Phil Donahue, the godfather of trashy daytime TV talk, has taken himself out of mothballs, seemingly determined to remind persons of discriminating taste exactly why they were so overjoyed to see him go into retirement in the first place.
A slavish follower of every left-wing orthodoxy known to man, Donahue is appearing on any program that will have him, admonishing the U.S. for being a bully in Afghanistan and imploring President Bush to stop the bombing.
Whether on “Good Morning America,” “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” or “The O’Reilly Factor,” Donahue’s message boils down to the same simplistic pap he dispensed on his own show for nearly 30 years.
You remember the Donahue show – a daily roundup of perverts, narcissists and out-and-out psychotics, with Phil the glorified ringmaster presiding over a circus where specimens of the most exotically deviant lifestyles took center stage, invariably in the company of some trendy sociologist or psychologist armed with misleading statistics and glib justifications.
Striving mightily to embody the traits of the era’s “sensitive,” non-masculine male, Donahue became a champion of the looniest aspects of feminism, and indeed it often seemed that scarcely ten minutes could go by in the discussion of any topic wholly unrelated to women’s rights without Donahue feebly attempting to make the most specious connection.
Donahue’s feminist obsession – parodied to perfection in a “Saturday Night Live Skit” that had the talk-show host, portrayed by the late Phil Hartman, all but groveling in the presence of a mannish-looking female psychologist who had written a book called “Women Good, Men Bad” – fed off the outlandishly unscientific and historically illiterate claims shouted by feminists in the early and mid 1970’s such as: no differences, other than the most obvious, between men and women; females once ruled the world way back when (precisely when was never made clear, perhaps because the evidence for such an assertion was non-existent); if not for the pernicious influence of a patriarchal society, girls would naturally gravitate to careers as construction workers and middle linebackers.
On matters of foreign policy and America’s place in the world, Donahue was an unreconstructed leftist whose scorn for the Pentagon was equaled only by his indulgent view of the Soviet Union. Donahue’s trademark retort to any mention of Soviet misbehavior or the need for maintaining a strong American military was to shoot the camera a bemused look and sarcastically mutter, “Yeah, we know – the Russians are coming, the Russians are coming!”
The fact that in those pre-Gorbachev days the Russians were indeed coming or had already arrived – with crushing force all over Eastern Europe and Afghanistan and by proxy everywhere from Angola to Nicaragua – bothered Donahue not the slightest; as a humanitarian of the left he was concerned strictly with the purported sins of the United States and with what he and his comrades viewed as America’s overzealous anti-communism.
Has he changed at all since he left the airwaves in 1996? Not a chance, as can be gleaned in the following excerpts from his visit last week with Rosie O’Donnell. Behold the sage:
“Maybe we should have a pause in the bombing…. All the great religions, including Islam, teach brotherhood, reaching out instead of lashing out, and now that December is upon us and the winter’s coming, we have more than a million refugees. This is an opportunity for America to have a holiday pause in the bombing and focus all our might and energy on clothing these people … this would demonstrate to the world that we are a compassionate nation, that we know how to do more than bomb.
“Most [Americans] are standing mute as we watch these bombs rain down with no evidence that it’s going to make us safer…. The memory of the 5,000 dead … is not honored by our going over and killing more innocent people. We have to get a hold of ourselves … we’re going after a guy in a cave with B-52’s. Let’s just show the world that we have compassion and feed these people…”
Jason Maoz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org