Rachel Maddow’s take on Reality, and the Right

I said something less than flattering about Elizabeth Warren on another thread a few minutes ago, so by way of making it up to my friends of the liberal persuasion, I thought I’d give them this to enjoy.

Someone over at YouTube even kindly provided a transcript:

Ohio really did go to President Obama last night. And he really did win. And he really was born in Hawaii. And he really is legitimately President of the United States. Again. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not make up a fake unemployment rate last month. And the Congressional Research Service really can find no evidence that cutting taxes on rich people grows the economy. And the polls were not skewed to oversample Democrats. And Nate Silver was not making up fake projections about the election to make conservatives feel bad. Nate Silver was doing math. And climate change is real. And rape really does cause pregnancy sometimes. And evolution is a thing! And Benghazi was an attack ON us, it was not a scandal BY us. And nobody is taking away anyone’s guns. And taxes have not gone up. And the deficit is dropping, actually. And Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction. And the moon landing was real. And FEMA is not building concentration camps. And UN election observers are not taking over Texas. And moderate reforms of the regulations on the insurance industry and the financial services industry in this country are not the same thing as Communism.

Listen. Last night was a good night for liberals and for Democrats for very obvious reasons. But it was also, possibly, a good night for this country as a whole. Because in this country we have a two party system, in government. And the idea is supposed to be that the two sides both come up with ways to confront and fix the real problems facing our country. They both propose possible solutions to our real problems. And we debate between those possible solutions. And by the process of debate, we pick the best idea. That competition between good ideas, from both sides, about real problems in the real country should result in our country having better choices, better options, than if only one side is really working on the hard stuff. And if the Republican party, and the conservative movement, and the conservative media is stuck in a vacuum sealed, door locked, spin cycle of telling each other what makes them feel good, and denying the factual, lived truth of the world, then we are all deprived, as a nation, of the constructive debate between competing, feasible ideas about real problems.

Last night the Republicans got shellacked. And they had no idea it was coming. And we saw them, in real time, in real humiliating time, not believe it even as it was happening to them. And unless they’re going to secede, they’re going to have to pop the factual bubble they have been so happy living inside, if they do not want to get shellacked again. And that will be a painful process for them, I’m sure, but it will be good for the whole country – left, right, and center. You guys, we’re counting on you. Wake up.

There’s real problems in the world. There are real knowable facts in the world. Let’s accept those and talk about how we might approach our problems differently. Let’s move on from there. If the Republican party, and the conservative movement, and conservative media are forced to do that by the humiliation they were dealt last night, we will all be better off as a nation. And in that spirit, congratulations everybody. Big night.

43 thoughts on “Rachel Maddow’s take on Reality, and the Right

  1. Doug Ross

    You remember that Seinfeld episode where Kramer would have seizures when he’d hear Mary Hart’s voice on TV?

    That’s how I feel when I hear Rachel Maddow. “Grating” doesn’t come close to the visceral response I get when she speaks. It’s not the content as much as the tone and the delivery.

  2. Brad

    Yeah, I know what you mean. To read the words is one thing, to hear her say it is to hear triumphalism, a rubbing of salt in the wounds of those with whom she disagrees.

    Is “didactic” the word? I don’t think so. There’s another word I’m groping for…

    But on the whole I find it rewarding to listen to her, even when I adamantly disagree with her. For instance, I thoroughly enjoyed a piece she did awhile back intended to prove that we must go ahead and get out of Afghanistan. I thought she was totally wrong, but she was brilliant. And I enjoy brilliance.

  3. Kathryn Fenner

    Wow. I really like Rachel Maddow. Bill Maher, Keith Olberman, Chris Matthews can be gratingly smug, but she seems just smart with a soupçon of sarcasm. Like John Stewart, only smarter.

    But then, I’m female, so….

  4. Doug Ross

    Agreed… I’m not saying she isn’t intelligent. It’s the delivery that makes me turn the channel. It’s sorta snarky-condescending-“oh so tired of the world not understanding this”

    And she LOVES her some Obama. After the first debate she struggled mightily to find some shred of positivity to hang onto.

  5. bud

    Doug, what in heavens name is grating about Rachel Maddow?? She is one of the few pundits who is absolutely NOT grating. She offers great inside. She does it in a mildly humorous but professional manner. She has conservative guest on whom she treats with respect never overtalking or abusing her status as host. Sure it comes from a liberal perspective. And I don’t say that about most of the pundits, even those on MSNBC. Chris Matthews, Lawrence Odonnell, Ed Shultz and most of the others ARE grating. Not Rachel Maddow.

  6. bud

    Brad, I’ll tell you who is extremely grating, that’s Thomas Friedman. His obsession with constantly trying to find the middle ground just makes my skin crawl.

  7. Phillip

    Though I kind of know what Doug means, in general she’s pretty astute getting to the crux of the matter, obviously from her point of view, and in general she’s more civil than the rest of the MSNBC crowd.

    But here’s the larger point: her first paragraph, the first 22 sentences of that, have nothing to do with liberal or conservative viewpoints. These are just facts. In fact, she’s asking—begging even—for rational conservatism tp re-emerge, shorn of the epistemic closure and denial of reality. In essence she’s asking for the Chris Christies and Jeb Bushes and Jon Huntsmans of the world to step forward and take over the GOP so that the actual core of differing liberal vs. conservative (economic, primarily) philosophies can be on the table for all of us to ponder, to consider. (Well, Huntsman tried, but that didn’t get very far).

    She is a formidable intellect in a field not known (on either side of the spectrum) for an abundance of such, and as such she enjoys a degree of respect from a lot of conservatives who come on her show that most other pundits cannot command.

  8. Brad Warthen

    Kathryn, I like Rachel Maddow more than Jon Stewart.

    I’ve mentioned this before, but she interviewed me once, during her radio days. I was quite impressed, and remain so. That doesn’t keep me from understanding what Doug means. It just doesn’t bother me the way it does him.

  9. Burl Burlingame

    Maddow was saying that it takes both sides of an issue to find common ground, and when one side refuses to deal with reality, it hurts us all. Pretty simple, really.

    As for her delivery, she’s an awkward, excitable geeky wonk. Nerd!

    And I’ll just say this — conservatives love him, but Dick Morris is creepy. Just my opinion.

  10. Brad

    Kathryn, apparently Kathy finds her grating.

    I don’t think it’s a gender thing.

    For me, I wouldn’t have put this up if I didn’t think it was good. When’s the last time I put up something showing a male broadcast type being erudite? Like, never…

  11. Brad

    The best part of her presentation is when she explains how the deliberative process is supposed to work:

    “the idea is supposed to be that the two sides both come up with ways to confront and fix the real problems facing our country. They both propose possible solutions to our real problems. And we debate between those possible solutions. And by the process of debate, we pick the best idea. That competition between good ideas, from both sides, about real problems in the real country should result in our country having better choices, better options, than if only one side is really working on the hard stuff.”

    My only complaint is that she frames it in terms of the “two party system,” repeatedly referring to “two” and “both.” The thing is, we don’t need just TWO monolithic world views represented in the discussion of important issues. There should be as many points of view as there are people involved. Everything should be considered, not just those two respective dogmas. No one should be participating as a member of a “team,” with the goal of that team “winning.” The goal should be solving the problem, and nothing else.

  12. tired old man

    My wife is a huge Rachel fan, and she has pointed out what a very careful and positive force Rachel is in just about any group discussion. She notes that in the midst of very strong and often confronting media personalities, Rachel nevertheless leads through intellectual depth, endless cheerfulness, and old-fashioned politeness.

    So I agree with Kathryn, Bud, Phillip – but especially Burl who is so precise in noting: she’s an awkward, excitable geeky wonk.

  13. Scout

    I like Rachel Maddow. I do. And in general I prefer her civility and reason to crass humor. But I have to admit Jon Stewart is really terribly funny sometimes.

    He did a bit on a very similar topic to this one. It doesn’t make the very excellent serious point that Rachel does about how the system is supposed to work and I very much respect that point. Jon Stewart’s piece focuses on the bubble that the conservative movement lives in. And it is just funny. That’s all.


  14. BJ

    Come on Doug. You feel that grating sensation when any confident, intelligent woman speaks. You just don’t like Rachel’s political views and can’t refute her facts.

  15. Elliott

    Rachel is trying to get both sides to the table. She wants what is best for the country.
    How much time, energy, and hurt to the American people has been done by Republicans attacking our president? He’s had to deal with name calling that only distracted from the serious problems our country faced. Republicans said that he had a fake birth certificate, that he was a communist, and that he was a socialist. South Carolinian Joe Wilson loudly denounced him as a liar. Obama has, also, had to deal with the Republican’s no-new-taxes pledge at the expense of our country. Brad, I never thought of stating facts as being the same thing as “rubbing salt in wounds.”

  16. Karen mcleod

    So many on the far right are trying to sustain their illusions; I’ve read/heard fantasy fulminations from Rove, Gingrich, and Trump, and I suspect that there is more of the same out there, along with equally fantastic ravings by those in far left la-la land. I imagine that Ms. Maddow frames it as a “two party system” because for all practical purposes that is what we have. And we seem to have a hard time managing that civilly and sanely.

  17. Bart

    “Let’s move on from there. If the Republican party, and the conservative movement, and conservative media are forced to do that by the humiliation they were dealt last night, we will all be better off as a nation. And in that spirit, congratulations everybody. Big night.”

    And the last two sentences in a nutshell accurately describe what is wrong with any political debate between competing ideologies. When you use words like “the humiliation they were dealt last night” in a closing statement, unfortunately the only words that will resonate to any Republican or conservative who was listening or reads those words are “humiliation” and “dealt” because in the end, that was the message; the spiking of the football in the end zone; the thumbs in the jersey after hitting the winning three point shot and any other sports celebration analogy one can conjure up.

    There were no positive words of encouragement in her statement if you actually read and comprehend what she was trying to convey. Her message is simple and to the point. We are right, you are wrong. We have all the answers, you have none. Our opinion is the only one that counts, yours is irrelevant.

    When you drag out the extreme comments made by one or two and use them to paint half the population of the country with the same brush, there is no tone of reconciliation; it is a tone of mockery and denigration, period.

    If Romney had been the winner and if Hannity had made the same closing comment, substituting Democrats, liberals, and the liberal media as convenient whipping posts, the outrage on this blog would have melted keyboards. And, it would have irritated me just as much, maybe more if that had been the case.

    This is exactly why I never listen to Maddow, Hannity, Schultz, O’Reilly, Matthews, or any of the extremist pundits on either side of the aisle. If anything, I find them to be more divisive and willing to create more divisions than offering healing solutions. They are well paid to “piss the other side off” and they do a great job.

    “My side is better than yours, no, my side is better”, and so on and so forth.

    If you want to assure yourself that you can prevent the other side or another person to accept your point of view, using derogatory words disguised as an attempt to appear conciliatory will not work. Taking a few sentences out of context and trying to parse the words as being the full meaning won’t wash; she said in the full context of the message exactly what she meant. Democrats and liberals-good; Republicans and conservatives-bad.

    All Maddow did was to reinforce the fact that MSNBC has been found to be more radical than Fox. A pox on both networks. These two networks have done more harm to the country combined than any other combination imaginable.

    And Phillip, Kathryn, and others, I did read the comments, several times, so I could be sure when my comments were thought out and posted, my interpretation was on point from my perspective; repeat again, from my perspective.

  18. Brad

    BJ, that is utter nonsense. It is SO offensive when someone resorts to calling someone sexist when he offers an honest observation about someone who incidentally happens to be female.

    Several people here who admire Rachel Maddow, including myself, have said we understand what he means.

    Throwing that at Doug is as silly as the one about how “bitch” is a word that men use to tear down women who act like a man whom they would describe as strong and forceful. When the truth is that “bitch” is a word that is used, by both men and women, to apply to women who act like men whom the same people would call “assholes.”

    Fortunately, I don’t think anyone here would apply the “B” word to Rachel Maddow. In fact, one or two have suggested that the “grating” thing about her is her unrelenting cheerfulness.

    But I would apply the “A” word to quite a few men who do what she does, and are far more irritating doing it.

  19. Kathryn Fenner

    Dunno, Brad. Many times it has seemed to me that some men find it hard to hear what a woman says. It’s like when I’d hear my secretary telling someone something, and I’d have to repeat it because they could only hear it when a lawyer said it. Just my perception based on my experience as a confident, intelligent woman. Fortunately, this is becoming a rarer experience as the old guard moves on.

  20. Phillip

    Bart, I take your point; and myself, I wouldn’t exactly call a two-percentage-point popular vote differential and losing a couple more seats in the Senate a “humiliation.”

    But again I think Maddow’s point was not simply that “we’re right, you’re wrong” though of course she’ll favor liberal ideas over conservative ones generally speaking. She, like me, is actually waiting for the real conservative agenda to be articulated shorn of the other stuff, and I think you took the fewer sentences out of context of the larger comment, not the other way around.

    Here’s how another person sees it: “It’s time to put some compassion back in conservatism. The party needs more tolerance, more diversity and a deeper appreciation for the concerns of the middle class.” Concerns of the middle class! that one even needs to say that is astonishing. And that’s not me, that’s not MSNBC. That’s former Bush aide Mark McKinnon after the election.

    You wrote “When you drag out the extreme comments made by one or two and use them to paint half the population of the country with the same brush…it is a tone of mockery and denigration, period.” And I couldn’t agree more. I’m against painting half the country with the same brush, or even painting 47% of the country with the same brush, if you get my drift. And that particular “extreme comment” was made by the nominee of your party for President. I think enough people feel that (apart from the extremism of pundits sometimes on both sides), the party where group demonization takes place more often from the top is the GOP, this dividing of America into GOP “makers” and Democratic “takers,” for example, and this was enough even in a mediocre economy to turn back Romney’s challenge.

  21. Burl Burlingame

    It’s the worst Republican setback in decades, and they had no idea what they were doing. How is that not humiliating? The real question is whether they’ll learn anything from this.

    A little humility is called for, on both sides.

  22. BJ

    Brad, where’s your sense of humor? That was a Chris Matthews reference. Thanks for your response and for your blog. One of the former entries relative to the election must have the record for posts. Congratulations and hope the visitors to your site have set a record. Good luck.

  23. Ralph Hightower

    I think that the UN election observers should oversee Florida’s next elections and also Richland County’s elections.

  24. Brad

    Sorry, BJ. Never having watched Chris Matthews, I couldn’t get the reference.

    I reacted as I did because I’ve heard people say that in dead earnest.

  25. Brad

    If you’re going to make a TV reference to me, you’re best off sticking to “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad” or “The Walking Dead.”

    If it’s on AMC, you’re probably on fairly solid ground. That includes “Hell on Wheels.”

    I mainly have a television so I can watch movies, but AMC has figured out how to hook me on a TV series.

  26. Steven Davis II

    @Burl- “It’s the worst Republican setback in decades, and they had no idea what they were doing. How is that not humiliating? The real question is whether they’ll learn anything from this.”

    Kind of reminds you if 2010 and mother Democrats.

  27. Bart


    Thanks for the well reasoned response. The election is over and it is time to move on and both sides try to reach some resolution on the first priority, the economy. Once the economy is on a reasonable path to recovery with legitimate and sensible changes to the tax code and how government can support the business community, the other issues can be addressed with less tension and anger.

    I will be the last to defend comments by some in the GOP, which by the way, I am not a member of the GOP nor do I identify myself as a Republican. If anything, in this election, several of the candidates on our ballot were Democrats and I voted for them over some of the Republican candidates. As an Independent with conservative values along with a moderate and sometimes liberal approach to an issue, depending on what it is, indentity politics is a major problem in this country and I refuse to buy into it.

    As for the givers and takers classification, we are all takers at some level and most are givers at some level. It is the imbalance that is creating a problem and each side seizes on what appeals to their position. On one side, the 1% is the problem and on the other side, the 43% is the problem.

    How do we reasonably solve our problems when resources are stretched to the limit and there are simply too many holes in the social and economic fabric of our society and they are not shrinking, if anything they are growing larger. Without the resources, how can we continue to add programs and expand existing ones without the necessary funds to pay for them?

    I think you know as well as I do, this is not an intellectual exercise where theories are posited and acted on, this is the real world and actions in the real world have consequences.

    The reason it was apparent to me what Maddow was trying to say was stated clearly. If she had omitted several of the references she made in the opening paragraph and had left out the humiliation aspect, her comments would have had a more credible point.

    When one is trying to present an argument for a cooperative effort for all, language and words do have an impact. When GWB made his infamous, “I have a lot of political capital and intend to spend it”, it turned me off. When Obama made the point, “we won, you lost” early on, I knew it was going to be a long, hard road ahead.

    Ask Doug or anyone in business if attitude and words have an impact on negotiations. I know from experience, if you walk in with attitude, you get it in return. Human nature.

    Getting late and have a business trip tomorrow. Have a good evening.

  28. Doug Ross


    My response to Rachel Maddow has nothing to do with her gender. I find her tone and style grating. It’s the same way I feel about Dick Morris or Bill Kristol. Can’t even bear to watch them speak because the presentation is too distracting.

    But then I find nearly all the talking heads on Fox/MSNBC/CNN unworthy of my time. Unlike John Stewart and Stephen Colbert who KNOW they are performers, the rest of that lot just hope nobody out there in TV land realizes that they are performers and not journalists.

    I was trying to run through the list of those talking heads to come up with one that I can bear listening too for more than a few minutes — only one that came to mind was Anderson Cooper. And David Gergen on the panelists. The rest are all partisan actors.

  29. Doug Ross

    I also stopped watching Bill Maher because I find he’s become so nasty. I get that he’s an atheist but his attacks on religion are so over the top that he gives atheism a bad name. He chooses to fill his life with drugs and young models (who wouldn’t give him the time of day if he wasn’t rich)… he just can’t seem to accept that others might have other approaches to fill the void in their souls.

  30. Brad

    Now THERE is someone who grates.

    Years ago, before I knew anything about him, and would just see little promotional clips from his show, “Politically Incorrect,” I knew I never wanted to watch it, because his ever-present facial expression and tone of voice were so extremely off-putting.


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