Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bill O'Reilly understands neither Lincoln nor the presidency nor comedy

By Carl 

It's odd that a man who claims among his favorite guests both Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart would have a problem with President Obama's appearance in a comic interview on the website Funny or Die. But he does:

All I can tell is you Abe Lincoln would not have done it. There comes a point when serious times call for serious action. We're a divided nation which Talking Points believes is in decline. Mr. Obama is quick, has a good sense of humor. Those are assets.

Oh, um, Bill? About Lincoln? Yeah. He likely would have.

In response to a discussion about the pressure from abolitionists for the president to take action against slavery, Lincoln said:

Wa-al that reminds me of a party of Methodist parsons that was travelling in Illinois when I was a boy, and had a branch to cross that was pretty bad — ugly to cross, ye know, because the waters was up. And they got considerin' and discussin' how they should git across it, and they talked about it for two hours, and one on 'em thought they had ought to cross one way when they got there, and another another way, and they got quarrellin' about it, till at last an old brother put in, and he says, says he, 'Brethren, this here talk ain't no use. I never cross a river until I come to it.'

It was a characteristic Lincoln moment. He deflected the question of what he would do about slavery; he used the story as a device to explain his policy; in a display of folksy wisdom, he got his listeners to laugh.

Lincoln understood what Obama understands and what even idiots like Frank Luntz get: if you want to get your point across, you have to hit your audience in their gut with something.

It can be humor. Often, it can be tragedy, or anger. Bush utilized our anger to talk us into two massively destructive wars that made little sense in toto. Yet to this day – and it even echoes in your network's offensive, treasonous coverage of our president – people talk about how "strong" Bush was, and how "weak" Obama looks.

On that side note, Obama understands what you morons seem to miss: Bush weakened the United States by crippling our economy and spending whatever diplomatic capital and moral authority we had on wars that were wars of opportunity and aggression.

It's a little hard to rally people to cry independence at the point of your army's weaponry.

Lincoln, along with John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama, understood that you can support an argument without being aggressive or warmongering.

For instance, Bill Clinton famously said about welfare, "Mend it, don't end it," and neatly summed up the popular (if incorrect) sentiment that the welfare system needed a little tweaking, is all. This appeals to the American sense of not only fair play (get rid of what cheating was going on) with the American sense that we're all in this struggle together and that each of us has a contribution to the greater good. ("Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" implies that the nation will take help take care of those who contribute.)

It's sad that the right wing seems to have lost any sense of humor, save for sarcasm and what I like to call "anger humor," mostly directed at the president but sadly at even the less fortunate among us.

There but for the grace of God. It seems Christians forget that on the right. Bill should probably swap out the stick up his ass.

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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