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The O'Reilly Factor: Bantam Rooster Meets Pit Bull

Reported by Marie Therese - January 27, 2005

On yesterday's O'Reilly Factor Newsday columnist and radio talk show host Ellis Henican proved that size doesn't matter when going mano a mano with BIll O'Reilly. Spunk does count, though. Months ago, when I first saw Henican on FOX, he seemed to be just another faux liberal dragged out to make the conservative hosts and guests look good. However, since then he seems to have found his voice and it's a feisty one. He proved that yesterday in a bout with Pit Bull O'Reilly. The topic was disparaging remarks made by Sen. Mark Dayton (D-MN) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) about Condoleezza Rice.

O'Reilly began the segment with a video clip of Sen. Mark Dayton (D-MN) accusing Condoleezza Rice of lying about the build-up to the war in Iraq. According to O'Reilly "Dayton was out of line. [California Senator Barbara] Boxer was out of line. And the reason they're out of line is they took it into the personal realm. Once you look me in the eye [O'Reilly stared right at Henican and pointed both fingers at him] and you say "You're a liar, Ellis Henican," that's not right!"

HENICAN: Right...Listen it's not the way I would approach it. I'm not saying ya' can (reacts to off-screen O'Reilly) Hold on a second!

O'Reilly (very loudly, gesturing like a parody of Jimmy Cagney in a gangster film): Be a man!!! It's wrong!! Be a man!!

HENICAN (raises voice): I'm tellin' you, I'm tellin' you exactly the fact, if you will listen for a second, my friend!

O'Reilly made a disgusted, elongated "Ah" sound.

HENICAN: The fact is the rhetoric was overheated. But you know that, I'm - wait a second! - I'm not cryin' tears for a woman who's gonna become the Secretary of State, who's gonna be our leading diplomat in the world...

O'Reilly: Yeah!

HENICAN: ... if she can't handle some overheated rhetoric in the Senate!

O'Reilly: So, if you're a public servant, Secretary of State ...

HENICAN (louder): Handle it!!!

O'Reilly: You should be allowed ...

HENICAN: Take it!!!

O'Reilly: ... in front of the nations ...

HENICAN: Hey!!!

O'Reilly: ... to be called a liar!

HENICAN: You take shots. I take shots.

O'Reilly: All day long!!

HENICAN: This is the public arena.

O'Reilly: Doesn't make it right!

HENICAN: If you can't handle it, you know what ...

O'Reilly: Doesn't make it right!

HENICAN: You know what? If you can't handle it in this chair, or I can't handle it in mine or she can't in hers, then we're all in the wrong business!!

O'Reilly: You're justifying bad behavior ..

HENICAN: I'm not justifyin'. I'm sayin' chill out!! It's not the end of the world!!

O'Reilly (incredulous, loudly): Chill out?!!!!!

HENICAN: It's politicians screamin' ...

O'Reilly: Is that what you just said?!!

HENICAN: Chill out!!

O'Reilly (looks off camera): Can we fire him? (laughs) Alright. Ellis Henican, everybody.

HENICAN (laughing): It's a tough arena, man!

O'Reilly: College education and he's saying "chill out." Alright. There he is.

COMMENT

If you think Mr. Henican should be encouraged, why not e-mail him and let him know that you applaud his efforts to speak up for the other half of the country? Email him at: henican@newsday.com

Here's a sample of Henican's writing from the January 21st edition of "Newsday":

A real patriot sends a silent message
by Ellis Henican

It's always the men who've never fought one who call the loudest for war. It's the quiet dissent that tends to come from men who have.

Men like Alex Ryabov.

Alex is 22 years old. He was born in Ukraine and moved as a child to Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn. When he was old enough, he was proud to join the Marines. Without complaint, he went off to fight in Operation Iraqi Freedom, the hopeful name the Bush administration gave to the early part of the war. This gung-ho corporal was ammo chief for R-battery, 5th Battalion, 10th Regiment, a legendarily tough artillery unit that brought giant howitzers into war. R-battery seemed to be everywhere when U.S. troops rolled across Iraq.

"We moved in from the Kuwait-Iraq border," Alex was recalling yesterday. "Fired into Nasiriyah. Fired into Baghdad. We kept on firing all the way to Tikrit."

The war comes alive when he talks. But as Alex spoke yesterday, he was about as far as you could get from those battered Iraqi cities and the people on both sides who died there. He was standing at Constitution Avenue and Third Street in the heart of downtown Washington, waiting for his former commander-in-chief to roll by.

Four blocks away at the Capitol, George W. Bush had delivered an especially pugnacious inaugural address. It was wrapped in the sentimental language of modern politics. But the meaning was infinitely clear, as far-reaching and as bellicose as any inaugural ever. Bush sketched out his second-term vision for America, a nation with an almost moral duty to topple whatever governments don't meet our definition of free.

"It is the policy of the United States," Bush announced, "to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world. ... America's influence is considerable, and we will use it confidently in freedom's cause."
What nations come next? When will persuasion give way to invasion? Which allies will join us? Where will we get the troops? Bush didn't say. But he left no doubt in the crisp Washington air: If he has his way, Iraq won't be his last war.

With his curly, close-cropped hair and his favorite camouflage pants, Alex Ryabov wasn't the only military man who felt a need to register dissent yesterday. These soldiers with doubts are still a minority in the military. But their numbers are growing. Their boldness, too. And they were a surprising part of yesterday's presidential inaugural events.

Said Alex: "The president told us Iraq was a threat to our freedom. But how much of a threat could it be if we could take the capital in three weeks? I knew I had to come down from New York and stand with other veterans in the cold. We had to say, 'No, this doesn't make any sense.'"

It is not easy for a military man to talk like that. No gung-ho Marine from Brooklyn is raised to protest wars. But it's been truly heartening, Alex said, to meet so many others - soldiers still, but soldiers who've learned from all they've seen.

"When I got back from Iraq," he said, "I didn't know so many veterans were thinking like I was. More and more are coming forward every day."

He didn't shout when the president's limousine passed.

He didn't wave a sign or demand impeachment.

In fact, to be precise about it, he didn't say anything at all.

But yesterday afternoon, at the corner of Constitution and Third, Alex Ryabov - and quite a few others, too - turned their backs in silent protest as the president rode by.

It was hard to know if Bush even saw them through the smoky glass of his limousine. But the president's security detail apparently did. The car sped up noticeably just as it passed the vets.

Others in the crowd noticed, too. Not all of them were charmed.

A few scattered boos from the bleachers behind them.

A couple of stocky fellows in cowboy hats stormed up.

"You have to honor the dead," one of the cowboy hats called out.

"Those dead were our friends," Alex told him, soft but direct. "This is personal for us."

The man didn't seem to know who he'd been taunting. "Oh, OK," he said, before turning and walking off.

"I think it was very symbolic," Alex Ryabov said later, after the inaugural parade had passed. "A lot of people came here today to see the president and cheer him and all that stuff. That's OK. But we thought it was important to say not everybody agrees with that. Some people think this war is a very bad thing. People who've been there and know.

"No, Mr. President, we don't support what you are doing. We won't pretend we do."

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