January 18, 2004

Hate Pundits

Theres an awfully big market these days for cheap political hack screeds. Michael Moore, Michael Savage, and Ann Coulter have all cranked out polarizing polemics against the Bad People.

It looks like Sean Hannity decided to try his hand at the genre.

I hate to review a book by its cover, but look at that title. Deliver us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, andLiberalism?

Im sure its fun to lump dictators, terrorists, and libruls together into one happy and convenient evil ball. Its got to be even more satisfying to ask the Lord to come down and deliver us from such a horror. My far-left friends know all about it. You know - Republicans hate black people, adore Hitler, throw Muslims into concentration camps, and kill Arabs for oil.

From the looks of these books you might think were gearing up for our own American version of the Spanish Civil War. Its the commie-loving Democrats against the jackbooted GOP.

Millions of people buy into this line of thinking. These books are best-sellers.

I admit to not having read Hannitys book, and perhaps he clarifies his position on the evil of liberalism in its pages. He does sit there every weekday for an hour on his Fox News show with his liberal counterpart Alan Colmes. They seem to get along well enough, better than if his co-host were Charles Manson. But he is playing the evil card to get people to buy his book. Right-wing hate works as a sales pitch whether or not thats what the book is really about.

We are not going to have a civil war. Yet at risk of seeming to undermine that sentence, I do want to say something about this mentality.

Writing off your political opponents as evil isnt just stupid and rude - its only a step away from yearning for tyranny.

Sean Hannity, at least on his cover, equates liberals with dictators and terrorists. And heres the problem: If you ask me whats the best way to deal with terrorists and dictators, Ill tell you straight up to put them in a cage or put them in the ground. Sometimes dictatorships reform themselves under pressure: witness Chile and South Africa. Other times you have to wait them out: See Soviet Union. For the most part, though, as far as Im concerned, the answer is revolution or invasion. Dictators have no right to exist.

Terrorists? Jail em or shoot em. Thats it. Negotiating, cutting deals, appeasing, or feeling their pain only enables them.

So if liberals belong in that same nexus of evilwhats to be done about liberals?

The answer, of course, is nothing. Liberals arent evil. They arent guilty of treason. Unless Hannity reverses himself in the text, the premise of his book is bogus on its face. He doesnt mind using hate as a marketing tool either way.

It isnt nearly good enough to acknowledge that the other political party isnt evil. In a liberal democracy (theres that word again) with two major parties, each party, each overall governing philosophy, brings something to the table and gets some things right. They balance. Liberals are the gas, and conservatives are the brakes. (Or is it the other way around this year?) Yin, yang, Venus, Mars, and all that. And each party gets some things flat out wrong. Its just not possible to split a reasonably healthy political culture into halves and end up with one side completely right and the other side utterly wrong.

If youre a partisan for one side and you truly believe in your bones that the other side is evil or wrong on all counts, it really does logically follow that youd prefer a one-party state. If the other party has no merit and causes nothing but trouble, everything would be solved if everyone became a Republican. Or a Democrat. Or whatever. And so democracy, from this point of view, is pointless and even dangerous.

If our hate pundits followed their logic to its conclusion, they would demand that we cancel elections.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at January 18, 2004 03:39 PM
Comments

I listen to Hannity's radio show most days on my way home from work. I do think he really believes liberals - and Democrats in general - are evil. Once in a while he'll come across a Dem he actually likes and will spend a half hour making sure that everyone knows Sean Hannity has a token Democrat friend.

He treats most liberals who come on his show like they are there for his amusement, rather than to discuss an important issue and he's so damn preachy that I bet he really thinks Sean Hannity the All Powerful and All Knowing can Deliver us from Evil.

The book (which I haven't read but I've heard Hannity talk about enough) in a nutshell: I, Sean Hannity know what is good for America. I will make you all see it my way and then we can become a hopeful nation again. You will all stop being gay, keep your legs closed, send your kids to Catholic school and pray real hard for those dictators to go away while genuflecting to George W. Bush and wrapping yourself in a flag and only then will our country be saved and the liberals will either flee to Europe or become "Hannitized."

Now you don't have to read the book.

Posted by: michele at January 18, 2004 03:54 PM

Wow, a post criticizing someone on the right. You feeling okay, MT?

Posted by: pdf at January 18, 2004 04:00 PM

You feeling okay, MT?

Feeling great today. Thanks for asking.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 18, 2004 04:22 PM

I don't know anything about Sean Hannity, but I read Ann Coulter's articles online and really enjoy them. Yes, she is extremely partisan, often unfair, and occasionally over the top. But she is also DAMNED FUNNY.

Partisans like that aren't all that bad, IMO. They are like the guy in the office who makes outrageous imitations of the boss, cracking up all his co-workers. They laugh because the lampooning always has more than a grain of truth in it. And it eases the tensions of having to deal with a jerk boss.

Posted by: Daniel at January 18, 2004 04:29 PM

Yeah, no kidding...you could spend a wee bit more time criticizing the Right, Michael. This post is great. The "Club For Growth" post, as well. More of that!

Here's an idea: You wrote an absolutely fabulous post the other day differentiating between Liberals and Leftists. (I was so impressed I passed on the link to a good 10-15 people) Why don't you post something along the same lines for the other end of the spectrum: Differentiate between (Liberal) Conservatives and (Illiberal) Rightists. Just a suggestion.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at January 18, 2004 04:32 PM

People like Hannity and O'Reilly aren't interesting enough for me to pay attention to because they're all so predictable--you pretty much can guess what they're going to say before they say it.

And Michael, Hannity probably doesn't think you're a liberal either, since if he thinks people like you are liberals, it'd be much harder for him to demonize all liberals.

Posted by: Hei Lun Chan at January 18, 2004 04:37 PM

Michele explains Hannity pretty well there. He, and a core of "conservative" figures, have this whole "liberals=evil" scheme that is simply laughable. He doesn't differentiate between Leftists and Liberals at all, and thus anyone to the left of him falls into one big, no good group. Its the same mistake many on the left make too.

Grant has the right idea, how about an analysis of Conservatives and Rightists? After all, this is a large debate going on within the "conservative" community over what exactly it means to be a conservative. I know that isn't exactly your philosophy Michael, but perhaps you could give an outside view of it.

Posted by: FH at January 18, 2004 04:41 PM

One of David Horowitz's books on his ideological conversion was entitled "The Politics of Bad Faith," and concerned itself with the ideological gamesmanship of the far left and leftover left from the 60s to the 80s. I can't help but think that Hannity, Coulter, and their ilk are creating a kind of right-wing "politics of bad faith" where there's no such thing as mere policy disagreements with liberals. Every motive is questioned, every idea is attacked, every debate is a matter of the triumph of good (my side) over evil (your side).

Of course, there are many on the left who are playing that game too. Which makes me wonder, how do you suppose Tbogg is going to troll you on this post, Mike?

Posted by: Matthew Stinson at January 18, 2004 04:42 PM

About that suggestion...

Here's a jumping off point, from Alan Bloom's "Closing of the American Mind":

"The appeal of the minority formula was enormus for all kinds of people, reactionary and progressive, all those who in the twenties and thirties still did not accept the political solution imposed by the Constitution. THE REACTIONARIES DID NOT LIKE THE SUPPRESSION OF CLASS PRIVILEGE AND RELIGIOUS ESTABLISHMENT. FOR A VARIETY OF REASONS THEY SIMPLY DID NOT ACCEPT EQUALITY...The Progressives of the twenties and thirties did not like the Constitutional protection of private property...For them, equality had not gone far enough."

PS- Daniel:...yeah, I guess you could find humor in the hate-speech of Ann Coulter and Michael Savage. Problem is, alot of people take these folks seriously.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at January 18, 2004 04:47 PM

>PS- Daniel:...yeah, I guess you could find humor

"could find humor"?

Have you read any of Ann Coulter's stuff? She is wickedly funny!

Posted by: Daniel at January 18, 2004 04:56 PM

I agree with Daniel, An is extremely funny, as is Michael Moore. I disagree with both politically, but both really can be a riot.

Posted by: FH at January 18, 2004 05:02 PM

I'm not so sure how serious people really take Coulter, Hannity, Savage, et al.

I mean, its not like 'famous liberals' are being assassinated or killed on the streets.

For that matter, its not like 'famous conservatives' are being killed either.

I used to work in a Bookstore, and I can remember all sorts of polemical books--Al Franken's "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot", Pat Buchanan's "Right From the Beginning", some reply to Franken's book called "Al Franken is a Gap-toothed Idiot" and so on and so forth. Nobody remembers those books now. And, as soon as any of those pundits stop writing or broadcasting, they'll be forgot about in a week.

More hot air, really.

Posted by: eric at January 18, 2004 05:02 PM

*That should be "Ann", not An

Ugh.

Posted by: FH at January 18, 2004 05:02 PM

Daniel...Oh yes, "wickedly" funny indeed:

"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity."
-Ann Coulter

Bwwaaahahahaha...DOWNRIGHT HILARIOUS! And utterly theocratic. This type of thing is dangerous. (And Un-American to the utmost degree) Barry Goldwater must be rolling in his grave.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at January 18, 2004 05:05 PM

My one experience with "Hannity & Colmes" was Hannity reviewing Colmes' book. Hannity contrasted Colmes' book with recent offerings by Conason, Franken, etc. According to Hannity, Colmes book was better because it didn't resort to irrational, hateful language. Heh. Class act, that guy.

It might be dangerous, actually, to call Hannity's book his ... I'd put good money on some poor slob of a ghost writer doing most of the typing. Who in Washington bothers to do their own books -- or op-eds -- anymore?

Posted by: harry at January 18, 2004 05:05 PM

The title of Hannity's book is completely disgusting. I wonder if he picked something so outrageous with the hopes of sparking a big protest and getting free publicity.

To put liberals in the same class as terrorists and dictators is revolting -- and scary. The title reminds me of a recent comment on your blog: if a person keeps promising to kill you - you should believe them.

(Query: that lesson came from a concentration camp survivor -- did I just run afoul of Godwin's Law?)

Posted by: Oberon at January 18, 2004 05:20 PM

I mean, its not like 'famous liberals' are being assassinated or killed on the streets.

Er, the anthrax mailings?

Posted by: Kimmitt at January 18, 2004 05:25 PM

Way off topic, but...Holy Crap...McGovern just endorsed Wesley Clark!...And Wesley Clark let him! The smarter thing to of done would have been to punch him square in the face...or to just start running as soon as the guy walked into the room.

So, Clark's now cornered both Michael Moore AND George McGovern. What was that you were saying the other day, Michael, about a "Howard Dean with Stars on His Shoulders"?

Posted by: Grant McEntire at January 18, 2004 05:28 PM

Dear Micheal.

I was writing to you quite a long time ago, when
I was just beginning to search for information on
how Americans think and enjoyed learning from you.
Since that time I have been busy reading, reading
and reading columns, many of them daily.
I have learned quite abit, enough to say I would
be a conservative if I could vote in American at
this time.

HOwever, I do hope this election is not a usual
one in American history as it is certainly a
confusing, nasty, very nasty campaign, in my
view, so far.

Who blames who for this coming about? Well, everyone
blames everyone else at the turn of a dime.
It is hard to accept a presidentis being called
hitler and to see books that, in the end, simply
promote hate. As in Michael Moore. Sick hate,
a hate that has made him a great deal of money
and a place of honor on talkshows.

On the other hand, there are people who exaggerate
simply repeat hateful remarks and try to keep
the pot stirring. It is not simply liberals who
can make outrageous remarks.
But still, I have hope for America because I have
met so many people through the internet who are
the "real Americans" who can think and see through
all of the continual yammmering of the politicians
running for president and the ones making remarks
about them.
This election is a very vital one, and I hope
the behaviour settles down and with only two
running the continual low remarks can come to
an end and the liberal runner will be able to
express his ideas without everyone running to
his past etc.

I still think they will be a good chance Hillary
will be stepping up. Time will tell.
I must say it is interesting, here in Canada we
have a friend of Bills thinking of running for
the conservative party, she is a dynamo, very
pretty and very smart. It will certainly perk up
our soon to come election. (at last the
"man who would not leave" has left.)

I will be returning, I like to read comments as
sometimes they bring up a different look at
the election, and of course, your views.

Best,
Carole

Posted by: Carole at January 18, 2004 05:31 PM

Eric is right.

Five years from now, no one will remember that Hannity wrote a book that put liberalism up there with terrorism and despotism. Now don't get me wrong, I actually like the Sean Hannity show. I'm as conservative as Sean is to a great extent. However, the books that are being produced by the likes of Sean, Rush, Coulter, Michael Moore, and Al Franken, among others, will go down as some of the most eminently forgettable books in the history of Western Christendom.

These books exist because people like Rush and Michael Moore understand that the people who buy these books are the Faithful; the Fedayeen of our day. As one other poster pointed out, there are people who actually believe that liberalism is evil (btw, were I a real snark I would apologize to evildoers for comparing them to otherwise hapless liberals, but since I'm not, I won't...) and take the stuff that Coulter writes as the Gospel. Similarly, the Democratic Party appears to be up to its eyeballs in people who go on that Bush = Hitler and who think that Ted Rall's latest screed is right up there with the Melian Dialogue.

These people buy these books. Radio Talk Hosts and wealthy film producers who pose as average guys in baseball hats peddle this trash because they understand that there is a quick buck to be made from a captive audience. Al Franken may be a halfway decent comedian, but I suspect he turned to politics because he was only halfway decent. So, he got down to the business of writing books that tell liberals and lefties what they want to hear. Michael Moore plays fast and loose with facts and causation to peddle his latest opus, but no one gives a rat's ass on the Left side of the aisle because, as everyone knows....

Bush=Hitler!

Finally, was there a reason, any reason at all, why Glen Beck and Michael Savage should have been allowed even close to a printer's front office?

It is a huge con. Hannity is merely the latest to have been caught with his pantaloons down, having overreached and gone a bridge too far, as it were.

I must say, I do like Ann Coulter's legs, however.

Posted by: section9 at January 18, 2004 05:35 PM

When no gray areas are allowed because all issues are cast in black and white terms, only the ideologues are well-served. The "truth" no longer exists; no one is interested in it. All we have left is "perspectivism" (Nietzsche's term, referenced by Foucault).

And then we have Holocaust denial, etc. Al Sharpton never has to take responsibility for Tawana Brawley or for his incitement of the Korean grocery being burned down. Lies go uncorrected, because all discourse has become utilitarian agit-prop.

Posted by: miklos rosza at January 18, 2004 06:21 PM

I listen to Hannity sometimes on my way home from work. He is a pretty doctrinaire conservative and pretty preachy at times. But he is not a party hack. I have heard him come down on the Bush administration hard for its equivocation over Israel over the previous two years. He is a HUGE supporter of Israel as are most conservatives today. I will say though that unlike Michael Savage, who I have had the misfortune to hear on ocassion, Sean is a gentle soul at heart. His call-screener, "Flipper" is a died in the wool idiotarian leftie type and he adores her and makes gentle fun of her. As we know, he partners with ALan Colmes who he seems genuinelly fond of. I don't think Sean Hannity thinks liberals are evil, at least not the ones that truly are liberal like Alan and Flipper. He thinks they are misguided. He would like to correct them. Hard leftists he thinks are evil (as to a large extent do I) Hannity's problem is that he calls everybody to the left of him a liberal. He had on his show on Friday a couple of protesters who sounded like lunatics. He called them liberals but these are people who think every bad thing in the world is the fault of Halliburton and the American Military industrial complex. I am not a liberal even in the sense it is supposed to be used today (only in the classical sense as discussed previously) but to call these leftist socialists liberals is an insult to liberals. This is what Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh et al tend to do. I have not read the book but from what I know of Hannity, I figure his point is that misguided liberalism enables evils like terrorism. I don't think he is equating Alan Colmes' brand of liberalism, as much as he may disagree with it, with the evils of today. This is a more legitimate point. Sean's fans who will be buying the book know what he is about. But I agree the title is a little unfortunate. (It took me a long time to say that. Sorry.)

Posted by: Doug at January 18, 2004 06:22 PM

The funny thing is, all he would have to do would be to change "liberalism" to "leftism", and it would be OK. I mean, he would still be a partisan, and maybe even a hack, but at least he would be a generalizing "preacher" of conservatism.

Posted by: FH at January 18, 2004 06:26 PM

Dear Grant,

Google is your friend.

McGovern was a war hero, as is Clark.

Imagine, War Heroes and patriots both with the courage to fight for peace and the American Dream.

Posted by: anne.elk at January 18, 2004 07:14 PM

Paul Berman's book "Terror and Liberalism" would get the same reaction if you had not read it, but it is a very well thought out book written by a liberal.

I think Hannity is an entertainer and a hack journalist, but am I really reading a discussion on a book Title?

Posted by: David Marks at January 18, 2004 07:39 PM

Michael, here's another datapoint for you, from Sun Myung Moon's Insight magazine. "When Does Politics Become Treason?" http://www.insightmag.com/news/2003/12/23/National/When-Does.Politics.Become.Treason-574556.shtml

Strange days.

s/n:r

Posted by: snr at January 18, 2004 09:00 PM

am I really reading a discussion on a book Title?

I only used the book title as a jumping off point for a larger issue. I've been thinking about this stuff lately and when I saw the book on Amazon it spurred me to finally write it up.

And Terror and Liberalism is an ambiguous title. I didn't know what Paul Berman was getting until I read a piece by him in the New York Times, then I bought the book immedietly.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 18, 2004 09:04 PM

Berman meant classical liberalism in the context, correct Michael?

Posted by: FH at January 18, 2004 10:07 PM

I like "section 9"'s post above.

I think it's a waste of time trying to find coherent political thought in these sorts of trash books, be they books by figures who are associated with the left, i.e. Michael Moore and Al Franken, or by figures associated with the right such as Hannity or Bill O'Reilly or Ann Coulter.

These people aren't writers or intellectuals. They're entertainers. Their goal isn't to promote a coherent political philosophy but to do compellling TV or Radio or film. That's why if you look at all closely at their views they barely make sense. Hannity, for instance, swooned over Arnold S, when, in theory, as such a liberal Republican Arnold should have represented everything Hannity hated. Coulter is another one. Though she supposedly is such a conservative ideologue, if you look at her stuff much she ends up just being a plain old partisan Republican. And, here I'm just talking about their political confusion at their day jobs. Lord knows what's in these books, or who they're written by? Someone in the New York Times remarked that they're books that are obviously written for people who don't read books. They're just quickie cash-ins that will be completely forgotten just a few years from now.

The danger is when the sort of anti-intellectual extremism in these books starts seeping more into mainstream discourse, which at this point is much more of a problem on the left than on the right. When Ann Coulter made the remarks referenced above she immediately got fired from National Review. Michael Savage got fired. Michael Moore got an Oscar, and now a supposedly serious Democratic candidate for president is welcoming his endorsement.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at January 18, 2004 10:19 PM

So, it's bad to confuse your debate opponent with the "enemy," but it's cool to refer to one of the world's more distinguished broadcast-journalism institutions (the BBC) as "Ba'athist" (Ba'athists being, you know, our enemies)? Just asking!

Posted by: Matt Welch at January 18, 2004 10:22 PM

You know, beneath all the arguments, right and left, is fear.
Fear that what you love is threatened. Fear that people who
contemn what you love will take it away from you. Against
that fear, reason is a fitful balance and argument hollow.
That is why a move, say, from left to right, is akin to a
religious conversion. And why the spokes(wo)men of our
politics are so, well, vivid. And why the discussions (even if they
can sustain any coherence beyond a paragraph) rarely
change minds…because minds are not the issue. It is
the gut, the heart, the crevices of the imagination.

I do not say this from some higher ground. I have my own fears.
And I believe they are justified, at least in some measure.
But I don’t like being more afraid than I have to. Howard
Dean make me afraid. Michael Totten does not. And George
W. Bush makes me feel pretty secure. I know that others
are afraid of different things, because they love different
things.

Where I live, I almost never hear anger expressed at the
individuals, the groups, the culture or the religion that
gave us 9.11. What I do hear, regularly, vociferously and
virulently, is hatred for the President of this country. That
makes me afraid. It makes me afraid that the people among
whom I live cannot see who it is who hates them and who
it is who would defend them. So what I love feels threatened.

And when I feel threatened, I am less interested in reading
the shades of difference on the “other side”. Leftists, frankly,
frighten me because what I love they appear to loathe. And
if liberals sound a bit like them, then I am likely to lump them
all together. I try to be civil, to use my intellect, to weigh the
facts, but in the end, I know that this is about love and fear.

Posted by: Stephen at January 18, 2004 10:45 PM

Matt Welch:

I've never actually typed or said "Ba'athist Broadcasting Corporation", but I'm sympathetic to some who do, and since you're on multiple boards with this and it's off topic here, you seem to really want an answer, so I'll take a stab..

I don't see anything particularly offensive about this usage, because it's a specific reference to lazy, biased journalism, which, in effect, during the war, essentially parroted Ba'athist propaganda. During the war the BBC barely concealed their desire to see the Americans and Brits lose, and credulously repeated the most exagerrated reports of setbacks, or of civilian casualties with glee. This is a very specific and provable insult to their reporting and not an attempt to insinuate that they actually are Ba'athists, hence, I think of it as acceptable. Whereas, simply calling someone Hitler with no specific or provable examples of how they are similar is an insult to Hitler's actual victims. I'm not sure where you're getting this "enemy" thing. Are you talking about Howard Dean calling George Bush "the enemy"?

Posted by: Eric Deamer at January 18, 2004 10:50 PM

Just a short comment. Anne Coulter often strikes a catty, sarcastic tone, and is sometimes unfair to those on the left. In other words, she's exactly like Maureen Dowd but she tends to the right.

If there's a place for Dowd in American Letters then it's only proper we have a Coulter to serve as a counter weight.

As far as Hannity, I live in Los Angeles and Hannity's show comes on at noon here. I appreciate him as yet another voice for conservative thought, but I almost invariably choose Michael Medved's show ( that's right, the ex-movie critic) over Hannity's. Hannity strikes me as kind of a lowest-common-denominator pundit, tending to express his thoughts in terms any eight grader could understand.

Posted by: Leathan Lund at January 19, 2004 01:01 AM

Ann Coulter isn't a counterweight to Maureen Down. Ann Coulter is a counterweight to Noam Chomsky. Dowd is an airhead who writes cleverly about hair.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 19, 2004 01:09 AM

Point taken. Glad to see somebody else is up at one in the morning thinking about this stuff (have you noticed the internet is a little addictive?).

By the way, your blog is great, keep up the good work.

Posted by: Leathan Lund at January 19, 2004 01:23 AM

Glad to see somebody else is up at one in the morning thinking about this stuff

Sleep is for the weak.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 19, 2004 01:31 AM

LOL!
Actually, sleep is for the employed-nine-to-five, I've got to be up at 7:30 so I can "webmaster". I'm crashing, but you have a great night.

Posted by: Leathan Lund at January 19, 2004 01:40 AM

To religious pro-life people, abortion is evil. Each of us began our lives at conception, when half the DNA of your father joined with half of your mother to create your own DNA. With a soul, according to believers.

Obviously, pro-life believers feel that pro-abortion advocates are evil. Thus, if 'liberal' today means pro-abortion, they're evil. Few pro-abortionists will buy Hannity's book.

Personally, I claim to be a classical liberal (libertarian), who accepts that the killing of a human fetus, for mere convenience, is wrong. Adoption instead of abortion has to be the future choice, and should be the focus of the pro-life folk.

I haven't and won't read or buy the book, nor do I read or buy Ann C. or Michael Moore. But the abortion issue is destroying the term 'liberal', because of the pro-abortion lie that the issue is one of choice. If so, why not choice in schools, ie. vouchers? why not safe & legal drug use? safe & legal prostitution? --at the age a young woman is old enough to get an abortion without telling her parents? Because the 'pro-choicers' really want only one choice pregnant women didn't have, the choice to kill their inconvenient, innocent, unwanted fetuses.

And the pro-life true believers are similarly radical, but with more justification. My point is the Michael JT, here and elsewhere, continually ignores the abortion issue and the fundamental truth that it involves massive fetus killing for (sexual) pleasure and convenience.

And one of the worst aspects of tyrannical Islamofascism is the terrible treatment of women. But consider a limited choice of (a) continued Taliban style women oppression, or (b)total, immediate, sexual liberation of women AND abortion and divorce and promiscuity and homosexuality. It at least becomes understandable, even reasonable, for a normal Muslim to be unhappy at supporting (b), and even to accept that proponents of (b) are "evil".

And I suspect Hannity is claiming that too.

Posted by: Tom Grey at January 19, 2004 01:49 AM

Well, if Hannity wants to stir peopel up with his book title, he's doing a good job and that gets book sales.

I think there is a confusion of leftist and liberal. Tony Blair is Liberal, while Robert Mugabe and Fidel Castro are leftist.

I read Ann Coulter's interview with Jamie Glazov and I had trouble taking her seriously. In spit of all her rhetoric, I wouldnt be too surprised if she had a liberal boyfriend. I think it would be a laugh riot if that was ever discovered, and she is a hell of a lot better looking than Maureen Dowd.

I don't see Bill O'Reilly as a pure conservative. I see him as right-leaning, but very obnoxious, crusty, and in-your-face, which I can appreciate at times, plus I would pay big money to see him interview Hillary Clinton.

I have seen Hannity and Colmes and I happen to like both of them. I also like Alan Dershowitz, but when I first saw him speak I thought of hi as incredibly obnoxious and bitter, and I felt appropriate that he was ofetn in the speaking cage with Falwell, though I still think he needs to smile a bit more.

Of course the funniest matching I saw was on Crossfire with Pat Buchanan and the late Paul Wellstone (someone I respect, but disgreed with immensely), and they really seemed to get along and Pat even signed Paul's book.

Posted by: Green Baron at January 19, 2004 03:37 AM

Looks like the same publicist that designed the jacket for the European edition of Krugman's book did the jacket for Hannity's book.

And stop criticizing "conservatives", Michael, or you'll lose your fan base. You don't want to be added to Coulter's "traitors" list, do you?

Posted by: DennisThePeasant at January 19, 2004 04:25 AM

The problem here is one of definition. In contemporary American politics we label as "liberals" those who are best characterized as "socialists." Contemporary "liberals" have nothing to do liberalism and are in fact reactionary, anti-liberal statists. This is the reason the word "liberal" has become such a powerful epithet. Even many Democrats don't refer to themselves as "liberal" any more - preferring the weasel word "progressive."

If you were to substitute the term "Socialism" for "Liberalism" in Hannity's subtitle it would be more accurate and appropriate.

Posted by: HA at January 19, 2004 05:14 AM

Eric -- I was referring to our Mr. Totten, who had used the phrase as a suggestion over in the comments board of Jeff Jarvis' site. And "enemy" was an attempt to quote Michael's post, even though he didn't actually use that word (whoops!) ... he was talking more about people who "equate[] liberals with dictators and terrorists," and who call their political opponents "evil."

You know, whatever floats your boat, but for me, the word "Ba'athist" is a grave and specific insult, in league with "Stalinist" and not far from "Nazi" (indeed, I'm sure I've seen the phrase "National Socialism" used to describe Saddam's political party by more than one liberal hawk). I just find it curious that the same people who express outrage at moral equivalence, and who rail against most Hitler/Nazi comparisons, even those made in jest, can in the very next breath call one of the world's more respected news organizations "Ba'athist," regardless of how slanted some of its coverage has been.

Posted by: Matt Welch at January 19, 2004 07:04 AM

"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity."
-Ann Coulter

I'm still amazed everytime I see someone trot out this line to prove how evil Ann Coulter is. Replace "Christianity" with "Islam" and you have the mentality of the average Islamofacist. You don't suppose that was what the woman was trying to say, do you? She wan't, by any chance, trying on the garb - making it sound idiotic - and then presenting the same viewpoint, slighly modified, to make it sound like the hate filled rhetoric it is?

Why is it that we never see what was said before, after and during the publication of this one line from Ann Coulter? Is it, perhaps, that quoting her totally out of context makes it easy to demonize her?

I think Coulter is a harpie. I think Hannity is a joke. I think Michael Moore and Al Franken are both clowns. That being said, I also think that anyone who sees a legitimate threat in any of them is a little too much into the realm of football politics and needs a reality check.

Great article MT. Very solid observations.

Coming from the conservative side of the table, I will tell you where this mentality came from. Modern day liberalism sets about solving all problems via income redistribution. No matter what solution is presented from the "left", it always involves taking more money from those who have it and giving it to those who do not, either directly or indirectly.

After several generations of this, conservatives have come to view liberals as being very similiar to burgulars. One breaks into your house and steals your television. The other elects a man to some seat of power, who then raises your taxes and takes the money you were going to use to buy the television.

In the end, it isn't a stretch to see why conservatives can be convinced to view liberals as "evil" by the likes of Sean Hannity. Its wrong - and I think the solution is for liberals to start understanding that money comes from places - and that it is not a natural resource that the government has the final controls on - and conservatives need to start understanding that feeding the hungry is sometimes worth more than the television.

Posted by: Roark at January 19, 2004 07:20 AM

Leathan Lund: Good on ya, but Medved is STILL a movie critic.

I agree with those who think Hannity should have employed "Leftism" not "liberalism" in the tag. I won't be buying or reading his book. Conflating depotism with liberalism is puerile logomachy, and alienates rather than persuades. I wish I could say it was the editors' fault, but I'm sure he assented.

Posted by: Bleeding heart conservative at January 19, 2004 07:22 AM

I must say I enjoy reading those critics who purportedly know about the person they are writing about go out on a limb and demonstrate they barely know their subject. I've listened to Sean Hannity for over 7 years now, so I think I know when criticism of him is valid.

Case in point: Michele, who authored the first post:

She makes it sound as if Mr. Hannity believes he is the sole answer to the country's problems. Anyone who listens to him for more than an hour knows his modesty is, indeed, in check.

Mr. Hannity puts on more people who have opposing views than anyone else in the business. Michele and others like her may get a bit miffed when he poses a question to the callers/guests and insists upon an answer (what a novel idea!).

Further, he has gone on record many, many times listing the problems he has with President Bush and his administration (immigration, double-standard for Israel, domestic spending running amuck, etc.). So much for 'genuflecting.'

As for her prediction of the books content --
'all stop being gay': care to demonstrate when he's ever said anything remotely as unkind?

'keep your legs closed': hey, what you do is your business, so long as it doesn't affect others, and he says as much

'send your kids to Catholic school': he supports vouchers so parents can send kids to ANY school they choose... this is bad?

'pray for dictators': LOL .. where did you get that one???

'Liberals will flee to Europe or become 'Hannitizes'': Hannity has offered to pay the one-way ticket to those stars who promised they'd leave USA if George Bush was elected -- so for this you're mad?

And unless you are stooping to the level of suggesting 'Hannitization' is akin to what the Nazi's did (and I am not saying you are), isn't this much like the idea that certain candidates promising to 'take back our country.'

Posted by: Charlie on the PA Turnpike at January 19, 2004 07:35 AM

Good points. I cannot speak to the specifics of Hannity's book since I haven't read it, but in general your points are well taken. Individually, these polemical books do not pose a danger, but tanken together they pose a threat. They show that it is OK to demean and dehumanize the opposition for the sake of short-term political gain.

The current popularity of these books is part of a larger problem, however. It is becoming increasingly difficult to engage in a civil debate about political issues and candidates. Even presuming to disagree with someone as often as not leads to insults and unpleasantness. Many people I know take the position that it isn't worth discussing political issues because it only leads to unnecessary bitterness.

This is unfortunate, and over the long-term it contributes to bad policies. Why? Because constructive criticism can identify the weaknesses in policies. When Lunatic rantings are offered in lieu of constructive criticism, this does not tend to happen because the criticisms themselves a devoid of credibility.

Finally, I think these polemical attacks tell us that the importance of politics has been blown out of all proportion. Sure, politics is important, but it pales in comparison to other things (e.g., family). Moreover, the stakes are seldom as high as the polemicists represent: I never thought much of Bill Clinton, but I never thought the world would end with him in the White House.

(Of course, the stakes in the fight against Islamofascism may be one of the few exceptions where the stakes really are high. That should serve as a point of caution for the Democrats who want to focus on healthcare, minimum wage, etc. in 2004.)

Posted by: Ben at January 19, 2004 07:42 AM

Yeah, I hate 'em too. Which is most of the reason why I ignore them entirely.

The amateur pundits are much more interesting than the pros. Of course, there's just as much pie-throwing in blogs, but there's no problem of heightened expectations, and they're (mostly) free.

Posted by: Slartibartfast at January 19, 2004 07:52 AM

Hanity is just confused, as he thinks that "liberalism = leftism" and leftists really are evil.

But then again, looking at all these "liberals" who spew their hate at Totten for not mouthing the Leftist party line and calling himself a liberal, can you blame small-minds like Hanity for being confused?

Posted by: contrarian at January 19, 2004 08:02 AM

Hannity has addressed this very question. And his answer is that Liberals aren't "evil", but they ARE dangerous because of their policies, which lead to "evil". I would not disagree.

Posted by: David at January 19, 2004 08:25 AM

I agree with those who think Hannity should have employed "Leftism" not "liberalism" in the tag.

Liberals are just Leftists Lite. He doesn't have to make the "distinction" anymore that you Libs try to distinguish between "rightwing" and "conservative". It's all the same isn't it? What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Posted by: David at January 19, 2004 08:27 AM

David --

Not all "liberal" policies lead to "evil," although some may (as unintended consequences and/or after the policy has been distorted). BTW, I say this as a conservative. I believe "conservative" policies are better than "liberal" policies on the whole, but I believe that most Americans on both sides want what is best for the country and think that their favored policies are just the ticket. In my view, "liberals" are simply wrong, not malicious.

Posted by: Ben at January 19, 2004 08:30 AM

Matt:

Well, I guess for you it all depends on whose ideological ox is being gored then. American President = Fair Game. "respected new organization" (even if it is little more than a font of left-wing agit prop) = sacred. I, of course, realize that this is the part where you say that you never actually endorsed comparing Bush to Hitler. It would be a violation of your whole hipper-than-thou shtick to actually have anything so predictable as a discernible opinion. Anyway, it's much easier to spend one's time cleverly parsing "inconsistencies" (What was that line about "the hobgoblin of small minds again"?, and yes, I know the next part of the quote too). But really, your taking umbrage here begs the question. Are you saying that both calling Bush Hitler and calling the BBC "Ba'athist" are just fine? Or, are both verboten for one whose mind has attained a Welchian level of perfect consistency? I mean really, which is it? I also of course realize that you won't answer this question. After all, you were just innocently, cleverly highlighting an inconsitency in others.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at January 19, 2004 08:50 AM

Eric is referring to a tactic first mastered by the Sophists, I believe. Note that at the end of the day they didn't accomplish much.

Posted by: Ben at January 19, 2004 09:01 AM
Eric -- You're a pleasant one, aren't you? I'll attempt to answer your statements and questions:
Well, I guess for you it all depends on whose ideological ox is being gored then. American President = Fair Game. "respected new organization" (even if it is little more than a font of left-wing agit prop) = sacred.
Wrong cubed. Speaking personally, I try to avoid making grossly inaccurate and inflammatory comparisons to anyone I'm criticizing. If some person or organization is worthy of criticism (and I'm of the opinion that my elected representatives are first on that list, and media organizations are near the top), then surely the truth will be a sufficient weapon. I don't expect everyone to have the same approach, of course, (and certainly, I am hardly a paragon of consistency on this point), but when someone criticizes a rhetorical cheap-shot in one breath, then utters one in the next, I think that's an appropriate time to make a comment.
I, of course, realize that this is the part where you say that you never actually endorsed comparing Bush to Hitler. It would be a violation of your whole hipper-than-thou shtick to actually have anything so predictable as a discernible opinion. Anyway, it's much easier to spend one's time cleverly parsing "inconsistencies" (What was that line about "the hobgoblin of small minds again"?, and yes, I know the next part of the quote too).
Conversely, one might say that it's much easier to spend one's time making flaccid little insults on comments boards, but that would be ducking the question, woudln't it? Here's my discernible opinion: Bush does not equal Hitler. The BBC does not equal Ba'athist. Calling things by their proper names is the best way to get at the truth, and to distinguish between your real & imagined enemies.
But really, your taking umbrage here begs the question. Are you saying that both calling Bush Hitler and calling the BBC "Ba'athist" are just fine? Or, are both verboten for one whose mind has attained a Welchian level of perfect consistency? I mean really, which is it?
While I certainly appreciate being made into an adjective, I don't pretend at consitency, let alone perfection. As I mentioned above, I think both usages are crude, inaccurate and counter-productive ... but I'm not going to be a Nazi about it.
I also of course realize that you won't answer this question.
Wrong again, Mr. Rancid!
After all, you were just innocently, cleverly highlighting an inconsitency in others.
Thank you for noticing. Posted by: Matt Welch at January 19, 2004 09:12 AM

Matt and Eric,

I don't think calling the BBC is as bad as saying Bush is Hitler - you'd need to say the chief of the BBC is Saddam Hussein for the two to be equal statements. Still, Matt's point is fair enough.

The only time I've used the phrase "Baathist Broadcasting Corporation" was in Jeff Jarvis's comments section (yesterday) when he asked the following question:

A few comments have rightly pointed out that the favored nickname for the BBC -- Baghdad Broadcasting Corp. -- is really out of date now that Baghdad is no longer in the control of Saddam (despite the best efforts of certain types). So what should that first B stand for now?

It seemed like the logical answer, considering the context of that particular question, and the reason "Baghdad Broadcasting Corporation" no longer worked as a nickname.

But, yeah, it's obnoxious.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 19, 2004 09:18 AM

Just to clarify, I, too, don't think it's "as bad."

Posted by: Matt Welch at January 19, 2004 09:25 AM

Have you read any of Ann Coulter's stuff? She is wickedly funny! Posted by Daniel

Example please, or I'll think you meant humor as in when she expressed the wish that the planes on 9/11 had flown into the NYTimes building.

Posted by: Streaker at January 19, 2004 09:43 AM

I haven't read the book, but I doubt Hannity is advocating military action against Tom Daschle. I think the inclusion of "Liberalism" at the end of the title is meant as a joke, not a statement of equivalence.

In the scene at the beginning of "Romancing the Stone" where Joan Wilder is finishing her latest trashy novel, she has her heroine give a list of terrible things the villain has done to her, starting with the murder of her parents and trailing off with "and stole my bible." Since this is clearly a completely different order of offense than what she started with, the effect is comic.

Conservatives naturally want to defeat liberalism, that's why they're conservatives. But it means defeat at the ballot box, not on the battlefield. It's this downshift in meaning that provides the humor.

Posted by: Dave at January 19, 2004 10:12 AM

Come off it. One can disagree with liberalism, or conflate liberalism and leftism, or what have you, but no matter how you slice it, this title is the moral and rhetorical equivalent of, say,

by New York Times Best-Selling Author, Michael Moore.
THE EVIL WALK AMONG US
Confronting the triple threat of
Racism, Fascism and Conservativism

Hannity is certainly entitled to hold the opinion that liberalism is an evil somehow on par with terrorism, but , honestly, that's a pretty stupid opinion. (Yes, I said stupid, and I'm not sorry.)

And "good for the goose" bromides can be met with another bromide" two wrongs don't make right."

*****

Matt: I hear what your saying about the Ba'athist Broadcasting Company. I suppose I have been guilty of failing to be unoffended by instances of this jibe.

Maybe that's because the epithet comes up usually in when the Beeb has done something that deserves harsh criticism.
(The "Saddam is not a dictator" memo. The scare quotes around 'terrorism' and 'good' news about the 'liberation'. This.)

You might argue that it's too harsh a jibe. It definitely would be unfair to level it at mere opposition to the war. But somehow it doesn't seem outrageous to me to level it at examples of a certain willingness to view Iraq's erstwhile regime as just one legitimate government among many. When the Beeb appears to do so, they deserve to be called out for it. I guess I react to it the same way I might to jibes about Reagan or Scharzenegger over their ill-considered remarks about Hitler and Nazis. And if Bush ever said, "hey, the Nazis weren't so bad really . . ." he'd be fair game as well.

On the other hand, "BUSH=HITLER" is a different order of offensive. Hitler is especially symbolic in a way that Baathism is not quite. He is almost universally understood to be the single-most greatest evil man in the past century, and maybe in human history. Putting an equal sign between him and anyone who doesn't have a real live ambition to commit genocide is not only stupid but contemptuous of the victims of genocides.

Maybe the difference is between (1) the appearance of sympathy, perhaps in the service of moral relativism, and (2) an accusation of strong similarity or even identity.

Posted by: Browning at January 19, 2004 10:15 AM

Oops: meant to say "I have been guilty of failing to be offended by instances of this jibe."

Note to self: Watch for those stray negative prefixes in the final edit. Or maybe even try to write a sentence that isn't quite so turgid and persnickety.

Posted by: Browning at January 19, 2004 10:22 AM

Perhaps another difference between "Bush = Hitler" and "Baathist Broadcasting Corporation" is that one is a person while the other is an institution. It is somewhat less of an ad hominem attack to criticize an institution and, therefore, somewhat less offensive.

Posted by: Ben at January 19, 2004 10:52 AM

http://www.buttafly.com/bush/index.php

Posted by: Bush is ev il at January 19, 2004 11:44 AM

Matt:

I guess what caused the pissy tone and "flaccid little insults" (you're giving my insults performance anxiety) was the fact that you work for a magazine which runs a blog on which I've seen more than a few Bush=Hitler comments and a good number of Republicans=fascists comments. Are you setting straight all of these wayward Hit and Run commenters the way you're setting straight all us Beeb bashers? Actually, since this all relating to a comment on someone else's blog, in order to attain true mega-hyper-double dog consitency you'd have to be going on Democratic Underground and Moveon.org every day and telling them to knock it off with the Bushitler business. Unless you're actually doing this (please tell me if you are), if we analyze for consistency here we can see that we're looking at a case of selective outrage. So, what does apparently raise your hackles? A jibe at "one of the world's more respected news organizations", "one of the world's more respected news organizations"!? David Kelly, Andrew Gilligan, the Hutton Inquiry, Britain's own soldiers turning them off and opting for Rupert's thing instead. Does any of this ring a bell? Even if we acknowledge that they've had a respectable reputation in the past, we'd also have to acknowledge that that reputation has taken quite a hit of late, no? I was just truly struck by the pious sentiments you express in defense of the BBC against our japery with nary a thought for poor, beleaugured GWB facing the ravages of Margaret Cho and a mean gang of lefty commenters. Have some compassion man ;)

Anyway, I understand you're point and it is a fair one.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at January 19, 2004 12:15 PM

Eric -- I no longer work for Reason full-time, BTW, and never saw it as my place to be Johnny Policeman about rhetorical overkill in the comments, since that work would get tiring and pointless in about 15 seconds. (And, as you know, it ain't limited to X=Nazis ... Y=Commies is probably even more popular.)

As I mentioned before, I don't pretend to achieve any kind of "consistency," certainly in the comments I very sporadically leave on a handful websites. Michael & Jeff Jarvis & Roger Simon (or as I think of them, Jarvis Tottensimon) are personal friends who have sites that interest me; the Democratic Underground & MoveOn are not and don't.

As for "selective outrage" at people using exaggeration & rhetorical overkill to make (or more likely, undermine) their points, it has been the single most consistent theme in my work for 18 years. As such, I have long been familiar with charges that I'm missing the "overall point," or that I'm speaking "in defense" of someone just because I'm criticizing their critics. Most people on one political team or another eventually end up washing their hands of me, and I don't really blame them. I have a website with all my published work from 1998 on; people can judge for themselves.

As for the Beeb, I haven't really listened to them much since moving to America; before then, I loved 'em. Seems that some of their reporting has been bad, and dripping with anti-American sneering; I haven't really followed it. My comments were not really about my opinions of the BBC's war coverage, to be honest.

Posted by: Matt Welch at January 19, 2004 12:51 PM

This is the best respone to Hannity's book:

http://forums.fark.com/cgi/fark/comments.pl?IDLink=766317&mode=voteresults

Posted by: Mike Silverman at January 19, 2004 12:53 PM

>Example please

Ok Streaker, here's a sample. This is the last column from Ann Coulter that I read. She slices and dices up Wes Clark:

http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=36608

It's good stuff.

Posted by: Daniel at January 19, 2004 01:32 PM

Or better yet, just scan thru these columns and see what you like (hate):

http://www.townhall.com/columnists/anncoulter/archive.shtml

Posted by: Daniel at January 19, 2004 01:47 PM

I’m sure it’s fun to lump dictators, terrorists, and libruls™ together into one happy and convenient evil ball. It’s got to be even more satisfying to ask the Lord to come down and deliver us from such a horror.

---
I cannot tell if you are sarcastic or not.

If I can't tell it's bad taste.

One religious side is tame, the other eats and blows up regular folk.

:-(

Posted by: Arthur Zomboni at January 19, 2004 03:07 PM

Arthur: One religious side is tame, the other eats and blows up regular folk.

Liberals do not blow up regular folk. I don't know who eats regular folk. That's a new one for me.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 19, 2004 03:14 PM

Virginia Postrel links to an 18th Century essay by David Hume, noting these partisan attacks laced with excess hyperbole are nothing new.

Posted by: Ray Eckhart at January 19, 2004 04:09 PM

Ann Coulter is the right's version of Michael Moore. They can each be funny at times but that's not enough to offset the idiocy of their extremist rantings.

Hannity can be irritating too but his polemics aren't nearly as nasty as those two. Hannity doesn't think much of liberals but I doubt he really equates them with terrorists. He's more like the kid in school who likes to pick on his classmates. The subtitle of his book is basically meant to give liberals the literary equivalent of a wedgie.

Posted by: Randal Robinson at January 19, 2004 05:44 PM

I don't happen to have much of a problem with Coulter's work. I've read all three of her books and most of her columns. Her sarcasm is generally applied out of shear exasperation, after she's laid out the facts of the case. As far as I can tell she's fair and accurate with her facts (despite some articles I've seen to the contrary that try to demolish her honesty. I've found these to be thoroughly unconvincing).

Hannity's title and subtitle are completely lame, but I think they are also a sign that this wave of popular conservative books has crested. I consider myself a conservative, and I've greatly enjoyed reading Bork, Coulter, Leonard Goldberg, David Limbaugh, etc. However, for the time being, everything that needs to be said in this area has been said. I was in the bookstore the other day looking at all the new conservative titles. Yawn. Who cares anymore? Hannity is lowering himself to use simple shock value to sell a "me-too" book in a vastly overcrowded market. I doubt the contents will be other than calmly and reasonably presented, despite the title. But they aren't going to say anything new or interesting, either. After you've said your piece, there comes a time to shut up and let the world digest it, live it (or not), act on it (or against it). The conservative book market has reached that point. The latest entrants are just trying to cash in on a dying trend.

Posted by: Matteo at January 19, 2004 05:56 PM

"Actually, since this all relating to a comment on someone else's blog, in order to attain true mega-hyper-double dog consitency you'd have to be going on Democratic Underground and Moveon.org every day and telling them to knock it off with the Bushitler business. Unless you're actually doing this (please tell me if you are)..."

Anyone doing this at DU gets banned, unless you have, say, 17,000 posts under your belt.

But, poor Michael Totten. Now he has to read Hannity's book. Thank you for your sacrifice. I'm looking forward to the review, from a competent source indeed.

Posted by: Joe Peden at January 19, 2004 06:04 PM

Joe: But, poor Michael Totten. Now he has to read Hannity's book.

Poor me, indeed, if I did have to read it. But I won't. I admitted to not having read it and only discussed the cover. I know this is generally not done, but I just used the cover as a reason to jump off to make a larger point.

Life is short and there are many books. I will have to pass on this one.

On my nightstand is a novel by Joyce Carol Oates, a travel book by Paul Theroux, and some military history by Victor Davis Hanson. Those three writers have earned my attention.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 19, 2004 06:29 PM
I think there is a confusion of leftist and liberal. Tony Blair is Liberal, while Robert Mugabe and Fidel Castro are leftist.

I think herein is the crux of the debate. Define "liberalism". Are we talking classical liberalism, what we today call libertarianism? Or leftists (not liberals)? Or liberals (not leftists)?

Based on the current tailspin the Democratic Party is in, and the drift leftward of the Republican Party, it appears we're in the midst of a terrific realignment. Until the dust has settled and we can agree on definitions, word usage such as what we see in the title of Hannity's book will be the subject of much debate, as we have seen on this comments post.

Posted by: Ryan at January 19, 2004 07:59 PM

Isn't a Liberal just a Leftist without the moral conviction?

Posted by: David at January 19, 2004 08:17 PM

David: Isn't a Liberal just a Leftist without the moral conviction?

No.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 19, 2004 08:27 PM

Someone earlier mentioned that Hannity has the most guests with differing opinions. I'd submit that Hugh Hewitt does a pretty good job of that too, and provides a much more serious, nuanced analysis of the issues, while rarely stooping to wailing. Even Roger Simon has appeared on his show a few times! Also from the Left (Liberal, not Leftist -- don't want to start another battle :)) are weekly appearances by Joshua Michael Marshall, Peter Beinhart, and Erwin Chemerinsky (probably butchered that). From the right are Mark Steyn, James Lileks, Dan Dreyer, Frank Gaffney, and John McIntyre. He also covers a fair amount of non-political issues (how many radio guys have a regular segment dedicated to Shakespeare? Classical music? Poetry???)

Jerry

Posted by: Jerry at January 19, 2004 08:30 PM

We all know 'conservative' and 'rightwing' and 'nazi' are all the same thing, so why all the hairsplitting about "Leftist" and "Liberal"?

Posted by: David at January 19, 2004 08:36 PM

Now here's one that will make your head swim. What's the difference between 'Leftist', 'Liberal', and PROGRESSIVE? Oy vey!

Posted by: David at January 19, 2004 08:37 PM

Someone earlier mentioned that Hannity has the most guests with differing opinions.

And that's saying a lot considering it's conservative radio's bread and butter to invite the opposition to speak. How better to laugh at them.

Posted by: David at January 19, 2004 09:01 PM

David: We all know 'conservative' and 'rightwing' and 'nazi' are all the same thing, so why all the hairsplitting about "Leftist" and "Liberal"?

Whose blog is this again? How many times have I said conservatives are Nazis?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 19, 2004 09:05 PM

>Whose blog is this again? How many times have I said conservatives are Nazis?

But Michael, the point about the labels is how they are actually being used, not whether they are right. Many left leaning folks do think of conservatives as Nazi-lites (and say so). And most conservatives do lump all people on the left side as "liberal", accurate or not.

They pundits aren't taking their respective world-views based on YOUR comments. This blog is the medium of the discussion, not the target of it.

Posted by: Daniel at January 20, 2004 12:00 AM

I see nothing in the title that equates terrorism, despotism, and liberalism. Hannity merely states that these are three types of evil. And there is certainly nothing in the title that calls the purveyors of such ideologies evil.

What is evil? While different sects of monotheists would disagree on various particulars, they would all agree on the general statement, "Anything that is inherently condemned by God." Most monotheists agree with the vast majority of humanity over a large subset of evil: that which is inherently injurious to people, presenting a real harm in the guise of an illusory good.

"Liberalism" is commonly used to refer to left-wing statism. Socialized commerce. Socialized "charity." Institutional racial discrimination in hiring and college admissions. Deconstructionist interpretation of the Constitution that denies rights that are codified (re: Second Amendment) and imagines those that are not. Mandating union membership to enter certain professions (I hear that there are states that actually do that), violating free assembly rights. That's enough for starters.

Such practices are evil. Not Bush=Hitler. Some evils are greater than others.

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson at January 20, 2004 02:35 AM

Yet another example of the so-called "Liberal Hawks" and the dogs-lay-fleas-stand problem.

MT, how many people do you need praising Ann Coulter here and saying that they normally agree with you do you need before you realize that something you're saying is resonating with the wrong people?

Posted by: Hipocrite at January 20, 2004 05:28 AM

Alan says, "I see nothing in the title that equates terrorism, despotism, and liberalism."

Oh, BS. You claim this, and then you go on to describe why you think its not such a bad idea to string them together. Again, how would you feel about a book with this title:

EVIL, EVIL, EVIL
Cannibals, Child Molesters, and Republicans

"Now I'm not saying that Republicans are child molesters mind you. Or even that they are quite as bad as child molesters. Heavens, no. Merely that child molestation and Republicanism are varying degrees of one thing that is best described as . . . well, as EVIL. Therefore we must work towards finding a way to defeat both problems in today's society. What? You're offended?"

Please.

Some have opined that Hannity's usage is a sort of ironic hyperbole, in the sprit of "Death, Taxes, and the Tendency for One Sock to Always be Missing from the Dryer." Well, maybe, but I'm not buying it. And guys like Alan aren't really either. They are trying to see how the whole puzzle fits together. "Such practices are evil," he says. Presumably this applies also to (1) securing the rights of marriage for same-sex couples; (2) insuring that poor children receive health care; (3) prserving the seperation of church and state, (4) protecting the environment from private corporate interests.

And, Hipocrite, learn some logic. Say some guy thinks it's funny when Howard Stern has porn actresses on the radio to make rude noises with their nethers. He also belives in free speech. It does not follow that my belief in free speech is discredited by that association. "Lie down with dogs," is not an argument. It's an aphorism. It's a substitute for something called "thinking."

Posted by: Browning at January 20, 2004 06:17 AM

There is no connection between the free speach argument, which explicitly realizes that fleas agree with them ("disagree with what you say, but...) and the pro-war argument, which should be disgusted that the fleas have latched on.

Posted by: Hipocrite at January 20, 2004 06:33 AM

No, Hipocrite, you still don't get it. You have confused the (misattributed) Voltaire aphorism "I might disagree with what you say, but . . ." with the gist of my argument. (You seem overly fond of aphorisms.) The "dog" in my example is the guy who thinks Stern (or Anne Coulter) is funny. His taste (or lack thereof) does not make my belief in free speech guilty by association.

So let me try another example that is simpler.

1. You disagree strongly with Bush's policies.
2. So do the neo-Nazis.
3. Ergo, you are "lying down with dogs, and getting up with fleas," so there must be something wrong with your position on Bush.

1. I am for the liberation of the Iraqis.
2. So are fans of Anne Coulter.
3. Ergo, I am "lying down with dogs, and getting up with fleas," and there must be something wrong with my position on Iraq.

Both arguments are logically identical and fallacious. If you need a new aphorism, here it is: "Some thing are true even if George Bush (or neo-Nazis, or Anne Coulter fans) believe them."

Posted by: Browning at January 20, 2004 07:10 AM

Well said Browning.

Posted by: Ben at January 20, 2004 07:15 AM

Significant difference here:

Neo-Nazi's agree with me on the war, but hate me.

Fan's of Ann Coulter agree with MT on the war, and adore him.

Neo-Nazis, for some reason, don't seem to infest dailykos, for example. Coulterites are out in force here. For some reason, MT has fleas, and DK does not. Why is that?

Posted by: Hipocrite at January 20, 2004 07:19 AM

Well, perhaps Republicans are generally more tolerant of liberal hawks than neo-Nazis are of Leftists.

But this does not suggest that there is a problem in my argument with your guilt-by-association argument. . It may suggests that, for all their short-comings, Republicans are not quite so bad as neo-Nazis. : )

(And if fact I might have a drink and a hearty argument with someone who admires Anne Coulter, but never with someone who admires Hitler.)

Posted by: Browning at January 20, 2004 07:36 AM

Also, I don't get over to the comment section of Daily KOS much, but I'll hazard a guess that it has its own fleas.

I used to read nowarblog.org in the lead up to the war, to see if I could be swayed by any arguments made there, and there was a regular in the comment section who could be counted on to justify the Taliban's treatment of women. (It's just their culture, don't you know.)

And there's always the Worker's World Party showing up at antiwar rallies to sing the praises of Kim Jong-Il. Ever hear an anti-war Leftie say nice things about Saddam's universal health plan? I have.

Posted by: Browning at January 20, 2004 08:00 AM

1. Is "Look, she has lice!" an appropriate response to "You've got fleas."? Consider this question regardless of the fact that I brought up the assertion that someone else dosen't have fleas.

2. Anti-war rallies are not mainstream actions, and freaky wierdos showing up there are indicicative of nothing.

3. Dogs and fleas referes to taking a position, and then having a bunch of odious hangers on start following you around everywhere. The fact that odious hangers on exist everywhere is true. The question is do these odious hangers on follow you around to things that have nothing to do with what you were first agreeing with them however slightly about. With MT, it seems clear they have. As soon as you see a poster on DailyKos or Atrios calling for the nationalization of all industry, gimme a heads up so I can go spout aphorisms at them.

Posted by: Hipocrite at January 20, 2004 08:24 AM

By the way - ever heard a righist say nice things about a man who went to war to maintain the right to treat brown people like property? I have.

Unlike your random powerless person, my example was a revered President of the US.

Posted by: Hipocrite at January 20, 2004 08:29 AM

Whose blog is this again? How many times have I said conservatives are Nazis?

Look at you pull rank. Ok, it's your blog, but my question was rhetorical, so I didn't accuse you personally.

Posted by: David at January 20, 2004 08:56 AM

1. Is "Look, she has lice!" an appropriate response to "You've got fleas."?

No. But I thought I made it perfectly clear that I think very little of either observation. "He/she has got fleas/lice" -- or less metaphorically, "People who believe other objectionable things agree with you on this!" -- is a bad argument. I demonstrated this by turning the argument around, so you could see how it looks from the other end. You responded by saying, "There are no fleas on me and my friends!" I begged to differ. But this is not the same thing as my adopting your guilt-by-association argument.

2. If what you say about antiwar demonstrations is so, then it is also so that Anne Coulter fans showing up to a liberal hawk's blog are indicative of nothing special.

3. You want to disown your position's association with the WWP and apologists for the Taliban, but you don't want to allow the liberal hawks to disown their association with Anne Coulter fans, no matter how much they protest their desire to do so. Are you incapable of seeing the contradiction is this? Because if you are, then I give up, and I'll leave you with one last aphorism.

"A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees. " -- William Blake

Posted by: Browning at January 20, 2004 08:59 AM

...ever heard a righist say nice things about a man who went to war to maintain the right to treat brown people like property? I have.

Can you back that up? Do you have a quote? Or is this just another example of what Ann Coulter calls Liberal slander.

Posted by: David at January 20, 2004 09:02 AM

Browning - we'll just have to agree to disagree, then. My point remains that the fleas are hanging on to everything MT writes, yet the lice are not meandering around my sides Healthcare proposals.

David - certainly.

Ronald Reagan, Atlanta: "Jefferson Davis is a hero of mine."

Posted by: Hipocrite at January 20, 2004 09:09 AM

Boy, David, you sure stepped into that one.

(Just who's side am I on anyway?) :)

Posted by: Browning at January 20, 2004 09:17 AM

David: Look at you pull rank. Ok, it's your blog, but my question was rhetorical, so I didn't accuse you personally.

I wasn't pulling rank. I thought you were adressing me personally, and just reminded you that I don't need to be told that conservatives are not Nazis.

Hipocrite: Find another angle. I get Coulter fans, you get ANSWER goons. I'd rather have the Coulter fans on my side, as long as I don't have Coulter herself. If Coulter decides she likes my site, I can solve that problem in an instant.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 20, 2004 09:21 AM

Ronald Reagan, Atlanta: "Jefferson Davis is a hero of mine."

And I suppose admirers of Robert E. Lee also support holding "little brown people" as slaves too.

Please.

Enough with the sloganeering.

Posted by: David at January 20, 2004 09:27 AM

>>Someone earlier mentioned that Hannity has the most guests with differing opinions. I'd submit that Hugh Hewitt does a pretty good job of that too, ...<<

Fair enough Jerry; but do those hosts have even half the audiance that Hannity does?

Posted by: Charlie on the PA Turnpike at January 20, 2004 09:33 AM

"So far from engaging in a war to perpetuate slavery, I am rejoiced that slavery is abolished. I believe it will be greatly for the interests of the South. So fully am I satisfied of this, as regards Virginia especially, that I would cheerfully have lost all I have lost by the war, and have suffered all I have suffered, to have this object attained." - Robert E. Lee

"African slavery, as it exists in the United States, is a moral, a social, and a political blessing." - Jefferson Davis

Posted by: Hipocrite at January 20, 2004 09:45 AM

I admire Thomas Jefferson, because I like slavery.

Posted by: ex-Democrat at January 20, 2004 10:17 AM

I'm sure we can all agree that slavery is wrong, and that it tarnished the United States of America and some of our Founding Fathers. But can't we put a statute of limitations on this? It's time to move on. I don't know a single American who would argue today that we should return to slavery or who laments the downfall of slavery as an institution.

There is much to admire about Thomas Jefferson and Robert E. Lee (both of whom acknowledged that slavery was wrong and wished to end it), even though both of them were slave owners. It is quite possible to admire the good aspects of a person without admiring everything he was or did -- e.g., I admire Thomas Jefferson's writings, but I don't admire his ownership of slaves. Making distinctions is part of being an adult.

Posted by: Ben at January 20, 2004 10:53 AM

Those are great quotes, Hipocrite. I didn't know Robert E. Lee said that.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 20, 2004 10:54 AM

Not that he's not a racist or anything - he, and almost everyone else around then was. Lee was a Virgina Patriot - a true believe in States Rights. That position, while wrong, is at least respectable.

Davis was an ass. Admiring him is disgusting.

Of course, it's possible Reagan was suffering from advanced Alzheimers at the time.

Posted by: Hipocrite at January 20, 2004 11:00 AM

Davis was an ass. Admiring him is disgusting.

Agreed.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 20, 2004 11:04 AM

Hypocrite has a point if Reagan admired Davis BECAUSE of his statements regarding slavery; otherwise Hypocrite has merely scored rhetorical points, not substantive ones.

Posted by: David at January 20, 2004 11:11 AM

David - because, as we all know, saying that one admires Stalin dosen't mean you like him because he was a brutal dictator who imposed misery and death on millions - it's because he had the willpower to beat Hitler in Stalingrad.

Posted by: Hipocrite at January 20, 2004 11:13 AM

Davis = Hitler

Posted by: ex-democrat at January 20, 2004 11:20 AM

Regan = Davis

Posted by: ex-democrat at January 20, 2004 11:21 AM

Regan = Bush

Posted by: ex-democrat at January 20, 2004 11:21 AM

therefor, Bush = Hitler.

Hippocrite has made his point. The math is perfect.

Posted by: ex-democrat at January 20, 2004 11:22 AM

Excuse me? I went well out of my way to be certain that I accused no one of being Hitler. Only Hitler is Hitler, and Stalin kicked his ass at Stalingrad.

I understand that Jefferson Davis had a really nice Rose Garden. Perhaps that's why he was Reagan's personal hero.

Posted by: Hipocrite at January 20, 2004 11:30 AM

" Only Hitler is Hitler, and Stalin kicked his ass at Stalingrad."

Nope, Hitler kicked his own ass and made a strategic fuck-up. Stalin turned his city into rubble and his soliders into dogmeat because of his incompetance.

Posted by: ex-democrat at January 20, 2004 11:52 AM

Hipocrite,

Did you ever consider the possibility that MJT has so many Coulter fans on his site because he's winning us over? I'm not a Coulter fan myself because she's as close-minded and unable to admit when she's wrong as you seem to be (see above exchange w/ Browning), but I'm sympathetic with some of her concerns.

MJT addresses these concerns better than she does from a liberal perspective and an open, humble, curious mind. An outlook far more prominent on so-called right-wing (yeah, right) sites like Instapundit, Jarvis, Sullivan, et al than the so-called left.

Funny how these so-called right wing sites have made me much more likely to consider a vote for Edwards than a year ago where I was Bush all the way...

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at January 20, 2004 01:35 PM

No, I expressly discounted the position in which a bunch of harpy worshiping hate-mongers were being won over by MT. If that's his goal and his aim, more power to him.

If you vote for Edwards after you look into what he thinks on anything and you think that Ann Coulter has added anything at all into the discourse then you are a nutter.

I'd love to hear what these "concerns" are that Totten, Jarvis, Instahack and 'roid Rager address with a "open, humble, curious mind," except for the War on Iraq. Given that you draw an express parellel to real liberals, I'd like you to address how, say, Kos or TalkLeft are not "open, humble and curious."

Of course, since your comparison is Totten >> Hesiod, I'll merely state that Kos >> Misha the Racist angry HackPuppy.

Posted by: Hipocrite at January 20, 2004 02:22 PM

saying that one admires Stalin dosen't mean you like him because he was a brutal dictator who imposed misery and death on millions - it's because he had the willpower to beat Hitler in Stalingrad.

That logic is tantamount to blaming Davis for slavery, just as Stalin is to blame for the death of millions. But we know Davis did not cause slavery, unlike Stalin who did cause millions to die. So expressing admiration for Davis or Stalin are entirely different matters. Your logic fails again.

Posted by: David at January 20, 2004 02:29 PM

And by the way Michael, labeling conservative punditry as "Hate" is pretty cheesy, especially for such a thoughtful person as yourself.

Posted by: David at January 20, 2004 02:31 PM

Iraq is not Vietnam because Vietnam was a Jungle and Iraq is a desert.

Posted by: Hipocrite at January 20, 2004 02:33 PM

David: And by the way Michael, labeling conservative punditry as "Hate" is pretty cheesy

If it's hateful it's hateful, I couldn't care less if it's conservative or left-wing or what. If you can't see that "Liberalism is Evil" is hate, then maybe you need to read my post again. And ask yourself what you think of leftists who accuse you of being an evil fascist. Is that not bigotry?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 20, 2004 03:01 PM

Iraq is not Vietnam because Vietnam was a Jungle and Iraq is a desert.

That's only one of many good reasons why Iraq is not, and will not become, Vietnam. You're on the right track.

Posted by: David at January 20, 2004 03:39 PM

Hipocrite,

Obviously you care passionately about the political tradition of which you are a part. I have great respect for that. What puzzles me is how you expect to win the power necessary to implement that tradition's policies by insulting everyone who does not already agree with you.

Surely you recognize that your country also includes other traditions? And that reliance on one alone is never enough?

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at January 20, 2004 04:01 PM

"No, I expressly discounted the position in which a bunch of harpy worshiping hate-mongers were being won over by MT. If that's his goal and his aim, more power to him."

I haven't heard anyone here worshipping Coulter, nor does anyone's tone, other than your own, which fluctuates back and forth, seem particularly hateful.

"I'd love to hear what these 'concerns' are that Totten, Jarvis, Instahack and 'roid Rager address with a 'open, humble, curious mind,' except for the War on Iraq. Given that you draw an express parellel to real liberals, I'd like you to address how, say, Kos or TalkLeft are not 'open, humble and curious.'"

My primary concern is the almost complete lack of dissent from the party line at the left sites, supplemented by apparent blindness that alternatives even exist that cannot be easily dismissed as either stupid or corrupt. The sites you so cavalierly caricature at least take your tradition seriously, if only most of the time to critique it. But not always.

There are also, of course, areas of policy, foreign and domestic, that apply here as well, but the primary distinction is philosophical and character-related.

"If you vote for Edwards after you look into what he thinks on anything and you think that Ann Coulter has added anything at all into the discourse then you are a nutter."

Well, off the top of my head, the arrogance of much of what passes for liberal discourse seems to be a major beef of Coulter's. Edwards' positive tone is quite different than some of the reactionary screeds I've heard from the so-called left.

Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at January 20, 2004 04:53 PM

Browning writes:

Alan says, "I see nothing in the title that equates terrorism, despotism, and liberalism."

Oh, BS. You claim this, and then you go on to describe why you think its not such a bad idea to string them together. Again, how would you feel about a book with this title:

EVIL, EVIL, EVIL
Cannibals, Child Molesters, and Republicans

There's two problems with this comparison. First, Hannity's subtitle addresses allegedly evil ideas, while Browning's hypothetical addresses allegedly evil people.

Second, there's no rationality in lumping cannibals, child molesters, and Republicans together in one tome. There is a sound argument in lumping terrorism, despotism, and "liberalism" together. A lot of sane people argue effectively that the policies associated with the three (and some would simply state that "liberalism" is simply a subset of despotism) embody the full spectrum of threats poised against the US and the rest of the world.

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson at January 22, 2004 12:14 AM

Note: Everything from boldface-up was supposed to be italicized. Oops.

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson at January 22, 2004 12:17 AM

One more thing: just to be sure there's no confusion, what makes policy good or evil is the nature of the policy itself - the activities it requires and the results it generates - not the intentions of its advocates.

A lot of people forget this, because they subconsciously assume that everyone has the same view on how human sociology functions. For instance, some accuse opponents of minimum wage law of wanting the poor to stay poor, when in fact opponents argue (in part) that such laws exacerbate poverty, pricing out certain entry-level jobs from the marketplace.

Drug laws are another example. Many hawks perceive privatization of the War on Drugs as a willing surrender that will open the floodgates to drugs, and that privatization advocates are fully aware of it and don't care.

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson at January 22, 2004 12:59 AM

Alan,

My cannabilism example was deliberately cartoonish, and I certainly have no interest in trying to defend its rationality. :) But much earlier in the thread though I dreamed up another example turning Hannity on his head, and now I'll offer a third revision. (My last one, I swear.)

THE EVILS AMONG US
Racism, Fascism, and Conservativism

By John Q. Librul

Now I've met your objections to my exaggerated counter-example. (1) The
three evils are ideas and not their adherents. (I think this objection of yours is hair-splitting, but I'd rather give it to you than argue it). (2) Rational arguments linking the three evils can be made. For example, Librul might point out that conservatives defended segregation while liberals were fighting it. Or that conservatives were chummy with Pinochet and Saddam Hussein while liberals were adamantly against them. He might also argue (though I'm not sure I would) that the Patriot Act is a step towards a police state.

And yet I think you'll agree that the new title IS still objectionable. I think we'll agree that racism and fascism are evil. We'll probably disagree on whether conservativism is right on every issue, but I think we can agree that it is unfair and inflammatory to call contemporary American conservativism "evil" and to set it alongside the first two. Were John Q. Librul to publish this book, you could point to its title as an example of "hate punditry," and rightly so. It's designed to demonize a generally well-meaning opponent. It's great for getting the like-minded fired up for a fight, but it's not helpful in a civilized debate.

Finally, I just have to wonder how you can make both these statements in the same thread:

I see nothing in the title that equates terrorism, despotism, and
liberalism.

There is a sound argument in lumping terrorism, despotism, and
"liberalism" together.

(And please don't bother getting your hair-splitter out to start sawing away at the seam between "equating" and "lumping together." I "get" the difference, but I just don't "buy" it.) Your first statement implies that you recognize on some level that equating terrorism, despotism and liberalism is wrong, and your second demonstrates that you are perfectly happy to do it anyway. The first statement is either incredibly obtuse, or else it attains a level of sophistry worthy of Bill Clinton in front of a grand jury. The second statement is just nonsense, unless those scare quotes around "liberalism" are meant to imply that the meaning of the word is entirely up for grabs.

Posted by: Browning at January 22, 2004 07:19 AM

1. I can make those same two statements in the same thread because, in my context, there's far more than a hair-splitting difference between "lumping" and "equating." Hannity's triad can be lumped together as common threats - but that doesn't make them equal ones, in either scope or type and severity of damage.

Take France, Mexico and North Korea. All are threats to the US - but in very different ways. The NorKs militarily threaten our South Korean ally, and are chummy with terroristsand terrorist-sponsoring nations who militarily threaten us. France appeases such nations, and because it wields a fair amount of influence within the "international community," that influence wears away somewhat at America's potential for lining up allies to properly confront the various axes of evil. The essential problem with Mexico is that it is a drain on American resources. Mexico's fiscal policy is more commerce-unfriendly than even the worst of European Union nations, and the Fox government prefers to export social instability to the US rather than reform. That means we have to spend more on border patrol and immigration resources on the southern border than on the northern border.

(For more info on Mexico: http://cf.heritage.org/index2004test/country2.cfm?ID=Mexico)

2. I put "liberal" in scare quotes because the meaning is partly up for grabs - that is, there isn't a firm consensus on the meaning of the term (or, for that matter, of "conservative"). A lot of what conservatives identify as liberal is what our bloghost (and David Horowitz, who seems to be thinking along similar lines) calls "leftist." Most people classify collectivist economics as "liberal," although there's sharp disagreement over how to classify Nazi and Fascist collectivism. Libertarians define the left-right spectrum as one between non-economic and economic liberties, and prefer to stress the statist-libertarian axis. (But by that definition, campus speech codes are rightist and subsidy of faith-based initiatives is leftist.) It would be helpful to know what issues Hannity places under the "liberalism" sections of his book.

On another note, the publishers should have put a more flattering pic on the cover. Sean looks like he's half-asleep, and his hair looks real flat.

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson at January 22, 2004 09:10 PM

Yeah, yeah, yeah, Alan . . . Jeebus. I get it. You think "liberalism" is evil. Not quite so evil as, say, murder and oppression, but close enough for gummint purposes. They're all dancing in the same congo line of evil.

And then there's the little "hate the sin, love the sinner" ditty. If I'm for progressive taxation, well, I'm not an evil person, per se, just a person with evil ideas. (Does that disclaimer apply to suicide bombers and dictators as well?)

And then there's the cute little scare quotes, so that if I say, 'I'm sorry, but wasn't it liberalism that got women the vote, children out of the sweatshops and blacks a seat at the lunch counter?"

"Oh, I didn't mean that liberalism. Heavens, no. I was talking about, you know, the EVIL kind."

Yeah, I get it. I just don't buy it. (And if I did buy it, it would apply equally well to conservativism.)

Not only is it sophistry, but it's hard to believe your heart is really even in it. What, you want to tell me my political views are evil, but you don't want me to take it personally? Of course not. The title makes it clear that the book isn't for people like me. It's obviously a deeply partsian, divisive war whoop for folks on the right. Hell, if you're gonna whoop, whoop. Why waste your breath with flimsy disclaimers?

The one thing I will agree with you about is Hannity's dust jacket photo. It looks to me like they Photoshopped one shot of his head onto another shot of his torso, and they got the proportions and the angle just a little bit off.

Posted by: Browning Porter at January 23, 2004 10:56 AM

If I'm for progressive taxation, well, I'm not an evil person, per se, just a person with evil ideas.

Yes. Or, to put it more plainly, progressive taxation is supported by people who have no evil intent but who do not recognize that such policy has evil results (i.e. treating citizens unequally under the law and adding unnecessary complexity to the tax code).

Perhaps the big hangup is the word "evil." The term is usually associated with people who do bad things intentionally. I'm saying that there's two types of evil - one found in intent, one in results.

Most of the evil that one finds in American politics is in the form of unintended consequences - the second type unaccompanied by the first. The steel tariff is a very recent example. It was supposed to protect certain domestic firms, but due to the true nature of economic behavior it caused a net loss of jobs.

Now if protectionism is supported by Nader and Buchanan, is it far-left, far-right, or both?

I can Photoshop (well, Paint Shop Pro) better than Hannity's publisher :-)

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson at January 23, 2004 10:04 PM

I neglected to note that a third type of evil: the type that concerns not bad intentions or the bad ends that will result but the inherent badness of the means itself. None of us perfectly knows right from wrong, so technically we're all evil to some degree.

All means-based evil is also ends-based evil; long-run costs outweigh benefits. People prefer to reserve "evil" to describe those acts in which this gulf between costs and benefits is most blatant, especially when death is one of the costs. When the gulf is not so vast, people tend to prefer a less loaded term like "unethical" or simply "not right."

I stated above that "most of the evil that one finds in American politics is in the form of unintended consequences." That should be rephrased: most of the evil that one finds in American politics comes from the errant perceptions of what is and isn't fair, and from the unintended consequences of policies created under such faulty moral assumptions..

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson at January 24, 2004 02:31 AM

Ah, so now I see that under that hard, dry crust of partisan "conservativism," there is a slight squirm of recognition that "Perhaps the big hang-up is the word 'evil.'" (Love the Sixties hipster slang - "hang-up" -- it's a good look for you.)

"Stay cool, brother! Dig this: maybe you just have a hang-up. Just because a cat lays the word "evil" down in a rap about your politics . . . That doesn't mean you need you need to flip your wig and get all bent out of shape!"

1. Your dilution of the definition of evil, again, is very Clintonian. "It depends on what your definition of 'evil' is."

2. If you apply it fairly across the political spectrum, you should be able to see that it will get very ugly very fast. For instance, Bush's reliance on a WMD rationale for going to war with Iraq is now "evil."

3. This dilution of the word has the same consequences as the moral relativism of the worst campus intellectual. If you "lump together" suicide bombings, secret prisons, and tax brackets -- and that's precisely what you are advocating -- not only do you sensationalize your argument with the progressive tax, but you trivialize your argument with terrorists and despots.

Posted by: Browning at January 24, 2004 04:45 AM

1a. I am simply stating the different legitimate definitions of evil.

1b. Almost everybody knows about Clinton's fumblings with the word "is," but some don't know what that episode was all about. It was a very clumsy attempt to say that he really meant "was" - that he was talking about something that was true prior to and not during the time of his testimony. Whether he was telling the truth is another matter...

2a. WMD is a pretty dang good reason for going to war with Iraq - especially if the WMDs are in violation of the Gulf War I terms of surrender, in which case Gulf War I is still in continuance. But you've probably read that argument on other blogs.

2b & 3. You're right about being careful about the use of the word "evil." I don't use it in everyday speech as a catchall for "all bad stuff." That tangent started with my attempt to attack the misconception held by some that evil actions always spring from evil intentions. An exceedingly thorough definition of "evil" came out of that tangent.

The central issue is this: in what context does Hannity use the words "liberalism" and "evil?" The book hasn't been released yet, so there's a bit of mystery. What is known is that Hannity was inspired by the War on Terror - which means that he is apparently addressing the subset of "liberalism" that deals with foreign policy. The brief quasi-review on Amazon reveals that he addresses decades of appeasement by the Left. Amazon also quotes this excerpt:

"Now the political left and the Democratic Party are trying to use the demanding aftermath of the war to exploit our national cause for their own political advantage."

I began this thread by addressing one issue: the hasty assumption that Hannity equates "terrorism, despotism, and liberalism" as evils of the same kind. I am not uncritical of the title, though. For reasons different from those expressed by the bloghost, I have a problem with the word "liberalism." Not so much because the spectrum of what constitutes "liberalism" varies somewhat between different camps, but because Hannity is apparently addressing a specific subset of "liberalism."

I think a strong case can be made that certain constituencies on the Left have, thorugh appeasement and other means, directly impeded efforts to stem worldwide terrorism and despotism. How Hannity rises to that cause remains to be seen.

One related issue over which I disagree vehemently with Hannity is his kneejerk call to "seal the borders." I tend to lean toward the libertarian argument that open borders, like free trade, fosters peace. Besides, they can't be sealed. I think that proper risk-management dictates not hermetically sealing ourselves from terrorists but pursuing them. We've been doing that with al-Qaeda, and we should do that with Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Fatah, etc.

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson at January 25, 2004 09:35 PM

1. Yeah, it's a "legitimate" definition. For example, between the common cold and the flu, one might legitimately say that the cold is "the lesser of two evils." What makes Hannity's use a problem is the context, specifically the way he "lumps together" together the three "evils. The first two -- terrorism and depostism -- conform to a certain very specific commonly understood definition of "evil" with a great deal of emotional freight, and the third conforms to your broader, weaker definition. Now you can "legitimately" claim that the first two conform to the weaker definition as well -- e.g., the common cold and serial murder are both "evils" -- but this is a form of sophistry. It's a sneaky way to imply that liberalism is evil in the same way that the other two are, but it gives you some deniability. The deniability is purely semantic, and wonderfully Clintonian (not so much for his definition of "is" as his definition of "sexual relations").

2. I agree that the WMD were a good reason to go to war with Iraq. This is why I think it is problematic for your definition of evil. The WMD rationale has made us look mendacious to those who don't trust us, and easily mistaken -- even gullible -- to those who do. It will make it harder for us in the future to convince anyone that pre-emptive war is a good idea. If we knew then what we know now, certainly we would have chosen a different course: a slower timetable, or a broader rationale to take to our allies. The choice had unitended negative consequences. Therefore it falls under your "exceedingly thorough" (or "weak") definition of "evil." You would selectively apply this weak definition to liberals, but I venture to guess that you would object if a liberal applied it to conservativism (E.g.: "Three evils: racism, fascism, and conservativism").

3. I also agree that Hannity's use of the word "liberalism" may also be a problem. It may be true that his argument is with "a certain subset of liberalism," and even that this subset may not be properly called "liberalism" at all. These caveats were made by MJT in his original post, and I agree with them as well.

But don't kid yourself. These objections are, at best, tangential to the argument we are having. You know as well as I do that you are happy to "lump" a broader and and more accurate definition of liberalism in with terrorism and despotism. You've said as much. You've said that progressive taxation is "evil." You wouldn't be too heart-broken if I were to jump to the "hasty assumption" that Hannity was lumping it and other reasonable planks of the liberal platform in with suicide bombers and secret prisons -- not to "equate" them, but because, to use your language, together they "embody the full spectrum of threats poised against the US and the rest of the world."

But I think we've beaten this thing to death and then some. I've made my case, and if you can't see it, I'm not so sure you ever will.

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