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Thursday, August 08, 2013

Lawrence O'Donnell is MAD

by digby

Like so many commentators (an unusual amount of them on the left) Lawrence O'Donnell seems intent upon reliving the glory days of the Cold War. I guess now that bin Laden's dead we need another Omnipotent Enemy Leader we can obsess over. Here he is last night arguing with someone who has actually covered Russia and knows something about the country today.  O'Donnell, on the other hand, seems to think that Vladimir Putin is some sort of super-spy Super Villain who is poised to invade Czechoslovakia and send nuclear missiles to Cuba.

Lawrence O’Donnell opened his show Wednesday night taking on President Obama‘s plans to skip a planned meeting with Vladimir Putin. The conversation was quickly derailed as New Republic writer Julia Ioffe disputed O’Donnell’s assertion that Russia has complete and total control over Edward Snowden‘s actions. O’Donnell repeatedly and exasperatedly jumped in to lecture Ioffe about how Putin in fact does have that much power over Snowden, telling her, “Let’s not be ridiculous about this!”

O’Donnell asserted that Russia was “in complete control of the outcome of what would happen to Snowden the second he arrived at that airport.” Ioffe shot back that Snowden’s become a “headache” for Russia, but when a plane carrying the Bolivian president was downed because authorities thought Snowden was on board, “there was really nothing the Russians could do.”

O’Donnell couldn’t believe what he was hearing, telling Ioffe Russia has “complete power over his every breath in that country.” Ioffe told him, “I think people who haven’t been to Russia tend to overestimate their abilities.” But what really set O’Donnell off was when Ioffe said Putin is not personally writing scripts for news anchors, merely sends a “signal” out to government-controlled media outlets.

O’Donnell half-shouted, “We’re getting absurd now!” Ioffe wryly asked, “Have you reported out of Russia?” O’Donnell shot back, “Let’s not be ridiculous about this!”, stating firmly, “The Kremlin owns them, Julia!”
I don't know where this Cold War nostalgia is coming from but it's so consistent among a certain set of MSNBC commentators, particularly those who are favorites of the administration, that I can't help but assume it's emanating from Democrats rather than the neo-con faction. The talking points are very consistent.

Honestly, I think a lot of these people like O'Donnell have been waiting all their adult lives to beat up on the Russians since they were forced to play the role of doves as youngsters and always felt emasculated by it. As for the younger liberal commentators I can only assume they watched some movies and have internalized Cold War propaganda but don't quite understand the details. Krystal Ball and Joy Reid and others seem to be of the opinion that the Soviet Union still exists and that an invasion of Czechoslovakia is imminent. But nothing compares to watching Lil' Luke Russert angrily proclaim that Putin is "sticking his finger in the eye of the United States."  I half expected him to take off his shoe and pound it on the table...

Update: Oh dear God, this is so great:  Julia Ioffe responds to O'Donnell in language even he should be able to understand. Thank you!