Monday, April 5, 2010

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Smear 'Em

I have from time to time confessed that I have a very difficult time listening to radio talker Sean Hannity. His reliance upon rhetorical tics that have the same cumulative effect as Chinese water torture, the way his voice goes into unmodulated screed mode as soon as his show opens and continues for three hours, his ersatz humility, the unctuous piety with which he lectures callers about moral issues, and his rude, arrogant treatment of callers who fail to kiss his ring often have me reaching for the radio's off button after about five minutes of being subjected to his assault on my sensibilities. Even so, a lot of people like him, and that has made him a target for the Left. Unfortunately, when the Left selects a target, truth isn't allowed to get in their way.

A week or so ago MSNBC was breathlessly reporting irregularities in Hannity's charitable work, but their allegations were soon shown to be absurd. Unabashed, they've now latched on to an even more ludicrous allegation - that Hannity expressed sympathy on his show for Timothy McVeigh. This charge is so laughable, given the context in which Hannity made his allegedly inculpatory remark, that you have to conclude that his critics, specifically a couple of lefty radio talkers named Mike Malloy and Ed Schultz, are either incredibly dumb or maliciously dishonest, or both (Schultz avowed last January that he'd be willing to cheat to keep Scott Brown from being elected in Massachussetts, so we're not dealing here with a man known for scrupulosity. This video will give you further insight into what sort of person Ed Schultz is).

Anyway, what Malloy and Schultz want you to believe to be so breathtakingly scandalous was something Hannity said to a bunch of tea-party types at a rally recently. Here's the quote:

"When you think of the vast majorities that they [the Democrats] have in Congress, and they had to bribe, backroom deals, corruption [to pass health care]. That's all because the tea party movement, the people, all these Tim McVeigh wannabes here, as they say."

The audience applauded.

Hannity was clearly using sarcasm - a weapon he admittedly wields with an unfortunate lack of dexterity - to make fun of the Left's portrayal of tea-partiers as violent extremists. His jab was, however, either too subtle for Malloy and Schultz to grasp or else they're so desperate to find something they can twist and distort that they're willing to seize any reed, no matter how slender, that might be pressed into service to discredit him.

Whatever one thinks of Hannity, the behavior of Malloy and Schultz reported at the link has the distinction of being mean, oafish and farcical all at once.

Speaking of farcical, consider MSNBC's Chris Matthews who's all beside himself because Rush Limbaugh has taken to referring to the Obama administration as a "regime." Matthews was so irate about Limbaugh's use of the pejorative that he recently felt driven to name-calling. Byron York of the Washington Examiner recounts the details of Matthews' tirade:

"I've never seen language like this in the American press," [Matthews] said, "referring to an elected representative government, elected in a totally fair, democratic, American election -- we will have another one in November, we'll have another one for president in a couple years -- fair, free, and wonderful democracy we have in this country.... We know that word, 'regime.' It was used by George Bush, 'regime change.' You go to war with regimes. Regimes are tyrannies. They're juntas. They're military coups. The use of the word 'regime' in American political parlance is unacceptable, and someone should tell the walrus [Limbaugh] to stop using it."

Matthews didn't stop there. "I never heard the word 'regime,' before, have you?" he said to NBC's Chuck Todd. "I don't even think Joe McCarthy ever called this government a 'regime.'"

Well, as Mr. York reminds the forgetful Mr. Matthews, during the Bush administration the term saw the light of day over 6,700 times. It was used dozens of times in the New York Times, The Washington Post, and on Matthew's own network, MSNBC, in reference to Mr. Bush's presidency. In fact, it was used several times on Matthews' own show and, amusingly enough, at least once by Matthews himself.

I leave it to the reader to decide how best to describe Mr. Matthews' chastisement of Mr. Limbaugh for invoking a term that Matthews himself has chosen to employ.