Birtherism and Your Lying Media (Part 2):
On Monday's edition of The O'Reilly Factor (tagline: "Once this is over, it's time for your pills"), Fox "news" host and conjurer of oceanic mysteries Bill O'Reilly said of the massive budget cut protests in London this past weekend, "[S]ocialist protests broke out over the weekend. About 250,000 far-left malcontents demonstrated around Trafalgar Square, protesting 130 billion in British spending cuts. Perhaps 200 were arrested as they broke into stores and caused all kinds of trouble. Dozens injured. A number of police officers, as well. Millions of dollars in damage. Once again, the world sees what the far left wants: to impose chaos. There you go."
That's a couple of sentences so loaded with bullshit that it could fertilize fields of crops. It's not because O'Reilly just declared the "teachers, nurses, firefighters, public sector workers, students, [and] pensioners" who marched as "far-left" for not wanting their health care, pensions, and other government services radically cut back. Generally, extremists don't say things so politely, like, "They shouldn't be taking money from public services. What have we done to deserve this? Yes, they are making vicious cuts. That's why I'm marching, to let them know this is wrong," as a 53 year-old schoolteacher told a reporter.
And, yeah, violence did occur in the night after the march was done. But O'Reilly goes the extra mile to smear everyone involved. You know who didn't think it was a bunch of malcontents imposing chaos? Scotland Yard. Yeah, a British police commander said that the march by the Trade Union Congress "has been going well. We have had more than a quarter of a million people with hardly any problems." The policing minister declared that the violence was the work of "a small minority of individuals" in the midst of a peaceful protest. But if you watched Fox "news," you thought that hordes of Bolsheviks and Hottentots were ruining the royal wedding. Seriously, though, a quarter million (or more) people rioting would generally be considered a revolution. That ain't what happened.
This is the degraded nature of our political rhetoric. It's not enough to say that 250,000 people marched and that they were mostly peaceful, but wrong. No, you gotta go further and outright lie about the actions of the vast majority of protesters (as several London papers did) or just ignore it altogether (as the American media mostly did).
In so many ways, this is the strategy behind the birther movement. See, for many on the right, it's not enough to disagree with President. It's not enough to oppose his policies. He has to be delegitimized. (To his credit, O'Reilly dismisses birtherism outright.)
What ought to be happening is that anyone who entertains the notion that Barack Obama was not born in Hawaii or that he gave up his American citizenship (as the more evolved birthers are saying) should never be taken seriously again, by anyone. It should immediately disqualify you from being part of the public discourse. And that includes John Boehner and any other elected official who won't state unequivocally that Obama is a natural-born American, end of story. Birthers should be treated the way 9/11 truthers have been treated: as idiot conspiracy theorists who need to come up with new hobbies.
Remember: during the reign of George W. Bush, we weren't allowed to question anything about how he became president? Then, there was real room for doubt (and, you know, the fact that Gore actually won Florida). If you believed that his election was a lie, you were told to "Get over it." And, mostly, the left did and concentrated on trying to get Democrats elected to slow the American train from going off the cliff. Shit, it wasn't even a real issue in 2004, when it could have actually done some good.
But now we have serious candidates for the Republican nomination to lose to Barack Obama either embracing some aspects of birtherism or speaking in weasel ways, like Tim "Weasel Eyes" Pawlenty did when asked about Obama's birth certificate by Sean Hannity on Fox "news." Said Pawlenty, "[T]he news reports from CNN and others have said they've seen the birth certificate." Further, Pawlenty added that, if you think otherwise, "You got to either believe that they didn't and they're lying or there is something else going on." Then he just said that there were more important things to talk about. He left just enough equivocation that he could still live up to his role in the John McCain school of obsequiously begging for teabagger votes.
Something's seriously fucked beyond fucked when, in order to be considered at having a real shot at winning Republican primaries, you gotta not just go nutzoid anti-choice and anti-gay (which is stupid enough), but you gotta at least leave the door open for genuine madness in order to appease the inmates at the asylum.
Tomorrow: So what? (And that will hopefully be the last time the Rude Pundit ever writes about birthers.)