Words are amazing things, aren’t they? They’re our basic means of communication. They can make or break us, whether they’re true or not. The common law in the political real, since Nixon burst on the national scene in post-World War II Washington, has been simply if you repeat something enough times, even if it’s a blatant lie, people will come to believe it. White Houses are won and lost on lies – “nothing to fear but fear itself” … ” no whitewash at the White House” … ” Read my lips, no more taxes” … ” I did not have sexual relations with that woman” …
Words lost a political career and reputation last week for a man who was arguably one of the last of the dying breed of moderate Republican, something which is increasingly becoming extinct, as the Republican Party bends over to accommodate the extremist Teabaggers. Mike Castle’s last-gasp bid for the US Senate was eviscerated by the angel-faced, little-girl voiced fundamentalist Christian, Christine O’Donnell, who flutters feminine lashes and believeably plays the victim card, but who wasn’t above promulgating a lie regarding the sexual preferences and voting practices of a man who’d served the state of Delaware for more than 40 years.
However, it seems the worm might have turned on Christine, and – in turning – might have turned on the turner too, if you get my drift.
Bill Maher returned from a three-month hiatus on Friday night and spent far too much time talking about O’Donnell and her nomination triumph – and in a way he shouldn’t have done.
Narcissist that he is, Bill wasted no time in pointing out that it was he, who had introduced Christine O’Donnell to America back in the Nineties on his Politically Incorrect show. In fact, O’Donnell, a virulent Christian and celibacy advocate, had appeared on his program 22 times, one of the more frequent and regular guests. Apart from examining her recent Senate nomination campaign, Maher constantly referred to what a nice person she was, what a good friend she was and then appealed directly to her to appear as a guest on a future edition of Real Time. Not only did he appeal to her, he literally blackmailed her, with an embarrassing clip from PI from 1999, wherein O’Donnell confessed to having practiced witchcraft … and something else:-
Within 24 hours of that clip being broadcast, O’Donnell had summarily cancelled her scheduled Sunday appearances on CBS’s Face the Nation, as well as on Chris Wallace’s Fox News program. On the face of a silly clip from 11 years ago, she’d decided to forego interviews as the highest profiled Teabagger winner of the moment, a chance to be on national television for some pretty softball questions. But listen to what she says in the clip. That O’Donnell is reasonably intelligent is in no doubt. Unlike Palin, her would-be mentor, she’s able to communicate in whole sentences which contain a subject and a predicate which agree grammatically, something which Jan Brewer can’t manage. That O’Donnell’s brain is one step behind her mouth is also obvious.
In the clip, O’Donnell enthuses about not only having dabbled in witchcraft, but also having dated a witch. Got that? She dated a witch. A witch.
The couple went to a movie and then repaired to a Satanic altar for a midnight picnic and a bit of something else. O’Donnell and a witch. A witch.
Nothing unusual about that. College kids do some silly things on dates. I often went haunted house hunting with a particular beau, who was interested in the occult; and whilst he certainly wasn’t a witch, I can’t say that he didn’t fancy himself a warlock – because a male witch is a warlock.
Now, maybe O’Donnell didn’t know that, but if you’ve ever had anything to do with the occult or witchcraft in general, or even if you’ve only ever watched Sabrina the Teenaged Witch, you certainly know the difference between a witch and a warlock.
So … maybe O’Donnell’s mouth got ahead of herself and only now, eleven years later after being apprised of the clip’s existence and of Bill’s showing it, she realised what she said: that the anti-gay, ueber-Christian O’Donnell had actually admitted to going on a date with a woman, of attending a film and then sloping off to a remote spot where there was a Satanic altar, for a picnic and a bit of whatever followed.
Even more ironic was the inadvertant slip of the tongue Benefactor Bill made in the course of the program, himself, when he accidentally opened a closet door of a different type. Here’s the clip. Pay close attention to two parts, one which occurs at the 5;30 mark, which is another quasi-racist swipe at Obama as a “half-assed President” and the most important one at the 9:59 mark. Listen to the latter one carefully.
The discussion which begins about five-and-a-half minutes into the clip is about Obama’s performance and achievements as President thus far. Bill Maher, herd follower of the social-climbing neocon shepherdess, Arianna Huffington, is under express instructions not to give the President any credit for any achievement whatsoever. In point of fact, between Huffington and Maher, they’ve managed to inculcate their following, consisting of youngish voters, frustrated at being denied the fruits of immediate gratification upon which they’ve been raised, and the general lower gene pool hoi-polloi which is equally dispersed between the Left and Right fringes, into believing that Obama bailed the banks out first (when actually TARP was Bush’s puppy) and that Obama doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the middle class. In fact, Bill’s spiritual mommy, Arianna, has arranged to have her unpaid interns research and write a whole book for her to hawk about the United States in an effort, immediately before the mid-Terms, to persuade the people that – hey – Obama’s not really that into you.
At the 5:30 point in the clip, Bill pushes out his opinion that Obama’s been a half-assed President, and – mindful of the particularly rancid racism he directed towards the President earlier in the year, cloaked as bad humour, he takes a swipe from the other side now, reckoning that Obama’s been such a half-assed President, because he’s half-white, that the white man in Obama had been holding him back. If Obama had been all black (and, according to Bill’s earlier definition of that, a ghetto guy from the ‘hood, complete with a gun he’d not hesitate to use, an “undercover brother” being his latest jargon to use in describing our President), he’d have been a better leader. Notice the audience’s non-reaction to that less-than-astute assessment, which was a pretty puerile observation, to say the least.
But the remark made almost ten minutes into the clip needs attention. This is when Bill is discussing with Republican strategist, Mark McKinnon, the fact that Republicans are threatening to repeal healthcare if they gain control of the House. He wonders why they never attempted to repeal the Civil Rights Amendment, or why they didn’t attempt to do so with Medicare. And then he reveals himself: “Why can’t we just say, ‘You won,’ and move on?”
The inclusive first person plural.
Bill included himself in the Republican tent.
The Bill Maher,who formerly was at pains to reiterate to all and sundry that he was an independent, that he was not a Democrat and certainly wasn’t a Republican, would have asked the rhetorical question thus:
“Why can’t THEY just say, ‘You won?'”
One small word can change the complexion of a statement. A virulently anti-gay politician admits she went on a date, followed by a kiss and a cuddle in a secluded place with someone who may or may not have been the same sex as she. A quasi-respected political pundit-cum-satirist/bad comedian, lets his mouth run ahead of his brain and includes himself in the GOP’s ever-diminishing tent.
I don’t have any problem believing either slip-up was an inadvertant admission of something that is true. O’Donnell’s campaign was filled with rumour and innuendo directed at her opponent Mike Castle’s private life. It’s a common domain of the closeted gay to utter anti-gay rhetoric or even to support anti-gay legislative measures. Just think of Ken Mehlman and Larry Craig.
And as for Bill, his voting record speaks for itself: Reagan in 1984, Dole in 1996, supporting Schwartzenegger after Mommy Huffington dropped out, voting for McCain in the California primary in 2000 … Independent, he may be, but leaning more to the Right than the Left he professes to follow and endeavours to lead. It’s interesting to note that Bill, like most of his ilk in that part of punditry, is in a win-win situation, politically. If the Democrats win big this November and in 2012, he can go on presenting himself as the bastion of Left-leaning free thought; if the Right win and the GOP are returned to power, he has a plethora of new material with which to convince his dittoes that he’s speaking even more truth and words of wisdom … plus he gets to keep his Bush tax cuts and continue to exchange tweets with Karl Rove.
Bill twitters wittery with Rove, whilst Huffington tree-hugs Newt Gingrich on vacation, and their Progressive disciples look the other way, whilst a woman Bill foisted on America wraps herself in a flag with a cross in hopes of inflicting her party’s agenda on the American people as the true way of the Constitution.
Reality has, indeed, become an illusion.
When I saw him say that again about the half-black thing, I knew someone would have another article to write. 😉
Quite frankly, voting record aside, I think Bill had her on because she was a) cute and b) a foil to his social and religious views. And, she was happy to oblige. I, however, do not see her as likable. I think she’d get tiring real quick. Ditzy and over-earnest = give me any excuse to get out of the room… even if I have to claw my way out. It’s true that she can form a coherent sentence and isn’t mean and nasty like Palin. But she’s waaay too bubbly for my taste, personality-wise; and over-confident in her ignorance.
Mark McKinnon was interesting in dodging that last part. How is this guy still a Republican? It’s probably just me falling for appearances, but he seems too sensible. Maybe it’s more about career for him than philosophy.
And as a huge “Mad Men” fan, might I add as an aside that I was pretty disappointed in Jon Hamm? I’d always imagined him smarter than that. A big letdown. 🙁
If Maher is to bring up Undercover Brother, well, I get that. The problem is, Bill Maher still can’t get away with saying the same things Dave Chappelle can. I too, cringed at that, but I got the reference. The ham-fisted way in which he delivers it, is more like the Chris Kattan character in that movie though (hey, it was on cable once, don’t judge me).
A minor bone to pick (with unsolicited rant).
As someone who has over a half-dozen books on Wicca and Paganism on his bookshelf and spent his High School years hanging out in the back of a bookstore owned by a Wiccan Priestess (I took a course even) – ‘Warlock’ is very seldom used (and often seen as pejorative – or just ridiculous). A ‘Witch’ is, in fact, gender neutral, like ‘Hindu’ or ‘Muslim’, no matter what pop culture would tell you (though some shows do get basic elements right). On this matter, O’Donnell merely got lucky – I’m surprised she didn’t say Warlock – it’s used far more by Fundie Christians than Wiccans themselves.
My dream is that Bill succeeds in his blackmail and invites O’Donnell on with Rev. Selena Fox or another respected Wiccan Priestess or Priest to call her on her outright lies and slurs about the religion, not on the gender appropriateness of a proper noun (in which case a better example would be Wicce – m, Wicca – f).
Of all the things O’Donnell got wrong, that she ‘dabbled’ is not what people should be paying attention to. That she clearly DIDN’T dabble or know an actual Witch is what is REALLY important here.
For Goddess’ sake! the first books I read on Wicca I checked out from my High School and city libraries! What kind of poseur was she dating? He clearly didn’t know the Craft from his ass, IF any of the story is even TRUE (and it fits a common meme written in Fundie Christian polemics, I eff thee not).
If I were correct in my latter suspicion, this is analogous to the slandering of Jews. And I’m quite frankly upset by my so-called liberal friends for not honing in on this and defending religious diversity and pluralism – by at least getting the facts straight.
I don’t mean to embarrass anyone or foist this seemingly out of nowhere. But Witches are around you, and you may have known one without realizing it (though I can pick up on it in things subtler than a conspicuous pentacle pendant – no magick required).
I merely wish to elevate this, like Selena Fox said, to a teachable moment, rather than a joke about some hackneyed stereotype about Witches (of which a more accurate yet equally deceptive stereotype would be that of a New Ager in Sedona).
Words matter, and so do facts. Again, as in the other thread on O’Donnell, I’m not disparaging anyone and don’t wish to make anyone feel inferior or dumb. I don’t expect many to know about these earth-based religions anymore than I expect people to be as versed as me in Zoroastrianism. These subjects are fairly obscure. That’s why I’m insistent on speaking up. I DO know about these things. I HAVE “dabbled.”
And I take this a little more personally having spent some considerable time around the Wiccan and Neo-Pagan community, counting them as friends, and knowing well where this type of libel that Christine spews comes from. This is a classic attack from her fundamentalist worldview, who still treat the fabrications of Kramer, Sprenger, Torquemada, and King James I as “God’s Truth.”
A common misconception is that the Witch Hunts, as the term has come to mean, went after people not “guilty” of Witchcraft. While this is true, to say that it didn’t wipe out very real “heathens” (people of the heath whom still held to their ancestral folk beliefs and traditions) would be false.
In other words, Wiccans see the Burning Times (as they call them), as their holocaust, and this is why they are sensitive about this talk. The Malleus Maleficarum was their Mein Kampf. But for perspective, unlike Jews, 99.99% of Neo-Pagans can’t trace themselves back to these times and the religion is mostly a reconstruction.
Even so, it’s no accident that Salem, Massachusetts hosts one of the largest populations of Witches per capita. In Salem’s case, most actual Pagans which had adhered to the Old Ways and Traditions had long since been converted under coercion, murdered, or forced even further underground in Europe (not likely to be migrating with Puritans), and it was all hysteria.
Salem is, nevertheless, a potent symbol to them of intolerance and the evil humans are capable of inflicting on the ‘other’ (though they neither acknowledge a devil or dualistic theology and thus no such thing as “good” and “bad” witches, either. Let’s all not base our info here on The Wizard of Oz and Harry Potter, okay? I’m talking to you, America).
Maher might not be the best to deliver this message of religious tolerance, but I’ll be honest. I thought his defense of the Islamic Community Center was fair on Larry King. He bashed all religions equally as is his routine, but went on to say just how idiotic it all was to demonize a “hippie” Sufi and the counterproductive foreign policy implications of the bigoted furor. I see the same misinformation bubbling up here (allusive pun intended).
So, what I’m saying is this. Don’t say that what O’Donnell said about “dabbling in Witchcraft” doesn’t mean anything, as Harpie Queen Malkin did. It does. But not for the reasons anyone else is paying attention to. None of what she’s said to distance herself from the comment apologizes for or corrects the slur. -Just that she’s repented and found Jesus.
Nor do I ever expect her to correct it anymore than she would correct the whisper campaign perpetrated against Castle. She and her base actually do believe Witches worship the devil and sacrifice animals (the latter which would be more accurate of Santer
good info, Khiraid. I’m of the opinion that you were right when you wrote earlier, she just makes this stuff up, or rather made it up, to develop “street cred” as a born again. I was awful, I saw awful things, and I saw the light. There was a book in the 60s called “The Cross and the Switchblade” that was about a charismatic Christian who went into the ghetto and converted murderous gang bangers. That book’s authenticity, I don’t know about, as I only read it as a youngster. But this smells like bulloney top to bottom.
A born again Christian who I DO admire, Shane Claiborne, has no such stories to shore up his credentials. He was just a kid from the Bible Belt who heeded the words of Jesus, and they took. No altars, just a guy that decided to put his Christianity where his mouth was, and get out there and try to make the world a better place.
Marion – thank you for watching this man closely and for showing him up to be what he really is – a cold blooded opportunist. His politics are as empty as the suit he wears. He is disgusting, but he is, I fear, representative of way too many so-called “intellectuals” of that same rootless but self centered base. They can call Obama useless and half assed because they have such a limited and intensely personal agenda NO one could ever live up to it. It is symptomatic of people I once dated who are of his ilk and his era who all whined they never could find a good mate – because they had no core, no center, no wants other than immediate gratification. They certainly had nothing to GIVE. What they want is a mate, a community, a job, a nation that is about THEM and them alone. Why does anyone listen to them? They’ll dump their fans in a nanosecond if said fan gives them any backtalk. Nope – Maher and his cronies such as Arianna live to be the center of attention, and they don’t really care from whom. They want their president to pay fealty to them, and they have no interest in supporting said president. They decidedly are NOT of the time when one could say, “ask not what your country can do for you…” because that IS what they want. It’s all about Bill, all about Arianna, all about Newt. The rest of us don’t matter. At one of the progressive in-gatherings in DC last year three hip, with it people sat down at a table I and another woman already occupied. They never made eye contact, never said hello, never even LOOKED at us. That is how inconsequential we were. I bet they love Bill and Arianna though…
Excellent observation Marion, I am glad you are keeping an eye on Bill Maher.
So many people just blindly follow him thinking they are being part of the “Hip Crowd”.
Although I am glad he is bringing some light on that Palin mini me, (that he invented!)
I wonder, after his little blackmail stunt on Christian O