Maddow When Cornered Pretends She's a Private Person With No Opinions

You don't know me, Rachel Maddow complained  -- twice -- to Reason magazine editor Nick Gillespie in her hissy fit Friday night on HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher."

Yet again, Maddow gets it wrong. By the incisive questions he asked, and Maddow's reluctance to answer them, Gillespie showed he knows her all too well. (video clip after page break)

Seguing from a discussion of the Fast & Furious scandal, Gillespie condemned Attorney General Eric Holder for his role in the war on drugs --

GILLESPIE: And the scandal is that there's a drug war which is another thing which Eric Holder is very happy to persecute and prosecute and repress people on, another problem.

MAHER: We are totally eye to eye on that, right. Obama administration gets an F on drugs.

GILLESPIE: What can you say when Uruguay is leading the way into the future of freedom by legalizing marijuana?

MADDOW: I feel so contrarian, I feel, all of a sudden I feel like a narc. Like, I'm against the drug war too but I just want to ...

GILLESPIE: Well, you should not be forced by your Democratic partisanship to be forced into ...

MADDOW (exasperated): See, I'm just trying to say a nice thing and already, you're a hack!  (crosstalk)

GILLESPIE: No, no, that's not what I'm saying, that's not what I'm saying ...

MADDOW: You're like this little ball of hostility. Let us reason together.

GILLESPIE: You will always take the side of a Democrat over a Republican.

MADDOW (saddened, her feelings hurt): No, I won't. You don't even know me.

GILLESPIE (not backing down): What's an example? I've seen your show.

MADDOW (sarcastically, mocking Gillespie, more crosstalk): I assume! I assume that you've always done this thing I believe that you've done based on the way you look. (Yes -- "based on the way you look")

GILLESPIE: So, what's a Republican, what's a Republican that you pick over a Democrat in an issue of ...

MAHER (racing to Maddow's rescue): That's not a fair question. If there were Repub-, you can ask me the same question, you could tell, I could answer that question ...

GILLESPIE: OK, but I asked her. (pointing to Maddow)

MAHER: ... 20 years ago, but Republicans have changed. I haven't changed. You (referring to Maddow) probably would say the same thing.

What a shock, the opinions held by Maher and Maddow have remained frozen in amber for two decades. Saves them all that trouble of thinking things through ever again.

Maddow's "you don't even know me" defense was strange enough the first time. (A friend told me it was Maddow's version of "Don't you know who I am?!"). The second time Maddow resorted to it was outright bizarre, several minutes later during a discussion of the health care law enacted in Massachusetts while Mitt Romney was governor -- aka, Romneycare -- leading to the federal Affordable Care Act in 2010, aka, Obamacare --

MAHER: This is how the Democrats should have sold it to begin with! We are going to force those freeloaders in the emergency room to pay! Why didn't they, that's how Clinton would have sold it. He would have triangulated this and sold it the way the Republicans ...

ACTOR MARK RUFFALO: That's how Bush would have sold it.

MAHER: You know what? Mitt Romney said on the campaign trail this week, he said we're going to get rid of Obamacare and return to personal responsibility. This is the return to personal responsibility, is Obamacare!

RUFFALO: Which is why it was Romneycare in the first place.

MAHER: Exactly!

GILLESPIE (to Maddow): So this is, to go back to the question, Romneycare is something that you would agree with, you would say that's a great Republican policy.

MAHER: Yeah.

MADDOW (pausing, gears furiously whirring): You don't know anything about me.

GILLESPIE: I'm just asking.

MADDOW: You should start making your arguments from places other than, here's a thing I'm assuming about you!

MAHER (to Maddow, surprised): Wait, you're not for Romneycare? (Didn't you get the memo ...?)

MADDOW (still trying to change subject): Start from something that's not about me. Make a case for yourself on your own terms.

MAHER (again asking Maddow): You're not for Romneycare?

GILLESPIE (again not backing down): Are you a fan of Romneycare?

MADDOW (all but covering ears with hands): Wha-, make your point, dude!

GILLESPIE: I'm asking the ...

MAHER (To Maddow, a third time, futilely): You're not for Romneycare?!

GILLESPIE: You're not for Romneycare?

MADDOW (morphing into Mrs. Howell on "Gilligan's Island" dealt a bad hand at bridge): Leave me alone about Romneycare, all of you! (glances at treasonous Maher). ... Listen, my job is to cover these things, not to tell you how I like them or not.

Followed by that rarity from a Maher audience -- a moment of tomb-like silence as the sheer hilarity of what Maddow just claimed sank in, before Maher uttered a feeble "oh" and an audience filled with Maddow fans as shown by their boisterous applause earlier when she was introduced began belatedly cheering for her again, lest their continued awkward silence make for a YouTube video that might doom Maddow's career.

There it was again -- "You don't know anything about me" -- as if Maddow has more in common with Emily Dickinson than Joan Rivers.

As if this ambitious media climber was actually a timorous wallflower suddenly thrust into the media spotlight amid all these brutish men with their impertinent questions, over and over and over! (wave arms for emphasis).

To make matters worse, Maddow followed this with a claim that initially silenced even a partisan audience  -- "My job is to cover these things, not to tell you how I like them or not."

Which is the opposite of what Maddow does every weeknight on MSNBC, as anyone who has spent even random seconds watching her show while channel surfing is aware. The program is officially titled "The Rachel Maddow Show" but would be more accurately subtitled, "Liberal politics I like, conservative politics I loathe."

It's a formula Maddow followed at left-wing Air America Radio, then during guest spots and filling in for former MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann, and when she was given her own cable show three years ago.

Maddow doesn't limit herself to opining there, but also does so in venues such as, ahem, the Maher show, regular appearances on "Meet the Press," her Twitter feed, chummy chats with David Letterman and Jay Leno, her book that was published this year, "Drift," and frequent fawning interviews in the media.

Maddow does not remain so engaged to tell us the news, which was invariably reported long before she got to it. She lives and breathes to opine on this, that and everything else -- and denying it shows that Maddow knows less about herself than does her new acquaintance, Nick Gillespie.

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Ex-liberal from People's Republic of Massachusetts