Patterico's Pontifications


Is MSNBC to Blame for the End of Roe and Casey?

Filed under: General — JVW @ 7:15 am

[guest post by JVW]

For those of you who can stand further discussion of last week’s developments (and judging from the most-commented posts, it looks like you can), a very interesting piece at The Spectator wonders if the sort of cloistered progressive hubris so perfectly envisioned by the Ship of Fools that is the MSNBC line-up might have ended up being the unwitting euthanizers of the Roe and Casey rulings which were overturned last week by the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization majority decision. The piece is behind a firewall, so I will quote liberally from it, though I also strongly encourage you to consider subscribing to The Spectator for interesting and witty writing from a right-of-center perspective which encompasses several different strains of conservative thought. Here’s what the author, Matt Purple, has to say:

Over now to MSNBC, that glorified test of the emergency broadcast system between Fox News and the Big Bang Theory reruns you want to fall asleep to. The Supreme Court on Friday announced it had overturned Roe v. Wade, upending fifty years of abortion law. And the mood on America’s favorite left-of-left cable network was, er, punchy.

It began with Lawrence O’Donnell, who demanded that his audience “never forget the GOP presidents who overturned Roe” (in case Donald Trump was at risk of slipping your mind). After lying that George W. Bush hadn’t won the popular vote before appointing Sam Alito (Bush beat John Kerry by three million votes in 2004, then nominated Alito in 2005), O’Donnell sighed that he was profoundly disappointed. “I spent most of my life in awe of the Supreme Court,” he intoned. Yet today the Court “is not reflexively worthy of respect.”

One imagines Amy Coney Barrett running down the hall: “You guys! We just lost Lawrence O’Donnell!” And certainly the Court has desecrated itself forever by not doing what O’Donnell would have liked it to do. O’Donnell then went on to patronize Clarence Thomas for disagreeing with Roe while being black and married to a white woman. Thus did MSNBC give the country exactly what it needed: a lecture on race from a white guy from Boston.

Having taken the measure of the oafish voices, Mr. Purple turns his attention to the twerps, in this case the unceasingly annoying Chris Hayes:

Hayes is like one of those dorky kids who struts around calling people “malefactors” and “ne’er-do-wells” even though he clearly he has no idea what any of those words mean. Yet it’s his use of “democracy” that’s especially telling. Strictly speaking, “democracy” means simply that the people get to decide, either directly or through their elected representatives — as they now will on abortion. Yet for progressives, “democracy” has taken on more of a folk definition. Just as Orwell said the word fascism “has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable,’” so too does “democracy” now have no meaning except as something that makes an MSNBC contributor feel all peachy on the inside. So: lawless abortion, etc.

This debauching of our language admittedly runs both ways (a “Republican” is now one who thinks Donald Trump should maybe be king?). Yet flipping “democracy” to mean “judicial authoritarianism” might be a whole new level of doublespeak altogether. And it really is curious just how many words have had to be blurred in order to keep the abortion boat afloat: “fetus,” “procedure,” “late-term,” “constitutional right,” “choice.” If this much of your thinking is based on not thinking, it may be time to turn the critical gaze inward for a while.

This perversion of the language to fit political goals, the author suggests, has led progressives to ensconce themselves in their urban, credentialed, gentry echo chambers where everyone is in violent agreement with each other, and blinded them to the reality that people who live way out there don’t while away the hours discussing the latest editorial in the New York Times or mulling over whether it was members of the BIPOC or the LGBTQQIP2SAA community who were the most harmed by the legislative failure of Build Back Better. Nor, despite what they have been telling themselves to one degree or other since 1992, were coming demographic changes inevitably going to guarantee a progressive future in this country. This myopia bore consequences:

This same sense of inevitability has pervaded their abortion coverage, which is why MSNBC and their kith and kin may be more responsible for Dobbs than anyone else. They refined pro-choice smugness into televised narcotic. Not only did they fail to seriously engage with the arguments put forward by the other side — fetal personhood, the weakness of constitutional “penumbras,” etc. — their complacency lurched them even further to the extreme. “Shout your abortion!” they cried. “Scrub ‘rare’ from ‘safe, legal, and rare’!” Why not? The other side was just a bunch of theocratic Neanderthals, practically self-refuting.

Even after the Dobbs arguments back in December, which saw the conservative justices all but skywrite “THE VIABILITY STANDARD IS BULLS–T” above the Supreme Court, they still couldn’t quite believe the knuckle-draggers were about to pull it off. Now, they’re making the same mistake again, assuring themselves it’s just a matter of time. Republicans will pay in the midterms! Will they though? Polls have consistently found that decisive majorities support something like the Mississippi law at issue in Dobbs, which bans abortions after fifteen weeks. And are the intricacies of abortion really going to trump the pain of $5 a gallon gas?

As a parting shot, Mr. Purple takes a thwack at MSNBC contributor Elie Mystal, whose shtick is more or less being Al Sharpton with a degree from Harvard Law. (We’ve had occasion to subject him to withering contempt from time to time). Closing his piece, Mr. Purple notes a less-than-practical suggestion coming from the this buffoon:

So it is that we return to MSNBC for one last ray of insight. On Saturday, a deranged individual named Elie Mystal screamed that Biden ought to make abortions available at federal facilities — and surely he should. Democrats, here’s your game-changer: third-trimester abortions at every post office.

Renowned fraud Elizabeth Warren went one better by actually suggesting that the Biden Administration open up Abortion Pop-Up Tents at the edges of National Parks in states which place strong restrictions of the former “Constitutional right.” It’s an idea just dumb enough for Democrats and their media/academic/bureaucratic adjunct to rally around, and there will be no one inside of their ideological bubble to counsel them otherwise.


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