Frank Rich Defines and Defends Conservative Derangement Syndrome

Although blaming conservative talk show hosts for crimes committed by others is nothing new -- just ask Bill and Hillary Clinton if you don't believe me! -- this recent spate of media members accusing their colleagues on the right any time a white guy goes on a shooting spree has really gotten out of hand.

Take for example Frank Rich's recent column in the New York Times entitled "The Obama Haters’ Silent Enablers."

In it, Rich defined and defended what appears to have replaced Bush Derangement Syndrome now that Barack Obama is president (h/t anonymous NB reader):

A sizable minority of Americans is irrationally fearful of the fast-moving generational, cultural and racial turnover Obama embodies — indeed, of the 21st century itself. That minority is now getting angrier in inverse relationship to his popularity with the vast majority of the country. Change can be frightening and traumatic, especially if it’s not change you can believe in.

We don’t know whether the tiny subset of domestic terrorists in this crowd is egged on by political or media demagogues — though we do tend to assume that foreign jihadists respond like Pavlov’s dogs to the words of their most fanatical leaders and polemicists. But well before the latest murderers struck — well before another “antigovernment” Obama hater went on a cop-killing rampage in Pittsburgh in April — there have been indications that this rage could spiral out of control. [...]

Conservatives have legitimate ideological beefs with Obama, rightly expressed in sharp language. But the invective in some quarters has unmistakably amped up.

Indications that this rage could spiral out of control? Such as?

And where was Rich's concern for this spiraling out of control rage when it was being directed by folks like him at the Bush administration?

Shortly after America invaded Iraq, the invective from Rich and most of his colleagues towards the White House went beyond anything seen in this nation since Watergate. The hate-filled Left saw it as viable commentary in a country that reveres free speech.

BUT, now that someone they like is in the White House, any opinion contrary to his should not only be verboten, but is dangerous to the society:

This homicide-saturated vituperation is endemic among mini-Limbaughs. Glenn Beck has dipped into O’Reilly’s Holocaust analogies to liken Obama’s policy on stem-cell research to the eugenics that led to “the final solution” and the quest for “a master race.” After James von Brunn’s rampage at the Holocaust museum, Beck rushed onto Fox News to describe the Obama-hating killer as a “lone gunman nutjob.” Yet in the same show Beck also said von Brunn was a symptom that “the pot in America is boiling,” as if Beck himself were not the boiling pot cheering the kettle on.

But hyperbole from the usual suspects in the entertainment arena of TV and radio is not the whole story. What’s startling is the spillover of this poison into the conservative political establishment. Saul Anuzis, a former Michigan G.O.P. chairman who ran for the party’s national chairmanship this year, seriously suggested in April that Republicans should stop calling Obama a socialist because “it no longer has the negative connotation it had 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago.” Anuzis pushed “fascism” instead, because “everybody still thinks that’s a bad thing.” He didn’t seem to grasp that “fascism” is nonsensical as a description of the Obama administration or that there might be a risk in slurring a president with a word that most find “bad” because it evokes a mass-murderer like Hitler.

So where was Rich when Democrat leaders such as Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid channeled MSNBC and the liberal blogosphere with their hate-filled attacks on the previous White House?

Alas, therein lies the rub, for the very same people who felt they were doing their jobs as journalists whenever they criticized Bush and Company now view their role as defending the current administration from scrutiny by claiming conservative dissent is hazardous to our health:

This kind of rhetoric, with its pseudo-Scriptural call to action, is toxic. It is getting louder each day of the Obama presidency. No one, not even Fox News viewers, can say they weren’t warned.

Exit question: Is Obama Derangement Syndrome presently more pervasive in the media than Bush Derangement Syndrome was before Inauguration Day?

As the answer seems clearly to be "No" -- Rich's Obama Haters are far outnumbered in the media by Obama Lovers -- doesn't this make the Times columnist's concerns either ignorant or disingenuous?

After all, as Rich was a devout and outspoken member of the Bush Haters, he certainly wasn't opposed to journalists expressing "in sharp language" the "legitimate ideological beefs" they had with the previous White House.

Since the only thing that's changed is the resident, any departure from what Rich advocated before as good journalism must be ideological, and, despite how much he doth protest, have nothing to do with the safety of the citizenry.

New York Times
Noel Sheppard's picture