by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
September 17, 2009
THE MORE THINGS CHANGE
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- Writing in The Washington Post last week, columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. offered perhaps the best explanation for why the right-wingers have hijacked the political agenda of the Obama Administration.
"Health-care reform is said to be in trouble partly because of those raucous August town-hall meetings in which Democratic members of Congress were besieged by shouters opposed to change," wrote Dionne. "But what if our media-created impression of the meetings is wrong? What if the highly publicized screamers represented only a fraction of public opinion? What if most of the town halls were populated by citizens who respectfully but firmly expressed a mixture of support, concern and doubt?"
The only problem with the above paragraph is Dionne's use of the phrase, "what if." There is no need to speculate here. Like moths to a flame, the media could not resist the spectacle of a noisy claque of people vehement in their hatred of President Barack Obama. Their arguments may be absurd and have no basis in fact or reality, yet they make for good visuals and lively copy.
"There is an overwhelming case that the electronic media went out of their way to cover the noise and ignored the calmer (and from television's point of view 'boring') encounters between elected representatives and their constituents," wrote Dionne. "It's also clear that the anger that got so much attention largely reflects a fringe right-wing view opposed to all sorts of government programs most Americans support."
Of course, the more disturbing thing is that too few attempts have been made by the mainstream media to point out the absurdity of protesters that oppose government involvement in health care, yet support Medicare. Or the incoherence of protesters who don't know the difference between Marxism, fascism, communism and socialism. Or the people who are fighting, in the name of freedom, for the right to be repeatedly ripped off by private insurance companies.
It would be too easy to call these people morons. But this small but noisy group of people who do not accept the legitimacy of the Obama presidency, and are doing what they can to destroy, may ultimately destroy our nation in the process.
These people might respond would be that there were a lot of noisy left wingers who did not accept that President George W. Bush was a legitimate president. There's a huge difference.
There weren't any armed leftists showing up at public meetings during the Bush era. If you recall, wearing a t-shirt with an unapproved message was enough to get you barred from any of President Bush's town hall meetings. And if Medea Benjamin's Code Pink group showed up to events with guns strapped to their sides, they would have been called terrorists and whisked away to prison.
There weren't any nationally broadcast programs on radio or television calling for the destruction of Mr. Bush, for the left did not then and still does not have an equivalent to Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity or Glenn Beck. The op-ed pages in most major metropolitan dailies are generally center-right in political orientation. Few mainstream media people dared to question Presuident Bush on anything, particularly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
It took the shock of watching New Orleans be left to die after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 for the scales to fall from the eyes of people for whom Mr. Bush could do no wrong. But even that was forgotten in time. That's why progressives invented the acronym IOKIYAR (It's OK if you're a Republican) to explain why GOP scandals go unpunished and abuses of power go unchecked and ignored by the media.
Why would the simple act of a president delivering a short inspirational speech to the nation's schoolchildren be a source of political controversy? Even though Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush delivered similar speeches to schoolchildren?
But Tuesday's speech by President Obama, which by any objective measure was innocuous, was branded as "Marxist" and "socialist" propaganda by conservative critics, even before the speech was written. When a president asks students to "put your best effort into everything you do," and this is considered an insidious act of indoctrination, you know something is out of whack in America.
President Obama is besieged by people who lie without consequence and will say and do anything to achieve their goals. The depth of their hatred goes beyond anything we've seen in modern American politics. It is no longer a question about Obama's presidency will survive. It is whether the divisions that are opening up will swallow up our nation.
Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for nearly 30 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at email@example.com. For extra added thrills, read his ongoing daily blog on The Harvard Classics at http://hclassics15.blogspot.com.