Uncomfortable In His Own Skin...Disturbing Comedy Gold
In what has been in many ways a bruising primary season, there haven't been enough genuinely chuckle-inducing things to laugh at. But in the last several weeks we've been treated to an extended punch-line of sorts with a few surprise (or not so surprise) stunt-laugh cameos.
We've seen Joe Lieberman don the flower-sprouting hat and floppy red shoes and go Will Ferrell, balls-to-the-wall shameless with his various laughable pronouncements about Iraq, his worry about the “dangerous” drift of the Democratic party away from its Liebermanic home in between Karl Rove's pasty cheeks, and the embarrassing soiling of his nose while checking on John McCain's...um...well...“bearings”.
Then there was the Jerry Lewis-on-crack once-every-two-days spectacle of Terry McAuliffe's wild cheerleading / spinning / petit mal fits on the cable news shows. If you were watching him in HD with your kids, they probably ran into another room, fearing that Terry's eyes would actually pop 3-D-like from the acreen and burn them. Not to mention the Joker-esque rictus grin he's been brandishing during these talking head spots like a blood-letting weapon of happy-face.
But the cake, oven and whole bakery taker has to be Pat Buchanan's recent post-primary MSNBC meltdowns. He's been looking to all the world like one of those rubber-bodied stress-relief toys your job's HR department gives out to middle managers—his head seeming to inflate, quiver and pop it's eyes just like one of them after a mighty squeeze.
There being nothing like a hard mainlining of racism to get him going in general, it was the primary results in West Virginia that fired him up, if you'll pardon the pun—to a white hot on-air rage. It was obvious what things touched it off. The calendar and reality. As the primary season has wound down, and Barack Obama has managed to successfully negotiate the PR and electoral minefields before him, while John McCain in spite of having his race settled for months is still as gaffe prone as an hour of Dean Martin show outtakes and is seemingly one press appearance away from totally imploding, an obvious panic has set in.
This is the man who still staunchly defends the unbalanced, racial slur-prone Richard Nixon, whose legendary volcanic temper has been captured on tape and transcript. Pat's political paterfamilia. And the wormy, soured apple Buchanan has fallen so close to the Nixonian tree that he scrapes the bark on the way down. The paranoid fear over the increasingly distinct possibility of a Black man's becoming President of The United States was all over Buchanan's face during his screaming on WV primary night. My daughter was watching with me and was definitely discomfited by Pat's purple-faced freak-out.
“Whoa!”, she said while laughing nervously. “That dude's gonna have a stroke! Is he like that whenever he's on?”
“No,” I said. “He's just freaking out something super-special tonight. It just hit him that Obama might win this thing and well...he can't deal with it.”
“He could use a drink or somethin'.” she noted fearfully.
“Babes...I think alcohol'd be counter-productive for someone that upset.
We watched him for a couple more minutes, his face making Barney The Dinosaur's look ashen, and then she said, “Oh no. No drinkin' for him. He'd probably kill somebody.”
See Pat rage! See Pat be the craziest one there is!
You could hear the laughter off-camera and on in the studio as Buchanan spazzed out. And there's a palpable, manic venom in his tone, words and body language.We've seen Buchanan do his shaking, balled-up-fist face thing over other subjects before, but he seemed gut-level shaken here—a virtual talking head Vesuvius, and a slightly closer look at cable news in recent days “pulls the sheet from over the head” of Pat's and his co-horts' problem without much effort.
As it has become apparent that Obama's the presumptive Democratic nominee, and will face the increasingly un-telegenic and un--inspiring (in comparison) John McCain, the right's most plugged-in pundits—folks like Dick Morris and Buchanan (both former White House right-hand-men) have gone to fear-stoked ground.
They're not playing “the race card”...they're flipping over the whole Goddamned casino table while screaming “Black-hi-jack!” at the top of their lungs.
Morris went there on Faux news with his mumble-mouthed spewage...
Dick Morris gleefully predicted that Barack Obama will raise such racial animosity in Republicans that they will be wildly energized to vote for McCain. Morris called Rev. Jeremiah Wright, “the chairman of the get-out-the-vote operation for the McCain campaign.” With video.
In a segment on last night's (5/19/08) Hannity & Colmes, Alan Colmes asked about Morris' statement in a column, “Growing fear of Obama will drag every last white Republican off the golf course to vote for McCain.”
Colmes said, “Hey, Dick, when you say, 'Drag every last white Republican off the golf course,' and now you're talking to (sic) Jeremiah Wright, that sounds like you are creating a racial divide that may not exist and you're accusing Republicans, who I'm not here to defend by the way, of being racists.”
Colmes asked, “Why inject the word white and use golf as if you're painting Republicans as white people who play golf and won't vote for a black guy?”
Morris smiled gleefully and said, “Cause 90% of the Republican Party is white. I'm not sure 90% plays golf but a lot do.” He didn't mention anything about Republicans' willingness to vote for an African American.
The internal polling for the GOP must be terrible for November's prospects. Going this bold-faced this far out is a straight-up cornered rat move. Iraq is an unusable issue, save for the mealy-mouthed mutterings of electoral boat-anchor Joe Lieberman who has all of the voter-inspiring ability for McCain of a morphine drip on wide to a coma patient. The economy? The vaunted-til-February-by-Bush-in-spite-of-its-crapper-gurgling economy? Um...no. There's no faux-righteous wedge-issue to strike with lightning and make walk like a scary monster to frighten people.
There's just the shaky, flip-flopping, fact-fucked old guy, and the charismatic, telegenic younger guy everybody seems hot for...who's got a little something different about him...
What to do? What to do?
Call out the townsfolk, of course!
Pat's anger morphed him into that crazy, roof-screaming coot from “Blazing Saddles”. And that's what he's reduced to. No pithy barbs, or collegial snark. He went batshit. And he hasn't quite come down off the rush of “Blood In The Face” yet. He was at it again on kentucky's night, and as every worrisome day goes by leading up to Election Day, his fuse'll grow that much shorter. I can almost see him snapping at some point soon and letting slip a teeth-clenched “N*gg*r! That's right...I SAID IT!” in a frustrated panic.
He's that close to the edge . Along with a slew of shit-scared media buddy fellow travelers for whom this possible historical event is just too wide for their narrow-ass minds to bear. The resulting meltdowns should be quite entertaining—in that cringe-humor-y “The Office” way—to watch.
Right now, “It's Pat!”. The follow-ups “It's Sean...and Bill-O...and Glenn...Brit, Joe S.”, and the comedy short “Tucker, Too” I await with popcorn in hand, and TiVo at the ready.
I don't think I'll be waiting very long, though.