Calling for coups: Chelsea Handler’s activism

The political Chelsea

As we noted on Tuesday, Chelsea Handler has metamorphosed from clown into political pundit. Well, actually, she has become a political pundit while remaining every bit a clown. October saw the end of her snooze-worthy series, Chelsea, in which she conducted endless wonky interviews with the scintillating likes of David Axelrod and Gavin Newsome. That show was a deadly dull exercise in political shop talk, but after it was canceled, Chelsea, instead of trying to find her funny bone again, announced that she would be setting her show business career aside for the nonce and instead focus on political activism. “Like so many across the country,” she tweeted, “the past presidential election and the countless events that have unfolded since have galvanized me.”

Dana Rohrabacher

Only days later, she showed just how knowledgeable she was about politics with a tweet about Dana Rohrabacher, a member of Congress whose district centers on Huntington Beach, California. “So, Republican rep. Dana Rohrabacher from California is was the original person who received info from Russia, because she works w/ them,” wrote Chelsea. Savvy! Just one problem: Dana Rohrabacher, as tens of millions of Americans know, is not a “she” but a “he.” “Her stupidity knows no bounds,” marveled one fellow denizen of the Twitterverse.

Melania Trump

This was far from Chelsea’s first show of idiocy since her foray into politics. In the last weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign, she sent out several tweets mocking Melania Trump’s English. On October 28: “Trump said Melania will give two or three more speeches….Hopefully an interpreter will be present.” November 5: “Tim Kaine delivered a speech entirely in Spanish. Still easier to understand than Melania.” After Trump’s election, Chelsea said she wouldn’t invite the First Lady on her show for an interview because “she can barely speak English.” As many observers noted at the time, Mrs. Trump speaks five languages; Chelsea, in her previous incarnation as a comedian, admitted more than once to being monolingual.

Donald Trump

Even the left is embarrassed by her. On August 11, the Daily Beast ran a piece headlined “Chelsea Handler’s Twitter Feed Has Officially Gone Off the Rails.” In it, Matt Wilstein cited a couple of Chelsea’s recent tweets. In one, she called for a U.S. military coup (“To all the generals surrounding our idiot-in-chief…the longer U wait to remove him, the longer UR name will appear negatively in history”); in another, she called for limits on the First Amendment (“2 Chinese guys were arrested in Berlin for making nazi salutes. Wouldn’t it be nice 2 have laws here for people who think racism is funny?”). As one person tweeted in response to her attack on free speech: “If we start arresting people for disgusting opinions you better call your lawyer.”

Sarah Sanders

In other tweets, she’s blamed the GOP for California’s rampant wildfires and for last November’s church massacre in Sutherland Springs, Texas. (Of course, California wildfires and church shootings took place under Obama, too.) Despite her proclaimed feminism, she’s repeatedly made fun of the physical appearance of White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. And notwithstanding her boasts of being pro-gay, she hasn’t been above “accusing” political opponents of homosexuality. Earlier this month, when she was displeased by a certain senator’s comments at a White House meeting, Chelsea wrote an obscene tweet suggesting that the only reason he could be so civil to President Trump must be that somebody in the Executive Branch has a gay porn video of him. The tweet, founded on a widespread rumor that the senator in question is gay, occasioned widespread criticism. “Keep being a voice for the Democrats while you use homosexuality as an insult,” one reader commented. Another wrote: “If a Republican said something like this, they’d be burning down the RNC.”

Chelsea Handler is an idiot, but for the far left, she’s a highly useful idiot, with 8.5 million Twitter followers who’ve hung in there with her despite the disastrous failure of her Netflix show. Let’s hope, for the sake of comedy and the Republic, that she gets tired of politics ASAP and returns to making people laugh on purpose.  

Chelsea Handler: from jokes to talking points

Chelsea Handler

We used to think Chelsea Handler was, at her best, funny. On her popular late-night talk show Chelsea Lately, which was carried on the E! Network for several years, her persona was that of a laid-back, know-nothing, hard-drinking, sex-happy narcissist who spread her wealth around to her chums and in return got to treat them like vassals. Whether it was an act or not (one had the impression that her persona was a somewhat exaggerated version of her actual self), she put it over well, and at its best, as we say, it could be quite amusing.

Chelsea Lately

Chelsea Lately had a simple format: she opened with a sort-of-monologue, in which she went on for a few minutes, in her self-absorbed way, about some recent experience or personal complaint or griped about one of her friends or crew members; she then proceeded to have a lighthearted roundtable with two or three other comedians, with whom she traded silly quips and personal barbs; and she concluded by chatting one-on-one with some celebrity who was there, in the usual fashion, to promote something, except that Chelsea, instead of feigning interest in the project being promoted, fixated on her guest’s shoes or clothes or breasts, or professed to find the guest sexually attractive, or expressed a lack of interest in whatever anecdote her guest was trying to put over. There was certainly not the slightest whiff of politics about any of it: the whole idea, the whole schtick, was that Chelsea was too childlike and egocentric to possibly give a moment’s thought to such lofty matters as statecraft or international affairs or the welfare of others. Indeed, the main appeal of the show was its casual political incorrectness. (50 Cent: “I had some free time….” Chelsea, interrupting: “Were you in prison?”)  

It was all terribly silly – but it was aware of being silly. It was even, you might say, wittily silly. But then something happened. Like many funny people, Chelsea decided that she was tired of getting laughs. She wanted to be taken seriously. Calling it quits with her successful late-night show, she moved over to Netflix, where she started doing a “serious” weekly interview program. Yes, there were showbiz celebrities, but they were, more often than not, politically engaged showbiz celebrities who were eager to talk with her about such subjects as global warming and DREAMers and Islamophobia. In addition, Chelsea had long, earnest conversations with the likes of Gloria Steinem, Chelsea Clinton, Jake Tapper, Trevor Noah, Keith Olbermann, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, former Mexico president Vincente Fox, and Democratic strategists David Alexrod and James Carville.

With Gavin Newsome

The premise was that Chelsea was “learning.” She was “educating herself.” This was how she described the show, and it was how Netflix promoted it: come along and watch Chelsea learn from the best and the brightest! But what really ended up happening on her Netflix show, as it turned out, was that Chelsea was sitting there exposing herself, and her viewers, to endless hours of Democratic Party rhetoric. It was pure brainwashing. Chelsea was not hearing both sides. She was not being taught how to use her mind to examine ideas critically. She was certainly not picking up any history lessons. On the contrary, she was being trained to spit back left-wing talking points. She thought she was thinking, but she wasn’t doing anything of the kind. Alas, she still doesn’t know what real thinking is.

When her show was canceled recently by Netflix, the news came as no surprise: American audiences had no interest in this new incarnation of Chelsea. They didn’t need to be lectured at by this woman who, until just the other day, was presenting herself as a bubblehead. But Chelsea lectured anyway. She lectured on her show – and, even after its cancellation, she continued lecturing on Twitter. We’ll get to that on Thursday.