Media conservatives are condemning President Obama for using the word “hostage” as a metaphor while discussing negotiations. Yet Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush also used the same rhetoric in describing their political opponents.
Right-Wing Media Condemn Obama For “Hostage” Rhetoric
Hannity: Obama “Was So Bitter And So Angry” With “Hostage-Takers Comment.” Kicking off a panel discussion on his Fox News show about Obama's “latest political blunder,” Sean Hannity said:
HANNITY: First of all, the president today was so bitter and so angry. You know, the hostage-takers comment, I mean it goes back to just before the election: Americans are -- you know, Republicans are the enemy, they can sit in the back. What did you make of that? [Fox News' Hannity, 12/7/10]
Perino: “I Was Disturbed” By Obama's Hostage Remarks. During the Hannity panel discussion about Obama's comment, Fox News contributor and former Bush press secretary Dana Perino said she was “disturbed” by Obama's remarks:
HANNITY: First of all, the president today was so bitter and so angry. You know, the hostage-takers comment, I mean it goes back to just before the election: Americans are -- you know, Republicans are the enemy, they can sit in the back. What did you make of that?
PERINO: I was disturbed. I thought, well, first of all, who writes these kind of things, and then who actually says them? He missed another opportunity that was presented to him to be able to be the leader of the country. [Fox News' Hannity, 12/7/10]
Barnes: “The Stuff [Obama] Said About Republicans Was Much Worse -- Hostage-Takers?” On Fox News' Special Report, Fox News contributor Fred Barnes discussed Obama's statement and said:
BARNES: You know, I've been to lots of press conferences as you have, Bret [Baier, host], and I've seen, you know, dozens, scores on television over the years, and I've never seen one quite like this. Where the, you know, the president's obviously, I think, sort of, unprepared for the press conference but also testy and defensive. You know, he felt that he'd been dissed by Democrats, who, gee, they're criticizing him and all the stuff he's done for them -- why that health care bill he got through and so on. So, unhappy about that. And he was extremely defensive and then attacked both parties. You don't see that a lot, either. Obviously, calling the Democrats who have criticized him for not getting enough in this deal with Republicans, calling them sanctimonious, which is not a thing you want to say about your own party, even though it's absolutely true; he's right about that, no question about that.
But, I mean, the stuff he said about Republicans was much worse -- hostage-takers? I mean, we know what the analogy is to there. It's not hard to figure that out. [Fox News' Special Report, 12/7/10]
Monica Crowley: Obama “Blew It” By “Graceless[ly]” Calling Republicans Hostage-Takers. On the December 7 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News contributor Monica Crowley asserted:
CROWLEY: Let me just pick on one thing that I thought was very graceless of him to do today
CROWLEY: Look, he has been for a couple of years now pounding the GOP as driving the car into the ditch, right? That analogy is now gone. What he used today was that the Republicans are hostage-takers -- that they've been holding the American middle class hostage for these tax -- for keeping these tax rates consistent for everybody. How in the world is he going to win over Republicans or independents, those that voted for him last time, when he's calling the Republicans “hostage-takers” ?
CROWLEY: He did the right thing economically, but he blew it in the rhetoric. [Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, 12/7/10]
Rosen: Obama Risked National Security By Showing He's “Willing to Negotiate With Hostage-Takers.” Later on The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News correspondent James Rosen stated:
ROSEN: This should concern a broader spectrum than just the president and his supporters, and that is the potential national security implications of a president of the United States broadcasting to the world that he is willing to negotiate with hostage-takers if he believes that the hostage is being harmed. And I mean that seriously. ... If you're Al Qaeda, and you're watching that news conference, and you see the president say that when a hostage is being harmed it makes him uncomfortable and more willing to negotiate, how that affects your calculus. [The O'Reilly Factor, 12/7/10]
Bolling: Obama Compared “Republicans To Hostage-Takers, And Americans, Us, We're The Hostages. Really, Mr. President, Really? On the December 7 edition of Fox Business' Follow the Money, host Eric Bolling said:
BOLLING: Up next, the president compares Republicans to hostage-takers, and Americans, us, we're the hostages. Really, Mr President, really? [Follow the Money, 12/7/10]
The Blaze: ” Obama Continues To Demonize Republicans By Calling Them 'Hostage Takers' And Setting Himself Up As The Savior." In a December 7 post on TheBlaze.com, Jonathon Seidl wrote:
We've already brought you video of at least one of President Obama's incredible claims during today's “tax cut” compromise press conference. Here's another, in which Obama continues to demonize Republicans by calling them “hostage takers” and setting himself up as the savior of “hostage” Americans. [TheBlaze.com, 12/7/10]
NRO: “Petulant And Arrogant” Obama “Denounced Republicans As 'Hostage-Takers.' ” In a post on the National Review Online's The Corner blog, Ralph Reed wrote:
While the professional Left waited for Superman, Obama offered his best imitation in today's post-deal news conference, where he denounced Republicans as “hostage-takers” and fashioned the U.S. economy as the hostage. Here Obama the Chicago community-organizer returned with a vengeance. He claimed to be “itching for a fight” with newly confident Republicans on a whole range of issues. So this is the new Barack Obama, conciliatory and compromising one moment, petulant and arrogant the next. [National Review Online, 12/7/10]
HotAir: Obama “Snottily” Compared Republicans to “Hostage-Takers” ; Showed “He'll Come To The Table Only If You Play Rough Enough With Him.” In a December 7 Hot Air post, blogger AllahPundit wrote:
Two clips for you, the first of him snottily reprising Bob Menendez's terrorist analogy by comparing Republicans to “hostage-takers” on taxes -- and then using that to justify his decision to negotiate with them(!). Note to The One: Probably not a good idea for America's top law enforcement officer and military commander-in-chief to broadcast the fact that he'll come to the table only if you play rough enough with him. [HotAir.com, 12/7/10]
But Reagan And Bush Also Used “Hostage” Metaphor
Reagan: “Democrats In The Senate Have Decided To Hold Our National Security Hostage To A $137 Billion Tax Increase.” In a statement on the FY 1988 budget bill, Reagan stated:
Here we go again. Democrats in the Senate have decided to hold our national security hostage to a $137 billion tax increase over the next 4 years. They have also decided that further reductions in domestic spending cannot be made. The time has come, long since, to restore our credibility and discipline to the budget process. The Senate budget is a giant step in the wrong direction. [Statement on Senate Action on the Budget Bill, 5/8/87, emphasis added]
Reagan: Without Constitutional Amendment, Future Generations' Chances Are “Held Hostage By Big Government's Addiction To Red-Ink Spending.” At a 1982 reception for supporters of the balanced budget amendment, Reagan stated:
I urge the House leadership to face this crucial issue, to follow the example of the 218 of you, Republican and Democrat, who signed the discharge petition, and put the national interest before politics. The time to act is now -- for the sake of all of our people, for future generations of Americans whose chances for prosperity and opportunity are held hostage by big government's addiction to red-ink spending. [Remarks at a Reception for Supporters of the Proposed Constitutional Amendment for a Balanced Federal Budget, 9/30/82, emphasis added]
Reagan: Democratic Leadership Is “Holding The People's Tax Reduction Hostage To Future Economic Events.” In 1981, Reagan made a speech on the federal tax reduction legislation he proposed as part of his economic recovery program:
Now, when I first proposed this -- incidentally, it has now become a bipartisan measure coauthored by Republican Barber Conable and Democrat Kent Hance -- the Democratic leadership said a tax cut was out of the question. It would be wildly inflationary. And that was before my inauguration. And then your voices began to he heard and suddenly, in February, the leadership discovered that, well, a 1-year tax cut was feasible. Well, we kept on pushing our 3-year tax cut and by June, the opposition found that a 2-year tax cut might work. Now it's July, and they find they could even go for a third year cut provided there was a trigger arrangement that would only allow it to go into effect if certain economic goals had been met by 1983.
But by holding the people's tax reduction hostage to future economic events, they will eliminate the people's ability to plan ahead. Shopkeepers, farmers, and individuals will be denied the certainty they must have to begin saving or investing more of their money. And encouraging more savings and investment is precisely what we need now to rebuild our economy. [Address to the Nation on Federal Tax Reduction Legislation, 7/27/81, emphasis added]
Bush To Pelosi: Veterans “Should Not Be Held Hostage To Budgetary Wrangling In Washington.” From a January 2008 letter from Bush to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
Dear Madam Speaker:
My Administration is committed to providing the resources needed to ensure that veterans, including those returning from current combat operations, receive the quality care and services they deserve.
In the FY 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act, Public Law 110-161, $3,691,391,000 was designated by the Congress as an emergency requirement contingent upon a formal budget request by me that includes designation of the entire amount as an emergency requirement. While I believe that these funds should have been considered as regular appropriations, the men and women who have sacrificed for our country should not be held hostage to budgetary wrangling in Washington. Therefore, to provide these funds in a timely manner I hereby request and designate as an emergency requirement the $3,691,391,000, consistent with Public Law 110-161.
Additional information on this action is set forth in the enclosed letter from the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
GEORGE W. BUSH [Text of a Letter from the President to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, from Office of the Press Secretary, 1/17/08, emphasis added]