L'etat, c'est Hannity


Matthew Yglesias reads far more into Sean Hannity's new America-bashing talk show and its "Enemy of the State" award (noted by Radley yesterday) than I would have thought possible. It's all good, though.

Not enemy of the nation, enemy of the country, enemy of the people, enemy of America, but enemy of the state. The particular blend of authoritarianism and anti-statism that's typical of American conservatism from Tailgunner Joe to Liberality for All is incoherent, but at least it gives crypto-fascists the comfort of staying crypto.

Hannity by contrast has simply lost it. On the most obvious level, he seems confused about the fact that he's not an agent of the state and has no business proclaiming who the state's enemies are. Yes, the Pravda-like qualities of Fox News and the ease with which one can go from being an unofficial spokesman for George W. Bush at Fox to being an official spokesman for him in the West Wing may induce confusion, but surely Hannity is aware on some level that he's not a government employee.

The only thing I have to add is that the Hannity strain of authoritarianism (my, that sounds good) has as its first principle worship of George W. Bush. McCarthy was (in his mind, at least) protecting American tradition, religion, and capitalism against the threat of Communism, which if implemented would abolish all of that. Hannity, like far too many Fox News pundits and radio hosts, is protecting George W. Bush against criticism from, well, everyone, from Pat Buchanan and Justin Raimondo to Cindy Sheehan and Dennis Kucinich. Notice what Sean Penn is maligned for: insulting Hannity and "calling for the impeachment of everyone in the Bush administration and calling them bastards." That might be unpleasant, but the conservatives of yore thought the Republic could survive occasional verbal attacks on the executive branch. Hannity thinks an attack on Bush is an attack on America. This is the reasoning of fascists, or at least of trembling four year olds.

This sort of thinking makes our current Iraq debate even more frustrating than it should be. I'd like to discuss how to bring the Iraq conflict to a close—Hannity et al would like to know why we refuse to support our president, our commander in chief, this man who has been tested by fire and has a spine of steel and so on.

UPDATE: If you check out the Hannity video, you'll notice that the enemies Hannity has marked for execution (I assume) so far are: Fidel Castro, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong Il, Hugo Chavez, Penn, Barbra Streisand, Alec Baldwin, and Michael Moore. With the arguable exception of Ahmadinejad and his influence in Iraq, none of these people are killing Americans right now, which tells you everything about Hannity. Alec Baldwin was included probably because he got the best of Hannity and lightweight Hannity clone Mark Levin in a radio showdown, the highlight of which came when Baldwin called Levin a "cabin boy" and Levin responded by intimating that Baldwin had sex with men. This is your media, folks.