Friday, July 11, 2008

Thursday talk radio update

Hannity has been calling his show the "Stop the Radical Barack Obama Express." But yesterday, the word "Radical" was gone. Tactics have changed.

Now the argument is that Obama is a flip-flopper who acts only out of political expediency. Hardly a radical position for a politician to take.

Interestingly, I never heard Hannity mention the one position change that has aroused the most concern on the left: Obama's decision to vote for the FISA bill. Note: as always, I'm bouncing in and out of the car delivering papers when I listen to these shows, so just because I didn't hear him mention it doesn't necessarily mean it didn't come up. But even Hannity must have recoiled at the mental gymnastics required to criticize a man for changing his mind enough to agree with Hannity's own position.

I can understand the left's concern about FISA, but most of the alleged flip-flops seem small beer to me. Obama has endorsed public financing of campaigns but has rejected it for his own campaign. To me, that's about as much of a flip-flop as saying, "Yes, I think ballet is a valuable and important part of the international arts culture, but, no thanks, I'm not interested in taking lessons right now."

Obama's position on Iraq does not seem to me to have wavered at all. Perhaps someone can point out how I am wrong about this, but my understanding always has been that he would withdraw troops as rapidly as possible consistent with preserving stability in Iraq and with the safety of the soldiers. This is a position that even the U.S.-backed Iraqi government endorses. Obama would be a fool to argue that this goal could be achieved without consulting U.S. commanders on the ground, and I have not heard him make such an argument.

Hannity did have Dick Morris on as a guest, and Morris added an alleged flip-flop I had not heard: that Obama backed off his support for merit pay for teachers when he recently appeared before the NEA. That would be serious, if true. Merit pay is one of those self-evidently good ideas that Democrats balk at because they are afraid of crossing the union. But Morris was flat wrong; either that, or this is.

Morris did argue that taking the flip-flop route was good campaign strategy for Republicans, even if Democrats make similar arguments about McCain. McCain's years in captivity, apparently, have immunized him from the charge.

Too bad. I can't think of a single successful politician who isn't vulnerable to the flip-flop charge. Politics is the art of the possible, attained through trade-offs and negotiation. I would rather listen to Hannity railing against Jeremiah Wright from now until November than to the tedious flip-flop argument.

But even that wouldn't be as bad as having to listen to Glenn Beck. I girded up my courage yesterday and tuned in to the opening of the show, which featured a guest host whose name charity forbids me to mention. I lasted no more than 90 seconds. His opening monologue was so mind-numbingly stupid that I could feel my brain cells dying. No wonder these conservative talk-show hosts are so successful: They destroy the brains of their listeners and render them helpless.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention my favorite bit from Hannity. Defending a free-market approach to healthcare, he pointed out that hospitals are required by law to provide emergency care to those who need, regardless of ability to pay. Hmmm. I will be ready to concede that is a free market approach when Hannity concedes that it would be a good law if McDonald's were required to serve a cheeseburger to everybody who came in looking hungry.


Vince said...

That teacher "merit pay is one of those self-evidently good ideas" is not opposed by the NEA as far as I can tell. It's the subjectivity that can be part of the assessment that they seem to be opposed to. The NEA supports National Board Certification which is certainly in alignment with Obama's approach "based rewards for work above and beyond their positions." Having successfully completed that process a few years ago, I can definitely say that it was a difficult, yet fulfilling, process. Rather than be reviewed by an administrator or two who may or may not have any expertise in one's curriculum area, the portfolio produced in the National Board process is assessed by 20 trained educators from the candidate's curriculum area. There are many safeguards in the review process to detect subjectivity and prevent it from impacting the results.

6 Generations said...

Thanks for girding up your courage and sharing your summaries of talk radio with us cowards. I just can't stomach the stridency on those radio programs, and so I don't listen. But I like getting the rundown without the drama.