Media

Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Lou Dobbs Enflame Scary Right-Wing Rage

The conservative playbook has been laid bare, and it's ugly. How long until their overheated rhetoric spills over into violence?

It was an ugly week, and a telling one.

"Global warming is no different than health care, is no different than cap and trade," Rush Limbaugh explained on Monday. "It is simply another branch of liberalism, statism, that is designed to expand government control over individuals and their liberty and their freedom and their income."

"And if this plays out right ... you can do some great damage, culturally, to liberalism," he concluded.

The next five days showed how seriously the right wing is taking those words and how far it is willing to go to confuse and manipulate the public, and to capitalize on the ensuing fear and rage. The goals: the complete delegitimization of Obama and the wholesale destruction of the progressive movement he leads.

Glenn Beck Is Anti-Violence, Pro-Poison

On Monday, Glenn Beck made clear that he does not support violence in the name of political causes. Sure, he's advocating civil disobedience if need be. Maybe 70 million people voted for Barack Obama less than a year ago, but who cares? "It is time to go to Washington!" he preached on Wednesday. "It is time to stand or sit in the middle of the street if you have to!" But remember: no violence.

Then on Thursday, he poisoned the speaker of the House. Not literally, of course -- just in effigy. On live television. What's the problem? Can't you liberals take a joke?

It was a perfect example of the game conservatives in the media are playing: pouring gasoline on the fire, and then, once they are criticized, saying that they were only kidding. But what does Beck expect his viewers to take away from his broadcasts? After a week of increasingly violent protests at town halls around the country, including one such event at which protesters reportedly mentioned Beck by name when explaining what inspired them, he cannot seriously contend that his rhetoric isn't having an impact, isn't stirring up the rage and confusion that is defining opposition to Democratic reforms. How many times can Beck portray Obama as a traitor who is destroying our national sovereignty, or compare the president's health care proposals to those of the Nazis, before the anger spills over? He calls for calm, and then describes the Obama-led "brownshirts" who are silencing dissent and the "enemies list" the White House is compiling of those who dare to voice their opinions. Meanwhile, it is the Democrats, we are told, who are the irresponsible ones. It is Democrats who are using the language of "pure hate," as Frank Luntz told Beck, to describe the brave patriots who are shouting down members of Congress in defense of liberty. Why are they doing it? Beck's answer? They want to create "more problems" so "they can use the iron fist and crush people." In the meantime, Beck urged his supporters to continue pressuring their members of Congress, even if they have to "hold a meeting ... in front of their house."

There was a hint of accountability this week after several of Beck's advertisers canceled their contracts with his show in the wake of his accusation that Obama hates white people. But the provocation continued. "When will someone stand up and say, "Traitor'?" Beck ranted on August 5. "When will someone stand up and say, 'Thieves'? ... The American way of life is being systematically dismantled and destroyed! The republic is in danger!"

Beck is right. If he gets his way, it is in danger. Reason will have been replaced by rage.

With Obama in office, Lou Dobbs Claims To Be an Independent No More

Lou Dobbs took aim at everyone this week -- and CNN still has his back.

In spite of fresh criticism from sources as diverse as the NAACP and Don Imus, CNN alone among the major cable channels decided that it would refuse to run the ad Media Matters put out calling for the network to address Dobbs' promotion of the "birther" conspiracy theory. Predictably, Dobbs tried to make the entire issue about Media Matters itself, saying the ad "really reveals a lot about" who we are. He continued the theme throughout the week, portraying Media Matters as one of the White House's "attack dogs" and asking Obama to call us off, something Ann Coulter agreed with when she was a guest on his radio show.

It was actually a banner week for Lou. In fact, he officially abandoned his stance as "Mr. Independent," using his radio show to inform Obama (a regular listener, to be sure) that he was "moving from being an independent, sir, to being absolutely opposed to ... any policy you can conceive of!" Dobbs celebrated his newfound opposition by spreading misinformation on health care reform (it's socialism, by the way, because Obama's a socialist), hosting a Michelle Malkin lovefest, defending Limbaugh, raising the specter of incipient fascism, and repeatedly attacking Keith Olbermann, whom he described as a "cretin" and a "psycho" who was "psychologically scarred" from beatings by "girls" that he supposedly suffered as a child. No wonder, then, that Olbermann works at MSNBC, the network Dobbs called a "coven of thugs."

And not to be left behind by his fellow right-wing media celebrities, Dobbs offered support to a caller who threatened to "brawl" with health care reform advocates at a town hall, encouraging others like him to make their "voice heard."

But whatever you do, don't say "birther" on his show.

Rush Limbaugh Hates Nazis, Which Is Why He Hates Nancy Pelosi

It's hard to imagine, but in certain ways, Rush was actually the most reasonable of the conservative heavy hitters this week ... except for his repeated comparisons of the Democratic leadership to the Nazi high command. Whoops -- never mind.

With the precision the right-wing echo chamber provides on a daily basis, Rush reiterated his heartfelt belief that if Democrats have their way, senior citizens -- the very same group that benefits exclusively from that evil government-run program known as Medicare -- will spend their last days on a "Statist Farm," where they will be unable to see a doctor and suffer at the hands of heartless bureaucrats whose job it will be to "make sure certain people die." On the other hand, if you were a loyal Obama supporter, you know, like an HIV patient, you might get special treatment. Limbaugh also mocked the voice of Kathleen Sebelius (he sure hates it when women talk) and described her work promoting reform as a "campaign of pure fraud and deceit." And he had a warning for some of the crooks in D.C.: "You Blue Dogs are about to see your last days if you vote for this bill." At least he's giving them one more chance to get it right.

Predictably, Limbaugh decried the idea that anti-reform town hall protests were anything other than the work of self-informed citizens. "It's not ginned up, it's genuine. It's real," he explained. Sure, there isn't a single shard of evidence that any well-funded conservative organization has spent a single second spreading lies and advocating aggressive tactics in the hope of furthering the disruptions.

"There is no manufactured anger," Limbaugh said the next day. "The anger is legitimate and real and it is boiling over."

There's that idea again: The anger is boiling over.

In order to truly manipulate people, you need to convince them that they are fighting pure evil. And on Thursday, Rush finally got down to business.

"[T]he Obama health care logo is damn close to a Nazi swastika logo," he said on air. He went on to explain "the similarities between the Democrat Party of today and the Nazi Party in Germany." Key among them: "Adolf Hitler, like Barack Obama, also ruled by dictate." On Friday, he did it again, but blamed Nancy Pelosi for "starting it" because she had pointed out that one conservative protester had made a sign featuring a swastika. There was plenty of photographic evidence to back her up, but Limbaugh still called her "deranged."

Sounding the same call as Beck and Dobbs, Limbaugh explained that Obama's "brownshirts" were coming, sure to make use of the "snitch website" he had set up. He warned of "union thugs" who had "roughed up" a protester -- "Mussolini-type stuff." He accused a St. Louis SEIU local of violence, and then gave out the office's address.

He even latched onto a recent fad in conservative circles: comparing Obama to the Joker, the sociopathic anarchist from the most recent Batman movie. "His goal was to undermine the whole system," Limbaugh said of the character, while actually explaining himself.

He wasn't kidding. The conservative playbook has been laid bare, and it is ugly. In the face of this summer of hate, progressives must persevere. And in so doing, they must be driven not by anger at the thought of who they are fighting against, but by devotion to who they are fighting for: everyone the conservative movement is so content to leave behind.

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