When I write that CNN politics writer Chris Cillizza is the rankest assbrain in the Western Hemisphere, I am not being nice to him. When I write that God clowned Chris Cillizza before he was born by making him Chris Cillizza instead of a shit-eating maggot, I am being unkind. When I say that Chris Cillizza himself is the punchline to the cruelest work of absurdist comedy in the history of the fucking universe, and that the title of that work is On the Origin of Species, I am being mean. Likewise it probably is downright nasty for me to write that on the whole American society would benefit greatly by Chris Cillizza being fired out of a large cannon into an even larger cliff face. But I am not bullying Chris Cillizza. Categorically, I cannot do that.
“Wolf’s treatment of Sanders was bullying,” Cillizza wrote on CNN’s website yesterday, because he is an obsequious slimeball even more slovenly with language than his forebears were in the dispensation of their chromosomes. He’s referring to the standup set Michelle Wolf, a comedian, performed at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday night, somewhat at the expense of White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a brazen, knowing, and hugely powerful enemy of the free press and deceiver of the public by trade. As you’ve surely read by now, Wolf joked that Sanders’s makeup—her “perfect smoky eye”—is made of the ashes of the facts she burns.
That’s about as gentle a way as anyone could come up with to lampoon the single most relevant fact about Sanders and what brought her to a station in life that would make her a reasonable subject of lines in a White House Correspondents’ Dinner monologue in the first place. A frank and honest description of who she is and what she does would be much more harsh: Every day, Sarah Huckabee Sanders plants herself, by choice, between the public and the facts of what’s being done at the very highest levels of American executive power, and does her damnedest to break and delegitimize the means by which the two are brought together. She is one of the most visible and powerful people in American civic life, and she uses her visibility and power—she chooses to use her visibility and power—to confuse the public and degrade its grasp on the truth, rather than to inform or empower or serve it. Her willingness to do this on behalf of Donald Trump, day after day, and the unmistakable teeth-gnashing relish with which she does it, are the substance of her power, and the reason why anybody knows who the fuck she is at all. What history will remember about Sanders is that she is the scum of the fucking earth, and not the jokey means by which one comedian pointed out this inarguable fact—and that’s only if the senile rageaholic pissbaby moron on whose behalf she shames herself on television every day doesn’t annihilate the human race, first.
It should surprise no one that Cillizza, an amoral rat whose professional existence, like Sanders’s, is predicated entirely on cynical indifference to truth or fact or consequence, would recoil at that indifference being the subject of vocal scorn, or at the possibility of that scorn receiving praise from any sector of the public. The possibility that there might be even as mild a social tax as a hired comedian firing a few acerbic but harmless owns in your direction attached to the business of cosseting and flattering entrenched power must be scary for him, because he is a coward and because, if the well-earned opprobrium of actual real human beings can penetrate the social strata he’s spent his life sliming his way into, it implies he might get his literal fucking head chopped off somewhere down the line, and that people will be broadly okay with that. But it isn’t bullying. Michelle Wolf can’t bully Sarah Huckabee Sanders any more than I can bully Chris Cillizza.
Bullying happens along a gradient of existing power and reiterates it. That’s the difference between bullying and a fair fight: The bully is bigger and stronger and safer, and wields those advantages over someone smaller and weaker and more vulnerable. Michelle Wolf got off some zingers at Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s expense at an ultra-exclusive social event entirely filled by people whose livelihoods Sanders holds in her hands. Beyond that, as a basic function of her job, Sanders enjoys access to the water main of American political consciousness unmatched by pretty much any living person not named Donald Trump—a privilege she uses only and entirely for the purpose of pumping poison into it, aided by a healthy plurality of the people in that room but not by Michelle Wolf. I doubt there is a forum in existence in which Wolf could do anything that would qualify as “bullying” the press secretary of the President of the United States, but even if there is, the fucking White House Correspondents’ Dinner isn’t it.
This isn’t only a semantic point. It gets right to the heart of what makes Chris Cillizza an almost inconceivably atrocious and failed human being. Bullying is a real thing with real consequences; by definition, its victims need help from those with the power to give it. Arranging the events of Saturday night’s awful scumbag party such that the relatively unknown truth-voicing comedian is the bully and the vastly powerful press secretary is the victim provides a rhetorical basis for Chris Cillizza, himself the holder of an exclusive and relatively powerful station in American political life, to do what he always does and always has: give aid to the powerful at the expense of the weak. That it’s a false and dishonest basis matters less to Cillizza than to perhaps any other living person. To even accuse him of knowing it’s bullshit would be to grant, in the absence of any evidence, that he has any concept of truth in the first place.
You can’t bully these people. It’s simply not possible. You can only smash and annihilate every trace of the structures that empower them.