Late last week on The Rachel Maddow Show, in an example of thoughtfully fearless and perfectly honest effrontery, Rachel called someone “a parasite who gets fat on Americans' fears.” The guy in question was Tim Phillips, president of the right-wing activist group Americans for Prosperity which is going around the country hosting events in an effort to put the kibosh on health care reform through fear mongering. Maddow and Phillips faced off in two segments on Thursday night with Maddow following up with some clarifying points on Friday.
What she did not do in the follow-up was apologize... nor should she have. She actually said that, after having some distance, she felt exactly the same.
In the heat of the confrontation, Rachel saw that her guest was pushing it into the personal realm. She acknowledged that turn, paused, and responded with her truest impression of the person sitting across from her, leaving us with some indelible symbolism for a man she sees to be as something of a scourge. There was no vitriol or melodrama. Voices weren't raised and tears weren't shed. This was merely an act of someone on the liberal side of the aisle having a backbone and not being afraid to use it. (I would have said cojones, but Rachel gets enough of the ladyman jokes as it is.) Maddow saw a spade masquerading as a heart and said, “Hey, everybody, this right here is a spade.”
I don't know about you, but I've been waiting for an awfully long time for just such a push back against the lying, cheating, and stealing --- albeit, generally with a smile (or a noose) --- of the right. Sure, Keith Olbermann calls out the phonies on the regs, though not usually to their faces. But Keith is so self-righteously smug about it, I feel he's just like the blow-hards on FOX but with better information and smarter guests.
Having Rachel, in all her super-geek, policy wonk, community activist glory land a punch like that was phenomenal. It gives me hope to see someone who seems genuinely humble and caring speak truth to power, as it were. She didn't explode or melt or get fired, either, so let's hope she does it whenever the cause arises. And let's all take her cue, step into our glory and call out those spades when we see falsehoods or injustices in our own lives.