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Sean Daly, Michelle Stark and Sharon Kennedy Wynne

Fear as Tea Party fuel and Stephen Baldwin calling Obama "homey"

17

February

Olbermann-comment I was among the first to compliment Keith Olbermann's Special Comment essays -- back when they were new, infrequent and incisive. Somewhere along the way, they became an overblown gimmick -- ripe for parody on Saturdya Night Live and more about Olbermann's tendency for bluster than anything.

But just when I was tuned out, Olbermann uncorked a great Special Comment about the way fear  -- embodied in the election of a black president -- seems to fuel the ongoing Tea Party movement.

A couple of interesting grafs:

"The whole of the "anger at government" movement is predicated on this. Times are tough, the future is confusing, the threat from those who would dismantle our way of life is real (as if we weren't to some extent doing it for them). And the president is black. But you can't come out and say that's why you are scared.

Say that, and in all but the lifeless fringes of our society, you are an outcast. And so this is where the euphemisms come in. Your taxes haven't gone up, the budget deficit is from the last administration's adventurer's war, Grandma is much more likely to be death-paneled by your insurance company, and a Socialist president would be one who tried to buy as many voters as possible with tax cuts."

His essay reminded me of the odd experience attending the lecture tour by Fox News Channel stars Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly in Tampa. I'm sure there were people of color in the room who didn't work for the Sun Dome or its various support services, but I didn't see them.

Instead, I saw a roomful of folks who looked and sounded very much like each other clamoring for an America which reflected the ideals of the founding fathers. You know, back when women and people of color couldn't vote, own property or hold elective office.

Here's the disclaimers: there are surely some people of color who are Beck and O'Reilly fans or members of the tea party movement. And as an MSNBC opinionator, Olbermann has a vested interest in attacking the insurgent political movement founded by rival Beck and supported by Fox News Channel.

Still, I thought Olbermann made some good points here; ideas worth considering for those wondering why our current political discourse feels like such a disaster.

Time-relaity-TV Also, my online buddy at TIME magazine, James Poneiwozik, wrote a brilliant story about how we now live in a Reality TV Nation. As he says:

"Reality is more than a TV genre now. It's the burgeoning career field that led Richard Heene to perpetrate the Balloon Boy hoax, and Tareq and Michaele Salahi to crash a White House dinner, Bravo TV cameras in tow. It's the content mill for the cable-tabloid-blog machine, employing human punch lines like Rod Blagojevich, the disgraced governor turned contestant on Celebrity Apprentice. It's everywhere. When Scott Brown won an upset Senate victory in Massachusetts, he was joined onstage by his daughter Ayla, an American Idol semifinalist from Season 5.

In 1992, reality TV was a novelty. In 2000, it was a fad. In 2010, it's a way of life."

I'll pay Jim the ultimate writer's compliment: this is a story I wish I had written, for sure.

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[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 3:05pm]

    

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