Ed Driscoll

Of Media Double Standards And Cold Civil Wars

Charles Johnson flashes back to the worst of the last eight years, and writes:

Bill Sammon makes an excellent point about the blatant double standard of US media: Analysis: Press Largely Ignored Incendiary Rhetoric at Bush Protest.

As we’ve documented for years at LGF, the media did indeed cover up and obfuscate the true extent of the extremism at many left wing demonstrations. Sammon points out one especially egregious example, but there’s a lot more to the story.

To give just a few examples, groups like International ANSWER were never investigated, people like Cindy Sheehan were shamelessly hyped and promoted, and we exposed a number of instances in which photographs had been cropped to hide extreme signs, or hate speech was described in neutral terms like, “Demonstrators chanted slogans.” (Then you find out the slogan was something like, “Wipe Israel off the map!”)

(But please note: this does not excuse the unruly behavior or the very real extremism we’ve seen at some recent town hall meetings.)

Fair enough. Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal sounds like she concurs with the crux of Charles’ post:

It shouldn’t have been surprising, either, that the tone of much of the commentary on the town-hall protests was what it was. There was Mark Halperin for one, senior political editor for Time, bouncing off his chair, Sunday, in agitation over all the media coverage of this rowdiness—”a horrible breakdown of our political culture, our media culture” and so “bad for America,” as he told CNN’s Howard Kurtz. “I’m embarrassed about what’s going on, as an American.” The disruptions and coverage thereof distorted serious discussion, he explained. Mark Shields said much the same on Friday’s PBS NewsHour, if with less excitation, pointing out that these events were “not good for the democratic process,” and were a breakdown of civil debate.

There was no such hand-wringing over the decline of civil debate, during, say, election 2004, when cadres of organized demonstrators carrying swastika-adorned pictures of George W. Bush routinely swarmed about, and packed rallies. There was also that other “breakdown of our media culture,” that will dwarf all else as a cause for embarrassment, the town-hall coverage included, for the foreseeable future. That would be, of course, the undisguised worshipful reporting of the candidacy of Barack Obama.

That treatment, or rather its memory—like the adulation of his great mass of voters—has had its effect on this president, and not all to the good. The election over, the warming glow of those armies of supporters gone, his capacity to tolerate criticism and dissent from his policies grows thinner apace. His lectures, explaining his health-care proposals, and why they’ll be good for everybody, are clearly not going down well with his national audience.

This would have to do with the fact that the real Barack Obama—product of the academic left, social reformer with a program, is now before that audience, and what they hear in this lecture about one of the central concerns in their lives—his message freighted with generalities—they are not prepared to buy. They are not prepared to believe that our first most important concern now is health-care reform or all will go under.

The president has a problem. For, despite a great election victory, Mr. Obama, it becomes ever clearer, knows little about Americans. He knows the crowds—he is at home with those. He is a stranger to the country’s heart and character.

He seems unable to grasp what runs counter to its nature. That Americans don’t take well, for instance, to bullying, especially of the moralizing kind, implicit in those speeches on health care for everybody. Neither do they wish to be taken where they don’t know they want to go and being told it’s good for them.

Who would have believed that this politician celebrated, above all, for his eloquence and capacity to connect with voters would end up as president proving so profoundly tone deaf? A great many people is the answer—the same who listened to those speeches of his during the campaign, searching for their meaning.

It took this battle over health care to reveal the bloom coming off this rose, but that was coming. It began with the spectacle of the president, impelled to go abroad to apologize for his nation—repeatedly. It is not, in the end, the demonstrators in those town-hall meetings or the agitations of his political enemies that Mr. Obama should fear. It is the judgment of those Americans who have been sitting quietly in their homes, listening to him.

Clearly Obama bought into the same mythological prose generated ad nausem by the MSM, his key constituency, that led to predictions such as this. Elsewhere, April Gavaza, who helped push the “Cold Civil War” meme in the starboard side of the Blogosphere back in 2007 now writes:

What the hell is happening to my country? I was wrong–the “cold civil war” was only cold so long as dissent was the highest form of patriotism, (which Steyn observes is an idea that expired on January 20th). Now that the “good guys” are in charge, this cold civil war is getting hot. The socio-political divide is a freakin’ canyon at this point, with the Left and its proto-socialism on one side and the real, raw movement of educated citizens who desperately want to keep what rights they have on the other. The GOP is a hot mess of garbled messages and pre-K defiance, with some career politicians unsure of which way the wind is blowing. They are only thinking about their next impending election, and therefore attempting to calibrate their message to fit prevailing voter preferences. On the right, we’ve also been saddled with contrarian elitists who desire to keep the conservative movement clean and free of all undereducated hillbillies, chillbillies, and community college grads.

This isn’t about Birthers vs. Truthers, though the media would love to paint the GOP as the “birther” party, the Left’s mainstreaming of the “Truther” movement notwithstanding. From where I’m sitting, this is a struggle to either pull America into an Europeanized nanny state of massive proportions or maintain at least some semblance of the Founders’ vision of individualism and limited(ish) government. It’s not even about healthcare, really. The Obamacare behemoth is just a means to relieve Americans of a large chunk of their personal freedoms.

Camille Paglia puts it thusly: “Somehow liberals have drifted into a strange servility toward big government, which they revere as a godlike foster father-mother who can dispense all bounty and magically heal all ills.” I’d say that development happened in America almost 80 years ago (And hence the presence of “Don’t Immanentize the Eschaton” buttons and bumper stickers a few decades later amongst the Young Americans For Freedom and the earliest National Review aficionados), but reasonable people can disagree.

Or not. As pundit David Karki writes — accurately it seems, based on the evidence of the past couple of weeks — President Obama would “rather risk America coming apart than not get his way.”