Rachel Maddow's new show.
I recommend that you check out Rachel Maddow's new show on MSNBC. She's got a good take on politics and issues. She doesn't skimp on the important stuff, but she's a spoonful of sugar to make the hard issues easier to take. She makes no bones about her liberal viewpoint, but at the same time, she's fair. We all have biases, but it's still important to be fair. It premiered last night, and I really enjoyed it.
Oddly, my favorite segment of the inaugural show was toward the end, when she talked with Pat Buchanan (announcing with a witty little note on the bottom of the screen, "It's Pat!") I've long been aware of Pat Buchanan, and I find his politics galling, and I tend to feel a little dispeptic whenever I know he's about to speak. And I felt no different when he came on Rachel's show.
See, for the past couple of decades I've been listening to political commentators. I started in the late 1980s, when Rush Limbaugh was still a hot property and new on the scene. I of course never liked him and still don't. But Rush's show was a smash hit, where his brash, thuggish style would frequently stomp all over liberals and moderates, claiming to be part of a balanced debate where no such thing was going on.
Through the 1990s, liberals got sucker-punched all the time. This kept happening in the media until Keith Olbermann came along. Sure, old liberal war horses like Phil Donahue were still around, and while I like Donahue's measured, thoughtful manner, the fact is that Donahue was a harp seal at a time when the waters were filling up with sharks. The tougher, scrappier liberals like Dick Cavett and Gore Vidal were either old or dead, and not able to command audiences on the national scene anymore.
So whenever it happens that a conservative or a wing nut is getting ready to make a vicious and outlandish claim, I figure we liberals are going to feel the beatdown again, so I might as well brace myself. Whenever I see Pat Buchanan talking, I seem to find myself screaming, "You! Mika! Eugene! Whoever! Hit that rat bastard back! Don't take this crap!" I felt that same old feeling tonight on Rachel's show, but with one major difference: when Pat made the ridiculous statements, I clenched up, but Rachel punched back deftly, poised like a martial artist ballerina with a pouch full of throwing stars in reserve. She made it clear that she was up for a conversation, but also that she was not up for taking any crap from Pat Buchanan without properly vetting it, and that she'd likely treat any other frothy-mouthed culture warrior the same way.
God bless you, Rachel Maddow. If Pat declares that there have to be culture wars, I'm glad you and I are in the same corner—and I'm gladder still that you can throw a punch a hell of a lot better than I can.