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Urge Barack Obama To Speak Out Against Sean Hannity's McCarthyite Tactics

Reported by Ellen - August 16, 2007 -

Bullyboy Sean Hannity reached a new low last night on Hannity & Colmes (8/15/07) as he went on a McCarthyite rampage against Democrats who have dared to speak out against President Bush's war policies. The focal point for Hannity's un-American behavior was Obama's criticism of the war policy in Afghanistan. But rather than debate Obama on the issue, Hannity put on a melodramatically vicious display of hammed-up outrage that was really nothing more than an attempt to squelch the hallmarks of our democracy, the free flow of ideas and debate. To add insult to injury, the so-called Democratic strategists allowed Republican Rick Santorum to falsely assert that Democrats have offered “no credible alternative but to cut and run.” With video.

Kirsten Powers, sitting in for Alan Colmes, once again spent more effort burnishing her conservative street cred than in advocating on Democrats’ behalf. After stating enthusiastically in her introduction that Obama’s remarks have caused him “NOTHING BUT TROUBLE” (her emphasis), she started off the discussion with gratuitous criticism of him, followed by less than faint praise: "I think this was obviously a sloppy thing to say and I am not afraid to criticize Democrats and, in fact, have been somewhat critical of Obama on some of his other foreign policy statements but it's very hard for me to believe that he was really attacking the troops which is now what all the Republicans were saying."

Is there anyone out there who cares whether or not Powers is afraid to criticize Democrats? Memo to Powers: You could easily advocate with more passion on behalf of Obama without agreeing with him. Trial lawyers do it all the time. And so do real political strategists.

I do give Powers some credit for noting, however limply, that the facts bear out Obama’s contention that US actions are causing civilian casualties in Afghanistan and questioning whether perhaps too many civilians are being killed. But Powers seemed to have exhausted her meager supply of Democratic support there. So she allowed Santorum to change the subject and offered no objection or rebuttal when Santorum said Obama was “just trying to take a cheap shot at our president and take a cheap shot at the effort being put forth by our troops.” She also allowed Santorum to go on and make the false claim that Obama “offered no credible alternative but to cut and run.” In fact, Obama has put forth a plan that calls for phased withdrawal, international engagement and continued American training of and counter-terrorism operations with Iraqi forces. But Powers either didn’t know or didn’t care enough to interrupt Santorum and correct the defamation.

From there, Hannity ratcheted up the slurs in a bullyboy performance that probably outdid Joseph McCarthy. “The senator’s far too nice a person, here,” he began with the other guest, Democratic strategist Michael Brown. “What he said is disgusting, despicable.” Hannity continued by vilifying Dick Durbin, John Kerry and John Murtha for their critical comments about the Bush administration’s prosecution of the so-called war on terror. With phony-baloney Hanctimony, Hannity grandstanded, “What is it about your Party that you lecture us how much you support the military and then every time we turn around, you embolden the enemy and stab these guys in the back.”

Hannity’s attacks were not just disingenuous (I’m certain he knows full well that he had distorted the comments of all four Democrats for his own partisan purposes) but his dramatic display of “patriotism” was a thinly veiled maneuver to stifle political debate, the very thing that real patriots love about America.

Brown got in some good jabs at Hannity, calling him a broken record and saying that the real way to support the troops is to bring them home. And he did note that, given the state of Republican politics, their only strategy is to attack. But attacks work, as Brown must surely know. And rather than confront Hannity’s despicable and un-American tactics, Brown perpetuated the myth that they were having a debate. “What is it about your Party that continues to defend a flawed policy, when the safest way to protect our troops… is to bring them home,” Brown responded. A good talking point and one worth making, but also a tacit acceptance of what should have been unacceptable behavior – questioning someone’s patriotism, especially that of two veterans (Kerry and Murtha) by a chickenhawk like Hannity.

The result was that Hannity went on with his hate-filled distortions. Pointing his pudgy finger, Hannity emoted maliciously, “You’re sitting here justifying your Number 2 candidate who accused our brave men and women that are sweating in 140 degree heat, to do what their country has asked them to do and he accuses them of raiding villages and killing civilians and that’s fine with you?”

From there, Hannity teamed up with Rick Santorum to up the ante. “I got to tell you something, Senator. This is beyond politics, here,” Hannity claimed. “Is my statement over the top, am I too far right that they’re emboldening our enemies now?”

Santorum, of course, agreed. “What they’re doing is effectively aiding the enemy in trying to defeat American will to sustain this fight. That’s what terrorism is all about, to defeat the will of the people and they are, in my opinion, helping them in that process.”

Brown did jump in and say, “One way to help would be to get a better policy and a better strategy, that would be the best thing to do.” Which is not a bad answer but still did nothing to address the outrageous tactics.

Powers interrupted him. “OK,” she said, sounding almost annoyed that Brown was taking up too much air time. “Thank you very much but we gotta get out.”

Comment: These are the same kind of tactics that stifled debate about going to war against Iraq and more recently cowed Democrats into voting for Bush’s warrantless wiretapping. With the serious issues facing our country, we cannot afford NOT to have serious debates on policy. But efforts like Hannity’s do nothing to help that most American of activities; they are clearly designed to hinder it. He simply wraps himself in the cloak of patriotism to disguise what he’s really after: squelching his opposition instead of overcoming it.

We need Democratic leaders who are willing to tell people like Hannity that they will not be intimidated by their loud-mouthed smears. It’s not only destructive to Democrats but to our country.

So let’s ask the candidates to do just that. Here’s contact information for Obama. I’m going to call his office and email them right after I post. I’ll let you know if I hear anything back.

Obama campaign email webpage form: http://my.barackobama.com/page/s/contact2
Phone (866) 675-2008

Obama for America
P.O. Box 8102
Chicago, IL 60680