- CRITTER TALK
- MOVIE-TV-BOOK REVIEWS
- NEWS I FIND INTERESTING
Today, he doesn’t even bother. What was wrong with those posts? he asks. Did they cost any votes?
Okay the fact that I was fired for Facebook posts which were … Fine! … racially intensitive (sic)?
Do you think that would have cost us a vote?
He is fascinated with tough guys who thought it was funny to subvert democracy during the Nixon years. They performed dirty tricks and laughed about various illegalities later.
Sam thought they were too cool for words. He attached himself to Roger Stone, one of the original dirty tricksters. Stone boasted of his own ethical models: Roy Cohn of Joe McCarthy fame, Dick Nixon, and the Duke of Windsor who brought Nazism to English royalty. Sam Nunberg regards Roger Stone as a father figure.
Roger Stone is like a surrogate father. He’s like my father.
Sam has been hired and fired and hired and fired over the years by the man who became our President.
Generating sympathy for such an individual is not an easy task. But this was his week in Bizarro World, as he went on one cable news interview after another. He wanted to talk about his part in the Trump-Russia-election-hacking investigation being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller.
He is clearly under pressure. To say that he seemed to crack is an understatement. He self-scrambled on screen. Print does not do justice to the spectacle. He was not unraveling. He was already there, a rolling mass of torn yarn littering the floor.
He was cooperative. He wouldn’t testify. Here is the subpoena. He will not obey. He won’t spend the time producing email records. He will go to jail first. They’ll never put him in jail because it would be laughable. Do you think they’ll put me in jail? Maybe I’ll go to jail then comply. How about if I just give them my password?
On and on it went.
It was a witch-hunt. President Trump was innocent.
Trump was a lowlife.
Yeah, but Trump is the most disloyal person you’re ever gonna meet.
Trump was probably guilty.
And they’re right. And they probably have something on Trump. Trump did something pretty bad.
I think they were interested in something with his business.
I’ll never give evidence on Roger Stone.
I’m not gonna go in there for them to set up a case against Roger.
He regarded himself as invulnerable. No way would the special prosecutor throw him into jail, just for refusing unreasonable demands.
They’re not going to send me to jail.
I’m not going to jail. You think I’m going to jail?
I mean, right?
Jail!? I’m not going to jail, come on. Do you think I’m going to jail?
It would be ridiculous to send him to jail. Never happen.
They’re not gonna send me to jail. You know what? Mr. Mueller, if he wants to send me to jail, he could send me to jail. And then, and then, I’ll laugh about it, and I make a bigger spectacle than I am on your TV show right now.
He looked like he would cry. Well, no, actually. He looked like he had just finished a good cry. Trying to compose himself.
Have you been drinking? Erin Burnett of CNN grows concerned. No, he says, I’m just on my meds.
Talking to you, I have smelled alcohol on your breath.
Well, I’ve not had a drink.
Haven’t you had a drink today?
No, no, my answer is no. No, I have not.
Besides my meds. Anti-depressants, is that okay?
Conservative S.E. Cupp posted her concern:
I know it’s compelling to watch Sam’s bizarre interviews right now…but I’m actually concerned that someone I’ve known a long time is not okay…
— S.E. Cupp (@secupp) March 6, 2018
I am no professional, but he looked pretty damn far from okay.
I see emotional parallels in history.
My thoughts go to the late, late Madame du Barry, who contributed mightily, toward the end of French Revolution, to the decline of enthusiasm for public executions. The Reign of Terror continued for a while but died out.
Common folk in those days had a lot of reason to hate the aristocracy. By the time Marie Antoinette was said to have mocked the hungry of France, “Let them eat cake”, it did not matter that the quote was fake news. There is no evidence the Queen of France ever said such a thing. But royal attitudes of the day were caustic enough on their own. The words became part of popular folklore. The Queen was executed in 1793.
Most of those sent to the guillotine made it a point of honor to go to the executioner with dignity as much intact as possible. They uniformly faced screaming mobs in solemn bravery.
But not du Barry.
As the customary cart carried her toward the guillotine, she answered the bloodthirsty shouts of the crowd with her own shrieks. She pleaded with the mob. She collapsed in the cart, still crying out for mercy. She was dragged, struggling, to the platform. Her last words to the executioner were a plea for him to wait just one moment. But thunk and her head rolled.
During all the shrieks and struggles, the shouts died down and the mob grew silent. There was little sound to drown out her sobs as she was forced into place and killed. In later public executions the size of the crowds lessened. The enthusiasm of those who did turn out diminished. Executions became a rarity. The Reign of Terror came to a close.
It is entirely possible that Sam Nunberg sees himself less as a reincarnation of Madame Du Barry than as a clever actor impersonating the doomed aristocrat.
Sam Nunberg could simply have been putting on a show.
Mob boss Vincent Gigante dodged prosecution for years with an extravagant show of mental incompetence, shuffling about Greenwich Village in pajamas and bathrobe. His underlings consulted with him and got their orders out on the street.
Emotional instability might spare a guilty person some degree of criminal consequence. But it will not help with a subpoena. Refusal to produce evidence or to appear before a Grand Jury will earn you a quick 18 months, then several months more, regardless of any meltdown.
There is also plausible individual normality. What is strange for me, abnormal for you, might be a way of life for another. McKay Coppins of the Atlantic Magazine has known Sam Nunberg for years. He swears the television drama is very much in character. The man has often seemed in drama-mode for much of the time Coppins has known him. Nothing here, folks, move along.
Still, watching a human being turn into a quivering mass of protoplasm entraps most of us with a horrible fascination. If he was acting, the Oscars a few hours before missed their mark.
I watched the subdued reaction as interviewers interviewed each other about the great meltdown. To some degree, all seemed to venture past the news value of the story to a concern for the human being who suddenly discovered he had serious accounts to settle.
In one program, a lawyer shared the set. She was interviewed as an expert in investigatory testimony. Sam Nunberg had been invited to stick around as an afterthought. She soon bypassed the host, trying to counsel the troubled individual across the table. Please do not commit a pointless legal self-immolation.
As he talked about arguments with his concerned parents, she spoke with a sort of firm softness.
I think your family wants you home for Thanksgiving, and I hope you will testify.
For a few more moments, they ignored the interviewer and spoke to each other as if cameras were not there as if a mother was speaking to a troubled child.
Didn’t she see that the demands for documents and testimony were absurd? No, Sam, you have to comply. This is more serious than you know.
Isn’t this ridiculous?
No, it’s not ridiculous, Sam… It is so not ridiculous.
A nation and its election have been stolen with the help of a foreign power. Crimes have been committed on a scale with which even the perpetrators are only slowly coming to grasp.
There may yet be more, much more, well-deserved pain to come.
As I watched Sam Nunberg unravel on television, I hoped he would retire each night this week surrounded by those who would care for him, who will ensure his well being.
I think your family wants you home…
Many thanks as always to our friends at Fair and Unbalanced.