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Mike Gallagher On The Factor Tries to Convince Us He's Fair and Balanced by Defending President Obama on Haiti

Reported by Julie - January 16, 2010 -

Well, gosh, you don't see this every day on Fox – on last night's O'Reilly Factor (1/15/10), the topic was President Obama's response to the Haiti disaster. His guests were conservative radio talk show host, Mike Gallagher, and conservative radio talk show host, Martha Zoller – but in this case, Gallagher and Zoller didn't prop each other up; they disagreed. And Mike Gallagher didn't take the usual extreme right-wing position; he actually criticized other conservatives and defended President Obama on his Haiti response. Now, don't get me wrong – Gallagher found plenty of opportunities to take swipes at President Obama, and, of course – predictably – malign liberals. In his view, sniping at sitting presidents is something only the “rabid left” does. And something else notable: Gallagher referred to President Obama throughout the segment as “Barack Obama,” yet referred to Bush as “President Bush.” But it was, nevertheless, a curious segment. With video.

O'Reilly led off with the comment that there were “some conservative radio people pounding President Obama for his response to Haiti” and went on to say that he felt that was “misguided.” Introducing Gallagher and Zoller (who was too lame to really give either Gallagher or O'Reilly much of a fight), O'Reilly gave a little recap on the “sniping at Obama over Haiti,” and asked if she saw any validity to that.

Zoller said the president has made “some progress . . . bringing on President Bush,” and said that her listeners “want to hear him talk more about American exceptionalism. . . I want to see him put his arms around the American people and say, hey, we're the best in the world at this and we're gonna get out there and get it done.”

O'Reilly frowned on the commentary he'd heard comparing the President's allegedly delayed response to the Underwear Bomber versus his rapid response to the Haiti crisis, and asked, “It's not a bad thing he responds quickly to Haiti, is it?”

Gallagher responded, “It's misguided, and it's wrong, and it's uncomfortable for me to criticize some of my fellow conservative hosts, but I've got to say that we don't need Barack Obama [President Obama to you, pal] to confirm or deny the presence of American exceptionalism . . . sometimes we shoot ourselves in the foot, it frustrates the heck out of me . . . Republicans are poised to do some pretty big things starting next week, perhaps, in Massachusetts . . . and this is a real big mistake, and people shouldn't take an earthquake . . . and use that as an opportunity to criticize any sitting president. It's what the rabid left does, this is the kind of crap they pull, we shouldn't be doing it on our side and I'm more than a little bit embarrassed by some of them.” Gallagher made no comment about the Underwear Bomber, although it was only a couple of weeks ago, as reported by Ellen at News Hounds, that he was on Hannity bemoaning the fact that President Obama was getting a pass on his response to the Underwear Bomber, and that Bush would have endured far more criticism under the same set of circumstances. Interestingly, as Ellen wrote, one of Politico's headlines noted, “President Obama takes the heat President Bush did not.” Okay, so it wasn't an earthquake response Gallagher was criticizing, it was a terrorist incident. Splitting hairs, if you ask me.

O'Reilly asked if it was “counterproductive” to the conservative cause, to which Gallagher responded, “It's the antithesis of conservatism . . . this isn't what conservatives say. We don't take an earthquake with thousands of dead and dying people and use that as a springboard to score political points . . . This isn't the time for that . . . Believe me, the White House is doing plenty with which we can find fault, we don't need to use an earthquake to beat up Barack Obama over.” I didn't have the time to research every earthquake that occurred when there was a sitting Democratic president, and the Republicans' response to that President's reaction time, but I'll go out on a limb and say that earthquake disasters are about the only thing any Republican would behave honorably around, these days. From “the President doesn't keep us safe” to teabaggers to birthers to “the President is a socialist,” the right proves over and over that water seeks its own (sewer) level. For Pete's sake, Gallagher was on O'Reilly in August 2009 defending the birthers.

Zoller protested, “. . . I think the President deserves some criticism where it's due . . . I don't think that the attacking helps but you gotta get out there and say, hey, this is what we're gonna do, we're the best at it.” Sheesh, lady, even O'Reilly praised him for reacting to the Haiti disaster in three hours; don't actions speak louder than words – and doesn't that quick response, in fact, prove that we're the best at it?

When O'Reilly challenged her as to what the President could have done better, and conceded that Bush acted too slowly on Katrina, Zoller said, “He could have reached out more and acknowledged what the American people were already doing, we didn't need a history lesson from Haiti as far as what slavery was there and how oppressed they were . . . We need to get in there and get the work done.”

“Coulda, woulda, shoulda, this is what the left does when they bash President Bush, we gotta stop this . . . We've gotta just stop trying to score political points, there are people by the thousands who are dead and dying and need our help . . . Barack Obama is doing plenty for which we can find fault . . . we'll continue to criticize Barack Obama, not over an earthquake, Martha, it's the wrong thing to do.”

Yes, indeedy, I'm sure he will continue to heap criticism on President Obama – maybe not over an earthquake, but how many of those are there? – just like he's done in the past. As reported by Ellen, in July 2008, Gallagher appeared on Hannity & Colmes and stated flatly that the Obamas “are a socialist family” because the Obamas supposedly did not give their children birthday and Christmas gifts. In September of last year, Gallagher gave props to the tea party movement and mocked President Obama's use of a teleprompter. In an article on Townhall.com in March 2008, Gallagher defended his continued and repeated references to then-candidate Obama as “Barack Hussein Obama” and wrote, “And a year-old New York Times article that I found gives anyone ample reason to wonder about his [President Obama's] feelings about the Muslim world. At a time when we are at war with Muslim extremists who want us all dead, isn’t that fair?”

So, bully for Gallagher – he isn't willing to take shots at President Obama's response to Haiti (as if there's anything there to criticize) and boastfully professes to be rising above the fray on this issue. O'Reilly, of course, didn't note any of Gallagher's past criticism of the President, and allowed him a place on the pedestal during this segment. Now that I think about it, the only thing curious on this segment was the unusually subtle manipulation: Lame Zoller, rarely seen on O'Reilly, criticizes the President, which allows rabid right-winger Gallagher to strongly defend the President over Haiti and actually appear “fair and balanced” for a minute.

This must be how cults do it.