Friday, August 03, 2007

The Dodd/O’Reilly Smackdown

Prior to the Dodd/O’Reilly smackdown, leftist bloggers in Connecticut who simply hate Lieberman were rooting for their champion – hint, not O’Reilly.

The show, largely a shouting match between the two, did not disappoint. O’Reilly produced a vile picture showing Lieberman preparing to perform a sexual act on Bush and asked Dodd, who is a friend of Lieberman, to condemn the picture and the site, DailyKos, on which it appeared. Dodd said no and went on to make a valid point: O’Reilly, he said, disliked the site because he disagreed with its ideological posture. This distaste preceded O’Reilly’s search for an offensive image on the site. That image, Dodd suggested, was not representative; yet, on the basis of a few remarks, O’Reilly was rushing to condemn millions of people… yada, yada, yada…

O’Reilly has over the years pretty much perfected the “I am alarmed and surprised pose one sees and hears so often on his show, and so it was not surprising when he was abashed that Dodd did not fulsomely condemn the image he had produced. Eventually, Dodd was clubbed into a grudging admission that the picture – showing Lieberman on his knees groping at Bush’s fly -- was, shall we say, indelicate.

The truth is this: Many commentators on many leftist sites hate Lieberman, and the word “hate,” chosen carefully here, is not too strong a word. Evidence of that hatred is not hard to find on DailyKos and other leftist spin-off sites.

Many of the comments following diary entrees on most blogging sites tend not to be discursive; they are, for the most part, semiotic signs signaling that the commentator is part of a pack formed to hunt down an ideological foe, like the sheets that cover the faces of KluKluxers, the black shirts of fascists and the arcane signs used by secret organizations to show solidarity with the group. Like bonfires, these pusspits of hatred warm those gathered together around them.

The image that offended O’Reilly, left on the site of DailyKos for more than a year, was fashioned by one of these primitive, thoughtless, club wielding modern cavemen. And Reilly was right to condemn it. Dodd, one of the most civil gentlemen in the U.S. Congress, was wrong to withhold his contempt for those who had so contemptuously condemned his friend of many years, who is also one of the most civil gentlemen in the U.S. Congress.

But his point is well taken: Sometimes, in search of ideological friendships, we wander into primitive caves. Would it not be more prudent to avoid association with the hate-baiters?

The cynical view on all this relates to face-time: Dodd will get a certain amout of negative publicity from his appearance on the O'Reilly show; on the other hand, he will achieve solidarity with groups he is courting in his presidential campaign. The two, as in the case with most things American where publicity of any kind in a plus, balance each other out.
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