ERIC BOEHLERT/Media Matters for America
Raise your hand if you thought conservatives would respond to President Obama's convincing re-election victory by lashing out at voters and the country as a whole, denouncing the presidential pick as the act of a greedy, lazy nation.
Well, that was part of Sean Hannity's media message yesterday, as the Obama basher tried to make sense of the president's surprisingly easy victory on Tuesday. Having spent the last four years smearing and denouncing the president with every passing breath on the radio and on Fox News, Hannity was faced with the humiliating reality that most voters paid him no mind.
"Americans, you get the government you deserve," the talker told listeners yesterday, his words dripping with contempt. "And it pains me to say this, but America now deserves Barack Obama."
Hannity wasn't alone in lashing out at voters. The disdain has been completely unvarnished. Perhaps it flows from the fact so many people dismissed the far-right warnings about Obama.
And that's the box the GOP Noise Machine built for itself: During Obama's entire first term they depicted him as a business-hating, class warfare socialist who despises the American way of life.
But if that's true, why did Obama just score his second electoral landslide in four years?
Either 60 million voters just rejected the Noise Machine's endless, and often hysterical, claims about Obama, or all of those voters are part of the socialist problem in our "maker vs. taker" society. Faced with that choice, and refusing to admit their messaging futility, the right-wing media have opted for the latter: Americans are the real problem!
Tens of millions of them.
Never hesitating to question whether they were the ones out of step with the mainstream, and if their Doomsday warnings about the center-left president were too extreme to be taken seriously by most voters, far-right talkers and writers set their sights on the populace and berated the nation for picking the wrong candidate, and for being selfish, thoughtless people on the prowl Tuesday for "free stuff" from their "Santa Claus" government, as Rush Limbaugh put it.
"People feel that they are entitled to things," Bill O'Reilly lamented on Election Day, as he launched a pre-emptive attack on voters. Led by Hispanics, blacks and women, O'Reilly claimed there's a whole country filled with moochers who vote Democratic.
"Put bluntly, the takers outnumber the makers," blogged John Hinderaker.
Have we ever heard such a contemptuous, post-election attack on American democracy?
Voters weren't simply misguided in choosing Obama and the Democratic agenda, we're told they revealed themselves as deeply flawed people. And it wasn't just politicians, partisans or minorities (the usual far-right targets) who were the focus of the wrath. It was tens of millions of Americans, half the voting public for this election, who have been denounced. They are the ones who allegedly fell for Obama's "fruitful political strategy" of "offering" voters a "check" in exchange for their support.
Yes, conservatives blamed the media for Mitt Romney's loss. After the votes were tallied they called forimpeachment and revolution, while continuing to spew insults at Obama. (National Review Online: "A political narcissistic sociopath"; "a skillful demagogue.") They also blamed the weather and a popularRepublican governor, denouncing Chris Christie as "gelatinous clown."
But probably the most startling response was the decision to blame Americans. To blame democratic participants for endorsing Obama's alleged brand of give-away socialism. (i.e Auto bailouts, health insurance, unemployment, etc.)
The lashing out didn't come as a complete surprise given the awkward reckoning that awaited the right-wing media on Election Day: How were they going to explain Obama's re-election if they'd spent the previous four years portraying him a un-American? Why would Obama be able to capture virtually every swing state if, as Fox News and Rush Limbaugh have claimed, the president hates America?
The gulf between the right-wing portrayal of Obama and how he's seen by most Americans has always been enormous. Election Day simply quantified that disconnect and forced his most partisan critics to venture outside their echo chamber and to choose whether they had been wrong about Obama, or if the voters had been.
Verdict: The voters had been wrong. So wrong, in fact, that they'd instantly turned America into "the shallowest country in the history of man."
Limbaugh substitute Mark Steyn complained this week on Fox & Friends that "there's nothing compassionate or humanitarian about saying, as they do in Greece, I got mine and I don't care if it bankrupts the state." He claimed that's what American voters did on Tuesday.
And Fox News' Eric Bolling bemoaned America's choice: "I have to sit back and go, Americans -- 50 percent of people who voted, voted for more of that?" Shorter Fox News: What is wrong with these people?
On and on the whining has gone, as conservatives turned their anger on everyday voters and citizens, mocking them as lazy hangers-on.
Writing at Vanity Fair, James Wolcott noted the GOP's jarring about-face:
Used to be, conservatives revered the Average American, that Norman Rockwell oil painting of diner food, humble faith, honest toil, and Capraesque virtue....The Average American turns out to be a dumb patsy fattened up for the slaughter by too much government cheese and other freebies.
Obama's victory represents a clear rebuttal of the conservative media. Outlets could have marked the occasion with some actual introspection. Instead, its leaders embraced two hallmarks of the movement: personal attacks and a refusal to take responsibility for their actions.