It took Lawrence O'Donnell only three days to demonstrate why his hosting tenure at MSNBC is more imperiled than a clear thought in Sarah Palin's mind.
O'Donnell's "Last Word," as you know, follows "The Rachel Maddow Show," which is overpatronized by uberprogressives enchanted by Rachel & Guests' habitual exhortations for progressive pols to fight, fight, fight. Fight 'em all, fight 'em all day, fight 'em every day; fight and ye shall be rewarded. That's Ms. Maddow's message, that's what her audience laps up, and that's the audience that Mr. O'Donnell has inherited, to his detriment.
For O'Donnell is imbued with an alternative habit. Given his years spent on Capitol Hill as a top Senate aide, he can't help but disclose certain political realities, all of which many rank-and-file progressives choose to peremptorily dismiss. They just don't want to hear about rude, inconvenient, immovable obstacles in their way; if only President Obama and Congressional Democrats would "fight," say these progressives, they would more often carry the day.
Last night O'Donnell, while speaking with David Axelrod, at once illuminated and ridiculed this fanciful mantra:
[W]e had on this show last night one of the leaders of the groups that the president's talking to, Adam Green. He's the leader of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. He was encouraged by what he heard in Wisconsin yesterday, primarily because he heard the president use the word "fight." His point was, he doesn't think that you and the president, when it comes to legislating, when it comes to governing, are fighting. And I guess someone has to break it to Adam Green and others that no one fights. These guys in neckties do not fight. They ask each other to do things and they are empowered to say no. And their outcomes are not controlled by campaign rhetoric or by the image of the presidency.
O'Donnell's realpolitik will endear him to few among the activist progressive base (which I hasten to distinguish from pragmatic, old-school liberals), whose dreamy cheerleading and amateur boosterism do more harm to the cause of American progressivism than even Jim DeMint could conjure. Like the ideological tea partiers, they simply tune out what fails to reinforce their strategic prejudices. That in itself neutralizes their understanding of the world and thus their own progress.
Mr. O'Donnell, yours hosting days, as they say, are numbered.