April 4, 2010

While I can’t disagree with all of John Avalon’s points such as the fact that yes, there have been violent extremist groups on all sides of the political spectrum throughout the years in American history and that yes, the Internet has allowed groups of people who share common beliefs to form a sort of group-think, reinforcing the stereotypes they share, but Avalon’s problem is as we’ve already noted, is making false equivalencies time and time again. He had to go back to Huey Long and some of the uprisings of the sixties to give any legitimate and specific examples of what would be considered comparable to what we’re seeing from the right today.

Earlier in this interview on C-SPAN’s BookTV, Avlon tries to paint those that were upset with George Bush as being the same as those out there calling Obama Hitler and a Socialist and saying they “want their country back” and the type of violent rhetoric we’re seeing out of these teabaggers and Republican members of Congress. First of all, there is very little similarity between “Bush derangement syndrome” and “Obama derangement syndrome”. In case Mr. Avlon slept through the last ten years, he should have noticed that what angered a lot of people about George Bush becoming President is that the Republicans did actually steal that election.

You have to discount the anger over what Katherine Harris did in Florida and the Supreme Court installing George Bush as president. You have to discount that there were plenty of things George Bush did after the election that also had those on the left legitimately upset like oh say… torture, invading countries that were not a threat to us, spying on everyone, giving tax cuts to the richest among us, taking every department of government and putting industry hacks in charge of departments that they’re supposed to safe guard, using our Department of Justice for political purposes, stealing another election, outing a CIA agent who's husband dared to call you out on your WMD lies, the failure to react properly to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and on and on and on again.

In John Avlon’s world that is somehow equivalent to those who do not want to accept a president that was elected with an overwhelming majority, that has been doing most of the things he promised to do during his campaign, and who signed into law a corporate friendly health care bill that at least fixes some of the problems with our current system and who was stuck with the mess the Bush administration left this country in to try to clean up and that is dealing with a Republican Party that is so ruthless and so obstructionist it's amazing he's gotten anything done at all.

When an audience member tries to point some of those things out to him and that there is no Sarah Palin or Liz Cheney on the left and that Bush earned his hatred, and that the Democratic Party is a centrist party right now, Avlon’s response is to say this:

Avlon: We are not going to stop this cycle of hyper-partisanship that we are in, which is getting increasingly extreme unless we stand up to extremes on both sides. If we focus our efforts on identifying extremes only on one side of the aisle, we only perpetuate this problem. The reality is there are extremes on both sides of the aisle, you know, I mean, Glenn Beck called the president a racist and Keith Olbermann called Scott Brown a racist, a homophobe and a promoter of violence against women. You know, every side has their extremes. And by the way, those are two relatively mainstream folks. This book is not about them per se. They are powerful, they’re influential and they’re talented broadcasters. But we need to recognize if we are going to stop this cycle before it gets out of control, the only way to do it, the only way to re-center our politics is to be the honest brokers of politics again and not get caught up in the hyper-partisanship. That means calling out the extremes on both sides.

The audience member then asks him to name a single Democrat who’s a “wingnut” and Avlon’s response is that he wants her to buy the book. It was pretty obvious by his response and CNN's John Roberts who gave him some cover that they didn't want to engage her further sadly. I suspect he might have had a hard time defending himself had she been allowed to continue on with her questions.

So John Avlon thinks Keith Olbermann criticizing Scott Brown for this equals Glenn Beck calling the President of the United States a racist.

Here's the segment from Olbermann's show he's talking about.

OLBERMANN: An ugly turn to the campaign to succeed Ted Kennedy. A Republican supporter suggests that raping the Democratic candidate is OK. The Republican candidate replies, “We can do this.” Next on COUNTDOWN.


OLBERMANN: Tomorrow, voters in Massachusetts will decide who will fill the seat of Senator Ted Kennedy. And at this late hour, news out of the Republican campaign reminiscent of the McCain/Palin rallies of 2008. Senator John Kerry is asking candidate Scott Brown to get his supporters, quote, under control. It is now apparently a dead heat, with some of the polling putting the Republican ahead. The latest Research 2000/Daily Kos poll shows Democratic State Attorney General Martha Coakley and Republican State Senator Scott Brown tied at 48.

The Coakley in a frantic get out the vote drive, with President Obama risking some of his political capital, appearing by Coakley‘s side in Boston.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Where we don‘t want to go right now is backwards to the same policies that got us into this mess in the first place, when we‘ve just started to make progress cleaning it up.


OLBERMANN: Today, Coakley and Brown attending a breakfast honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Coakley spoke at the event, as did Boston‘s Mayor Thomas Menino, and Martin Luther King III, and both men urged the crowd to continue President Obama‘s agenda. Mr. Brown accusing Ms. Coakley of politicizing Dr. King‘s message, then complained to reporters, “I didn‘t realize this was a rally for Martha.”

Something else Mr. Brown didn‘t realize, stuff you say on camera doesn‘t go away after you say it. Video resurfacing of Mr. Brown commenting on then vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, defending her unwed pregnant teenage daughter, while accusing Mr. Obama of being born out of wedlock.


SCOTT BROWN ®, CANDIDATE FOR US SENATE: Quite frankly, Barack‘s mom had him when she was, what, 18 years old?


BROWN: I don‘t know about that.


OLBERMANN: Brown is not apologizing for that comment. Instead, he is blaming it on Martha Coakley. Something more disturbing coming out of the Brown campaign, a call to violence against women and other politicians. At one of his rallies, a Brown supporter making a crude reference to Coakley, alluding to a sexual abuse case her office prosecuted.




OLBERMANN: Brown‘s camp claims the candidate “did not hear the comment. The “we can do it” or “we can do this” statement was in response to the growing energy of the crowd.” Even though Mr. Brown appears to respond directly to the person making the comment and there was no noise otherwise heard.

The state‘s senior senator issuing a statement this afternoon, asking Mr. Brown to speak up and get his tea party supporters under control. “What we‘ve seen in the past few days is way over the line and reminiscent of the dangerous atmosphere of Sarah Palin‘s 2008 campaign rallies. This is not how democracy works, said John Kerry in Massachusetts.

Joining me now, Markos Moulitsas, creator of Daily Kos, as well as author of “Taking on The System, Rules for Radical Change in a Digital Era.”

Good evening.

Yeah, that's the same thing as Glenn Beck calling President Obama a racist. And it ignores the fact that you just cherry picked one thing you thought was over the top from one of Keith Olbermann's show and ignored the hundreds and hundreds of bat-shit crazy crap that comes out of Glenn Beck's mouth night after night. Yeah, exactly the same.

As we’ve already pointed out, Avlon’s background as Chief Speechwriter and Deputy Policy Director for Rudy Giuliani's 2008 Presidential Campaign should at least have anyone in the media disclosing his background so everyone listening to him can take his words and what he’s written in his book with a grain of salt. When you’ve helped a guy who was one of the most divisive political candidates for president who was and is still happy to tear this country apart with his fear mongering over terrorism and who has shamelessly used the attacks of 9-11 for political gain, my question is why should anyone take your book or your commentary as nothing more than an attempt to marginalize those on the left who have legitimate complaints about our government and paint them with the same broad brush and equal to the hateful, over the top, extremely political rhetoric coming from the Republican Party right now?

It’s really pathetic that the media is giving this man any air time at all and is allowed to be treating him as a “centrist”. He’s another Republican operative trying to marginalize anyone that doesn’t like how far this country has moved to the right and how what is now called "centrist" is actually very far to the right and rather than "centrist" should actually be called "corporate" and who paints false narratives like party unity equaling extremism as he did earlier in this segment on C-SPAN. Sorry John, but right now, that’s only true if you’re a Republican.

You can watch the whole interview on C-SPAN's web site.

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