The staff at As The Donald Turns continues its look inside all the events and people at the premiere political event of the year over the weekend, Politicon 2017 in Pasadena, CA. Three years ago the debut event had about 1,000 people. This year, they sold more than 10,000 tickets. That came with a lot of pros, and certainly some cons that the promoters will need to address in future years. One of the things they went out of their way to do was make for odd couple pairings in debate or conversation.
As The Donald Turns; Politicon News and Notes, Part 2
- Saturday had a what was intended to be a compelling “debate,” matching Chelsea Handler and Tomi Lahren. Handler of course is a well-known comedian and talk show host. Some love her and others cannot stand her. There is seldom middle ground and it is fair to say she is fine either way. Lahren’s fame is still to be determined. She gained notoriety via politically conservative Facebook videos, got a job with Glenn Beck’s Blaze TV, and was fired by Beck before she had even been on a full year. Not much came out of the intended awkward pairing other than for Lahren to admit, that while she rails against Obamacare, she is in fact still on her parent’s insurance thanks to the ACA and the fact she is only 24 years old.
- Handler was also part of another odd match-up, in the Democracy Village, at the CNN stage with uber talented newsman Jake Tapper. Again, Handler was the irreverent self you would expect. And Tapper was the consummate journalist who tried to not be swayed by Handler “jokingly” claiming the president has had many female companions and now had diminished mental capacity, so therefore a sexually transmitted disease must be in play. Tapper could not distance himself from those types of jokes quickly enough, trying to salvage his news credibility. In some moments of sincerity, Handler said her jokes are never going to strive for balance because she is not trying to convert Trump backers, but, “I have to be real.” She said that she does not understand how first daughter Ivanka Trump can tolerate Donald’s policies. “You have the opportunity of a lifetime to lead for women’s issues, so f—–g lead.”
Perhaps the strangest part came after the packed event. As Handler left with multiple bodyguards and staff in tow, there was not one yell for her to stop and take pictures or sign autographs. Tapper, on the other hand was in a mosh pit of admirers off stage and was more than happy to hang out and take pictures. Hey, maybe the organizers at Politicon got a glimpse of their real audience.
- MSNBC took over Democracy Village on Sunday and had its share of oddities and well as hot tempers in the crowd.
- New MSNBC personality Ari Melber had the unenviable task of opening his new job by interviewing hip hop artist and radio show host Charlamagne tha God. They talked about political activism in the urban communities, the roll of music and art in politics and it all seemed to work. At least until they went to questions from the crowd, and Charlamagne was accused of suppressing the voice of conservative blacks. He said he invites them on his show all the time, but they never show up. He also had to answer for one of his radio guests suggesting if they found they had slept with a transgender woman, he would kill her. During part of his interview with Melber Sunday, advocates for transgender people began shouting at him … “We are not a joke! Trans people are not a joke!” Hey these are things that happen when you “mix it up,” and keep it real.”
- MSNBC also hosted a forum called “Facts Still Matter.” Joy-Ann Reid moderated with guests, former RNC Chair Michael Steele, former NSA intelligence officer Malcolm Nance and political science professor/commentator Dr. Jason Johnson. It was a well thought out panel, with Steele saying he has not yet, “Given up my fight to return the Republican Party to what it can and should be.” He also said he thinks, “Our politics reflect who we are as a nation.” That of course is frightening to some right now. “We have become a reality show society and it reflects in our current politics. Donald Trump has learned how to tap into that vein,” Steele concluded.
Johnson pointed out that while Congress may have a 17% approval rating, if the future is anything like the past, “98% of them are going to get re-elected by you.” Treat your politicians to the expectations the way you would raise your kids.”
Reid and Johnson in particular faced a hostile question from the audience when asked why they did not do more to stand up for the African American community, “that is being pushed out of the way by illegal immigration, to the point we cannot get jobs.” Johnson, who studied immigrant patterns in the South while at the University of North Carolina, shot back quickly. “I refuse to scapegoat an entire race of people who have risked their lives and left everything they know behind them in order to come here for a better life, because they are doing jobs most of you would be unwilling to do for money you would be unwilling to accept!” Reid had a stern tone. “As the daughter of two immigrants,” (her father was from the Congo and her mother from British Guiana), “I am just going to say….thanks to the great panel and to everyone who showed up!
There were more panels to go to, with more debate, conversation and some arguing, as well as local congressman being summarily booed after saying some pretty stunning things. All of that and a little more of the “flavor” of the event will be covered in the third and final installment of As The Donald Turns; Politicon 2017.