Graphic by MEREK ALAM
At the Democratic Debate last Tuesday, candidates faced a simple final question. Instead of devoting time to hearing the candidates plans to address the world melting or perhaps asking how they plan on housing millions of homeless people across the country, CNN anchor and debate moderator Anderson Cooper decided to focus on another story entirely: Ellen DeGeneres hanging out at a football game with former President George W. Bush.
It’s a surprising friendship to some, as DeGeneres is openly liberal, and George Bush is fiercely conservative. “So, in that spirit,” Cooper began asking the Democratic field, “we’d like you to tell us about a friendship that you’ve had that would surprise us and what impacts it’s had on your beliefs.”
The friendship was previously addressed on The Ellen Show, where DeGeneres defended it and displayed a tweet reading, “Ellen and George Bush together makes me have faith in America again” to obedient studio applause. DeGeneres, with the same energy as that sorority alum who comes over to the house too often, says that she is friends with a lot of people who have different opinions then her. She concludes on a moral message, preaching that, “We’re all different, and I think we’ve forgotten that that’s okay.” The sentiment is a laudable one, but disgustingly inapplicable to the situation DeGeneres used it for.
President George Bush isn’t merely your politically incorrect but harmless grandfather. President George Bush is the war criminal who used the power of the Oval Office to start a war in Iraq under false pretenses which killed 5,000+ American soldiers and 600,000+ Iraqi civilians, as well as starting a war in Afghanistan that this nation continues to send its children to die in. His poor (and arguably racist) handling of Hurricane Katrina left hundreds of his countrymen dead and permanently destroyed black communities.
Ellen ignores this to enthusiastically brings former President Bush on her show anyway. If everything Bush did was merely a difference of opinion, then it seems hypocritical of her to go on record to never allow President Trump on her show because she believes that, “He’s against everything I stand for.” It seems even more hypocritical for Ellen to have previously gifted the Trump family an incredibly expensive golden carriage when Trump’s racism was no longer secret, having already been sued by the Department of Justice for housing discrimination against black people. There are numerous “unlikely friendships” like this between those that exploit us and those that legitimize that exploitation. None of them are as inspiring or wholesome as Anderson Cooper believes they are.
Joe Biden holds himself up as a civil rights hero yet gave a loving eulogy at the funeral of segregationist Senator Strom Thurmond, a man who began the longest continuous filibuster in U.S. history in his attempt to oppose the Civil Rights Act. Ruth Bader Ginsburg had a close friendship with fellow Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, despite her knowing more than most that his decisions often make life worse for millions of people. The Clinton and Trump family are held up as ideological opposites of each other but are photographed laughing together at Trump’s wedding and while Trump generously funded their political campaigns with hundreds of thousands of dollars. More recently, it was revealed that Hillary Clinton threatened to cancel an interview with journalist and author Ronan Farrow because of his investigation in Harvey Weinstein. And of course, the numerous close relationships that sex trafficker Jeff Epstein held among rich and respected people like Bill Gates and most notably (once again) to the 42nd and 45th presidents.
These are just some of the powerful people actively ruining the world and eroding our faith in American institutions and values that never hold them accountable. Faith that we’re then somehow supposed to gain back as they either have “surprising friendships,” theatrically hate each other for the cameras, or both. There’s nothing surprising or inspiring about a system that tramples us, and it is time we stop looking up and smiling when the people doing it occasionally hold hands.