The guests on the panel then were Andrew Sullivan, Van Jones and the fragrant publisher/editor of The Nation and self-styled political pundit, Katrina vanden Heuvel.
Yep, the same Katrina vanden Heuvel who offers Melissa Harris-Perry column space to opine on various and sundry political current events.
Hmmm ... I wonder what Ms vanden Heuvel, who has singularly achieved every educational and professional accomplishment in her life by means of a high interest trust fund, a platinum Amex card and a wealthy, older spouse who happens to be a noted university professor, thinks about the rightful kerfuffle Dr Harris-Perry has caused with her two utterly honest articles, assessing the subtle racism inherent in the Progressive Left?
If Joan Walsh (who is one of those aspiring acolytes hanging hopefully onto the hems of Katrina's tailored Calvin Klein skirt, but who is really someone Katrina would treat as a sad and sycophantic secretary) wants an example of racist attitudes which pervade the Progressive Left, then she need look no further than Ms vanden Heuvel and her inane performance on Maher's panel in 2010.
You really have to watch the scene.
It must have been a slow news week that week, because the significant stories newsworthy of discussion were Rush Limbaugh's fourth marriage and Al Gore's divorce. After Judd Apatow, the usual extra show business guest appeared, the why's and wherefore's of the divorce question degenerated into a discussion of a particular part of Al Gore's anatomy, based on a shared memory Apatow and Andrew Sullivan had of a particular Rolling Stone cover shot of Gore from the 2000 Election year.
In the midst of all this inanery and cross-talk about the reputed size of a former Vice-President's member, for some reason, unbeknownst to anyone but her goodself, Katrina vanden Heuvel - seated beside Van Jones (the only panel member not to descend into the lowered tone of pseudo-political discourse) - offered the suggestion that the inordinate bulge seen in Al Gore's trousers, just might not belong to Al Gore at all. According to Katrina, it actually belonged to Eldridge Cleaver.
First of all, what has Eldridge Cleaver got to do with a Rolling Stone cover shot of Al Gore from more than a decade ago? Answer? Nothing at all.
Secondly, what has the purported size of Al Gore's penis bulge have to do with Eldridge Cleaver or vice versa? Answer? Absolutely nothing at all.
Except that it showed Katrina vanden Heuvel, the usually po-faced and phonily earnest scion of the Progressive Left, the publisher and editor of The Nation (which, incidentally, is the country's oldest newspaper) and a columnist in The Washington Post, made a pitiful attempt at a joke, screeching out the fact that - shock, horror - black men have big penises!
Funny-haha-moment. Not. Even moreso unfunny because vanden Heuvel was totally oblivious to Van Jones, sitting stoically and unsmilingly beside her.
That oblivion wasn't due to any post-racial awareness on vanden Heuvel's part. It was simply down to the fact that this aristocratic woman was totally unaware of his presence.
He was, to her, invisible, and as such, she could indulge in a little bit of white privileged crudity with the frat boys.
If my Southern mother were alive and had seen that, she'd mince no words in wondering why Van Jones didn't move himself well away from someone she would only describe as "a piece of scrubbed-up white trash."
At the time, Bob Somerby, writing in his Daily Howler blog, assessed the malaise this entire incident - call it "The War of Al Gore's Penis" or whatever - down to none other than my old nemesis, Gary Hart - he, who decided the Democratic Party were Progressive rather than Liberal, he who decided unions and the rural working classes of the South, the Midwest and the Rust Belt were inherently racist and he, who enabled the Republican Party to begin a forty-year culture quest to con these people into voting against their interests.
Hart, the Great Progressive Hope, who hoped to be President, was, as you recall, thwarted by a vigilant (some say vigilante) press, a woman young enough to be his daughter and a yacht appropriately christened Monkey Business.
According to Somerby, Hart's morphing into the 1980s version of John Edwards was the beginning of the ueber-trivialisation and tabloiding-down of political discourse - the blowjob in the Oval Office, the baby on the beach with the quirky mistress, Larry Craig in the airport restroom and Anthony Weiner's weiner.
As Somerby describes the incident on Maher's show:-
Andrew Sullivan mused about the size of Al Gore’s member, explaining what’s “well known in Washington.” If Katrina vanden Heuvel had any sense, she would have told him to stop playing the fool. Instead, this other High Lady played along with the fools, even making a joke on a deathless theme: Black men have the really large members!
Twenty-three years ago, rules were changed. We are left in this sad situation. Leading journalists discuss who has the big members—and the editor of The Nation sits on TV, making jokes about black guys’ large dicks. Has your computer ever been attacked by malware? That’s roughly what is happening here, as your nation’s political culture slides beneath the waves.
Now I know someone's bound to shout out, "But-but-but this remark doesn't prove anything! It certainly doesn't prove she's racist about the President!"
Vanden Heuvel is one of the most vociferous critics of President Obama, even to the point that she tweeted the night away with Glenn Greenwald when the President announced the appointment of the former Attorney General of Ohio as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, wondering tweetingly and fleetingly with Glenn what bad things they could drum up about the man and the President's spinelessness in choosing him, until the next day when they found that Saint Elizabeth Warren had recommended him personally for the position.
It was the stuff of high school mean girls and certainly not the behaviour of the editor of the country's oldest news journal.
The remark made a year ago on Maher's show, whilst she was seated beside a man of colour, was tactless, insipid and just plain dumb. It puts paid to all the word saladry and placebic postings she makes paying lip service to a vague idea and demographic she can only describe as "the poor." It certainly was insulting to people of colour, and even more insulting was the fact that she made this remark, totally clueless about whom was sitting at her side.
You would have thought her mother, or her nanny, would have raised her better.
That one awful joke revealed, unmitigatingly, the fraud that is Katrina vanden Heuvel - that she practices a form of unwitting and subtle racism, inbred of her type and social class, or that she's so completely immersed in her white privilege and entitlement, that she's totally unaware of anything and anyone else who is not a part of that constricted community, or that she's simply stupid, possessed of the best education money can buy, but possessing precious little common sense.
She's either one of those things or all three. I think the latter.
And Katrina vanden Heuvel is a leading voice of the Left. Think about that, in relation to what Melissa Harris-Perry is saying.