Who You Callin’ “Conservative”?

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conservatism, entertainment and popular culture, liberalism and progressivism

One quick follow-up to yesterday’s “Not Funny” post — today all manner of people are scrambling to disown Don Imus and blame his reign of (rhetorical) terror on their ideological enemies. For example, rightie Brian Maloney says some people (identified as “key leftists”) are calling Imus a “conservative.” Maloney writes, “That’s despite his endorsement of John Kerry in the 2004 presidential race and past tirades against the Bush Administration from a decidedly leftist perspective.” Maloney doesn’t explain what he means by “decidedly leftist perspective.”

Maloney provides one example of Imus being called a “conservative,” from a Media Matters press release quoting David Brock, who says,

“More and more Americans are coming to understand the damage done by major news organizations providing a platform for bigoted commentary and other conservative misinformation, and they are demanding change. MSNBC’s decision is an important step in the right direction.”

Maloney provides another example that purports to be of a “key leftist” calling Imus a “conservative,” but the word conservative doesn’t appear anywhere in his example. The quote is from Air America founder Sheldon Drobny, who complained that some “idiot commentator” had called Imus a liberal, which is absurd. I’m not sure what point Maloney thought he was making by highlighting this quote. He either thinks it is self-evident that Imus is a liberal (which is absurd), or that saying that someone is “not a liberal” is the same thing as calling him a “conservative.”

Actually, it’s very common for people to be neither liberals nor conservatives in any meaningful sense of those words, and I’d say Imus is a good example. I think David Brock misspoke when he used the word “conservative” in conjunction with Imus. True conservatives are an endangered species in America these days. George W. Bush isn’t one, and I doubt Brian Maloney is, either. Most of the critters one bumps into these days who identify themselves as “conservatives” are really pseudo conservatives, per historian Richard Hofstadter. Imus doesn’t fit into any category neatly, but I’d say he’s closer to being a pseudo conservative than anything else.

Instapundit and Moe Lane of RedState chime in and express outrage that anyone would dare call Imus a “conservative.” Lane writes,

Not much else to say, except: frankly, you can keep him, guys. He ain’t one of us (although I fully expect the first round of duckspeakers claiming otherwise within the next twenty four hours); he’s your problem, so you deal with him. I don’t particularly feel like catering to your side’s delusion that all sin comes from the Right, so I shan’t; and I encourage my compadres to do the same.

The only links provided by Instapundit and Lane link either to each other or to Brian Maloney. So, basically, these fellas found one example of someone using the word “conservative” in a press release about Imus and they’re whining about all “leftists” everywhere. A number of other rightie blogs are joining this circus, and it’s possible one of them has come up with another example, but frankly I’m not terribly interested in sniffing this out any further. As I said, I wouldn’t call Imus a “conservative.”

At the same time, support for John Kerry in 2004 is hardly proof of anyone being liberal. By 2004 the two or three genuine conservatives left in America had abandoned George Bush. And since the principle and bedrock value of American liberalism is equality, a hard-core bigot like Imus cannot be a “liberal” any more than a cold-blooded critter that lays eggs can be a “mammal.”

Digby spoke to this “ideological confusion” yesterday.

I just had a conversation with a wingnut in which I was held responsible for Imus because the so-called liberal media were his strongest defenders so therefore, they are racists, which makes me a racist also. Did you get that logic? That’s where they’re going with this, folks.

I have written before about my pet peeve that people believe the mainstream media represent liberalism, particularly the alleged liberals of the punditocrisy. (Think Richard Cohen.) And because of this, they also don’t have a clue what “liberals” really believe in since politicians babble in politico speak and these sanctioned pundits and talking heads are so incoherent that they rarely make any sense.

Regardless of their designated perch on the media political spectrum, the fact is that these people are part of a decadent political establishment, which has almost nothing to do with liberalism anymore (if it ever did.) But the successful conflation of “liberal” and “media” has brought all the disgust at the pompous clubbiness of the media gasbags down on our heads and I resent the hell out of it.

Digby goes on to explain that she doesn’t particularly feel like catering to the rightie delusion that all sin comes from the Left. Amen, Digby.

Update
: See also Pam of Pam’s House Blend.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. norbizness  •  Apr 12, 2007 @10:49 am

    Did he just say “shan’t”?

  2. maha  •  Apr 12, 2007 @11:00 am

    He did say “shan’t”, and I have to admit I admire him for that. Now I feel compelled to work “shan’t” into a sentence somewhere.

  3. grannyeagle  •  Apr 12, 2007 @11:03 am

    I used to watch the Imus show when I lived in the Eastern time zone. It was funny at times and I think that’s the way he wanted his show to be. It amazed me that he could get away with some of the things he said because he did make fun of everyone, even his bosses at MSNBC. I concluded that he must have had a lot of influence to be able to do that. The positive side of that was the journalists and the politicians who came on his show were more relaxed and would make comments they would not make elsewhere. In other words they came across as human.
    Imus has referred to himself as a conservative. I found him to be fiercely independent and, yes, arrogant. However he impressed me as a man with a good heart and not mean-spirited in any way. He has been open about his past as an alcoholic and drug abuser. He also has a personality and temperament that is quick to anger. He “flies off the handle”.
    Most of the derogatory comments on his show were supposed to be funny and he allowed people to make fun of him too.
    This is not to defend Imus as I do not think his comments about the Rutgers team were appropriate but I hate labels and I prefer to see him as a human that makes mistakes. Conservative, liberal, what does it matter?

  4. Daniel DiRito  •  Apr 12, 2007 @2:33 pm

    Frankly, we are fast becoming the epitome of a Jerry Springer society. It seems to have become more important to have an audience and notoriety when confronting conflict than it is to attain resolve and mutual respect. That model seems to serve the needs of the exploited and those who seek to exploit; reinforcing all that relegates objectivity to the outhouse while making the frailty and imperfection of the human condition a spectacle that harkens back to the Coliseum.

    This situation isn’t and shouldn’t be about whether liberals or conservatives, this race or that race, hip hop or honky-tonk, one group or another, are more offensive and therefore more responsible for all that is wrong with America. I am not capable of judging the whole of Don Imus nor am I capable of crafting a recipe to fix all of America…and neither are the countless pundits and partisans who have sought to frame it so.

    I’m not a religious person…but I often find kinship with the imagery surrounding the portrayal of one called Jesus and his teachings of understanding and forgiveness. For all the banter I hear about the Bible and Christian values, it certainly seems to me that we are fast abandoning what many view as the sacred “tablets” in favor of the sacrosanct tabloids. If I’m right, all I can say is heaven help us.

    Read more about the dynamics that lead a situation to become larger than the sum of its parts…here:

    http://www.thoughttheater.com/2007/04/imus_bias_devils_heaven.php

  5. darms  •  Apr 12, 2007 @4:14 pm

    While GW may not be a “conservative” per se, he is most certainly a conservative Republican, a “Reagan on steroids” if you will, one who has been enabled by a rubber stamp conservative Republican congress. Governmnet by conservative Republicans according to their conservative Republican principles is why we’re in this smoking crater that used to be the US of A. I shan’t let anyone get away with this “Bush is not a conservative” crap, not if I can do anything about it. Dammit.

  6. bruce  •  Apr 12, 2007 @6:02 pm

    digby’s a she??

  7. teninchman  •  Apr 12, 2007 @6:09 pm

    Do’h!! I’ve been reading digby for over a year and I’d always assumed digby was male.

  8. justme  •  Apr 12, 2007 @6:16 pm

    For the record,speaking as someone who used to be up to watch the imus show in 1999/2000 it seems to me imus supported bush in 2000….it took him four years to smarten up, which at least makes a bigot look smarter than the majority of the country…lets not forget even a broken clock is right twice a day.
    I don’t belong to a party.And I am pretty hard to label so it really doesn’t matter to me who owns the imus circus…but what does matter to me is who is keeping this circus alive.
    I wonder, without looking it up if anyone,right,left or center can tell me how many troops have died since we stopped paying attention to the real world and decided to focus all of our anger on imus.Don’t get me wrong, there is no defense for imus or his nappy comments but for cripes sake, he said it to a women’s basketball team…the offense was against them why can’t we let THEM deal with it?It really is none of our damn business…yet here we are not talking about , sorry to say, things a lot more pressing that are going on in the world RIGHT NOW.The problem has been dealt with…He has been fired,destroyed…along with any chance for healing the wounds…the horse is dead,, the only reason to hook the carcass up and drag it behind the tractor is to avoid paying attention to the big dead pink elephants.The horse is dead, can we stop beating it now???
    imus said a rotten thing…now he is going to pay for it…why the hell is it none stop 911 style coverage on the news?What is the left hand doing why we watch the right?This is the dumbest thing I have ever witnessed from a bunch of people who I had hoped were smarter than me… somehow I wonder if anyone will be happy until imus is stoned to death in public…and to make stupid even bigger I just want to point out how many times the phrase “nappy headed ho’s ” was repeated by ever anchor on tv.. imus got fired for saying it but what will we give to the rest of the talking bobble heads for repeating it over and over and over???The medal of freedom perhaps???If the phrase was so friggin bad imus needs a public flogging then why not fire EVERY bobble head who repeated it???
    Yes the best reason to keep this story alive and well is to avoid talking about a lot of things the republicans would rather not talk about.The same reason I have seen instapud doing reviews on products on rough days.. they would rather talk about which toilet tissue absorbs more…
    And a tip to my left friends to ponder…if this is the “crappy people lotto” and we have to pick teams…if I were you I would agree to take imus and his stupid mouth over bush and his merry band of war criminals ANYDAY… The right OWNS that SOB and all he and dick will end up costing this great nation …and we will pay long long after imus has been forgotten….hmmm lets toss this on the scales….imus the bigot or king george and dick the war criminals…who would you pick if you had to?I guess we know who the right has chosen…
    It reminds me of the “racial draft” skit that Dave Chappelle did on his show only this would be the “moron draft”?…speaking of draft… isn’t there a war going on???

  9. Bonnie  •  Apr 12, 2007 @7:27 pm

    Regarding the myth of the liberal media, the only way I have been able to explain to friends is with graphics, which I do fairly well by hand; but, have not discovered how to demonstrate it here. I will give it a try; but will apologize if I blow every thing away. I just don’t do this tuff very well.

    ___________________________________________________
    RL L M C RC
    —————–

    RL=Radical Liberal
    L=Liberal
    M=Middle
    C=Conservative
    RC=Radical Conservative

    The people in the dotted line area are the people who whined about a liberal press; but, look at how much of any political thought is to the left of those people. I always thought the media was fair and balanced (dare I say that) and believed the whiners should have been ignored. No changes needed to be made to cover the news. But, we don’t have news any more; we just have entertainment.

    Well, I hope this shows up as it was typed. If not, most every one here are very talented and perhaps will be able to figure out what I was trying to show.

  10. Bonnie  •  Apr 12, 2007 @7:28 pm

    Well, it didn’t work.

  11. Steve M.  •  Apr 13, 2007 @12:28 pm

    You may already know this, but the L.A. Times gave a big boost to this line of argument today with “Democratic politicians lose a soapbox with Imus.” Sigh.

  12. fshk  •  Apr 13, 2007 @5:32 pm

    The only reason I can fathom for wanting to categorize Imus in any party is so that one group can say, “Imus represents the other guys, and we all agree he acted appallingly, ergo the other guys act appallingly.” Otherwise, why can’t we just say, “Imus is an overgrown teenager who crossed a line,” and leave it at that.



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