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  • O’Reilly, the Democrats and Wright

    Posted by Jonathan on April 28th, 2008 (All posts by )

    Watching Bill O’Reilly interview partisans about Jeremiah Wright, it occurs to me that O’Reilly’s interests now overlap those of the Democrats, and that something slick has just happened. When the Democratic spin was that Wright had been misquoted (“God damn America”), and that anyway Obama had spent little time with him, O’Reilly was eager to expose Obama’s relationship with Wright. That relationship was a source of controversy and O’Reilly’s business runs on controversy.

    But now the Democratic spin is that Obama has repudiated Wright, and that Wright is a self-aggrandizing buffoon (“God damn America”) whose antics are irrelevant in a fair assessment of the reasonable, even tempered Obama. And O’Reilly, either taking the bait or having a good sense of where the ratings are, is no longer on the trail of the dissembling Obama so much as he is focusing on the bloviating Wright.

    Thus Wright takes on the role of a decoy flare that is launched by an aircraft to distract heat-seeking missiles — at least that is how Democrats wish to see the situation. Republicans prefer to think that Wright is stuck to Obama and will weigh him down come November. I think the Republicans are more likely to be correct but who knows. What I find fascinating is how unerringly O’Reilly is attracted to the flashiest part of any issue, and how by focusing on the flash and noise he tends to miss more-important points. He hounds the judge who furloughed the sex offender, while ignoring reasonable questions about statutory-rape and mandatory-sentencing laws. Similarly, O’Reilly pursues Wright at the expense of giving additional scrutiny to candidate Obama’s slippery non-repudiations of his detestable mentor.

    O’Reilly isn’t bad as big-media types go, which is saying something, but there’s still a lot of spin in his “no-spin zone.” Unlike typical MSM spin, which is heavily political, O’Reilly’s bias leans more toward the sensational and moralistic. (Other journalists make things easier for him by underreporting some types of sensational stories for political reasons.) His journalistic style makes good business sense. However, viewers, particularly those who share his political views, should be cautious about accepting his conclusions, and should consider not only the heavy-handed points he scores but also the thoughtful questions he doesn’t ask.

     

    14 Responses to “O’Reilly, the Democrats and Wright”

    1. Ginny Says:

      O’Reilly came out of sensationalist tv; he stokes it because he’s a populist and it feeds ratings but he’s also sentimental. Of course, these are intertwined, but he gravitates to some because he taught in his youth; I think that let him get a fairly good sense of what kids need but sometimes a “for the children” cry will appeal to him and lead him into irrationality. (That that is also good for ratings may be motive or just a plus.)

      Since he really cares about education and really cares about kids, he needs to spend some time on Ayers. That should draw him back to their common denominator, Obama. And the other common denominator, their complete lack of understanding of what underlies a civil society of mixed peoples ruled by a constitution and the law. Liberation theology and sixties bomb throwers both reject what has made them safe, made us all free. O’Reilly might focus on the kind of education system we would have if either has much input (unfortunately, as Lex pointed out, Ayers already has enough input to matter.) We have a pretty good idea of what heavy whitewashing of twentieth century history would be required to sell students on their theories after the evidence of the twentieth century.

    2. Dan from Madison Says:

      I have a feeling that by November, Reverend Wright will be spoken of just as frequently as everyone mentions the Dubai Ports thing today. Remember that?

      It is best for Obama that this insane guy who is an albatross around Obama’s neck is taking his five minutes now rather than in October. Although it looks like it will cost Obama Indiana.

    3. david foster Says:

      One Obama associate who should receive more attention is Gen Merill McPeak, who holds an official position with his campaign. Gen McPeak’s comments about Israel, and about American Jewish support for Israel, should be of serious concern. Lots of coverage of this at PowerLine.

    4. jimbino Says:

      I wish O’Reilly and others would actually look into whether or not the aptly named Jeremiah’s sentiments are widely shared throughout Europe and South America, for example. Americans would be very surprised and they might learn something and take the opportunity to change their wicked ways, so as not to suffer the destruction that the objects of the biblical jeremiad suffered.

      From my perspective here in Brazil, Jeremiah Wright is dead-on in his comments about the chickens coming home to roost.

      When I saw the twin towers collapse on TV at a friend’s house in Rio de Janeiro, it was from a perspective far different from that of my fellow Americans. I hated to throw a bucket of cold water on the vociferous grieving here in the USA, but the fact is that many of my fellow Latins still harbor bitter memories of Operation Condor and other recent American interventions in the internal affairs of Latin countries that led to deaths and “disappearances” of tens of thousands of Latins. Not only Castro, but other heads of state like Kirchner, Bachelet, Morales, Lula, and Chavez have good reason to despise American policies. My experiences of Latins’ sentiments on that September 11 day is well summed up by an insightful article that appeared in the German magazine Der Spiegel four days after the attack. I quote it here in full (my translation), with credit to the original in German:

      The Mood turns against the Cowboy
      “Stimmung gegen den Cowboy” Original in German by MATTHIAS MATUSSEK

      http://www.spiegel.de/

      The attack at the heart of the USA causes not only mourning and horror. In Latin America, one also senses secret Schadenfreude.

      Actually, they had met for dinner. Then the eight Brazilian friends sat just like all the world before the TV and focused on the scenes of catastrophe in New York.

      Two doctors, an entrepreneur, a professor and a journalist were there — educated, friendly, sophisticated people from Rio de Janeiro — two of them with children who study in Boston. Like anyone, they were full of sympathy for the victims. However, that sympathy expressly excluded the USA.

      Maybe it was the pictures that reminded them of a trailer of “Independence Day” and satisfied the eyes more than the head: everything appears unreal, an alien attacks the earth — the flame ripping up the tower, the dust that rages through the housing canyons of Manhattan and drives the people before it. Then come the politicians in their patriotic dress. By the time of the pep-rally speech by the president, the Brazilian friends had renamed the film they saw running there. It was now called, rather derogatorily, “Criminal Court.”

      The doctor says that the Americans she knows are helpful and nice — and ignorant with respect to foreign countries, “They simply assume that all world loves them.” And her husband adds, “Now they are amazed that it is not so.”

      “Their politics is the problem,” the journalist offers while ex-Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger demands bombardment of Afghanistan, “Bush is an illiterate, and that makes him dangerous”. Murmur of agreement. It is all directed against TV-pictures that cause sympathy world-wide, but they brace themselves against the so-called solidarity.

      “They thought they were invulnerable,” the entrepreneur says not without malice, “and then a dozen people enter the country and explode everything into the air.” After which the group, not without head-shaking admiration, discusses the perfect logistics of the assassins.

      Nobody among the friends is Muslim. Islam is of no importance to them. They go to Hollywood-films, they like Frank Sinatra, they buy Häagen Dasz ice cream. However, it is almost as if those insane fanatics have articulated, in the most brutal way, the dark sentiment of resistance that lives in the breast of the cultivated Latin American.

      “It is an attack on freedom,” says George W. Bush. “Nonsense,” the doctor says. “It is an attack on the USA.” And as Kissinger speaks — the man who shares responsibility for dictatorships in Latin America — nothing but disgust is registered in this cultivated group.

      Just the day before, Kissinger was accused of participating in the murder of a Chilean general unwilling to take part in a coup d’etat. Many would like to see him stand trial before a court of law. Now he is a world-strategist, speaking of “wiping out” Evil — not with one single stroke of vengeance, but with a “systematic attack.” The doctor says, “That means war.”

      The longer they sit together before the TV, the more they share in their anti-Americanism. And in their fear they feel that, “one can only pray that Bush commit no egregious error.“

      The Brazilian daily of the next morning continues the protest bluntly. “This attack,” a commentator writes in the Jornal do Brasil, “is not surprising.” Thereupon follows the list of political failures — Washington has brazenly quit the Kyoto climate agreement, ignores the racism in its own country and intervenes in the cultures of other nations.

      Even more heartless, another commentator, writes, “Pepper in the eye of another does no harm; it only burns only in one’s own.” The USA felt no sorrow for the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Nor for the civilians in Vietnam. Nor for the victims of the dictatorships they supported in Latin America. There is even open schadenfreude: “This cowboy doesn’t draw as quickly as he claims,” O Globo writes, “and he is vulnerable.”

      And it’s not only the absolutely “americanized “ colossus of Brazil that manifests these sentiments. In numerous press commentaries in Latin America, “solidarity” is more often denied than confirmed. The invitation to participate in common mourning is refused.

      In recent months, the new politics of the USA has reminded many folks of the old politics. The fact that Bush has recently filled key posts pertaining to his Latin American politics with old warriors from the Reagan-Contra Era has not escaped notice, but instead has aroused the old fears.

      The day of the catastrophe has also revealed that it is not just about fanatical Palestinian women, who pass through the streets trilling, while their sons shoot volleys of ecstasy into the air. Not just about discussion forums on Chinese websites that find understanding for the perpetrators. It is about the “millions of people in the third world who are condemned to die under the American hegemony.”

      No, the resentment against the USA exploits their darkest day as an occasion to give expression to long-suppressed sentiments — and with it to counter the official rank-closing of the heads of state with the White House.

      And so one thing becomes clear: Their fear in beholding an injured cowboy, who in vengeance might pull off a wild shot. “One thing is sure,” one of the eight friends says this evening, “the 21st Century has begun and things look bad for our children.”

    5. Jonathan Says:

      Not only Castro, but other heads of state like Kirchner, Bachelet, Morales, Lula, and Chavez have good reason to despise American policies.

      And this is an argument in support of Wright’s positions? I don’t understand why you expect Americans to embrace a public figure who seems to hate America and makes common cause with its enemies.

    6. jimbino Says:

      Jonathan,

      I merely implied that Jeremiah’s speech is in keeping with the biblical spirit of his fellow preacher and prophet Jeremiah and that his sentiments are widely shared throughout Europe and the Americas.

      Hatred for Amerika is not the same as dislike for Americans, as was pointed out in the Spiegel article I cited. Many of us Americans, if not most, do not support Amerikan torture, killing and aggression around the world, but we only indirectly hold the American people responsible. I suppose we would have to hold them directly responsible if they were intelligent, engaged in politics and able to get the information they need from Fox, CNN, the Daily Show and Bill Maher. Except for that provided by last two, who are minor players, information is what they can’t get, and I think that’s the point of this thread.

      Furthermore, I spent over ten years of my life trying to make “common cause” with anybody against the folly of Vietnam, whether “friend” or “enemy.” I can’t stomach the idea that a person who disagrees with the genocide and mass-murder perpetrated by Kissinger or Bush is siding with the enemy and unpatriotic.

      Jefferson, who recommended a revolution in America every 20 years, must be spinning in his grave.

    7. Jonathan Says:

      I don’t agree with your premises or conclusions. I think that most Americans are well enough informed but see things differently than you do. You do your argument no favors by not acknowledging this possibility.

      The most ignorant Americans I can think of are people like the members of Wright’s church who swallow whole his racial conspiracy theories about a US-govt created AIDS epidemic and other nonsense.

    8. Sulaiman Says:

      jimbino fails to realize that the alternatives to dictatorships supported by Kissinger have proven to be far more evil. I think George Will, parapharasing FDR, put really well couple of years ago: In an area where everyone is a son-of-a-bitch, we want a son-of-a-bitch who is on our side. To which I would add — at least there is some chance that our son-of-a-bitch can be reformed … like Chile, South Korea and Taiwan.

    9. renminbi Says:

      O’Reily’s manners as an interviewer are off putting-as bad as Charlie Rose’s. He interrupts his guests- I guess it’s all about him. A real twit.But he’s better than than the most of the rest. Pathetic all around. This excludes C-Span-they are the only professionals left on TV.

    10. jimbino Says:

      Sulaiman:

      Which exactly of those Latin dictatorships supported by Kissinger were better than the current governments of Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia and Brazil? Would it be those of Pinochet, Videla & Galtieri, and Stroessner?

    11. Jonathan Says:

      Pinochet, for example, was much better than Allende, a proto-Castro. (For more on this topic see Val Dorta’s masterful essay here.)

      But my post is about Obama’s anti-American associate Wright, about O’Reilly and about Obama’s and Wright’s relationships with journalists and the Democratic Party, not about how America-haters around the world see us. If you don’t like America that’s your problem. There are many worse countries in terms of the issues you claim to be concerned about. In this regard you appear to share Wright’s moral blindness. Maybe you should share your ideas with the Cubans and Venezuelans. I’m sure they will agree with you about America’s unique wickedness.

    12. Soap Says:

      I would also agree with the author that Obama has not gone far enough to repudiate Wright. The statement that the man will never be invited to the White House and will never influence policy decisions would be in order here I believe. As far as motives, I think Wright and Obama have opposing interests. I do think a positive Obama presidency could do a great deal to heal racial relations in this country. I also think that this prospect is in direct conflict with Wright and his fellows who rely on divisiveness as a means of control over their constituents. Certainly the “virtual shackles” placed on the persons who buy into this type ideology is far more harmful to these constituents than any persistent social issues that actually do exist. On a separate note, I really don’t understand the hate sentiment from abroad towards the US every time somebody mentions 911. How many of those who hate America, send wages earned here home, or receive them in their home countries? We are very free and open and giving here, and we cheerfully tolerate a lot as a people from those abroad who give us little to nothing in return. Personally, I care very little what folks in Brazil think of the US. And, I agree that we ought to keep our troops and our aid at home. There are a lot of under privileged people right here in the US that might better appreciate our imperialistic influence. (our money)

    13. zenpundit Says:

      Was Wright trying to torpedo Obama ( for whatever motive) or help him by creating a ” Sistah Souljah” moment by giving acceptable grounds for a public break or is he just an egomaniacal wack job ?

    14. Jonathan Says:

      I don’t know. What drew my attention was O’Reilly’s subtle shift in theme from “What does Wright’s behavior reveal about Obama?” to “Why is Wright victimizing Obama?”