Wednesday, June 1, 2011

An Unwavering Commitment to Outrageousness

Don't worry, this blog isn't going anywhere, but a subtle shift in tone and focus may be in the works. It's becoming increasingly difficult to find new ways to gripe about conservatism and conservative rhetoric that aren't rooted in ideological disagreement (and thus not really about the rhetoric), or things that, in fairness, should be qualified with "of course, when the situation is reversed, liberals are just as bad" (and thus not really about conservatives).

So, in the interest of not becoming repetitive, I'll probably have to start relaxing at least one of those guidelines. But there's no time for that now, because Ed Schultz called Laura Ingraham a "right-wing slut", giving conservative pundits the perfect excuse to get on their soapboxes and pretend there's a meaningful difference between conservative rhetoric and liberal rhetoric.[1]

Neal Boortz, to his credit, defended Schultz's character, avoiding the temptation to take the insult as evidence of some kind of latent misogyny. Instead, he took it as the inevitable consequence of a career spent trying to defend the indefensible:
Why does Ed say the things on his radio and television show that he does? It’s his act, folks. I think that Ed believes that the only way he can attract listeners and viewers is to give them what he things they are looking for --- outrageous statements. Tell them that Republicans want people to die! He’s not saying anything other Democrats aren’t saying. The trouble is when you think that your appeal lies in making outrageous statements rather than cogent political analysis or entertaining banter with callers, sooner or later you’re going to slip over the edge.
I completely agree, inasmuch as I agree that Ed Schultz attracts listeners and viewers to his radio and TV shows by saying outrageous things, and that cogent political analysis is probably not his primary concern. The question, though, is what does Boortz think he does every day?
As long as I’m on the air I’ll keep preaching against government education; and especially against teacher’s unions. I’ve said and I will repeat that there is no other entity in this country – or anywhere in the world, for that matter – that has done more damage to the fabric of America than teacher’s unions. The problems we face in this country would be greatly reduced if the people were just informed enough and bright enough to see through political rhetoric to the truth.
Whenever there is an excuse to push this phony global warming debate, the Obama Media will take the opportunity. Why? Do you really need to ask? Who are the people behind this phony global warming nonsense? It’s the left, in case you haven’t checked. It’s the people who believe in big governments who seize wealth and distribute it according to political considerations.
In discussions about our entitlement crisis, it has become increasingly apparent that Democrats have mounted their moral high-horses and are ready to battle for more government spending. They will do this under the guise of “security” or our “moral duty” to help those who can’t help themselves. However, the real purpose of their efforts is clear: power. That’s it. . . . The Democrats demonize the people who move up this income ladder, calling them greedy. The Democrats demonize their fellow colleagues in Washington when proposed with an option to give people more choices and freedom to make decisions in their lives: Ex. Healthcare. Democrats will back the teachers unions in order to keep their government schools in check. Democrats are insistent on raising taxes on the rich, to make productivity less desirable.
Let's see…teachers' unions are America's single greatest threat, "global warming" is actually a liberal wealth-redistribution scheme, and the Democrats are actively trying to destroy our productivity. And that's just from last week.

How the various loony things Boortz says are any different from the various loony things Schultz says—criticism of Obama's Libya policy is akin to supporting the terrorists, Newt Gingrich wants to "give tax breaks to old white millionaires," Republicans want to cut Medicare funds because they want people to die, to cite a few examples—is beyond me. Conservative, liberal, or miscellaneous, TV and radio pundits all use the same formula:
  1. Form a conclusion.
  2. Take a set of facts (or fact-like substances) and discard the ones that don't support your conclusion.
  3. Exaggerate the significance of the remaining facts to apocalyptic extremes.
  4. Maintain that yours is the only possible conclusion, because LOOK AT THE FACTS.
And this is where I can't help being impressed by Boortz's dedication to his craft. Anyone can be outrageous through simple hyperbole and distortion, but it takes an unwavering commitment to outrageousness to call others outrageous for doing the exact same thing.

1. Of course, when the situation is reversed, liberals are just as bad.

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