Saturday, February 28, 2009

Unfair to the right?

A couple of commenters below argue that I am being unfair to Sean Hannity for his attacks on Obama and unfair to Limbaugh for rooting for Obama's failure. Not so.

Dave Rye says that I have been unfair to Limbaugh by using only one sentence from him and omitting context. But Limbaugh himself says that he was invited to submit 400 words to a "major American print publication" describing his hopes for the Obama presidency. Limbaugh says he replied: “Okay, I’ll send you a response, but I don’t need 400 words, I need four: I hope he fails.”

With this context, let's consider what four years of a failed Obama presidency might look like: rampant unemployment, hundreds of thousands of home foreclosures, banks failed or under government control, deficits raging out of control, a divided Congress, terrorists on the loose, uncertain and endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

And let's consider what a successful Obama presidency might look like: the economy clicking on at least three cylinders, the stock market rising, banks securely in private hands, peace abounding, Democrats and Republicans working in harmony, torture in disrepute and America's international reputation on the mend.

To be sure, an Obama success story would contain elements that Limbaugh wouldn't like: the first steps, at least, toward universal health care; more spending on infrastructure, unwelcome debt, a slightly more progressive tax system. That's what he gets for losing elections.

But compare the outcomes. Limbaugh finds Keynesian economics so unpalatable that he is willing to have millions out of work to prove it wrong. He finds Obama's foreign policy so distasteful that he is willing to have thousands die to prove he is right. This is the stance of a man who loves his country? No, it is the stance of a man who is willing to sacrifice his country on the altar of his ideology.

As for Hannity, I have listened to him for at least a couple of hours a week for several years. If he has ever made a coherent case against Obama, I have missed it. Instead, he spent the six months before the election complaining that Obama associated with a terrorist and with a preacher who said at least a half-dozen stupid things over the last 20 years. He has spent the time since the election complaining that Obama is a socialist, without much more than a hint of what that means.

SIDEBAR: Once again, Jay Larry Lundeen criticizes me for taking on right-wing radio on a regular basis but giving "mainstream media" a pass. As I have tried to explain to him, apparently without success, I write about talk radio on Thursdays because I listen to it while I am delivering copies of the Outpost for a dozen hours each week. If left-wing talk radio was available in Billings, I would write about it, too.

The closest thing we have to left-wing radio is Yellowstone Public Radio, which does provide an interesting and useful counterpoint to right-wing talk. But it does so primarily by doing actual reporting and by giving ample time to contrary points of view. This week, for example, Warren Olney led an important and wide-ranging discussion of how to treat suspected terrorists in an Obama regime. Fascinating stuff, but too nuanced and complex to sum up in a short blog post, especially by a guy who is bouncing out of his car to deliver papers every minute or two.

Then there was this, on "All Things Considered": An anchor interviewed Sen. Judd Gregg, who was critical of the Obama budget, and said, in essence, that Obama is proposing exactly what he said he would do if he became president and that voters elected him with that understanding. So why shouldn't Republicans accept that?

Gregg said, "Well, that may be NPR's position." I don't know if was or not, but regardless of what motivated the question, it was legitimate, and the right-wing hosts would never have posed it. To his credit, Gregg gave a plausible answer, something to the effect that Americans did not elect Obama to drive the country into bankruptcy.

In the long term, it's in the best interests of even conservatives to have some liberal ideas out there.


Anonymous said...

Maybe he is just covering his ass, but this is what I gather of the full context of Limbaugh's remarks:

"If I wanted Obama to succeed, I'd be happy the Republicans have laid down. And I would be encouraging Republicans to lay down and support him. Look, what he's talking about is the absorption of as much of the private sector by the U.S. government as possible, from the banking business, to the mortgage industry, the automobile business, to health care. I do not want the government in charge of all of these things. I don't want this to work. So I'm thinking of replying to the guy, 'Okay, I'll send you a response, but I don't need 400 words, I need four: I hope he fails.'"

Within that context, it's a reasonable statement of the Republican point of view.

Chuck Rightmire said...

David, you can't be unfair to the right. What they say is what they are doing. Since they are doing it, everyone must do it.