This weekend, Sean Hannity hosted a super-special version of "Hannity's America," celebrating the 4th of July and "America: The Greatest Nation ON EARTH." He was very, very excited about his country, to which he referred on numerous occasions as "the single greatest nation that God ever gave man on this Earth." He was so excited that he even celebrated the global dominance of Hollywood and the entertainment industry, which everyone knows is dominated by Godless liberals. So that's saying something.
The only point of challenge to that position came via an interview with Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria, author of The Post-American World, recently sported by no less a personage than Barack Obama. Even before his interview with Zakaria, Hannity warned his audience that the book claimed that "America is losing its ability to lead" and promised to speak after to a true patriot, "our own Newt Gingrich," to set the record straight.
Here's the problem: He didn't actually want to listen to what Zakaria had to say, both in person and in print. Zakaria's book opens thusly: "This is a book not about the decline of America but rather about the rise of everyone else." (We know Hannity read that because he openly admitted that he had so far gotten two-thirds of the way through the book.) Nonetheless, Zakaria echoed that sentiment in the interview, declaring his love of America and that he wrote this book precisely so the country could stay ahead. "We have to take account of the fact that it's a different world map," said Zakaria. "I write it from the point of view of saying, I want America to be as great as it can be." It was very, very friendly, and Zakaria was being very, very careful not to imply anything negative about America, but you could tell Hanity wasn't buying it (and I have to admit I felt a frisson of anxiety when Zakaria said this: "I'm an immigrant - I came here by choice...You're American by accident, I'm an American by choice." Eek.)
Yet, despite reluctantly admitting that "to some extent there's some truth" to Zakaria's point, as soon as he had Gingrich on — "a man who truly understands the meaning of patriotism" — he was back to defending against the attack Zakaria didn't mount, i.e. that "Amerca's in a decline." "Every time I hear that talk it annoys me," complained Hannity."I think these guys might need a story for a headline." Fortunately, Gingich was on hand to soothe his ruffled feathers, and assure him that, yes, America was a great country, with an incredible ability to bounce back, and a place governed by safety and the rule of law where anyone with skills and pluck and determination could make it happen.
In point of fact, Zakaria had no quarrel with that point of view (and in point of fact, neither do I — as someone born elsewhere and living in the U.S. by choice I echo Zakaria 100%). What's troubling was the casual lumping of the book with the "blame America first" crowd, about which Hannity later complained (complaints he didn't present to Zakaria nor allow him to refute), and the knee-jerk defensiveness to a position that had been carefully articulated as less a swipe at the U.S. than an acknowledgment that the world around it was changing.
Patriotism is great and the U.S. is one helluva country, Hollywood liberals and all. But in order to stay that way, who would you rather listen to, Hannity or Zakaria?
Update: My dad, who had control of the remote control, has this answer to that question: Both. "That's what makes America great — all sides are welcome to express their views." My dad cited the example of ex-Presidents Clinton and Bush uniting to travel overseas as goodwill ambassadors for the U.S., doing good works. "In many other countries," said my dad, "they couldn't do that because the former president would be dead." He's got a point.