RachelWatch: Rachel Puts the Cuddler in a Headlock


Today: Breaking news on health care reform and Rachel interviews “ex-gay” “therapist” Richard Cohen. Yes, the cuddle guy. You want to see this.

Last week, Dr. Maddow gave us the heady rush of seeing two very smart people engaged in a thoughtful intellectual dispute.

Tuesday night, Rachel offered the somewhat more visceral pleasure of watching her tear an idiot apart.

Turns out Rachel does not suffer fools gladly when they are doing this much damage in the world. Get ready for a pile of awesome.

Breaking News

But first, Rachel started us off with the jaw-dropping news that the Senate Democrats’ Gang of Ten have come up with a health care reform compromise that, as of this writing, reportedly contains a tentative agreement to drop the public option.

Which was only the whole freaking point of doing this in the first place, but hey, as long as you Senators feel good about it.

Other reports indicated that Senator Harry Reid (D – Nevada) was wailing from his medieval wagon that the public option is not quite dead, that in fact it thought it might go for a walk, but as Rachel pointed out, it had long been weakened to the point that it wasn’t going to be very useful anyway.

(Even later reports indicate that the compromise might not be so very awful. Or might be the worst thing ever. Presumably by the time you read this, there will be a little more clarity in the air.)

Rachel welcomed Senator Bernie Sanders (I – Vermont) and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell (D) to try to figure out what the hell.

Uganda Be Kidding Me

As a warm-up for the Richard Cohen interview (You’ll need it. And good luck settling down afterward.), Rachel gave us some background on The Family and the poorly named International Healing Foundation.

She also chatted with Mark Benjamin, a national correspondent for Salon.com who went undercover in the ex-gay movement.

It is fascinating and at times very sad.

Ah, expensive DVD sets. Is there anything they can’t cure?

I’m fascinated to learn that the ex-gay movement agrees that homosexuality is same-sex desire, but “curing” it has nothing to do with eliminating that desire. The “ex-gays” just stop acting on those desires. Well, for a few minutes, anyway.

Does that mean that celibate monks are ex-gay or ex-straight? Do you need a second DVD set to become ex-bi, or is that half-price? Healing people is so complicated!

One More Thing:

You’re probably just dying to know how Family member Senator Chuck Grassley (R – Iowa, 1853) responded to the OneIowa.org petition asking him to publicly speak out against Uganda’s kill-the-gays bill.

He didn’t.

Way to show the courage of your convictions, Senator Grassley. I look forward to your next batdung crazy, misspelled tweet.

The TRMS Interview

And at last it was time for Rachel to have a nice long chat with Richard Cohen, ex-gay, cuddle therapist, and author of Coming Out Straight.

Great thumping tennis rackets, is Cohen a piece of work.

Just as a ballpark, how many hours a night do you think he spends crying? Like six?

By the end of the interview, his inability to deal with his sexual orientation seems to be just a symptom of an overall inability to take responsibility for anything at all:

Yes, he wrote the books and sent them to Uganda, but that doesn’t mean he should have put any thought into how they’d be used. Yes, he has a few paragraphs of false, fear-baiting statistics in his book, but isn’t it mean of Rachel to pick those little paragraphs out of all those pages?

He talks about Uganda like it’s this random country he decided to visit and — whoops! — vicious persecution! Only he didn’t throw a dart at the map; he chose a country with a history of institutionalized homophobia that was ripe for his message. But still, Cohen sees no cause and effect.

He just wants to love people. And help them try to suppress a fundamental part of their natures in a loving and accepting way. Through cuddling.

He’s so disingenuous and so tortured at the same time that I can’t for the life of me figure out how much of his own horsepuckey he believes. Can his brain really be flipping so acrobatically along with his mouth?

Rachel, on the other hand, just goes straight for the blatant falsehoods. She doesn’t let him get away with a thing.

Watching her pummel Cohen with his own book is one — only one — of the great joys of this interview. (Yes, for just a second, I wished that sentence were literal too.)

I’d suggest counting the number of times he backpedals or contradicts himself, but it would be like trying to count all the jellybeans in that giant jar at the state fair.

The interview is worth watching at least twice just to make sure you get the full impact of Rachel’s “Seriously?” face and Cohen’s wretched body language. Rachel nails him to the wall, but it might be just to get him to stop squirming for a second.

And then there’s the sublime moment of tragedy when he tries to say “I was not looking for a sexual relationship with a man,” and gives the whole game away.

If he weren’t causing so much pain, I’d feel sorry for him.

But he is, and I don’t.

If you’re going to tie yourself up in knots and writhe around in a puddle of self-loathing, do it quietly and keep the backspray away from everyone else. Otherwise Rachel is coming for you.

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