Don’t get me wrong: There are few things in public politics quite as satisfying as watching a conservative duke it out with a liberal on national TV. To take a page from Ben Shapiro, it’s usually a fight between facts and feelings, and the former tends not to care about the latter.
However, note that I said there are few things in public politics as satisfying as a good old-fashioned mano-a-mano between the left and the right. For instance, an Al Franken resignation speech. That crazy stoner guy on RT America trying to string two or three coherent sentences together. Watching election night 2016 clips from NBC News on repeat. These are a few of my favorite things.
But even better than all of that is watching a liberal being forced to duke it out with another liberal on national TV. That’s because, short of Christopher Hitchens’ conversion to the cause of the Iraq War, it’s never because one of these liberals has become too conservative for the establishment media. No, it’s almost always because one of the liberals has become too crazy for the rest of the liberal establishment.
That brings us to Michelle Goldberg, The New York Times columnist who now thinks the leader of the free world isn’t the leader of the free world because he so happens to be Donald Trump and … well, perhaps we should let her explain it.
According to The Washington Free Beacon, Goldberg was appearing on “Meet the Press Daily” on Friday. RealClearPolitics editor Caitlin Huey-Burns was taking a shot at Trump’s public communications strategy, which apparently she felt wasn’t befitting of “the leader of the free world.”
“He’s not the leader of the free world, but, sorry,” Goldberg interjected.
“By default he’s the leader of the free world,” John Podhoretz of Commentary shot back.
I’ll be perfectly honest here: I was expecting a Vladimir Putin quip. I would have put almost any amount of money on a Vlad joke. Thankfully, there aren’t instant betting markets on “MTP Daily” (probably for lack of viewers), because there would have gone my kids’ college fund.
“Angela Merkel is the leader of the free world,” Goldberg said.
Well, I didn’t see that one coming. Just so you know this isn’t fake news:
Merkel, by the way, was just barely able to form a ruling government because she’s mishandled everything from the EU to the migrant crisis. Unlike the fake far-right scares we keep on hearing about in America, where two-dozen soggy racists show up at a “Unite the Right” rally in the nation’s capital, Germany has a real problem in that department with Alternatif für Deutschland, an actual far-right party which captured nearly 13 percent of the vote in the last election and has expressed a willingness to work with the militant group Pegida.
That’s the leader of the free world to Michelle Goldberg. This woman works for The New York Times. As in, for a salary; she doesn’t just show up in the newsroom and they let her peck away at a Bondi blue iMac for eight hours a day and then assure her they’ll publish whatever febrile rants she’s come up with.
So, as for the reaction: Podhoretz laughed, while Huey-Burns actually tried to reason with her.
“Well, he is the most important person in the world in politics right now,” Huey-Burns said.
“He’s a sort of junior player in a bloc of authoritarian countries,” Goldberg continued. “He’s part of a bloc that includes Vladimir Putin, (Philippines President Rodrigo) Duterte.”
Maybe I would have collected on that Putin bet after all. Putin, by the way, kills people with near-impunity and Duterte brags he’s thrown drug dealers out of helicopters. Donald Trump tweets iffy stuff about Mika Brzezinski at 5:20 a.m. Clearly equivalent.
Surprisingly, given that this is MSNBC, they didn’t necessarily agree.
“(Trump) is not rounding people up and murdering them without any due process,” host Katy Tur said.
Personally, I applaud Tur. She was giving Goldberg a soft way out. To her credit(?) Goldberg wasn’t having any face-saving condescension.
“He would certainly like to,” Goldberg said.
“I don’t think you can say that definitively,” Tur responded.
Oh. Come. On.
Really? You have evidence that Trump actually wants to kill a person without due process? I mean, you’re literally accusing our 45th chief executive of being President Dexter Morgan. You can do that on “The Daily Show” or some other satirical vehicle. This is “Meet the Press.” OK, it’s “MTP: Daily,” which is kind of like the cable annex for the people who can’t actually get past the velvet rope into the “Meet the Press” VIP lounge, but it still (technically) qualifies as an actual news show. Implying you have evidence the president would actually like to murder someone comes dangerously close to the outer fringes of libel law.
Podhoretz — a NeverTrump conservative — decided to disregard pretty much every bat-guano insane plot point from this rant and simply say that if Trump “is not the leader of the free world, there is no leader of the free world.”
“There is no world order without the most important richest, and most powerful country in the world trying to maintain (that),” he said.
Goldberg’s response: “Saudi Arabia can intimidate Canada for sending out a tweet about its human rights record” and Trump doesn’t do anything. This inspired laughter from literally every panelist.
So, to summarize: A writer for The New York Times believes Angela Merkel — who has trouble forming a government and is witnessing the rise of an actual far-right movement in her country in reaction to her mismanagement — is the leader of the free world. When challenged, she puts Trump in league with Putin and Duterte, who kill their enemies at will. When this is pointed out, she claims that Trump would kill his enemies if he could, because, uh, Saudi Arabia tweets and stuff. Liberals laugh at her.
I subscribe to The New York Times because I can write it off on my taxes and it’s enough of an annoyance to get around their paywall. I don’t know what your excuse is if you don’t have these exigencies, particularly if this is who they keep on their payroll.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.