This was originally posted as a comment by "Shimp" under my "Super Tuesday" post, but of course, is way overqualified to be left as that....
I did something tonight that I'm ashamed of.And although I'd rather just forget about it, I think in the spirit of AA I should come clean and own up to what I am: someone who still cannot resist the occasional temptation of peeking in on those crazy conservatives.
Okay, so what I'm specifically admitting to, of course (and you know that you're sometimes guilty too), is having actually sat through an episode of The O'Reilly Factor. And I'm glad I did it, because it reminded me just how played out and predictable his whole shtick is.
It was like tuning in to a soap opera you haven't seen in maybe two years. You realize that certain small things have changed -- maybe something with the set seems different, or some major character now has cancer (they never die... unless the actors REALLY die) -- but for the most part you can still follow it. It's like you never went away...
And I truly did tune in just out of curiosity -- just to see what the hell the guy's talking about these days. On my cable, O'Reilly (which is to say FOX) is way down in this dead zone of the dial, sandwiched between crap like Lifetime Movie Network and that ridiculous bald headed guy who's always screaming about stocks, or whatever it is that's got him so worked up.
So I was literally out of my depths. Next thing I know, I'm tuning in.
And since I'd decided to just go with it, I thought I might as well try to predict Bill's major topics for the night. I tried to think of what's going on right now that could possibly be stoking his anger. I guessed maybe something about the Presidential Primaries. And although that did get about five minutes of coverage during the "roundup," or whatever it's called, actual politics had to take a back seat to the creative dredging up of outrage over the sort of stuff that gets headlines only on blatant gossip shows like Access Hollywood.
So, despite the ample availability of high-quality political fodder from the current Presidential campaign, Bill elects to focus his ire on basically three "big" stories:
1) Jane Fonda apparently uttering the C Word on the Today show this morning
2) Amy Winehouse winning multiple Grammy awards earlier this week
3) Some I-can't-imagine-there-being-a-more-marginal "news event" taking place in Massachusetts in which (and I do not exaggerate) what looked like about five inmates (including one known and registered sex offender) from a local mental hospital being permitted to take a supervised visit to the circus.
I'll summarize Bill's rants on each of these issues in a moment. But what I want to bring out now is the unmistakable overarching theme which carried through each of O'Reilly's expositions. Although he devotes more time each episode to attempting to highlight what he sees as the fundamental differences between conservative and liberal orthodoxy than anything else, if you look closely you'll actually see that O'Reilly himself is quite liberal, or at least not so much conservative.Let me just say now that I bristle at the mere suggestion that O'Reilly and his ilk represent anything having to do with what I see as traditional conservative ideology. These people are, as I see them, far more protectionist and pro-govt involvement in every aspect of our lives than anyone I know on the left.
Okay, so let's look at O'Reilly's Big Three issues for Feb. 4th, 2008.
The problem: Jane Fonda used the C Word on the live, not taped, Today show this morning.
O'Reilly's solution: The FCC should have its enforcement authority increased so that it may prevent incidents like this (by the way, this was LIVE TV, which means that it couldn't have been thwarted in any case) from happening again.
The problem: Amy Winehouse won multiple Grammys.Further to the problem: She, being a known drug abuser (possibly even an addict), should, from O'Reilly's perspective, not qualify to receive a Grammy. Instead, because of her notorious addiction problem, should be punished as not meeting the minimum standard for a Grammy recipient. O'Reilly clearly believes that there should be a behavioral component to the voting for Artist of the Year. I say that has NOTHING to do with the award. It's not about who sets the best example of how to live one's life. It's about the music. Period.O'Reilly's solution: Ban her from receiving any award/recognition because of her dispicable behavior.
The problem and O'Reilly's solution: (It's tempting to just ignore this one, but... ) The actual problem this situation presented was, according to O'Reilly, that these people (especially the known sex offender) should, assuming they were found guilty in a court of law, NEVER be left to roam outside the building they are incarcerated in for the rest of their lives. Being found guilty means that they willingly forfeit all rights available to the unincarcerated (e.g., you and I). Even permitting these people out for two hours of heavily supervised "fun" (if the circus can be described that way) is more than they deserve, and is in fact a danger to our children.
All of the above contribute to my impression that what has come to be known as the current conservative orthodoxy actually has a fairly liberal view of how societal problems should be handled, which is to say through increased govt interference in people's daily lives. I would expect them to be more promoting of personal responsibility and suffering the folly of one's own freely made choices in life, but no...
Instead their prescription is to expand government's reach into our personal lives, to make government more responsible for protecting us from bad decisions we might make along the way.
So, this is what the O'Reilly Factor has become... An organ for the disenfranchised and those who don't want to take responsibility for their own decisions in life.