With health care legislation ready for Obama's signature, TV titans on both sides got their first crack at a post-mortem Monday night. Glenn Beck, Keith Olbermann, and Rachel Maddow devoted the central segment of their shows to describing what the bill means for America and handicapping the political future of both parties.
The significance of the moment brought out each pundit's signature style in extreme: Maddow earnestly breaking down policy issues, Olbermann ranting against the opposition, and Beck gearing up for a war against progressives set on destroying America.
Beginning her segment with a 90-second clip of Martin Luther King's "How long? Not long!" speech, Maddow laid the ideological divide between Democrats and Republicans revealed by health care reform. "Through all the name-calling and vituperation and proxy war of this health reform fight, we are finally getting down to that clear choice. Do you want a government that does something, or don't you?" she asked.
For her part, Maddow argues: "Government is for something. We have one for a reason."
Though he didn't cry or yell, Beck's icy, extended rant declaring "game on" to progressives was no less unhinged and vitriolic. "I saw all kind of tweets today saying: "'Oh, Glenn Beck is gonna cry.' No, I left that for the Kennedy clan," he hissed. Beck rant reached a fever pitch during his latest characterization of the American progressive.
The average Democrats is not the California hippie, Marxist, communist, socialist progressives with flowers in the barrels of guns, sitting around smoking dope all day in college and talking about how they can destroy the evil American empire. [...] That is what a lot of people in our government were doing in the 1960s. And I bet you a lot of them are still doing it.
As Beck was bitter, Olbermann was angrily smug. Even in this moment of Democratic victory, the MSNBC host spent his entire Special Comment lambasting the GOP and Tea Party for their obstructionist and racist tactics. After a vintage "you should resign" to GOP Congressman Devin Nunes, Olbermann warned Republicans they are headed towards oblivion.
You are rapidly moving from "The Party of No," past "The Party of No Conscience," towards "The Party of No Relevancy." You are behind the wheel of a political Toyota. And before the midterms, you will have been reduced to only being this generation's home for the nuts.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.