Friday, June 10, 2005


Please extract the foot from Howard Dean's mouth

"I hate Republicans and everything they stand for."
-Howard Dean

Goodness, that seems a little a harsh, like the kind of rhetoric Sean Hannity would employ. I drop Sean's name because I first heard about Dean's comments on Hannity's show last week. At the time, I was hoping, they were grossly taken out of context, but no, Dean really said those words and they were presented by Hannity in the correct context. Frankly, it would be hard to portray those comments in anything but the correct context.

Dean also said Republicans "have neve made an honest liviing in their lives" (I suppose a badly outdated reference to the Gatsbian days of trust-fund kids voting for Harding and Coolidge) and "This is a struggle between good and evil, and we are the good." He even did a coke-snorting impression of Rush Limbaugh for one crowd in Minnesota (Hey, Howard, Rush is an OxyContin fiend, not a cokehead.) In conclusion, Dean said, Republicans are "pretty much a white Christian party."

Understandably, Hannity was outraged by all of this. After all, name-calling and demeaning and belittling opponents has traditionally been the domain of right-wingers. The man who says "Liberals hate America" and who named his book "Deliver Us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism and Liberalism" naturally isn't pleased that an opponent would resort to right-wing schtick. Lee Atwater and Roger Ailes invented it, Limbaugh filed for the copyright and Hannity and Ann Coulter have purchased the rights. Dean's use of such tactics constitutes outright thievery. Sean is right. Let him and his cronies hold exclusive dominion over that kind of rhetoric.

Besides, as one Democratic bigwig put it, we'd sure like some of those white Christians to vote for us. Calling them names isn't going to attract them. It's one of those Dean-like scenarios: fire up the base, alienate everyone else. And the fact is, such comments aren't fair. Most conservatives are good, decent people. Many of my friends happen to be conservative. That they count me as a friend shows that they're reasonable and open-minded too. It's a relatively small group that trades in and is swayed by this noise (although a group the GOP panders too almost exclusively). I welcome those folks to stick with Hannity, Limbaugh and Coulter while the rest of us move on and do something productive for our great nation.

Apparently, many Democrats agree. Ranking Dems in the Senate had a powwow with Dean and told him to knock it off. Dean agreed and said he intends to. Yet this nicer, more reasonable approach can be dangerous too. For quite some times, Democrats I fear have been relatiely reasonable and have gotten mowed down by the rhetorical panzers of the right-wing noise machine. I suggest a middle ground, tough and on-target with a relentless honest message that Americans will buy. We'll let the right-wing ideologues stick with the name calling; they have little else to work with.

I try real hard here at South City Mouth to employ a higher standard. I throw bombs, but they're a more thoughtful Molotov. A kinder, gentler incendiary, if you will. I'm not saying I've never called someone a name here (I did just call Rush a druggie, after all), but at the same time, I use labels sparingly and only when I think there's a real point to it. And I promise to never paint an entire group with a single mean-spirited brush. To do otherwise would be sooo Hannity.

From the mailbag:

Big B from Big D responds to yesterday's posting on GM's failure to develop hybrid technology:

The problem with you tree-huggers who don't know anything about business, when you criticize business, you do so with an elementary and at best book-learned knowledge about business, the corporations, and how business really works. (Save for a few Ben & Jerrys, and the Ivory elite who've turned to liberalism as penance for the guilt derived from wealth.) When the Big 3 decided to invest more in Hummers than hybrids, it had little to do with the future of either one.

Americans wanted - still do want - big cars and trucks. (Mark my words, the slump in big cars will last as long as a ride in a hybrid) Business is about business. It's about pleasing the consumer and geting paid for it. Toyota is doing well because of quality, not innovation. Remember the Carter no-gas fiasco of the 70's? How long did Americans yearn for Pintos? You Tree Huggers may wish for Pintos, but the rest of us want our cars like the spirit of America.

The Mouth responds:
Assuming that Big B is the captain of industry he purports to be (That he would even defend the perennially inept GM makes me wonder), he appears to labor under the delusion that many large corporations really care about consumer demand. For years, many consumers expressed interest in fuel-efficiency technology, a notion GM dismissed as wackjob environmentalism. The fact that Honda and Toyota can't make hybrids fast enough to satisfy waiting lists, while plenty of traditional Corollas and Civics sit on the lots (Honda's sales are down too, but not by anywhere near as much as GM's.) merely reinforces my position.

Yes, we know people really wanted SUVs, although recent sales figures show they're less enamored these days of huge unwieldy boxes on wheels. I strongly suspect sales will continue to drop, not only because of gas prices, but also because of changing tastes. Many former SUV drivers are turning to minivans, station wagon and (gasp!) traditional cars. GM once again failed to spot the trend.

I suppose the free market works. GM, in its one-size-fits-all arrogance, chose to dictate supply instead of respond to a diversity of demand, and now it's paying the price. As for the Pinto, it failed because the gas tank exploded on impact, a sympton of that period when just about everything Detroit produced was a disaster, regardless of gas mileage.

Brian responds to my critique of conservative talk radio:

I was reading your ramblings, uh, I mean comments on Rush and thought I'd suggest that conservative talk radio has broadened its scope since the days where Rush was a lone conservative voice shouting out across the red states.

Honestly, I've got to say that I don't find myself listening to Rush much any more, but instead to hosts like Laura Ingraham, Michael Medved, Dennis Praeger, and Michael Savage (who I can't stand, but find interesting sometimes.) Oh, I also listen to Alan Colmes occasionally (as he's the only liberal talk show host on the radio here). Have you listened to these guys? Laura and Michael Medved would be my favorites. Now, this may seem odd, but you know who I really miss hearing? G. Gordon Liddy. There was just something I liked about Liddy, loved his voice. I think he was just really, really an interesting character too.

The Mouth responds:

Ah, a conservative who has liberated himself from Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Michael Savage. That's certainly refreshing, and makes me feel almost guilty for defending Michael Moore. Almost.

As work on Mount Budmore continues this summer, I'll try to check out Michael Medved and Dennis Praeger. I've always found Medved thoughtful and reflective, although I confess I'm not familiar with Praeger. I find Laura Ingraham to be the same old right-wing rant. As for G. Gordon Liddy, well, let me just say I try to avoid rat-eating psycopaths. But to each his own.

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