Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Shuster Affair


If there is one thing over the years that I've learned about Hillary Clinton, it is that the woman is utterly without shame. This has been reflected in the type of campaign she has chosen to run and the people she has chosen to run it. Her latest attempt to play the sympathy card can only be described as disgusting. And it is all being done at the expense of the career of one of the most promising, young political reporters on television today.
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Last week, during an appearance on MSNBC's Tuker Carlson program, David Shuster took note of the fact that lovely, little Chelsea Clinton (who is a grown adult, by the way) had been making late night phone calls to the hosts of ABC's The View, asking them to endorse her mother. Shuster said that he thought it a bit unseemly that the Clinton campaign seemed to be "pimping" the darling little thing. That was all Billary Inc. needed to hear. They instantly went into full outrage mode, making pious condemnations against Shuster and MSNBC, threatening to boycott the next debate sponsored by the network if immediate, disciplinary action is not taken.
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Here is an absolute certainty:
Hillary Clinton would "pimp" her daughter at five bucks a shot on the corner of Tenth Avenue and Thirtieth Street if she thought if would get her the nomination.
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As it happens, I was watching the Carlson program that evening. When Shuster said what he said, so help me, I didn't even blink. 99.09 percent of the people watching didn't blink. Why? Because the Clinton campaign is pimping Chelsea! (Figuratively speaking, of course). The following morning, when he made an on-the-air apology for saying what he said (without actually quoting himself) I thought back on the previous night's program and couldn't figure out what the hell he was talking about. The only people on the planet who "blinked" were the Clinton campaign operatives, desperate for a non-issue they can cynically exploit. She and Bill tried playing the race card during the South Carolina primary a couple of weeks ago and it blew up in their faces. They were desperate to get on the sympathetic side of some kind of "attack" - any kind - (as Barack Obama was able to do last week when he was unfairly pounded by the Clintons down in Dixie). The only thing they could come up with was David Shuster's harmless, off-the-cuff comment. Had he said that Mitt Romney was pimping his sons on the campaign trail (an argument that can easily be made) no one would have made a sound. The mistake he made was referring to precious little Chelsea, whom most people still picture as the impish little thirteen-year-old, romping through the halls of her new home in the executive mansion way back in 1993. Pathetic.
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Here is another question which needs to be answered: We must assume that Whoopee Goldberg and the other regulars on The View (I don't know their names because I never watch the show) have unlisted numbers. How was Chelsea Clinton able to acquire them? Does her mother receive some kind of special treatment from the phone company? What is that all about? It is impossible to obtain an unlisted phone number, believe me. I once tried to contact my own cousin who was unlisted and I couldn't. How was Chelsea Clinton able to get her hands on Whoopee's number? Think about it.

DISCLAIMER:

Okay! Okay! Okay! I watched The View once (The Ron Paul appearance). But that was only because I had three friends in the audience and I taped it for them. So sue me!

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I first noticed Shuster a couple of years ago as the political correspondent on the Hardball program with Chris Matthews. His knowledge and insight were impressive from the start. The guy is on top of and in tune with the American political process and politicians. Lately, the geniuses at MSNBC have sought to loosen up his image, placing him in comparatively informal settings such as co-hosting the Morning Joe program. In these kinds of situations, it is natural that he would let his guard down somewhat - as he undoubtedly did last week on the Carlson show. It is my humble opinion that the tampering of Shuster's public persona is not working at all. They should just let him do what he does best - political reporting; he's pretty damned good at it. Stop trying to turn him into a comedian.

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The reason Hillary Clinton is able to get so much mileage out of this incident is precisely because it was said by someone with the integrity of Mr. Shuster. Do you think for a moment that they would have even attempted to raise such a stink had the comments been made by Bill O'Riley or Rush Limbaugh? Had they done so, people would have just shrugged their shoulders. In other words, saying that the Clinton campaign is "pimping" cute and innocent little Chelsea is not, in itself, "shocking". What is shocking (I'll use the word "surprising") is the fact that it was said by someone with the journalistic gravitas of a David Shuster. One would hope that the suits at MSNBC will not over-react the way they did ten months ago when they foolishly fired Don Imus. Shuster is a brilliant reporter who will have even less trouble than the I-Man had finding another network on which to work.
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Face it; we live in dirty times: dirty politics, dirty politicians, dirty policies - DIRT, DIRT, DIRT - everywhere you look. Nowadays Howard Stern rules. A humorist with the intellect and gentle outlook of someone like the late Fred Allen, would not be able to find a job today. In fact, his skit, Allen's Alley, performed weekly on his radio show during the 1940s, would today be viewed as so politically incorrect, he probably wouldn't even be able to find a single sponsor. The inhabitants of the alley - a southern politician (Senator Claghorn), a Jewish housewife (Mrs. Nussbaum), a New England rube (Titus Moody) and an Irishman (Ajax Cassady) - were all asked a different question each week pertaining to whatever domestic problem America might have been dealing with at that particular moment. It was topical, it was clean, and, most importantly, it was as funny as it gets:
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Fred Allen: "Well, if it isn't Mrs. Nussbaum!"
Mrs. Nussbaum: "You were expecting maybe Emperor Shapiro-hito???"
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No. The Fred Allen Show, as brilliantly satirical as it was - as undeniably popular as it was - would be viewed today as too ethno-stereotypical by today's whiny, hypersensitive audiences. The Clinton campaign would probably issue a policy paper denouncing Allen as unfit to transmit over the people's airwaves. He would never stand a chance in today's climate. There is no doubt that the sewer that American culture has become in the fifty-one years since his death would have broken his heart.
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Like it or not, these are the kind of times in which we live. Hillary Clinton - and everyone around her - should just grow up and act like mature adults. On my very first day of school (way the hell back in 1963) my teacher, Mrs. Anabelle Peevey, God rest her soul, gave me the following bit of sage advice that I take to heart to this very day:
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"Sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you."
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Damn! That old lady sure was hip! Then again, I can't help but wonder how she might have reacted had I brought the latest Lenny Bruce album in for Show and Tell. That would have been interesting, indeed!
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Tom Degan
Goshen, NY
tomdegan@frontiernet.net
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SUGGESTED READING:
Treadmill to Oblivion
by Fred Allen
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Photograph to left of column is of Fred Allen 1894-1956, circa 1938

18 Comments:

At 11:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

An interesting "rant", Tom.
I agree with you regarding Shuster and the "oh-so-sensitive" Clintons.
However, I disagree regarding Imus.
His unkind words describing the Rutgers Women's Basketball team were not only inflamatory, but also hurtful to innocent people.
Descriptors can be powerful, both for positive and negative outcomes.

 
At 12:07 PM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

To "anonymous":

Don't get me wrong, what Don Imus said on the air last year regarding the Rutgers University Woman's Basketball team was uncqalled for - no argument from me there. But he should have received a repremand for his comments; a two week suspencion would have more than sufficed. Firing him, I believe, was foolish. More than anyone else within the main stream media, Imus was calling the Bush administration to account for the obscenity being committed against not only American soldiers in Iraq but the Iraqi people as well.

Cheers!

Tom Degan

 
At 10:04 PM, Anonymous John Harragin said...

Tom,

NBC is owned by the biggest military industrial contractor on the planet. They like to have a few ringers to illumininate their 'liberal bias'. Of coarse that bias is pretend (although it may be representitive of particular journalists) - in the sense that a major objective of their programming is to push their coorperate agenda. For that matter, why single out NBC? Nearly every major media outlet is controlled by the fascists who now dominate the policy of this nation.

It is puzzling what they are doing now. It seems that the administrations's financial planning (more war, cut taxes to the wealthy) is not going to well for even their true constituents these days. But what do I know, maybe you can appreciate what is going on if you are crazy rich...

 
At 11:44 PM, Blogger Carrie said...

Here is an absolute certainty:
Hillary Clinton would "pimp" her daughter at five bucks a shot on the corner of Tenth Avenue and Thirtieth Street if she thought if would get her the nomination.

Once again, thanks for the chuckle! Has anyone told you, you are funny?

peace

 
At 1:50 AM, Anonymous Polyquats said...

Oh dear, Tom. For once, I think you’ve got it wrong. I think you’ve let your feelings for Hillary get in the way of the argument.

The point is, nobody WOULD say that Mitt Romney was pimping his sons on the campaign trail. It’s the old double standard again.

Every candidate’s adult children have the right to campaign on behalf of their parents, just as every other citizen has the right to campaign for the candidate of their choice.

It is not justified to criticise the female children who campaign on behalf of their parents in terms that are misogynistic and demeaning, regardless of what we think of the parent/candidate.

For the first time since I started reading your posts on Alternet and following your blog, I am really disappointed.

 
At 6:31 AM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Dear polyquats,
I agree with you that Shuster's phrasing was crude. My big problem is the fact that the Clinton campaign is exploiting what was, after all, an off-the-cuff comment. Shuster is an excellent correspondant. This incident is not, by any means, so terrible that it should cost him his career.

Cheers!

Tom Degan

 
At 7:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Carrie-
How typical, talking crap on another human being and then signing you post with Peace.

 
At 7:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Rant" sucks.
Signed,
First and last time reader

 
At 4:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

FaLTR,

You'll be back...

 
At 4:57 PM, Blogger Carrie said...

Hey Anonymous,
So typical of what?
I was not being hateful towards Chelsea; I know nothing of the girl, but I do know of her parents, and they are capable of just about anything; I don't trust them.
and I don't talk crap about other human beings, I go to peace marches against the war and protest against Chelsea's mom's war. I think I can use the term peace
So relax and don't be so cereal
peace

 
At 5:06 PM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Thanks for the kind words earlier, Carrie. I try to pepper the RANT with a little humor. I like to think of myself as Will Rogers with a bad hangover.

peace....

Tom Degan

 
At 7:04 PM, Blogger Fabianna said...

Anonymous, I think you will be back because when you run into a commentator that pushes your buttons you can't help it. When I used to live in D.C. there was a guy on the radio who I HATED. He made my blood boil with his views and self congratulatory manner. I HATED him! I couldn't wait to get home each day from work and turn on the radio just to keep HATING him! Then he got fired and I was so depressed.

 
At 9:02 PM, Anonymous Polyquats said...

Tom, I don’t know anything about Shuster, but I’m sure his career won’t be ruined over an off-the-cuff remarks. I do hope someone is able to point out to him why his remark was offensive, but less hopeful that he will understand.

What really disappointed me was the way you ramped up the vitriol in your post. No off-the-cuff excuse there.

Carrie, you say “I was not being hateful towards Chelsea; I know nothing of the girl…” and immediately betray your true position. Chelsea, I think we can all agree, is a woman, not a girl, and to refer to her in this manner is at the very least condescending and rather bad manners. Nearer to the mark is that it is just as demeaning and misogynistic as the remarks you purport to find funny.

Tom and Carrie, misogyny, like racism, is never funny.

 
At 12:23 AM, Blogger Carrie said...

Hey Polyquats,

Geez, politically correct is really getting old. There are TONS of things more important than manners. Do you work for Hillary's campaign? touchy, touchy. Innocent people are being killed, our young soldiers (boys and girls, uh, young men and women) are being killed to make the rich richer. I am not worried about calling some "grown up female" a girl. get a grip

"rather bad manners" .... thanks for the lecture, mom.

peace

 
At 12:25 AM, Blogger Carrie said...

p.s.

war is never funny either

peace

 
At 11:38 AM, OpenID charemor said...

Some inteesting comment here and evidently Tom has hit some sensitive buttons for some people.

However, he is absolutely correct; if O'Riley, Limbaugh or Coulter had made a remark about the Clintons "pimping" Chelsea, it would have been completely ignored. But because a commentator with some integrity said it, they instantly go into attack mode.

The fact is the Clintons are becoming increasingly shrill and will stop at nothing to win. At one time, I would have even voted for Hillary, but no more. I somply want them to go away.

 
At 8:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I just found the whole thing quite funny. I agree totally with everything Tom wrote.
Yes slightly different from his usual rants, but I'll be back. LOL.

 
At 10:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Fabianna, my goodness, I read your comment and I couldn't help but laugh! No pun intended; I've never heard anyone say something that way. Look below, do you agree?

I HATED him! I couldn't wait to get home each day from work and turn on the radio just to keep HATING him! Then he got fired and I was so depressed.

 

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