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October 20, 2014 / 26 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Phil Donahue’

The End of the American Presidency

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

The American presidency came to an end on October 15, 1992 during a Town Hall debate between Bush I, Ross Perot and Bill Clinton. The stage of the Town Hall seemed more like a place for Phil Donahue or Sally Jesse Raphael to strut around, biting their lips, and dragging out tawdry tales for audience applause, than for three presidential candidates to discuss the future of the country.

The audience had more in common with the one that usually showed up to cheer or boo Sally or Phil’s guests, and the high point of the evening and the end of the country came when one of those guests rose and with the distinctive painstakingly slurred pronunciation of the semi-literate demanded that the candidates tell her how the “National Debt” had affected them personally.

Bush I stumblingly tried to turn her stupidity into some kind of policy question, but the WW2 vet was completely out of his depth on Phil Donahue’s talk show stage. The moderatrix however demanded that he answer how it had affected him personally. Forget the country or the consequences, feelings mattered more than policy. It was a Phil Donahue moment and the Donahue candidate stepped into the spotlight.

Bill Clinton understood that the Sally Jesse Raphael audience member did not have a clue what the National Debt is or anything about the economy. But he also knew that it didn’t matter. This wasn’t about the facts, this was an “I Feel” moment. The questioner did not want to know how a problem would be solved, she only wanted to know that the people on top “cared” about her, and Clinton did what he did best– he told her that he really cared.

The draft dodging hippie who had boasted of his drug use and gone to Moscow to defame his country, a man who was at the time every bit the extreme impossible candidate that Obama would become 16 years later, went on to the White House. And the American presidency ended.

Bush II made sure that he would never repeat his father’s mistake. He ran as the “Compassionate Conservative” and the “Uniter, Not the Divider”. He ran as the man who could never be caught flat-footed by an “I Feel” question. Bush II always felt things and insisted on sharing them with us.

The American presidency exited the age of policy and entered the age of empathy. Competency no longer mattered. The man in the grey suit who understood the issues had no place on the stage. To get there he would have to get in touch with his inner child and talk about it. He would have to spill his feelings out so that people really believed that he cared.

Without October 15, 1992, there would have been no Clinton. And without Clinton there would have been no Obama. The Democrats had nominated bad men before, but they came with the patina of experience and credibility. Even the sleaziest and least experienced Democratic President, JFK, spent decades polishing his resume and countering his weak points in a calculated plan to get to the top. But Clinton, reeking of sleaze like the back seat of a beat up Chevy, grinned his way through a primary that no one took seriously because the Democratic Party didn’t believe Bush I could be beaten, and then felt his way through a national election. It was a small step for one man, but a great step for sleazy tricksters everywhere with charisma and no ethics. America had become Louisiana and every Huey Long could aspire to be its king.

The current qualifications for an office holder include the ability to chat on The View, read Top Ten lists for David Letterman and make fun of yourself on Saturday Night Live. Most of all it’s the ability to emote in public, a skill that was once the province of an actor that with the advent of reality TV and the instant internet celebrity has become a basic life skill for everyone.

Bush I was unable to cross the “I” bridge. Obama lives under the “I” bridge. Even more than Clinton, he is the “I” candidate. Conservatives assail him for egotism, but that same shallow self-centered “I’ness” is the lightning in a bottle of modern politics. Only the truly self-centered can fully emote to the back rows. It’s a skill most common to egocentrics who feel their own pain so loudly that they can make it seem like your pain.

Phil Donahue: American Pestilence

Friday, October 4th, 2002

The good news is that the ratings for Phil Donahue’s MSNBC talkfest were so weak they forced the program’s unceremonious termination; the bad news is that MSNBC gave this raving anti-American, pro-Palestinian leftist a platform in the first place, reconfiguring its entire nighttime lineup around him and terminating the program hosted by the pro-Israel Alan Keyes in the process.

The contrast with Keyes was never more clear than the night when Donahue hosted the Jewish pro-Palestinian activist Adam Shapiro and his Palestinian wife, Huiwaida Arraf, and conducted the interview as if on bended knee — at one point cooing to the couple, “You take our breath away,” and at another gushing, “…Man and wife; holy cow….I’ll tell you, this is unbelievable…”

Donahue’s most recent audience may have been minuscule, but make no mistake: when they look back at the social and cultural meltdown that preceded and ultimately abetted the demise of American civilization, future generations will take special note of the singularly mendacious influence of this pioneer of daytime television talk.

Indeed, it is not too strong a statement to suggest that it was Donahue, more than any other media figure of the 1970′s and 80′s, who softened up the moral underbelly of Middle America, leaving it all too vulnerable to assault by the forces bent on a complete eradication of traditional norms and values.

While it’s true that Donahue was hardly the first and certainly not the last media star to push a particular agenda on a more or less captive audience, he nevertheless was uniquely situated to capture the hearts and minds of the legions of (mostly) women tired of the usual mind-numbing slop routinely served up on daytime television.

And, truth be told, his program, certainly in its earlier years, did stand a few intellectual notches above the spinning wheels and video pulp that littered the landscape of television’s morning and afternoon wasteland.

But in short time the Donahue show became the most slanted and misleading program aired on a regular basis; indeed, a steady diet could leave a viewer wondering whether there was still a solitary well-adjusted Caucasian of moderate taste and modest demeanor to be found anywhere in the country.

Yes, the gang of grotesqueries was all there: A collection of perverts, narcissists and out-and-out psychotics, with Donahue himself in the role of glorified ringmaster presiding over a circus in which specimens of the most exotically deviant lifestyles regularly took center ring, invariably in the company of some trendy sociologist or pop psychologist armed with misleading statistics and glib justifications.

All of the above, it should be noted, occurred years before the onslaught of the talk show vulgarians — Oprah and Sally and Geraldo and Montel and Jerry and Jenny and Ricki, not to mention the dozens of others whose efforts were, mercifully, much more short lived — who focused the attention of critics on the phenomenon that came to be known as “trash TV.”

The phrase may have been coined for the sleazemeisters who followed in Donahue’s wake, but trash TV of the daytime variety had its genesis on the Donahue show — though Phil, in contrast to his television progeny who shamelessly blamed their excesses on an increasingly dumbed-down pool of viewers, shrewdly couched his penchant for the lowest of the lowbrow in the highbrow rhetoric of political correctness, employing the sensitive cadences beloved by liberals:

We’re expanding horizons! Exploring neglected areas of the human condition! Raising society’s level of tolerance! Moral equivalence! Egalitarianism! Multiculturalism uber alles!

Making of a Space Age Liberal

According to his 1980 autobiography, Phil Donahue grew up a rather repressed young man, terribly inhibited and plagued by all manner of monstrous neuroses caused by the strict Catholic ambience of his childhood.

Poor Phil apparently felt shackled by the moral absolutes that informed church doctrine — so much so that his struggle to cast off all traces of his religious upbringing would last well into adulthood.

Then along came the Sixties, wondrous decade of self-indulgent baby boomers

proclaiming that they — not their mothers and certainly not their fathers — knew best about how the world works, or ought to work, and never mind five thousand years of recorded human history and the customs and conventions that developed over millennia.

This flouting of traditional standards, coupled as it was with a sniveling disregard for all forms of authority, found a home in the hearts of college students across the country (not all, or even most, but enough to attract the kind of heavy — and largely celebratory — media coverage that served to permanently identify an entire generation with the burgeoning counterculture).

But callow, college-age youth were not the only Americans to fall under the spell of the anti-establishment, revolution-for-the-hell-of-it pied pipers of the countercultural left; there existed no shortage of adults who, lacking the perspective and wisdom usually associated with age, loudly let it be known that, hey, maybe the kids were on to something.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/phil-donahue-american-pestilence/2002/10/04/

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