Like Walter Cronkite, conservative media stars fight an economic Vietnam.
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And so back to today.
Be careful what you wish for, goes the familiar warning. Too late liberals are going to learn this lesson of life yet again. Having gloried in the role Walter Cronkite played in bringing down a president and in changing the course of American history, liberals are suddenly aghast at the realization Rush Limbaugh and his friend Sean Hannity — as powerful today as Cronkite was in 1968 if not more so — could have in slowly but surely impressing on Americans the idea that Obama and his party are setting the country up for an economic Vietnam. A quagmire that threatens to mire generations of Americans in an endless jungle of debt and poverty generaled by bureaucrats, lobbyists and left-wing activists.
One other interesting aspect of all this. In the aftermath of his broadcast against the war, Walter Cronkite was quietly invited to lunch by Senator Robert Kennedy in RFK’s Senate office. Kennedy was on the verge of announcing his own candidacy against LBJ but had yet to do so. Cronkite, of course, pulled aside his mask of objectivity and encouraged him to run. But there was something else on Bobby Kennedy’s mind that day. According to Cronkite himself, writing years later, Kennedy looked the anchorman in the eye and said: “We want you to run for the Senate this year.” “We” meant the Democrats in New York, where Republican Senator Jacob Javits was up for re-election. Demurely, Cronkite declined.
This was, in retrospect, a very significant moment in terms of where we are today. All by himself, sitting in front of his camera in New York, Cronkite had made a serious negative impact on the major foreign policy of a sitting president. More of an impact, certainly, than most U.S. Senators of the day could muster. In other words, in a “race” between the power of a president and that of a television anchor, the TV anchor had at least as much clout. Perhaps more when it came to Vietnam. Certainly Walter Cronkite the anchorman had very much more clout than a potential Senator Walter Cronkite.
This point is even more obvious today. The recent shenanigans involving then-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich pondering the appointment of Oprah Winfrey to the vacant Obama Senate seat is but one case in point. Even Blago found himself realizing that for Oprah to go to the Senate would in fact be a step down. In today’s world, certain media figures have at a minimum as much influence as a Senator or Governor — and even the president at any given moment. The other evening Fox’s Greta Van Sustern asked Bill O’Reilly if he was thinking of running for the U.S. Senate in New York in 2010, a question that O’Reilly quite correctly answered by noting that he had a bigger audience than most Senators.
This is true of others in the media as well, with conservative talk radio stars like Mark Levin, Glenn Beck and Laura Ingraham far outstripping the clout of a great many elected politicians. Which is, of course, why liberals are determined to silence them all with the “Fairness Doctrine” or a laughably deceitful call for more “localism” in radio.
Why does President Obama single out Rush Limbaugh? Why has he attacked Sean Hannity? Because a long time ago Walter Cronkite demonstrated in vivid fashion exactly what is possible when a popular and trusted member of the media successfully opposes a president’s program. It is surely true that even Walter Cronkite could not know exactly what he had unleashed on that long-ago February night 41 years ago.
But unleashed the power of an anchorman now surely is. It wasn’t supposed to be this way, of course. If he had understood at the time the forces he was letting loose on the American political scene, Walter Cronkite would surely have wanted those forces directed by liberals. ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos clearly has taken up the spirit of Cronkite, apparently having been caught quite nakedly plotting daily political strategy with his Clinton pals in the media and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. (Will Stephanopoulos be fired for such an obviously gross crossing of the line between being an “objective” journalist and a wild-eyed political partisan? Nahhhhhhhhhhh. You kidding? The only problem here is he got caught.)
Liberal domination of the media in the modern world didn’t work out quite the way it was supposed to.
Which is why President Barack Obama knows that unlike President Lyndon Johnson, he cannot afford to sit quietly and just ignore the man who is quite effectively his opposite number in the media. LBJ publicly ignored Walter Cronkite even as he understood in his gut exactly what Cronkite’s opposition meant not only for his policies but his own re-election. Failing to take Cronkite on, LBJ lost both his presidency and his Vietnam policy. Obama is clearly not going to be quiet as his policies are picked apart in lacerating detail by the man who is, in effect, the heir to Walter Cronkite.
The President knows that the biggest threat to the success of the Obama-Biden administration — even when they get legislation passed the way they want it — is the opposition by what is effectively the Limbaugh-Hannity administration. So Obama does what he has to do: he attacks.
Americans simply cannot “just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done,” says the new president.
Wanna bet? It worked for Walter Cronkite.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online