Saturday, February 12, 2011

Why do they hate you?

I generally enjoy listening to Bill O’Reilly, but with regard to his interview last week with President Obama, I find myself in strange agreement with O’Reilly’s detractors.

On balance, it was about as good an interview as you can expect for a live exchange in a limited time frame and in front of an audience with a limited attention span. One of the criticisms was that O’Reilly seemed rude and disrespectful by repeatedly interrupting the President. The following day on The O’Reilly Factor, he defended himself by noting that it was indeed a live interview limited to a short time span, and his interruptions were designed to keep the President on track and not let him “run out the clock”.

Fair enough, but his interruptions did seem repeated, noticeable and somewhat annoying. But the one part of the interview where O’Reilly really fared poorly was in the following exchange:

O'REILLY: I asked this to President Bush when I talked to him a few weeks ago. Does it disturb you that so many people hate you? No. I mean, it's a serious question.

OBAMA: You know, the truth is, that the people -- and I'm sure previous presidents would say the same thing, whether it was Bush or Clinton or Reagan or anybody. The people who dislike you don't know you.

O'REILLY: They hate you.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black, opined that O’Reilly was being disrespectful.

While we may disagree with people and we think they are wrong, we shouldn't think they are bad and we shouldn't ever use the word hate in context of people unless you're talking about Hitler or somebody like that,
In his defense the next evening on The Factor, O’Reilly correctly pointed out (as he had done in his preface to the question) that he had asked President Bush the same question weeks prior, and no one (least of all Ms. Pelosi) thought he was being disrespectful back then.

I myself winced when O’Reilly emphatically repeated “They hate you!”, but not because I think he was being disrespectful. Rather, he was unwittingly doing a slanderous disservice to those who legitimately disagree with the President’s policies and vision for the country.

There are very few if any policy areas where I am in agreement with the president. Whether we are talking about social issues, the economy, the size and scope of government, energy, national security or America’s role on the world stage, I believe the President is wrong and misguided. His policy prescriptions will ultimately prove harmful to the nation. But on a personal level, he seems to be a nice enough guy. Even if he were personally obnoxious, I might find him annoying, but I certainly don’t hate the man.

To say that the President’s detractors “hate” him would give credence to the insane and shrill accusations of several weeks ago, when the left and the media were blaming the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on conservative “hate speech”. What the left calls hate speech is nothing more than a matter-of-fact and serious disagreement on fundamental issues. I challenge anyone who thinks that the right has been incendiary or hateful in its speech to do some internet research and catalogue a side-by-side comparison of what has been said by and about politicians and pundits on the left vs. the right, which side has been guilty of name calling, invective and shallow potshots vs. which side has generally stuck to substantive disagreements over policy. In this age of Google it should be pretty easy to do.

No, I don’t hate the President. I simply disagree.


Tetamay said...

Very well put! Well done. I agree with you. It's not a personal issue.

feeno said...

As we watched this I looked at my wife and said "here was a great opportunity for O'Reilly to show respect for our Pres. and he blew it."

And the reason it was so stupid is for exactly what you said; "he did a disservice to those of us who legitimately just disagree with his policies". (or something like that)

I'm glad you wrote about this, nice job Krusty.