Taibbi Did Better Than We Might Remember

Checking out the transcript, I think Matt Taibbi did a little better, when facing a genuine professional world-class sophist and the mouthpiece for evil and bullshittery, than we remember.

SNOW: [overlapping] No, no, don’t – if you want to take a parting shot, at least I get in a word.

MAHER: Okay. The last word on this.
I just wanted to include this exchange because if you look at the transcript you see one and two line contributions from everyone else, and huge blocks of text every time Snow opens his mouth. He was practically running the show, or behaving like four people had been called to interview him at a late-night marijuana-scented press conference. Why does Maher say "okay"?

SNOW: [overlapping] Which is, the way it works is the president says to the people who are in charge at the Pentagon – and there are debates. And, guess what? When people lose a debate and then they’re vindicated later on, they say, “I told him!” But the fact is, they had a debate with plenty of people on both sides. He ended up trusting the people who were in charge. If they made wrong decisions, that’s something you learn from. Yes, I know that people died. But on the other hand, you can sit around and be snarky, you can sit around and second guess. If you’ve go the way to win on the ground right now, please dispatch it right away. We’d love to hear it.

MAHER: Well—
This is amusing because up to this point he's been challenging everyone on facts. Everyone in the room has their facts wrong, according to Snow, and he uses that to shut them down. But when it comes to the White House, the people who have the obligation to be right, he characterizes it as a very, "hey, this is how it goes, can you lot do better? If so, please file your application..." In other words, any amateur offering an opinion on an entertainment/talk show had better be able to back up every last word, but the professionals should be cut some slack! They're just kids doing their best! Except of course that we should believe everything they say like they're authorities or something.

Which is why Taibbi's next point is a good one.
TAIBBI: One last point about this – sorry – sorry to – but, this whole notion of, you know, the surge working all of a sudden. You have to remember that the same people who are telling us that the surge is working are the same people who got everything wrong and lied to us every step of the way. [applause] [cheers] I mean, I wouldn’t – I wouldn’t trust these people to tell me the fucking time!

SNOW: [overlapping] Well, wait—

MAHER: [overlapping] Okay.

As I mentioned earlier, I find it gratifying that he just said this to Snow's face, because it's true. They want to be treated like they know what they're doing future tense, but they want to be excused for every mistake past tense.
SNOW: [overlapping] Wait, wait. What the hell does that mean? It’s perfect cynicism. It’s cute. It’s funny.
Interesting that Snow dismisses as "cute" and "funny" the best point that anyone has made, suggesting that it was said just for a laugh line, and that it has no merit. Of course, it not only has merit, it's the whole point: Americans trusted these people, and that trust was violated; yet the violators want to be regarded as honest and competent and even prescient. Only a fool would trust them with anything.

TAIBBI: It’s cute? It’s not cute for the people over there who are over there fighting—
SNOW: [overlapping] It’s also not cute for the people who are dying right now who come back and say that they feel proud because they have been part of something special.
I think Taibbi's answer is a good one. No it is not cute. Snow is a skilled rhetorician, though, and he's ready to pull out the trump card: the pride of soldiers. It's like Taibbi had him going under the steamroller and he pulled out a kitten. But notice how abstract this is, "people who are dying right now who come back [dead?] and say [they're still dying?] they feel proud because they have been a part of something special." Forget how true it is or isn't (what percentage of soldiers feel this way as opposed to some other way?) -- the point is he invoked "soldiers' pride" and now anyone who disagrees with him is pissing on soldiers' pride, that dirty scum! This is the lowest of low appeals to base emotions tied to patriotism. But the war, you will recall, was not premised on feeling proud or doing something special. The war, you will recall, was premised on saving the USA from a purported imminent danger.
TAIBBI: Special? [audience reacts]

SNOW: Yes, yes.

CUBAN: No, and that’s true. They have been.

SNOW: That’s absolutely right. Absolutely goddamn right. And when they come back, they say that the thing that they find is that they’re part of building something Iraqis have never had before.
He seems a little caught up in his appeal to emotion. But I read that "goddamn," from him, as just relief that his gambit seems to have worked, that he has successfully changed the subject, and distracted everyone from the the dishonesty and incompetence of the administration, which should no longer be counted worthy of trust, and onto whether or not "some soldiers feel pride" -- obviously a subject much more favorable to him.
TAIBBI: [overlapping] That’s funny, because I remember we went over there to get rid of the weapons of mass destruction, which never existed.
Here Taibbi brings it back to the original subject: the lies!

SNOW: [overlapping] When you had a country – when you had a country – okay, fine, change the topic rather than respond—[audience reacts with derision]

TAIBBI: You guys changed the topic.

SNOW: [overlapping] No, no, no, he’s changing the grounds on which I’m arguing.
Yes, he did: back to the real topic. See, Snowbag, you're not the only one who knows how to change a topic. I'm sure you'd rather discuss how there's twelve soldiers in America who are in love with what you've done to Iraq, but that nonsense is moot, because this is about you claiming "we did the best we could" and then expected to retain your authority. But you and your "gang" are dirty liars, killers, and the kind of heartless shits that wrap yourselves in the soldiers you've fucked over when someone mentions that you've been fucking people over.
MAHER: All right, I’m going to – I want to change the topic, because I want to talk about the economy, because now that we’ve won the war, that’s the big issue. [laughter] [applause]


Yeah, keepin' it light. That's why he's the comedian.

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