The sad state of zealots with microphones
by Leonard Pitts
November 26, 2012 01:23 AM | 1362 views | 6 6 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
America, you are an idiot. You are a moocher, a zombie, soulless, mouth-breathing, ignorant, greedy, self-indulgent, envious, shallow and lazy.

The foregoing is a summation of “analysis” from conservative pundits and media figures — Cal Thomas, Ted Nugent, Bill O’Reilly and etcetera — seeking to explain Mitt Romney’s emphatic defeat. They seem to have settled on a strategy of blaming the voters for not being smart enough or good enough to vote as they should have. Because America wasn’t smart enough or good enough, say these conservatives, it shredded the constitution, bear hugged chaos, French kissed socialism, and died.

In other words, the apocalypse is coming.

Granted, such thinking does not represent the totality of conservative response to the election. The reliably sensible columnist Kathleen Parker offered a, well ... reliably sensible take on what’s wrong with the Republican Party. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal spoke thoughtfully to Politico about how conservatism must change to meet the challenges of the future.

Unfortunately, for every Parker or Jindal, there is a Donald Trump urging revolution or a petition drive advocating secession from the Union. And just when you think you’ve heard it all, just when you think you could not possibly be more astonished at how panic-stricken and estranged from reality much of the political right now is, there comes word of Henry Hamilton’s suicide.

He was the 64-year-old owner of a tanning salon in Key West, Fla. As recently reported in The Miami Herald, he was found dead two days after the election with empty prescription bottles next to him, one for a drug to treat anxiety, another for a drug to treat schizophrenia. Hamilton, according to his partner, Michael Cossey, was stressed about his business and had said that if President Obama were re-elected, “I’m not going to be around.” Police found his will, upon which was scrawled “F-ck Obama.”

Sometimes, they act — the Hannitys, the O’Reillys, the Trumps, the Limbaughs, the whole conservative political infotainment complex — as if this were all a game, as if their nonstop litany of half truths, untruths and fear mongering, their echo chamber of studied outrage, practiced panic, intellectual incoherence and unadulterated equine feculence, had no human consequences. Sometimes, they behave as if it were morally permissible — indeed, morally required — to say whatever asinine, indefensible, coarse or outrageous thing comes to mind in the name of defeating or diminishing the dreaded left. And never mind that vulnerable people might hear this and shape their beliefs accordingly.

Did the conservative political infotainment complex kill Henry Hamilton? No.

But were they the water in which he swam, a Greek chorus echoing and magnifying the outsized panic that troubled his unwell mind? It seems quite likely.

One hopes, without any real expectation, that Hamilton’s death will give pause to the flame throwers on the right. One hopes, without any real expectation, that somebody will feel a twinge of conscience. Or shame.

But that will not happen.

Because, what you see here is not the behavior of calculating showmen who don’t believe half the garbage they say. If it were, we might have hope.

But these, I have come to believe, are not showmen. They are zealots. They do believe half the garbage they say, and they have microphones to say it with. That is infinitely more frightening.

So one can only hope, with slightly more expectation, that the GOP will finally disenthrall itself from this ongoing affront to decency and intelligence and thereby render it moot.

Until it does, we can only absorb the impact of these regularly scheduled meltdowns. And pity the likes of Henry Hamilton.

For him, the apocalypse already came.

Leonard Pitts is a columnist for the Miami Herald.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
December 15, 2012
Bill O'reilly is not a conservative. He bends over backwards to give President Obama the benefit of the doubt. I, however do not trust O'reilly anymore and stopped watching him when he either lied or repeated erroneous information back in July of this year about guns and gun laws. Having been a former holder of a federal firearms license I know quite a bit about the subject and he was wrong in all that he said. Hearing him so blatantly wrong gave me pause and made me consider other things he has said in the past about other subjects. Was he wrong in those also? Admittedly I had doubts before the July episode but it sealed the deal. Ted Nugent even issued him a challenge and of course it has gone unanswered. I am definitely not siding with Mr. Pitts because I have read him enough to know he is an unabashed racist. I don't think he minds the venom spewed daily on MSNBC for example.
November 27, 2012
Very well written! There is a consequence to shouting "FIRE!" in a crowded theater. But none for the endless distortions of some on the far right. And, there should not be. But the comparison is still valid and should make us think.
Too funny
November 27, 2012
Well written piece. I too am afraid the right wing propaganda machine will continue to water America's thirsty confirmation bias.
Off Balance
November 26, 2012
If not for racist feelings and writings, Pitts would never have a coli=umn.

What a hater he is.
Kevin Foley
November 26, 2012
Like many progressives, I'm all for MORE far right extremist hate, intolerance and rage posing as entertainment, not LESS.

It worked SO well for conservatives in the last election cycle, after all, alienating and offending women, Hispanics and Latinos, gays, blacks, young people, and independent voters.

Keep up the good work Rush, Nuge, Sean, Bill, Ann, Michelle and all the rest! We couldn't have done it without you guys!
East Cobb Senior
November 26, 2012
This guy is so typical of the estreme leftwing columnists that see everything through a prizim of hate and antagonism if an opinion or statement doesn't fit their liberal bias. He very conveniently fails to mention the likes of Chris Matthews and his ilk on the TV networks and radio that spew "their nonstop litany of half truths, untruths and fear mongering, in their echo chamber of studied outrage, practiced panic, intellectual incoherence and unadulterated equine feculence", say whatever asinine, indefensible, coarse or outrageous thing comes to mind in the name of defeating or diminishing the dreaded right"

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