence that there is a conspiracy against him organized by jealous Black journalists. It is Rush’s inescapable, and unproven, conclusion that members of this cabal have worked hard all their lives only to see the undeserving Sharpton leapfrog them into stardom. Said evil-doers are trying to sabotage this broadcast newbie by paying others to corrupt his script. This is the only conclusion Limbaugh could come to since, as he said over and over, Sharpton “knows how to read”….doesn’t he? Doesn’t he? Doesn’t he?????
I can only describe the four and a half minute performance as a fascinating rhetorical mashup of pure Ciceronian technique, White Citizens’ Council “who me?” racism, and the kind of post-concussion cerebral trauma syndrome epitomized by the cartoon character Foghorn Leghorn (pictured in all his glory above.) “Stick to activism and the foghorn,” Limbaugh advised, peering over his half lenses, and then pausing long enough for the rest of us to notice that foghorn wasn’t actually what he had meant to say. “And the bullhorn,” he finished. Moving right along, Limbaugh explained: “What happened there is obvious….someone is sabotaging the Reverend via the teleprompter. It could be the only thing to explain this.” Unlike Limbaugh, this person or persons unknown were acting out of pure malice: ”It’s either a racist teleprompter, or the person who is preparing the teleprompter is a racist.”
A teleprompter, by the way, is a machine, and if teleprompters are now capable of racist behavior I can only pray that my car doesn’t act on its internalized homophobia.
Under the headline, “Fools Rush In,” Sharpton (who is looking really fabulous lately) responded last night: “I messed up a line — just like anyone. Even you!” The Rev. Al encouraged Rush Foghorn — I mean, Leghorn — to continue his a$$hattery, since it would inevitably bring listeners over to MSNBC. ”I want all of your listeners!” Sharpton said. “I don’t want to preach to the choir!”
Ok, skipping over the obvious (racism is the outcome of black people conspiring to harm each other, rather than generations of white people conspiring to exclude people who are not white from any freedom or privilege they can), I would like to point out the non-obvious:
- On the YouTube clip edited and posted by Breitbart, Rush sniffed eight times in 266 seconds, and touched his nose twice — including one good, solid dig into a nostril. Is there something going into that nose that shouldn’t be? Something that accounts for the rambling, disconnected aspects of this attack? Should someone ask someone to put something in a cup and send it off for analysis?
- Was Limbaugh’s producer concerned about the peculiar quality of this rant too? At one point Rush looks over to the the production booth sharply and says, “What is the question?” as if this is something that has just entered his brain via an earpiece. (I dunno, Gertrude, what is the answer?)
- In his response, Sharpton calls his counterpart “Rush Lumbar.” Did the good people at MSNBC see what I am referring to in this first bullet point, since the p.r. about Limbaugh’s addiction was that he became hooked on pills because of back pain? Enquiring minds want to know.
The serious takeaway? I, who can get a a little sick of the endless Ivy League mockery that passes for liberal political critique at MSNBC (OK, Rachel, like every other dyke intellectual, it is my secret dream to be on your show –I was on Cenk’s show last summer and please just know that no one was available to help me with my hair, ok?) thought Sharpton was smart, engaging and a breath of fresh air. The man and the channel may be a match made in heaven: give him a contract, doodz!