The Left and the Right have always disliked each other. Both sides think the nation will collapse without their theories being enacted. Why, though, recently, has the animosity risen to a nearly revolutionary pitch?
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Back in the DayWhen I was
|Dwight D. Eisenhower|
|John F. Kennedy|
|Eisenhower Greeting the Troops|
|Kennedy Commanding PT109|
I had steady Dwight D. Eisenhower and then charismatic John F. Kennedy as images of what a president ought to be. Eisenhower, a hero of the Western world for his effective waging of WWII, was a conservative, but he liked Social Security and many other Franklin Delano Roosevelt policies. Kennedy, a WWII war hero himself, was a liberal but he was tough as nails on defense, cut taxes, and was business friendly. I still admire both these men, as much for style as substance. Both were fairly popular in their time, although Kennedy did face some demonization down South.
Things are Different TodayWith George W. Bush, we had a good guy (screams from the left!) but ineffective communicator and fiscal irresponsible, get demonized for eight years by the left, and sometimes by the right. I liked Bush for his brave, and appropriate I believe, initiation of the Iraq War. I did not cheer Bush for the politically correct way he waged the war, until the end, with the Surge. I did not admire Bush’s fiscal irresponsibility, his bumbling communication skills, and his failure to stand up to the bullies who were sullying his name.
The demonization of Bush, and of the right, was promoted by left-wing organizations like Media Matters and MoveOn.org. This was continued by Air America (Senator Al Franken’s old liberal stomping ground), and echoed by most of Hollywood, ranging from Barbra Streisand, the Sarandons (incl. Tim Robbins), and Sean Penn.
In my opinion, the right just turned the other cheek for many years. Bush was the ultimate nice guy. He never personally answered his critics, preferring to think that if he just did the right things, people would eventually come to appreciate him. He was wrong.
Now, the Right Has Learned to Demonize Back.The answer on the right, starting in 1988, was Rush Limbaugh. Plus there were the very fair Dennis Prager, Larry Elder, and Michael Medved. And, some quite right-wing guys like Michael Savage began to lay the groundwork for more radical vitriol.
In, 1996, The right-wing Fox News Channel stood up to liberalism by presenting a fair and balanced viewpoint. On Hannity and Colmes they included conservative Sean Hannity with liberal Alan Colmes, and people like liberal Shepard Smith reporting the news, plus left-wing guests all the time.
Veering Hard RightDropping Alan Colmes from Hannity and Colmes in 2009 and changing it to Hannity’s America, and adding Glenn Beck, Fox moved hard right. Bill O’Reilly on the O’Reilly Factor did try to be fair and balanced, but veered left and right from time to time (i.e., left on big oil, right on the “Nanny State”).
Since then, the left has gone nuts, and the right. I worked with one female Media Matters fan at a defense contractor’s job. I was the Technical Writer. She was my immediate boss. She was vicious in her attacks on Bush, and then later, equally rabid in her assaults on Hillary, and … Obama. They were too “right-wing” for her!
BecklandFox, indeed, recently has gone beyond fair and balanced into the land of even higher ratings and Beckdom. In my opinion, Beck makes a lot of good points, but I can never cheer for the guy because he’ll always be stuck in a time warp of revolutionary paranoia. He’s right to be frightened by this president, I believe, and by the left at this time, but I imagine he’d be in a panic about George Washington as president too. (“Do you know who Washington had working in his mess hall? That’s right, a British chambermaid, who used to change King George III’s chamber pot. Bet you didn’t know that!”)
The left has reacted in kind to the daily, sometimes accurate, hysteria of Glenny Babe. They, again in my opinion, have been demonizing for years, so they just notched it up a bit. Now, we’ve got two paranoids in a room who see the other as a mortal threat. Two giant Hulks have burst through their blue and red T-shirts!
Does Demonization Work?Yes. Is it good for the country? Yes, if the person needs demonizing. On the other hand, your demon might be my saint. And, in the midst of villifying, important considerations on policy get lost, and the public becomes merely a bunch of cheerleaders for their side, and for the political demise of their enemies.
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(*Wikipedia is always my source unless indicated.)
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