As we proceed deeper into the Obama presidency, we're getting a clearer picture of just how radical some of the president's far-right adversaries are. We're starting to understand the depths to which the partisan extremists in the media will stoop, to the point where many this week seemed incapable of celebrating the execution of Osama bin Laden or extending a job well done to the White House.
That's pretty low.
The bin Laden story has provided a useful filter, or a demarcation line, within the right-wing media and has helped illustrate which strident Obama critics are still in touch with some strands of common sense and common decency, and which ones are not.
The bin Laden story has provided the minimal bar for irrational Obama haters to hop over: Toast the news that bin Laden had been killed and toast the administration for being able to accomplish the long overdue task. But it's a low bar that lots of dead-enders can't clear. (Thankfully, some conservative pundits were willing to leap over it.)
Led by Rush Limbaugh, the Washington Times, portions of Fox News, and bloggers who write for Andrew Breitbart, the dead-enders have spent this week not only refusing to credit Obama, but have been parading their contempt around in full view. The dead-enders have been attacking Obama in every way possible, from relentlessly critiquing his bin-Laden-is-dead declaration, to raising hysterical objections to the president's wreath-laying visit to Ground Zero.
A wreath-laying visit.
Phrases like 'inappropriate' barely begin to describe the oddity of watching the nasty Obama attacks unfold in response to the wonderful news about bin Laden's death.
Writing about the segment on Eric Bolling's Fox Business show where the host read a list of people his viewers want to see waterboarded—including President Obama—Heather Parton, the blogger known was Digby, wrote "I just don't know what to say about these people anymore." Adding, "Depravity apparently knows no bounds."
So yes, the bin Laden story has acted as a filter, in much the same way the recent birther phenomena did, in that it provided Obama's diehard opponents with the opportunity to decide just how far down the crazy path they were willing to chase their Democratic nemesis. (Answer for some: Really, really far.)
It's true that with each filtered layer, it seems fewer critics decide to pass through. But for the ones who went all in on the birther nonsense that have gone all in bashing Obama for killing bin Laden, they represent the most dedicated radicals. And they were the ones this week peddling the loopy fantasy about how it took a military coup inside the White House before the order to kill bin Laden was finally given. (Obama was cowering at the prospect, apparently.)
Why concoct Situation Room scenarios like that? Because for the dead-enders, it's inconceivable that Obama could function successfully as president. They've convinced themselves, as well as many of bitter followers, that Obama is a fraudulent and illegitimate president. When news breaks that shatters that image (i.e. Obama did what for seven years President Bush failed to do), the radical right has to shift into fantasy mode in order to make sense of their (deranged) world view.
And frankly, this is what happens once their signature, irrational hate gains so much momentum over months and years. It's difficult for dead-enders to slow it down, even when news breaks that Osama bin laden's finally been executed; even when it should be painfully obvious that the situation calls for dialing down the Obama hate. But the dead-enders can't because they wouldn't know what else to do. They've become fanatically dedicated to fermenting idiotic Obama claims and put-downs that it's become like breathing to them: essential and automatic.
Like the birther charade, the bin Laden-related attacks likely stem from the very simple need to generate anti-Obama content within the far-right media. That profitable hate engine demands constant fuel and this week partisans have been filling up and hitting the gas.
And yes, they filled up the hate tank by trying to demean the president in the most petty and pointless ways possible. The president had barely finished announcing the good news to world when the dead-enders started in on the small-minded theater criticism of his performance.
Completely unhinged Breitbart blogger Pam Geller accused Obama of "shamelessly strut[ting] like [a] peacock" while announcing the big news. (Days later she labeled the president was a "bastard.") Eric Bolling emphatically demandedpeople not thank Obama for the bin Laden mission. Los Angeles Times ' Andrew Malcolm mocked Obama and his counterterrorism team's long hours and hard work over the weekend: "Poor poor bureaucrats. Extra Tums all around. Did someone order dinner?"
And at the Washington Times, editorial page editor Brett Decker moaned that Obama had been arrogant while breaking the bin Laden news:
The wording of his short statement made it clear that the campaign season for his 2012 reelection bid is fully underway. He used the words "I," "me" and "my" so many times it was hard to count for such a quick message.
Actually, it wasn't that hard to keep count. During Obama's entire 1,400-word address, he used "I," "me," and "my" approximately one dozen times. By contrast, Obama's address used "we," "us," and "our" nearly seven dozen times Sunday night.
And then there were these twitter gems:
Remember, the president had just announced bin Laden was dead. Most everyone agreed that was good news. Yet where did the dead-enders point their barbs and arrows? At Obama, not bin Laden.
That would have been like in 1981, when the rest of America was celebrating the release of the American hostages from Iran, if liberal pundits and columnists immediately lashed out in crude and hateful ways at President Reagan for being president at the time of the hostages' release, instead of condemning the Ayatollah Khomeini for holding Americans for more than a year. That kind of irrational partisan hatred would have been inconceivable then, and it ought to be now.
Then again, Obama dead-enders play by different rules.