Monday, October 12, 2009

Addressing the Impossible

I had an exchange with a Facebook commenter the other day. My short post there expressed dismay at the hysteria brought on by our President's having been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. Quite apart from any question of whether the award is warranted, what is there here to fulminate about? This isn't anything that the administration sought. The foaming opposition seemed spearheaded, unsurprisingly, by Fox News, whom I excoriated (as I always do), and Rupert Murdoch's bevy of hysterical hate-mongers and fear-mongers. The commenter's response was to the effect that O'Reilly and Hannity and Coulter were no worse than MSNBC's stable of Leftists, specifically citing Ed Schultz and Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow.

Leave aside that this in no way answers my charge: is that really true? Do these MSNBC commentators stir up hatred and play on fears like every single talking head at Fox? Do the MSNBC folks propagate and perpetuate lies for bald political ends as Fox does, apparently as a network policy? From what I've seen, the comparison just doesn't work.

I don't watch MSNBC just as I don't watch Fox. I get my news from NPR and the Associated Press. But I have yet to see a single YouTube clip of Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity or (here I would invoke my god's salvation if I had one) Ann Coulter that didn't make me despair for this country and for representative democracy. And by the same token, most of what I see from Keith Olbermann seems exactly right. I don't know Ed Schultz, and I've only seen Rachel Maddow a couple of times.

But if this is an example of a "flaming Leftist," then I'd be proud and delighted to throw in with them.

I find it ironic that for years we have been told by the Right in this country that opposition to their agenda is "anti-American." Yet here we see them actively hoping and striving for the failure of our democratically-elected President, and cheering for his downfall. That they stir up support for their virulent hate by propagating outright lies--he's a Communist; Bush's bank rescue makes Obama a "socialist;" he wants death panels to kill off old people; his desire to get health care for millions of uninsured people in the world's richest country is "fascism"--is no impediment if enough fear and hate are agitated.

It's this my-way-or-the-highway approach, this willingness to do absolutely anything in pursuit of power, that's really un-American.


Malaise Inc said...

I will admit to finding Keith Olbermann rather shrill. But at least he is intelligently shrill. The right wing screecher monkey's are either dumb as a stump or affect such stupidity credibly.

There was an article over at that references a book about the tendency towards authoritarianism in American politics that would seem to lend some insight into the question. I might just have to read it.

While the tendency towards authoritarianism is stronger on the right, it is not limited to there. I see it in the cult of personality that surrounded Bush and surrounds Obama. There are some political blogs I stopped reading because they went to great lengths to not only excuse Obama's failure to live up to a number of campaign promises, but also his continuation of some of the more objectionable Bush policies.

Word verification: funda.

wunelle said...

I think we are really in the grip of celebrity culture. The cult of personality seems to wrap itself up nicely with our desire to endorse Alphas and elevate them to god-like status.

I agree with you that Obama should be given no pass whatsoever on failing to meet his pledges. I can tolerate delays on messy items, but he seems to have backed away from a number of things on which he ran.