The vast right-wing conspiracy is back — at least liberals think that it is. Only this time, they say, it’s bigger and badder than ever, overflowing from town hall meetings. Why, they’re even crowding out the paid activists of the left!
It’s not that President Barack Obama has lost control of the agenda; it’s that the American people have taken control. Using the federal bureaucracy to restore the “fairness doctrine” and defang conservative talk radio
Unaccustomed to sharing microphones and media attention, many in Congress want to override criticism by claiming the critics are dangerous right-wingers and government-haters. They remember how the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building helped President Bill Clinton lead a pro-government rebound.
Criticizing foes isn’t enough, though. The left wants them muzzled.
Obama has placed a “chief diversity officer” in the Federal Communications Commission. The CDO favors fining broadcasters up to $250 million a year if they don’t “balance” the airwaves with less conservative talk.
Obama has also signaled that it’s OK to silence those who disagree with him. At an August campaign rally in Virginia, he pronounced, "I don't want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking. I want them just to get out of the way."
In other words: “Agree with me or shut up.” Obama’s message is sharply at odds with Democrat National Committee ads that claim it’s the other side that’s trying to silence people.
Liberals now accuse conservatives of using “mob tactics,” but the libs are certainly no model of civility. To them, loud dissenters are not only wrong, they’re evil. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., calls dissidents “evil-mongers.” Meanwhile, Rep. Baron Hill, D-Ind., calls them “political terrorists,” and Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash., decries their “brown shirt tactics.”
Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., the No. 3 House Democrat, says, “I have seen this kind of hate before. . . . I have seen snarling dogs going after people . . . This is all about activity trying to deny the establishment of a civil right. And I do believe that health care for all is — a civil right."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned vocal critics for being “un-American.” Yet in 2006, she told anti-war protestors that “I’m a fan of disruptors.” She added, “There’s nothing more articulate, more eloquent for a member of Congress than the voice of constituents.”
That was before she became speaker of the house.
The left pushes the media to seize upon every small but negative item as though it typifies the town hall crowds. Legal possession of a handgun on the outskirts of an Obama meeting is treated as though it were an assassination attempt.
Liberal broadcaster Ed Schultz airs a wild accusation:
“Sometimes I think they want Obama to get shot. I do. I really think that there are conservative broadcasters in this country who would love to see Obama taken out. They fear socialism. They fear Marxism.”
(So is he also saying that Obama is a socialist and Marxist?)
The Southern Poverty Law Center claims a “second wave” of right-wing militant militias is rising because they dislike growth of government and dislike having a black president.
Have these people forgotten that left-wing violence also exists? The Unabomber — a product of Harvard and University of California, Berkeley — killed due to his left-esque hatred of modern society.
In the 1999 “Battle of Seattle,” police were thrown back by a coordinated and looting mob of about 50,000 activists described as “human rights groups, students, environmental groups, religious leaders, labor rights activists.”
As a congressman, I received threats from a man who threatened to kill and dismember me because I would not support legalizing marijuana. His was not exactly a right-wing position. He went to prison.
And millions have seen the recent video of a town hall attendee being attacked by union members who support Obama’s agenda.
But today’s effort is to manufacture a theme that right-leaning protestors are dangerous. Yet simply demonizing opponents isn’t enough. As Obama indicated, they should be silenced.
It starts with talk radio. Pelosi and her House leadership refused to permit a vote that would block the FCC from bringing back its infamous “fairness doctrine.”
Instead, there’s a stealth tactic to let bureaucrats recreate it with a backdoor approach, then block any effort to override the bureaucracy. By controlling the agenda, leaders could protect members from having to vote on the issue.
The left’s Center for America Progress proposes one such way to penalize conservative talk radio. A CAP paper complains that broadcasters are motivated by the profitability of airing what people want (i.e., mostly conservative talk radio). It proposes the “solution” of hitting broadcasters in the pocketbook:
“. . . a spectrum use fee should be levied on owners to directly support local, regional, and national public broadcasting. A fee based on a sliding scale (1 percent for small markets, 5 percent for the larg¬est markets) would be distributed directly to the Corporation for Public Broadcast¬ing with clear mandates to support local news and public affairs programming and to cover controversial and political issues in a fair and balanced manner. We estimate that such a fee would net between $100 million and $250 million.”
Once again, the left condemns the profit motive and wants it overwhelmed by government dictate. By the way, the co-author of that CAP paper is Mark Lloyd, who has just been appointed as the “chief diversity officer” in Obama’s FCC.
The left’s effort to silence critics is not simply a response to outraged Americans attending town halls and speaking up. It’s a continuation of a basic tenet of how America’s left intends to govern: By using the power of government to make its opposition shut up.
Thank goodness our Founding Fathers had the wisdom to pen our First Amendment. And for goodness’ sake, let’s have the courage to protect it.
Ernest Istook is in recovery from serving 14 years as a U.S. congressman, and is now a distinguished fellow at The Heritage Foundation.