Friday, November 14, 2008

I Know You Are, But What Am I – Part 2

Local post-election navel gazing in recent days has, for some reason (not sure – maybe it was this guy), turned to which side of the political cheddar-sphere engages in the most "anger and vitriol" as it drives its various issues and agendas. As the title above indicates, we’ve been here before – that time talking about hypocrisy as an evaluative device.

The issue came to a head after Obama’s landslide victory last week, when some guy named Peter DiGuadio went off his rocker in Owen Robinson’s comment thread, saying: "If I had the money, I’d put a bounty on his melon. Seriously." DiGuadio then pulled a double-McBride, taking down his long-running Texas Hold ‘Em Blogger site in the middle of his hissy fit (McBride only hides hers); then, just that quickly, putting up a new one and offering this non-explanation for his hysterics: "Do I hope someone shoots The Messiah [on his old and new blog, DiGuadio just loves to mock the lofty status Obama has never claimed]? No. [yeah, but you said...] It would deprive their children of a father, and no child deserves to have his or her father taken away." Well, OK, so now a childless President Obama would be a worthy assassination target, but, you know, he cares so much about the children. Whatever.

I don’t know what there is to discuss after all this. Nobody on the left ever put a hypothetical bounty on Bush’s melon. The most we’ve ever done is call for his well-deserved impeachment, back when it would have mattered. Despite the right’s repeated lie about a Bush Derangement Syndrome and how we all hated Bush so much, our contempt for the most radical-right and worst administration in U.S. history (not a coincidence that these two go together, by the way) was never personalized to Bush, who was an empty-suited puppet willing to execute orders that came from Dick Cheney and others. Our problem with Bush wasn’t personal; it was the disastrous policies that were done in his name, by his administration.

For personal invective, just look at how the right-wing message machine treated Bill Clinton, who was accused of everything, including murder. Unable to beat him on the substance of the issues, they went after him personally with a ferocity that showed contempt for civil discourse and, yes, the office of the presidency itself. If we wanted to play those games, we would have had lots of ammunition with Mr. Drunk-till-40 (imagine if Clinton had the same history), but, a) we didn’t need it, we fought him straight-up on the issues, and b) we don’t play that. No, only one side has cornered the market on the politics-of-personal-destruction, and the other side is not interested.

But, I think the focus on tone is a little off the point of who does what out here, what is fair and unfair argument, who masks the weakness of their arguments behind rhetorical devices, etc. The focus on which side throws off the most heat misses a more interesting point: which side argues more fairly and honestly? On that point, I offer the following stark contrasts of who does what between left and right:

Recitation of talking-points: In a very entertaining and informative must-read grenade tossed into the secretive mainstream talk-radio foxhole that is 620-WTMJ, former staffer Dan Shelley lets us in on what actually happens at the radio station when Charlie Sykes prepares for his daily poisoning of the public discourse. "Conservative talk show hosts would receive daily talking points e-mails from the Bush White House, the Republican National Committee and, during election years, GOP campaign operations. They’re not called talking points, but that’s what they are. I know, because I received them, too. During my time at WTMJ, Charlie would generally mine the e-mails, then couch the daily message in his own words." He also writes about Sykes checking on what Limbaugh and other nut-right radio hosts are saying, the better to harmonize with the GOP choir.

In his snarky, revealingly-defensive and uncharacteristically-long response (Shelley obviously struck a nerve at Radio City), Sykes claims to send the GOP e-mails right to his junk mail folder. Right. An opportunistic message-Republican makes sure has doesn’t get his e-mails from Karl Rove in the White House, lest his pure message be sullied by undue co-mingling. That’s why his daily messages just happen to synch up so nicely with every other national and local wing-nut in the country. Sykes really insults his readers’ intelligence here. He should save his lies for his radio show. Speaking of which...

Lies: One thing I have always given Sykes and Mark Belling credit for is that they are smart enough to know that what they often say, repeatedly, are lies. They are both smart enough to know that man-made global-warming is real. They both know that the selection of Sarah Palin was an embarrassing joke. They both know what Joe Biden meant when he said Obama would be "tested". They know better than to think Obama is a socialist; that Bill Ayers is relevant to anyone about anything; that the Joe the Plumber thing was a transparent and desperate campaign ploy; blah blah blah.

But they pretend they don’t know – in fact, they pretend that they believe the exact opposite – just to drive the talking-points created by whatever campaign for which they are providing free advertising. This sort of intellectual dishonesty is part-and-parcel of their shtick.

For the most part, the left doesn’t do either of these things. If I see an interesting take on a political issue on, say, the excellent Huffington Post, the last thing I am going to do is parrot it here. As for lies, well, the truth has been far more entertaining and unbelieveable than anything you could make up when it comes to the Bushies, whose days in the White House are now thankfully and mercifully numbered.

Every indication is that the right-wing echo chamber on talk-radio and the blogs will continue to take their marching orders from above and continue to spin lies-as-truth. Once in a while, one or another will fly off the handle and show their true colors, like DiGuadio or Belling going off on another racist rant. [UPDATE: Well, that didn't take long. This afternoon, Belling was using the sad story of the child who died in abusive foster care to blame the death on "fat" social workers and the preference to put black kids in black homes. There is no tragedy that Belling will not exploit for his ugly racist message.] It is going to be even more frustrating for them, after President Obama puts the lie to their dire predictions and puts together an effective coalition with people of all political persuasions in his effort to recover from the Bush Disaster.

More and more, the hot-headed right will be barking in the wilderness, with no one listening but themselves and their dwindling number of the target wing-nut demographic that Dan Shelley identifies as "a segment of the population that feels disenfranchised and even victimized by the media". In terms of its own eventual extinction, the right-wing media doesn’t have to fear a renewal of the Fairness Doctrine as much as they should fear themselves.


Anonymous said...

52%-46% is a landslide? Was Bush's 53%-46% win over Kerry also a landslide? I don't recall you mentioning that back in 2004. It amazes me how you will only see the facts in a way that fits your reality/desires.

Nobody ever hypothetically called for the death of President Bush? How about Randi Rhodes?

Then again, Randi isn't some singular blogger with a tiny audience, she's on AIR AMERICA.

So since the republicans are out of power...will you now just focus your hatred on conservative talk radio? Won't that get boring after a while? Maybe more Springsteen reviews are in order.

Anonymous said...


I can't believe that someone who went to college, got a law degree and is practicing can be this myopic. "Nobody on the left ever put a hypothetical bounty on Bush’s melon. The most we’ve ever done is call for his well-deserved impeachment, back when it would have mattered." - SERIOUSLY? You're going to make that comment and truly believe it??? That tells me that you are EXACTLY the same as the people you comment on and despise in this post. Just by looking 10 mins on the internet I was able to find the following people, comments, and paraphernalia regarding the killing of George Bush: Betty Williams, Malachy McCourt, T-Shirts promoting KILL GEORGE BUSH - with blood splatter, Cindy Sheehan, and an indi film titled "Death of a President" which talks about in detail the assassination of President Bush. Those are just a few of the items the tolerant left spews towards GW.

You talk about how the right treated Bill Clinton but not how the left treated Ronald Reagan. I could write a long and drawn out comparison as you have and bring out the same lame, tired comparisons, but I prefer to be more objective and realistic. Politics is dirty business. I am by no means supporting or remotely defending even insinuations of killing the President, but I do know, and so do most, that both sides engage in this BS. To pick a side on this issue is the definition of a partisan hack....

Anonymous said...

I apologize, I was wrong in a stat I quoted...Bush won 51%-48% in 2004, but again, wouldn't that be a landslide in Mike's world or is it only a landslide when a democrat wins?

Mike Plaisted said...

Yeah, right, Sean, I'm really going to take the word of Tammy Bruce for anything. And stupid bumper stickers and T-shirts are not the same as mainstream-to-off-Broadway lefty blogs, who never bothered with Bush's personal life.

And, Anony, that was a pretty stupid attempt at humor by Rhodes, like I'm really going to take Malkin's word for anything. Besides, I always thought of Junior as more like Sonny, without the charm.

The landslide was in the Electoral College, where it counts. I think the threshhold was 340 for that definition. Well, just wait four years and see what happens.

John Foust said...

Don't hold back, Sean - but stay local. What do you think of Peter's style and his threat against Obama and his death-wish for the rest of us? For convenience, I'll quote Peter:

"I don't hope for his success. In fact, I seriously hope this country gets attacked by terrorists over and over again and every possible bad thing that can happen does happen ... to people like you. If I had the money, I'd put a bounty on his melon. Seriously."

It doesn't surprise me that national talk radio hosts engage in provocation. It doesn't surprise me that you can find anything you like on the Internet. (Sex with stuffed animals? Who knew?) I tried listening to Rhodes once and she did not hold my interest. Her bit only implied she was talking about Bush, right?

And "Death of a President" was a fictional documentary vehicle to talk about the implications of Bush's anti-terrorism policies. I've watched it. Reasonably well done for an indy, I'd say. For that matter, legally, fiction can make statements like this. I hope you don't think it's the same as Peter's threat.

Meanwhile, Peter wishes that you and I should die in a terrorist attack. Same thing in your mind?

Anonymous said...

Wow - this blog is so nasty and filled with nonsensical trash talking... what a wasted piece of space. It is the very definition of juvenile, and only demonstrates the author's lack of intelligence. How does this Plaisted guy even hold a job?

Anonymous said...

So Mike, as long as you deem it either a form of art (movie) or an attempt at humor (Rhodes) then it's perfectly ok to say those things about the president.

Rationalization is a great defense mechanism isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Hey John, you should really read my comment a little closer before asking, "What do you think of Peter's style and his threat against Obama and his death-wish for the rest of us?"

I specifically said the following "I am by no means supporting or remotely defending even insinuations of killing the President, but I do know, and so do most, that both sides engage in this BS." Talk like Peter's is disgusting, and shouldn't be condoned. That speech, as much as he has a right to say it, should be chastised and ridiculed as stupid, which was done by at least one conservative blog.

As for my "proof", you may not like Tammy Bruce, and you can make the argument that you "can find anything on the internet", but the fact remains that similar attitudes and opinions regarding threats on GW's life were thrown out there by the left. That "proof" was just 10 mins of surfing. I'm sure I could look a little further on some liberal (sorry progressive) blogs and find some equally vile posts, but I don't need to. The reason for that is I realize that there are idiots on both sides.

It might not fit your opinion of the typical liberal, but there are mean people on that side of the spectrum along with hypocrisy, double standards, and irrational behavior. To automatically equate R=Evil and D=Good is shortsighted, intellectually dishonest, and just plain wrong.

John, as for your question: "Meanwhile, Peter wishes that you and I should die in a terrorist attack. Same thing in your mind?" 1) Don't know why you would ask the question considering my statement in my original comment and reiterated in this comment and 2) NO, I would never say that and most certainly wouldn't condone that. Lastly, I hope that you, Mike, and those on the left side of the aisle realize there are liberals that make comments that are equally as vile and disgusting as those that Peter uttered. My guess, at least for Mike, considering the tone of his post(s) is that will never happen, but one can "Hope".

Anonymous said...

"It is going to be even more frustrating for them, after President Obama puts the lie to their dire predictions and puts together an effective coalition with people of all political persuasions in his effort to recover from the Bush Disaster."

Dude, you know that a coalition bringing together people of all political persuasions will have to include Republicans, right? And won't that mean that they'll have an opportunity to be heard and maybe even influence policy, or in some cases even have their policies enacted? Unless, I suppose, you prefer a coalition that includes Republicans to whom no one listens to. Maybe that is what you want. All I know is that my ears are bleeding from that sentence you just put together because it is so unproductive.

Unknown said...

I love the moral superiority of the anonymous posts on this blog. It speaks volumes about the character that lies within.

Anonymous said...


Moral superiority of the anonymous posts on this blog? How about the moral superiority and character of the blogger himself? I

Unknown said...


At least you know Mike's name and background. He doesn't "hide" behind anony posts.

Anonymous said...


What difference does that make?