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Bill Mann

Bill Mann

Posted: August 14, 2009 12:27 PM

Cable News Encouraging Town-Hall Temper Tantrums


Temper tantrums are what you get today when you elect an adult, Barack Obama, President. (He's arguably the first adult we've elected since Jimmy Carter.)

Fellow parents recognize today's bratty, bullying behavior of the extreme right for precisely what it is: An extended temper tantrum.

After trashing the china shop (the economy, international relations, the separation of powers) for eight years, the Republicans were, metaphorically speaking, "sent to their room" last November.

But, like so many naughty children sent to their rooms, they're still yelling and screaming -- acting out.

And making mischief, with such ridiculous behavior as "tea party" protests. Or the Birther and Deather nonsense. Or, of late, yelling and screaming at public forums and disrupting them.

Real mature.

Like misbehaving kids sentenced to a time-out, parents will know, many of these people (whose inner child became an outer nutjob) will continue to act like willful brats.

"The people who lost nine months ago are having a childish tantrum," one caller to Thom Hartmann's national Air America radio show said calmly this week. "It's finally sinking in that they lost."

Well, maybe. The childish, brattish behavior isn't abating. This is mainly because of encouragement by the right-wing media, the ultimate nightmare soccer parents, who see little reason anyone should act like responsible, civilized adults.

The temper-tantrum troops are described by another radio host, MSNBC's Ed Schultz, as "older white uneducated nut jobs who watch Glen Beck." Their public temper tantrums, while uneemly to many adults, are cherished by Fox Noise and right-wing talk radio.

Broadcasters, in private, have an accurate name they disdainfully use for these angry rent-a-mob tantrum-throwers -- "The shut-ins."

True, these bullies don't get out much. Except, that is, to throw temper tantrums for the cameras. Because acting like self-centered children is what they do best. They could care less about what might benefit other people and about the greater good. It's all about Me. The Ronald Reagan religion.

"Know what the GOP is today?" asks Schultz.

"It's a 50's-60's white crowd who can't stand the fact there's black guy in the White House."

So, in a gesture of ultimate futility, they throw temper tantrums in public. This is not, we should point out, the same thing as legitimate protest. This is also not, as some would posit, " democracy in action."

Parents, at least, know the difference. So do many thinking people of all political stripes.

These town-hall brats are like disruptive children who, after acting out in grade school, are dragged, often kicking and screaming, down to the principal's office.

But today, instead of encountering an adult who'll try to set them straight and/or discipline them, these children will meet cameras and microphones that encourage, magnify even venerate their boorish public behavior.

Many of these outsized children have been interviewed this past week by their enabler, the poisonous Fox News. (Moms once called their likes "a bad influence").

"Tell us, Bobby, why you heroically kicked and screamed when a grown-up came into the room and tried to speak to you and your neighbors."

Remember what Mom used to say about "Raise your voice, lower the tone of the conversation"?

But adults aren't in charge now. Certainly not in the media, anyway.

The kind of thing cable news now does best - well, most often, anyway -- is to feature bad behavior and encourage argument and highlight conflict.

So, go to your (dressing) room, cable news.

But alas, what makes good parenting isn't good TV. Shwing bad , childish behavior is what gets ratings.


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