The cover of Bill O’Reilly’s new book Pinheads and Patriots pits the Fox News host against President Barack Obama.
Red meat for the news channel’s audience, no doubt.
But inside the book O’Reilly is far more measured regarding the commander in chief. And while restraint makes The O’Reilly Factor a far better product than most television critics give it credit for, in text form the results are less appealing.
Perhaps it’s the continuing fallout of adding Glenn Beck to the Fox News lineup. Beck is the fire-breathing conservative many thought O’Reilly was for years. In comparison, O’Reilly is far more measured, and his new tome takes that approach to an uncomfortable degree.
The book uses the host’s “Pinheads and Patriots” TV segment, a pithy way to label folks in the news, to analyze the Obama administration. What works on the small screen feels like a stretch here. By O’Reilly’s measure, politicians have their pinhead moments and their patriot moments as well — sometimes within the same arenas of thought and action.
Is Obama a pinhead? Well, he is where it concerns southern border security, but so is former President George W. Bush.
Nuance works well within a talk show format where audiences want to hear both sides of the story. But in the book version of “P&P,” the results can be frustrating. Every time O’Reilly tees off against the president, he backpedals to reward him for something positive he’s done. And, as is often the case here, the author strains for balance so hard you can feel the muscles tightening in his neck.
Consider how O’Reilly calls Obama a patriot because he “works extremely hard,” or read this passage about the president’s economic policies:
“I don’t despise President Obama because he’s a big government liberal. I just think his philosophy will weaken the country in both the long and short term. I could be wrong, and the president could be right. We’ll see.”
That pretty much settles it then.
Here’s a new drinking game — down a shot every time O’Reilly writes “I may be wrong” or a variation thereof.