If you needed any proof that patriotism is definitely not the last refuge of scoundrels, Ed Martin’s new berth at CNN should do it. Nowadays that honor seems to belong to cable news – Fox News usually, but other news channels, such as CNN, usually keep a pet rightwing gremlin on hand. And who better to play hobgoblin than Missouri’s own Mister Ed?
According to the Missouri Eagle Forum, which Martin now – sort of – heads, he has signed on as a CNN political commentator “effectively immediately.” He’ll be taking the place of the “Seig Heil” guy, Jeffrey Lord, whose choice of salutation got him fired a few weeks ago. As you may have guessed, given Lord’s affection for Nazi greetings, his role on various programs was to act as Trump-apologist-in-chief. Martin ought to fill the bill on a number of fronts.
Steve Bannon likes to tout Trump’s potential to create “chaos” and “disruption” – which Bannon, adhering to the fascist playbook, thinks is a good thing. Whether or not that’s true (hint: it’s not – unless you’re an aspirational Hitler), Ed Martin also seems tailor-made for creating chaos and for disrupting things. He’s made a mess of just about everything he’s done here in Missouri. Mess-making isn’t the only way, though, in which he and The Clown-in-Chief are super-simpatico. Consider the following points of comparison:
— Obstruction of Justice: Trump fired Sally Yates for warning him that if he weren’t careful, he might be implicated by the potentially illegal activities of Michael Flynn, his National Security advisor, who seems to have been cultivating various Russians, including Vladimir Putin. Martin fired Scott Eckersley, former Governor Matt Blunt’s deputy attorney, who had warned Blunt and Martin that the destruction of potentially explosive emails that were, nevertheless, subject to the state’s sunshine law, was likely illegal. Martin quite properly took the fall, and was fired in short order. The entire episode has been labeled “memogate.”
— Both make the political personal – and ugy: Martin didn’t just fire Eckersley, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, he attempted to “slime” him, “disclosing his private e-mail correspondence with lawyers and reporters and ginning up allegations that the young attorney visited ‘group sex’ websites.”Of course, we’re all familiar with the copious ad hominem smears that Trump spews at his critics, ranging from the golden oldies like his concern about the blood coming out Megyn Kelley’s eyes – or from “her wherever” – to his recent effort to besmirch Mika Brzezinski.
— Bigotry: Consider Martin’s pungent sentiments on Mexican immigrants in the context of Trump’s “rapist” spiel:
Spearheading Mr. Blunt’s drive against illegal immigrants, Mr. Martin told a meeting of the Missouri Housing Commission that merely by driving by construction sites, “every friggin’ developer can figure out who is illegal.” And how could they do that? “There’s a bunch of Mexican there, I guess some of them are probably not legal,” he said.
Martin followed up on those sentiments last year, asserting at a Tea Party for Trump rally that it’s okay to hate Mexicans “because “Mexicans, that’s not a race.”
— Incompetence: As Chairman of the Missouri GOP, Martin was so inept that – in a red state yet – he managed to decimate the party’s fundraising apparatus during the two years of his tenure, which the Post-Dispatch politely described as “controversial.” Do I really have to labor the comparison to Trump here? As The Chicago Tribune’s Steve Chapman wrote earlier this summer, while many folks voted for Trump because they thought he would disrupt business as usual, they “may not have known what they were getting above all else: an incompetent,” adding that “his most formidable opponent couldn’t do half as much to foil Trump as Trump himself has done.”
–– Both are deadbeats: Trump has made a career out of stiffing the little guy – his record of defaulting on bills, leaving investors and others holding the bag while he makes out like a bandit (literally) has been described in detail by Quin Hillyer in, tellingly enough, an article in the conservative American Spectator. Martin, for his part, is currently in the news for his failure to pay a PR firm he hired to build up his renegade Eagle Forum. He’s in the hole for $130,000 dollars, but, get this, calls the PR firm that’s calling in his debt “DC swamp consultants,” equating their demands for payment to a protection racket.
— Both are con men: It has been argued that Martin, after failing as Missouri GOP chairman and in his efforts to attain elected office, owes his present gig as Director of the Eagle Forum to his ability to gull its founder, the elderly Phyllis Schlafly. At least that’s
the story what her daughter are telling has implied. Trump, an arguably inept business man, mediocre reality TV star, and super huckster managed to get himself elected to the presidency of one of the most powerful countries in the world by playing on the fears and biases of a particular – and not incidentally, older – segment of the population. Now that’s some con – even if he did have the help of Russian backers.
The list could go and on, I haven’t, for instance, brought up dishonesty and corruption – there’s just too much material to cover. But, you ask, what are we to learn from this comparison? Am I maybe hinting that this is what today’s Republican Party has come to? All I can say in response is that the folks at CNN chose sleazy Ed Martin, arguably a Trump-in-miniature, to represent the conservative, Republican point of view. Draw your own conclusions.