An earlier version of this column was published on BuzzFlash.com on February
14, 2007. In light of the field day that
the Fox”News”Channel is having over “Benghazi,” the “IRS Scandal,” and now the
“AP Scandal,” as well as “what about Syria,” I thought that it might be fun to revisit
an edited and slightly emended version of this one.
For the record, on “Benghazi,” it is indeed tragic that several US Foreign Service officers and “contactors” were murdered there. As has been pointed out by a number of observers, 13 attacks on US embassies and consulates leading to approximately 60 deaths occurred under the Bush Administration without a peep from Fox”News” or the GOP in Congress (or the Democrats for that matter) (1). But no, Mr. President. The attacks on you and your Administration that have been going on since right after the Benghazi tragedy are not just a “political side-show.” They are part of the now five-plus year constant attack by the GOP and its Propaganda arm to not only try to prevent you from getting anything on even your modest agenda done, but more fundamentally to de-legitimize you and your Presidency. Hannity et al are central to this attack. I wonder if the President will ever get that message and come back at them in kind.
For the record, the “IRS scandal” is a scandal alright, but the scandal is the “Citizens United” decision and that it has spawned, among other things, right-wing political action groups trying to present themselves as social welfare agencies so as to get some taxation protection but much more importantly for them so that they can keep their donor lists secret. It is also a scandal that your “Justice Dept.” and AG Holder leapt into action with a criminal investigation of IRS agents trying to do a very difficult job, which, in the end, is about protecting the US taxpayer. Criminal action here, when there was none on Bybee and Yoo, the writers of the infamous “torture memos,” none on the CIA and other torturers themselves who broke US law and violated Article VI of the US Constitution (2), none on the banks and the banksters who are “too big to jail.” From now on, do you think that any IRS agent is going to do anything more than rubber-stamp any application for 501c(4) status that comes in from any right-wing fund-raising group? Hannity et al are central to this attack. And the President thinks (ho, ho, ho) that “being tough” here will win him credits on the other side. Oh, Mr. President, do you have another think coming.
As for the AP scandal, first of all, leaks in national security situations are a problem. But second of all, so is the kind of intrusion the Obama Administration practiced in this case. And, apparently, in a related matter this Administration has gone after whistle-blowers with a vengeance. Nevertheless, I never heard Hannity et al going after BushCheney when they did the same or similar things over and over again. For them “national security” was always an acceptable cover. Except if you are Barack Obama.
At any rate, here is some of what I had to say about Hannity six-plus years ago.
As those of you who listen to Sean Hannity regularly (and I do) know well, Hannity is against many things. "Being against," "always attacking, never defending" is the stock-in-trade of the thousands of Hannity-O'Reilly-Limbaugh clones that litter the countryside of right-wing and Christian Right talk radio and television. (I call the whole pack that gives voice to Karl Rove's Privatized Ministry of Propaganda "O'RHannibaugh" for short. More recently I added “Le-vinitating” to that moniker.])
Hannity is against Democrats, "liberals" (however they may be defined), the ACLU and like-minded organizations, "the Hollywood Left," the "left-wing mainstream media" (Limbaugh calls them, whatever they are, the "drive-by media"), and so on and so forth. Typical of these folks' characterizations of those who they attack 24/7 is Bill O'Reilly. On his radio program I once heard him label the ACLU the second most dangerous organization operating in America, after al Qaeda [!!!]. Why? Because of their defense of freedom of belief as to when life begins (otherwise known as the abortion rights issue). Tops on the enemies list are any of those who attack BushCheney and Georgite policy, whatever their political affiliation.
However, Hannity hardly ever talks about what he is for. He never defends George Bush. Hardly ever mentions his name, in fact, except to attack his critics ("why do you hate Bush so," is a constant plaint). In attacking critics of current U.S. policy in Iraq, he does talk all the time about "achieving victory" there, although I have never heard him define just what he means by that (thereby joining the Bush Administration, Limbaugh and the clones, Bush, and Tony Snow in that regard). But recently on his new Sunday night Fox "Sean Hannity on America," [is it still running?] he did give us a glimpse of what he is for. And it is a frightening picture. Hannity revealed a new feature to be called "Enemies of the State." He was, so Keith Olbermann told us, forced by his producers to change the name, but that is immaterial. How revealing is it of Sean Hannity's thinking about America that he would conceive of such a feature, such an appellation, such a way to label and then deal with those people with whom he disagrees about policy and politics.
Just think of it. First of all, when talking about our Constitutional Democracy, he has this concept of "the State." No separation of powers, no co-equal branches, just "the State." And given that he is a full supporter of the Cheney concept of the "Unitary Executive," we know exactly what that means. Briefly, it means that, using the excuse of "national security" as declared by himself, the President (as long as it is Bush, or ever better, a resurrected and cured-of-Alzheimer's Reagan) can do whatever he damn well pleases in terms of national policy and individual rights and liberties, no matter what the Constitution says or doesn't say. Many observers would call that "Dictatorship." [Of course, when Obama does the same thing, and he does --- e.g., see the “drone strikes” --- that doesn’t get him anywhere close to being a “strong President.” That Obama policy is just ignored.]
Second of all, Hannity's American "State" has "enemies," as defined by their political beliefs and positions on policy. And if it has enemies, it can then deal with them the way enemies are usually dealt with, through means other than elections, debate, and legislative action.
Third of all, by declaring himself for establishing such a category, Hannity aligns himself with such historical entities as Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union. Interesting ideological allies for someone who once published a book with the title "Let Freedom Ring." (Full disclosure and a dead giveaway of where this man is really coming from: the subtitle is the oxymoron "Winning the War of Liberty over Liberalism.") But this is what Hannity is really about. Those who disagree with you are enemies, and they are enemies who are to be dealt with in the harshest way, because they are "Enemies of the State."
To deal effectively with O'RHannibaugh and their Permanent Ministry of Propaganda we, in addition to continually exposing their constant lies and distortions, in addition to going after them for ranting, raving, crying, and whining, as well as calling them to account for their major role in the destruction of civil discourse and traditional American values and freedoms, must also, over and over again, reveal what they are for. Yes indeed, we too must learn how to "always attack, never defend."
- Cesca, B. “13 Benghazis,” May 9, 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-cesca/13-benghazis-that-occurre_b_3246847.htm
- Jonas, S., “The Torturous Debate Revisited,” Posted on BuzzFlash@Truthout on Thu, 05/26/2011.