On his Tuesday night version of “Last Word” Lawrence O’Donnell went after Glenn Beck for seizing on O’Donnell’s admission last Friday that he was a socialist. In an over seven minute explanation, O’Donnell concludes, “we are all socialists now”:
Here’s my take (usually reserved for the blog, but I’ll include it here).
The most surprising part of O’Donnell’s follow-up is his defense. He doesn’t say that he’s not a socialist, just that we all are. In doing so, he explains a sort of “gotcha” moment directed towards Beck, saying that last week was not a sudden outburst of the heart (as Beck had portrayed it)– no, he’s admitted before he’s a socialist, along with Bill Maher (and they both threw Barack Obama into their fold). Take that.
“I started saying things like that publicly over ten years ago,” O’Donnell said. “What I’ve been trying to do by saying it is make people understand what socialism is, and that every taxpayer in this country, every social security recipient, every medicare beneficiary, and everyone who uses the post office is participating in successful socialism, practical socialism every day.”
“We need to take the political sting out of the word socialist,” he added, and then explained that there is good socialism and bad socialism (he’s a proponent of the good kind). And right before showing the infamous Newsweek cover that takes the same approach, he boasts that the magazine drew the same conclusion he did 16 years earlier: “we are all socialists now.”
There’s a lot in there. Let’s recap:
- I said I was a socialist
- Beck pointed it out
- WAIT, but I’ve said it before, so don’t take so much joy in it, Beckster
- We are all socialists because our economy is mixed: there’s comrade Boehner, Paul, Obama, and even Beck
- Unless you advocate for the repeal of everything that has even a hint of socialism, you are socialist
- There’s good and bad socialism: I like the good kind
- Newsweek was right, but I said it 16 years before its editors even thunked it
- “We are all socialists now”
I’m sure Beck will respond. But here’s what I can’t get past. In his on-air admission last Friday, O’Donnell used the “socialist” designation to separate himself from “mere” liberals and progressives, not to point out how similar he was to them. If what he really meant was that we’re all socialists, how come he used it as a unique identifier?
A final thought: isn’t saying we are all socialists, all the same with no real differences, so, well, socialistic?