Sean Hannity “discussed” Nelson Mandela’s memorial by seizing on the phony issue of President Obama’s handshake with Cuban president Raul Castro. For no other reason than to smear Obama. We know that because after Hannity used the incident to suggest that Obama likes our enemies more than our allies, he admitted he didn’t think the handshake was such a big deal after all.
Sitting in front of a graphic that blared, "INTERNATIONAL EMBARRASSMENT," Hannity announced: "The long and illustrious list of President Obama’s blunders on the world stage is growing. …Sadly, this is not the first time that he’s embarrassed our nation on the world stage. … Now is it just me or does it look like President Obama’s more willing to give his time to our enemies than our allies?"
Besides the fact that it’s a ridiculous issue to get worked up about – and, sadly, Fox was not the only cable news network to harp on it - American leaders have shaken hands with dictators forever. That includes, by the way, Fox fave Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Fox’s uber-villain Saddam Hussein. But this is President Obama so it’s different!
Guest Fernand Amandi a former Obama pollster, did a terrific job pushing back. Amandi told Hannity, “Let’s not begrudge the leader of the free world for doing a cordial handshake with the leader of a repressive government any more than we would begrudge Reagan for shaking President Gorbachev’s hand when he was the head of the Soviet Union or former President Bush shaking Hugo Chavez’ hand.”
Even Hannity seemed to acknowledge this was much ado about nothing. He admitted, “This to me isn’t the biggest offense of the president.” So Hannity used that as an opening to catalog those things he thinks are the biggest offenses: giving military aid to Egypt, “which obviously could be used one day against Israel;” “getting in bed with Iran the way he’s trying to right now;” and “dissing” Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu. Hannity added, “Seems like (Obama's) priorities are off. Seems like he’s trying to make friends with people that you cannot make friends with.”
Later, as Amandi argued that Hannity was denigrating what was widely seen as a great showing by our president on the world stage, Hannity started shouting at him. Fortunately, Amandi refused to be bullied and continued saying his piece no matter what. “As an American of Cuban descent, it was one of the proudest moments of his presidency today,” Amandi continued, uncowed.
Not surprisingly, The Daily Show's Jon Stewart put it best:
Barack Obama, at a memorial celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela – a man whose legacy is that he forgave and embraced his foes and tormentors and thus inspired his country to a national and democratic rebirth. Attending that, Obama had the audacity to greet another world leader with a gesture so meaningless, you can train a basset hound to do it. What the f*** is wrong with us?
The Daily Show video – which also includes a hilarious moment of Stewart singing "Raul Castro is not Adolf Hitler," to the Sound of Music – is the second video below.
The fun part was where they tried to imply that this was done in connection with their shutdown – playing that they quickly bought 180K of alcohol right before the government shut down. And they tried to imply that the Obama Administration is spending massive amounts on alcohol, given that the total annual budget allotment went from 118K in 2008 to 400K n 2013. Both of those observations were silly. First, the State Dept was clearly just spending its budgeted allotment on schedule, regardless of the GOP’s timeline of when they wanted to throw a tantrum and shut government services down. Second, any number comparison between 2008 and 2012 has to include the massive recession of 2008/2009 when comparing expenditures like this.
Then there was the cluck-clucking that somehow the State Dept shouldn’t have any budge for liquor in the first place. Which is fine, if you want all our embassies to have all their functions be completely alcohol free. Because this isn’t about State Dept people drinking on the job. This is about over 100 embassies around the world holding diplomatic events, dinners, parties, etc. These events involve wine or cocktails. New Years celebrations involve champagne, etc. And frankly, when you do the math, the State Dept’s budget for this isn’t extravagant at all. It’s a reasonable budgetary figure for a reasonable situation. Unless we’re planning on re-instituting Prohibition again (and that worked out so well the last time…), this is just another nonsensical rationale to once again attack President Obama.
I don’t see right wing or any other media playing up Ted Cruz’ deliberate act of grandstanding. When Raul Castro began to speak at the Memorial, Cruz made a display of walking out of the stadium and turning his back on the speaker. Presumably this was to give himself some credibility with the angrier right wing people back home. Except that where President Obama was following normal and accepted custom, Cruz was making a spectacle of himself once again.
If there is one primary lesson of Mandela’s life and career, it is that people must learn how to forgive each other and work with each other. Mandela could have imposed a nightmare on white South Africans and gotten a lot of payback for his years in prison, had he wished to do so. This would have triggered a bloodbath- something many people were convinced would happen in South Africa eventually. Instead, he chose to work with everyone, and he made a point of including the white South Africans in his cabinet, even the jailer he had dealt with for most of his time behind bars. By doing that, he and the whole country avoided that bloodbath and worked toward a more positive future. His was a message of reconciliation and peace. The memorial was intended as a positive event for people to celebrate his life and to learn from it.
President Obama’s shaking of Castro’s hand was a ceremonial action and a reflection of Mandela’s beliefs. Had he refused to shake Castro’s hand, the President absolutely would have created an international incident – it would have been seen as exactly the kind of grandstanding that Cruz was practicing. As for the Selfie, it’s obvious that this was a matter of three world leaders enjoying the celebration and each other’s company. It certainly did not disrupt the memorial, and if anything, was exactly the kind of positive appreciation Mandela himself would have encouraged
Ted Cruz’ behavior, on the other hand, was intended to be both disruptive and divisive. I’m frankly surprised he didn’t get himself more Fox News coverage for the tantrum. But on the other hand, they’re still smarting from his antics two months ago…
[Isn’t a sad state of affairs that one of my few skills these days is predicting with some degree of accuracy what will annoy Hannity the most?]
And sure enough, Tuesday afternoon (when I broke my vow and tuned in his radio hatefest), Obama caving to Castro was topic numero uno for Slanthead.
Actually, it was the second topic. Hannity first vented his wrath for 15 minutes or so over the efforts of animal advocates (commie leftists, of course) who are trying to save snowy owls at the NYC airports. Story here:
Slanthead — who consistently called the bird a “snow owl” [when he wants to disrespect someone or something, he always gets the name wrong] — ranted that his safety is more important that anything else, especially birds. Hannity doesn’t like birds; he made sure the listeners knew his view about Goose “poop.”
I was really surprised he didn’t offer his “swat” services; he could have loaded up his three (and counting) AR-15s, thousands of rounds of ammo from his Northshore bunker and driven out to the airports to pick off an owl or two.
If Hannity needed help, he always could give a shout to his good buddy George Zimmerman who’s building up a small arsenal himself:
… anyway, I’m digressing too much. When he turned to the “disgusting” handshake with the Cuban leader, Slanthead was totally predictable. And of course he brought up “unrepentant terrorist” Bill Ayers for the umpteenth thousand time.
Hannity brings up Ayers at least 20 times a week, according to one count. You’d think that with some real current issues that can be laid on Obama, this is still Hannity’s primo argument. I wouldn’t be surprised if Slanthead, before ordering his daily meal of fat, salt and sugar at McDonalds, asks the teenage counter clerks if they know that “our president pals around with unrepentant terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dorhn?”
But lest anyone think Hannity is over the top, you only have to listen to the real fruitcake who will soon be replacing him on WABC radio’s afternoon drive time.
I’m talking about “Doctor” Mark Savage, who merely said that while in South Africa, Obama bowed, bowed way down before “a criminal dictator worse than Adolf Hitler!”
BTW, the big NYC radio shuffle — that we all knew was coming — was confirmed earlier this week, with Limbaugh and Slanthead doing their respective Noon to 6 p.m. crap on WOR starting Jan 1.
More details in this good piece in the News:
I’m going to miss Joan Hamburg in the early afternoon. Just the other day, she had a Betty Crocker editor on to tell us all about making Christmas cookies. I worked at WOR back in the late sixties for a few months (wrote news). Joan Hamburg was OLD then!
I’m surprised WOR is keeping Mark Simone. I don’t catch him much since he left WABC about a year ago. For those who don’t know him, Simone is the undisputed top putz of American broadcasting. A rug wearing, ape-grinning aging former disk jockey (WNEW FM in its heyday), he became a radio whore, willing to sub for anyone or do any infomercial.
I wonder what he was discussing here, in this pic with Timothy “Chuckles the Cardinal” Dolan (deflated a bit in this shot, someone must have opened the valve and let a lot of this hot homophobic air escape):
When Simone worked at WABC, he could be called up at 4:00 a.m., to rush into the studio and fill in for Hannity or Levin or any of those scumbags. And it was so comical as Simone tried so, so hard to be mean and viscous. Prime example: “Who cares if the astronauts are drunk, what can they hit out there?” Simone was a major backer of that update cretin Carl Paladino when the latter ran for Governor some years back.
Getting back to Slanthead. In previous posts, I wondered if he would have to physically take his blubber butt way, way downtown to broadcast from WOR’s studios there.
Ellen pointed out that Hannity has a radio studio in his Long Island home. Just the other day, he said on the radio that he was building a new studio “near my house.” Then he talked about using Glenn Beck’s studio on the “39th floor” (wherever that is).
Point is that Slanthead is so ambiguous about where he actually is. It’s very easy to set up a remote radio studio, a few thousand $ for a good mic, electronics, and an ISDN line or two. Teevee is a lot more complicated (unless you’re happy with Skype quality).
Maybe Hannity should just adopt a variation of his good buddy Mark Levin’s opening: “somewhere under the brick and steel of a non-descript building.” Slanthead surely has the bunker mentality of Levin, the failed Philadelphia shyster (was he disbarred?) who has been known to go off the deep end quite frequently (“Mister Producer, hurry… tell Nurse Ratched that I’ll take the damn Thorazine if she loosens this damn straight jacket!”)
My prediction is that at least here in NYC, Limbaugh and Hannity won’t loose too many listeners. The two stations, WABC and WOR are at 770 and 710, very close on the dial, and WOR has a 50kw clear signal. It’s only been down in the ratings all these years because of the middle class, middle-aged content. I’m sure a major chunk of the ditto heads and great Amerikans will follow Limbaugh and Slanthead to WOR.
Hey… the best news about Slanthead going to WOR is that the station has also just signed to broadcast all the Mets baseball games next season. Won’t it be a gas to see Hannity pre-empted so many times in the NY market!!!
Antoinette… what will I ever do??
I ‘ask’ about Donald Rumsfeld’s handshake with Saddam Hussein: Was Ronnie Raygun more willing to give his time — and weapons — to our enemies than our allies?
To make a long story short, in the situation Obama was in, a handshake was proper decorum. At least they didn’t hold hands as Bush did with the Saudi prince, and I don’t remember Fox having their panties in a bunch over that.
NOTE TO HANNITY
If President Obama wanted to spend time with his enemies he would have sat down and gave you an interview, you old clown.