When I watched the video of Sean Hannity's Tuesday night show, I was half expecting him to leap out of his chair, grab his producer by the lapels and scream something about a goblin on the wing of the airplane -- all puffy and bloodshot, hair mussed, tie undone, spittle and sweat flying all around.
There was Sean Hannity on television: breathlessly announcing the red dawn of "socialism you can believe in." "The New America." He called the recovery bill, "a liberal hijacking of the American way of life." Uh-huh. Hijacking. Terrorists rather than goblins on the wing. I get it. And even though we just wrapped up eight years of the largest government expansion in our country's history, Hannity derided the recovery bill as "the largest government expansion in our country's history."
But, unbelievably, that wasn't the most ludicrous part of the show. The frantic announcement was preceded by a newsreel-style montage featuring video of the various congressional floor debates about the bill, footage of Boehner throwing down the bill and, naturally, President Obama signing the bill. All backed with the frighteningly pulse-pounding choir chants of the apocalyptic anthem "O Fortuna."
There's no gray area in what he was suggesting. Socialism is here, said Hannity, and it's really scary. The choir music said so.
Hannity is once again joined in this crusade by very serious pundits like Rush Limbaugh, Steve Doocy, Alex Castellanos, Joe Scarborough, Laura Ingraham and Glenn Beck who, at one point, claimed that President Obama is both a socialist and a fascist -- a feat that calls to mind an old George Carlin joke about how it's physically impossible to "put your seat-back forward."
The message is clear. The voices on the far-right are unanimous.
Therefore, I'm calling upon Sean Hannity to use his prime time television program as a platform to rally Republican politicians, cable news hacks and citizens alike to refuse delivery of not just recovery bill spending, but all so-called "socialist" government programs. Send it all back. End American socialism now! All of it.
Refuse to send your kids to socialized public schools and universities; refuse to use socialized roads and highways; refuse to call upon socialized police and fire departments; shut down the socialized air traffic control; refuse to visit socialized national parks; tell grandma that her Social Security and Medicare will have to be sent back to the government; demand the immediate dismantling of our socialized American military. Sarah Palin and her supporters in Alaska should refuse all forms of "redistributed wealth" by sending back their checks from the socialized oil program there.
Send it all back. I'm sure the entire roster of Neo-McCarthyite pundits enumerated above -- Limbaugh, Scarborough, Hannity and the like -- have already forgone their usage of these socialist services so we can assume they've figured out a ways to get by. How hard can it be really? I mean, who needs roads when there are hot-air balloons and jet packs. Socialist fire departments? A house fire will eventually burn itself out, won't it? As for the pre-socialist 50-percent poverty rate for the elderly? If we can put a man on the Moon (also a socialist program), we can invent some bootstraps that'll fit over grandma's therapeutic stockings.
As for the recovery bill, the states aren't forced by law to accept the funding. They're entirely within their rights to, borrowing Hannity's spasmodic metaphor, thwart the hijacking.
Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana is apparently mulling the idea of refusing the recovery funds. Paul Begala, in his weekly column, has already dared Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina to send it back.
Meanwhile, on her MSNBC show Tuesday night, Rachel Maddow asked Governor Pawlenty of Minnesota if he would refuse his state's share of the recovery plan. Pawlenty hemmed and hawed and finally relented that he wasn't totally opposed to the recovery bill -- just the yucky parts. I assume Pawlenty meant the totally nonexistent parts like the fake ACORN thing and the fake mouse thing, both of which were entirely conjured from thin air by the Republicans. Or did he mean the part of the bill that's otherwise known as, you know, the largest middle class tax cut in American history? Was he opposed to that part?
The recovery bill is expected to create or rescue an estimated 50,000 jobs in Louisiana, and Jindal would be refusing $7.68 billion in federal funds. The recovery bill allocates $7.7 billion and 50,000 jobs for South Carolina. $9.34 billion and 66,000 jobs for Minnesota. John Boehner's home state of Ohio will be receiving $20.09 billion and the recovery bill is projected to create or save somewhere in the range of 133, 000 jobs. Mitch McConnell's home state of Kentucky? $7.18 billion and 48,000 jobs. John McCain's Arizona? $10.27 billion and 70,000 jobs. In Rush Limbaugh's adopted home state of Florida? $28.33 billion and 206,000 jobs. Glenn Beck's home state of Washington? $10.41 billion and 75,000 jobs.
Send it all back.
But if the money somehow gets through Hannity's blockade and steams its way to socialist Republican governors like Charlie Crist and Arnold Schwarzenegger (embracing "economic girly man" status), and if those jobs are created anyway, Sean Hannity ought to heroically command his viewers in these states to not accept those jobs. They're socialist jobs, after all.
While he's at it, Hannity might as well refuse delivery on the president's new socialized home rescue plan as well. I wonder how many McCain-Palin voters who ripped into Barack Obama for "redistributing the wealth" will actually participate in the program.
Funny what happens to ridiculous Neo-McCarthyite sloganeering when the shit really hits the fan. I expect that a year from now we'll be able to look at statistics indicating that zero dittoheads and zero occupants of Hannity's America chose to have their homes rescued by the socialist federal government.
Of course not. It'll never happen because it turns out that most Americans are, to some degree, closeted socialists, especially when they're suddenly confronted by the darker realities of free market capitalism and the destructive long-term effects of both Reaganomics and Bush Republicanism. In practice, this week's cover of Newsweek is only half right. We've always been socialists (with some obvious and necessary limits). A system in which the federal government provides commonly held services while also regulating industry isn't a brand new concept in America, no matter how apoplectic Hannity pretends to be on his show. Hell, even the Republicans who voted against the recovery bill are scrambling to make sure they get their chunk.
But if, in fact, Hannity is right and I'm missing the big picture on this thing, then every Republican who voted against the recovery bill and every Republican dittohead who is currently joining with the far-right talkers in this red scare uprising has an obligation for the sake of consistency to send it all back.
If it makes them feel better, they can even play some scary music via our socialist radio airwaves while they're doing it.
Order my book: One Nation Under Fear, with a foreword by Arianna Huffington. Also available in stores.