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LACERATING THE LEFT-WING LOONIES! Why are we polarized, David Brooks asks. He might want to watch Mr. O:


LACERATING THE LEFT-WING LOONIES: How kooky has Bill O’Reilly been getting? We wish he weren’t getting kooky at all, because we like a good chunk of his work. (We like the questions Mr. O asks about mainstream “culture” and children.) But doggone it! Here he was at the end of last evening’s Factor, posing a new poll question:

O’REILLY: Before we get to the “Most Ridiculous Item,” we have a brand new poll question for you. As you may know, President Bush said very nice things about Bill and Hillary Clinton yesterday during the unveiling of their White House portraits. Everybody had a swell time. And the question is to you is this: “Was President Bush wrong in treating the Clintons so kindly during the ceremony?” “Was the president wrong in treating the Clintons so kindly during the ceremony?” [Bill’s emphasis]
Before we get to the Most Ridiculous Item? Back in March, Mr. O was shedding tears about the invective that’s dogging our discourse (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/15/04). Last night, he gave viewers a chance to say that a sitting president had been too polite at an official White House ceremony.

Which brings us back to Monday night’s session about the Supreme Court’s “under God” ruling. (Fox’s transcripts have finally appeared on Nexis.) Mr. O chatted with Jonathan Turley about the Supreme Court’s decision. The Court ruled that Michael Newdow didn’t have standing to bring his case. Here’s part of what Mr. O said:

O’REILLY: OK, why did they bail on the child custody matter, instead of just putting it to bed once and for all?

TURLEY: Well, frankly, I’m not too sure, Bill. I think that Rehnquist was right, that they should have reached the merits and they should have found he had standing. Instead, they ruled on a very technical issue about whether a father has standing if he doesn't have sole custody in terms of California law...

O'REILLY: Yes, and it’s going to come back again because the left-wing loonies on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal in California, which generated this whole controversy, won’t give up. They will find another atheist to file a suit. And it’ll have to go through the system again.

Bill wasn’t real “kindly” about that Ninth Circuit; on Monday’s show, they were “left-wing loonies!” Later, Turley repeated his view about standing: “I think that Rehnquist is right and O’Connor is right and Thomas is right, that this father should have been found to have standing.” Soon, Bill was emoting–and mind-reading–again:
O’REILLY: Well, listen to me here. The merits of this case, there's no question this guy Newdow used his little daughter to drive home an anti-Christian position that he has. He encapsulated the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the most anti-Christian court in the history of this country, all right? And the justices recognize it.

That’s the message they sent. Don’t use your daughter to do this. You have no right to speak for your daughter in this issue...

Bill’s mind-reading skills to the side, the Ninth Circuit had now become “the most anti-Christian court in the history of this country.”

As we noted yesterday, there were some problems with all this emoting. Just how “loony” did the Ninth Circuit seem to be? According to Turley, the three named Justices, all conservatives, agreed with the Ninth on the matter of standing. Beyond that, when Justice Thomas addressed the merits of the case, he said he agreed with the Ninth Circuit’s reading of the relevant precedents (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/15/04). So how did Bill handle this awkward matter? Simple–he just ignored it! Many Factor viewers admire Thomas–but they were never told what he said. Instead, Bill continued to trash the Ninth Circuit in the most vituperative ways.

The Ninth Circuit? They’re “un-American,” “anti-Christian,” “loony,” “insane” and “Maoist,” Bill has said. When conservative Justices agree with their findings? Mr. O’R just keeps calling names.

Meanwhile, “good guy” pundits sit on Olympus, ignoring what is being done to our culture. And they puzzle hard over “polarization.” In his June 5 New York Times column, for example, David Brooks announced he plans to study the confusing topic:

BROOKS: Over the next few months, I hope to write a fair bit about the dominant feature of our political life: polarization. I hope to figure out how deeply split the nation is, and what exactly it is we are fighting about–questions that leave me, at present, confused.
Brooks said he plans to explore “how the country moves through cycles of greater and lesser polarization.” He said he found our “tribal and subrational partisanship” to be a “depressing” phenomenon. We hope Brooks does pursues this topic–a topic which really is important. But with media poobahs like Mr. Bill tossing the nastiest names all around, it shouldn’t be hard to figure out what is driving our polarized ways.

Oh by the way, one last question for Brooks (and for E. J. Dionne; and for Mark Shields): Do you think Bush should have been so kindly? If so, why do you quake and avert your gaze when kooky talkers like Mr. O keep instructing the folks to think otherwise?

WHY ARE WE SO POLARIZED: Why on earth are we so polarized? As he explores that knotty matter, we hope Brooks will watch the Fox News Channel to take in its inspiring debates. On Monday evening, for example, Ann Coulter guested on Hannity & Colmes. As it turned out, it wasn’t just the Ninth Circuit Court which is “loony/insane:”

COULTER: You keep playing [tape of] Al Gore here every night. If you could get some clips of George Soros and Michael Moore–I have to say I feel sorry for John Kerry. He’s just trying to run for president. At least Jimmy Carter only had brother Billy, who kept popping out of his work. Kerry has all of these nuts coming out.

COLMES: But do you think–

COULTER: No, I think Al Gore is nuts, and I think it would have been polite if you guys had told us that before you ran him for president.

On these shows, insanity is now the best offense. This evening, the doctor was very much IN–and she kept diagnosing Crazy Gore:
COULTER: I can understand that Bill Clinton drove him to this. At least he has a defense. “I was in the White House with Bill Clinton. Give me a break–I’m nuts.”
Moments later, the diagnosis expanded:
COLMES: We are a big tent here. Not every Democrat walks in lockstep or follows the talking point or has the same style or says exactly the same thing.

COULTER: A big tent. You’re wrapping up the nut vote!

As she closed, she voiced a plaintive request:
COULTER: When are you going to admit to us that John Kerry is as crazy as you’re both now admitting your last presidential candidate was?
There was a time, not long ago, when this kind of discussion would have been unimaginable. Meanwhile, at the New York Times, David Brooks plans to puzzle out why the nation is polarized. We think he’s selected an excellent topic. If he has Nexis–or cable TV–his research shouldn’t be all that hard.