Saturday, April 18, 2009

Thursday talk radio update

Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck were crowing about the success of TEA parties across the country and attacking the "MSM" (as if they weren't part of it) for failing to cover the protests with as much enthusiasm as FOX news did. With my schedule, I don't have much time to consume MSM, so I don't know whether they had a legitimate gripe. Their MSM complaints included a clip of a CNN reporter badgering a protester (very bad form), a blanket indictment that liberals were terrified of the protesters (no evidence of this that I saw), and a suggestion that MSM really couldn't understand what the protests were about.

I'm not part of the MSM, but count me in on the last point. I couldn't understand why they were protesting, and Hannity and Beck weren't much help. Basically, they were complaining that taxes are too high (although Obama has proposed tax cuts for most Americans), that Obama is a socialist (Beck dialed back a bit from last week's claim that Obama is actually a fascist) and that deficits are huge (which they are, of course, and were for years, without public protest, before Obama took office). Hannity also complained several times that Obama was trying to "gut" the defense budget, with the word "gut" apparently defined as a 4 percent increase.

The protests seemed to violate the fundamental rules of successful political protesting:

1. Keep it simple. End the war. Let women vote. Impeach Earl Warren. That's change we can understand, if not believe in. And it's why you had major protests, for example, against going to war in Iraq but have no protests over how many months the exit strategy should cover. It's just too complicated. It wasn't clear to me whether the protesters were against Keynesian economics, health care reforms, the omnibus budget bill, the proposed budget, TARP funds, or all of the above. If they opposed all of the above, then at least they get points for ideological consistency. But did they really expect Obama to do nothing at all if elected but watch the economy slide into the sea?

2. Know where you stand. It made sense for women to march for the right to vote because they couldn't just go out to the polls and elect people who would make it happen. And it makes senses for gay rights advocates to protest for the right to marry because they hope to raise awareness among a public that is in large measure indifferent or hostile. But it doesn't make sense to protest taxation without representation when the only reason you don't feel represented is because the guy you voted for didn't win. That calls for a political rally, not a protest rally. And it doesn't make sense to pretend that you speak for most Americans when you can't turn out the numbers to prove it.

3. Acknowledge that protest is a right that belongs to everybody. Jon Stewart had more fun that he really should have had juxtaposing footage of Hannity dismissing protests in 2002 as whining sour grapes from political losers with footage of Hannity praising TEA parties as speaking for "real" Americans. This would be pretty embarrassing for Hannity, if he understood that hypocrisy is a character flaw.

Finally, the best and the worst: Best was John Oliver of "The Comedy Show," who had great fun asking protesters which was worse, British rule over the American colonies or Barack Obama as president. Of course, he didn't have to look far to find people who thought Obama was as bad, or worse, than the British had been. Then Oliver, who is British, pretended to take offense that protesters would give a young upstart like Obama as much credit for evil as the British empire, which honed tyranny to a fine art over centuries of colonial rule. So you had the weird spectacle of hearing patriotic Americans downplaying British tyranny while a Brit was arguing that the British were far more ruthless tyrants than Obama could hope to be. Pretty darn funny.

Worst was Michael Savage, who played excerpts from Hitler speeches to argue that Obama is leading us into fascism. Setting aside the absurdity of the political claim, let's just agree that if Hitler had his way, Obama would be the very first American president that Hitler would have consigned to the gas chambers. To make the comparison Savage did is unspeakably vile, and it should shame both him and KBLG for broadcasting him.


Anita said...

I always appreciate your voice of reason, David--every point numbered and elucidated. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

It's "The Daily Show", by the way.