Monday, November 07, 2005


Even if this Steve Salerno piece were only a paragraph long, it would still be one of the silliest things I've ever read:
Ever wonder why one hears so little talk of right-wing demagoguery? Oh, now and then some particularly dyspeptic liberal will lodge such charges against Rush, or get in a snit over some other outspoken conservative stalwart. But the Right has no true counterparts to the likes of Jesse Jackson, Terry McAuliffe, Patricia Ireland, Al Sharpton, et al. There simply is no conservative whose stock in trade is the chronic spewing of grandiose pronouncements or pithy sound bites having no purpose other than to remind constituents of how much they need him in their corner.

Where to begin? First, to wonder whether Salerno knows the definition of the word demagogue, which nicely describes Republican strategy since about Joe McCarthy. Whether it's Hollywood Communists, welfare queens, murderous Islamists, atheistic elites, baby-eating feminists, Mexicans stealing your jobs, or gays trying to get married and have sex with your children, GOP strategy has been to A) make you fear it, and B) convince you that only they can protect you from it. I don't deny that there's an element of this in all politics, but to survey the American scene and conclude that the real demagogues are to be found only on the left is to signal stupidity at the cellular level.

Bill O'Reilly wrote a book entitled Who's Looking Out for You?, which, aside from recycling his newspaper columns, had no purpose other than to remind readers of how much they need him in their corner. Sean Hannity. Rick Santorum. Laura Ingraham. Tom DeLay. Ann Coulter. Check, check, check, check, check. I particularly like how Salerno tries to steal a base regarding Limbaugh, suggesting that only oversensitive types could find him offensive. Offensive? Occasionally. Demagogue? Certainly.

I'm reminded of a C-SPAN interview with National Review's Jay Nordlinger last year in which he condemned Michael Moore as "poisonous," and moments later chucklingly referred to Ann Coulter as "flamboyant." This sort of ideological blindness is probably as common on the left as on the right, but as others have pointed out, the difference between left-wing and right-wing demagogues is that right-wing demagogues, in addition to being on the airwaves and in the newspapers every day of the week, actually occupy positions of power in their party.

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