Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Hannity Dilemma - McCain's Jane Fonda

I'm coining a new phrase - The Hannity Dilemma. From this pint forward, the Hannity Dilemma will be used to describe the situation where a standard developed by a hard line partisan hack like Sean Hannity, intended to be used only against those heathens with opposing political views, is instead applied to a member of the standard-setting hack's own political party. The horror.

The award is named for Master Hannity because of his wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful, wonder____ (that's 5 1/2 for those counting - you'll see) near aneurysm after his own standard (paraphrased here) asserted against John Edwards - "people who lie to their families by having affairs can't be trusted by the American people" - was applied to John McCain by Hannity's own weak-kneed liberal pushover but awoken from his castrated slumber co-host, Alan Colmes. Hannity gets so fired up that the standard he developed is used against one of his own, that . . . well, he starts quoting math and yelling protest slogans.

In that clip, Sean Hannity was faced with the Hannity Dilemma. His response: Donna Martin Graduates! Donna Martin Graduates! Donna Martin Graduates!

Now that we have an illustration of how The Hannity Dilemma works, lets apply it:

The Standard: The personal acquaintances of presidential candidates are valid, especially when such acquaintances are or were anti-American.

The Intended Application: In applying this standard, just about every talking head on the right (and some on the left), as well as the Republican Presidential ticket, have been hammering the Obama-Ayers and Obama-Wright connections, and particularly the anti-America angle. Fine. As I've stated before, I think those topics are fair game. As long as the same standard is applied to everyone.

The Hannity Dilemma: Joe Klein draws a comparison today between the scrutiny given to Obama's "radical friends," as opposed to the right's absolute silence on McCain's friendship with his own personal Jane Fonda - David Ifshin. As Klein explains:
Ifshin, you see, had been a vehement anti-Vietnam radical. He had even gone to Hanoi at the height at the war and given a speech denouncing the American pilots dropping bombs on North Vietnamese civilians as “war criminals.” The speech was broadcast repeatedly in the Hanoi Hilton, where McCain was being held captive. More than a few people thought Ifshin was guilty of treason.

He was also a close friend of John McCain until he passed away in 1996.

Klein's telling of this story is quite personal and worth the read, as Ifshin was also a friend of Klein's. It also shines a very favorable light on McCain (or, rather, the man McCain used to be). Their friendship was forged out of a respect for each other, despite their polar-opposite opinions so many years before. Ifshin was vocal about his regret for giving the above-referenced speech, and McCain forgave him. The McCain-Ifshin friendship was also detailed with admiration by the NY Sun in 2006. It's really a great story.

But as much as he regretted it, Ifshin did give that speech, just as Jane Fonda gave similar speeches attacking American soldiers. Guess what the right wing pundits think about Jane Fonda? Well Sean Hannity's guests, like Ollie North, think she's a "traitor" for her actions during the Vietnam war. I don't think it's a stretch to claim that that view as common among the right.

Now here's the dilemma: If Fonda is a traitor, so was Ifshin. So if Obama's associations with people like Ayers who, as John McCain described Ifshin "a long time ago, in the passions and resentments of a tumultuous era in our history, I might have considered my enemy," are fair game that must be examined, shouldn't the right wing pundits be examining McCain's association with this person who was a "traitor" by their own standards? Who is the real John McCain? Can we tolerate a president who palled around with traitors? Donna Martin Graduates!

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