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Bill O’Reilly and selective memory

Birther Report has made a video available on YouTube that I found interesting. It is a segment by Bill O’Reilly criticizing Oprah Winfrey for a comment she made about the role of race in the criticism of Barack Obama.

O’Reilly took umbrage at that, saying that George W. Bush received much more withering criticism at the hands of liberals than Obama has at the hands of a small number of extremists. As someone who travels daily through the sewers of the birther movement, O’Reilly’s assessment sounds ludicrous. No one ever said that every detail of Bush’s biography was fabricated. I don’t recall anyone saying that Bush’s intent was to destroy the country. O’Reilly doesn’t count the birthers among Obama’s critics, rather marginalizing them as “extreme” and “kooks” and correctly pointing out that no one in the media takes them seriously.

O’Reilly tries to walk through this issue turn sideways. He mentions criticism against Kennedy because he was Catholic as a parallel to Obama being criticized for being Muslim—only Kennedy really was Catholic, while Obama is not Muslim.

More than 5 years later, it’s hard to remember and gauge the intensity of anti-Bush rhetoric. Thinking back, I do remember a few things. Illegal drug use is one thing about which there were criticisms leveled at both Bush and Obama. Sharon Bush, George W. Bush’s sister in law, was quoted by author Kitty Kelley as saying that George W. Bush took cocaine at Camp David when his father was President. Bush, asked about whether he had used cocaine or marijuana, famously replied: “I’m not going to talk about what I did as a child. It is irrelevant what I did 20 to 30 years ago.” President Obama candidly admitted in his biography using both cocaine and marijuana, albeit not cocaine as a high school student as some allege.

One of the more offensive things I saw directed at President Obama involved portraying him as a monkey. That said, I always thought George Bush looked like a chimpanzee. It wasn’t a criticism—I just saw the resemblance, as did others:

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http://www.obamaconspiracy.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/george-bush-chimp.jpg

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I’ve barely scratched the surface and readers might want to try a Google image search for more George Bush images. On the Obama front, we had one image that was given much more media attention because it was forwarded by a Republican Party official, captioned “now you know why no birth certificate.

It might just be my bias, but I see the Bush images as saying “Bush looks like a monkey” where the Obama image says “Obama is a monkey.”

Certainly no one found a pictures of someone that looked a little like Barbara Bush and then claimed that George W. Bush’s mother was a porn model and a slut. Is comparing Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11 to Gilbert’s Dreams from my Real Father appropriate?

I think that backed into a corner, Bill O’Reilly would have to admit that much worse things are being said about Obama than Bush; however, his argument is that the worst of the anti-Obama material is in no way mainstream, and is not a real part of the national dialog. That begs the question of where the national dialog is—on Fox news, or on a million Internet blogs and a billion email inboxes. I think O’Reilly’s argument is self serving, allocating to himself and his profession the only voice that counts.

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16 Responses to Bill O’Reilly and selective memory

  1. avatar
    Loren November 19, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

    Certainly no one found a pictures of someone that looked a little like Barbara Bush and then claimed that George W. Bush’s mother was a porn model and a slut. Is comparing Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11 to Gilbert’s Dreams from my Real Father appropriate?

    As a direct comparison, maybe not. But Fahrenheit 9/11 (or rather, the first half of the film) was AWFULLY conspiratorial for a popular film. It may not have descended into arguments about Bush orchestrating the WTC attacks, but it did try to draw ominous connections between the Bush family and the Saudis, and to suggest negative implications without actually stating them outright.

    So yeah, it’s no ‘Dreams From My Real Father,’ but it’s at least as bad if not worse than ‘2016: Obama’s America.’

  2. avatar
    Andrew Vrba, PmG November 19, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

    Oh, Bush was treated with kid gloves by comparison.

  3. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy November 19, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

    This article and http://www.obamaconspiracy.org/2013/11/the-most-important-evidence/ have really challenged my understanding of my own biases.

    I am hypocritical when I say to a birther “you’re an inconsequential crank because nobody takes you seriously in the media or the government” and then turn around and say towards O’Reilly that just because the mainstream media doesn’t report it, doesn’t mean that there is not rampant racism evidenced by the birther movement.

    Since I was a teenager, I have been a student of my own mistakes, and I’m still learning.

  4. avatar
    BatGuano November 19, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    “cooks”?

  5. avatar
    aarrgghh November 19, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

    doc: It might just be my bias, but I see the Bush images as saying “Bush looks like a monkey” where the Obama image says “Obama is a monkey.”

    it’s not just you. there is a context that’s been mentioned here before:

    aarrgghh: one of the two images posted has a degrading socio-historical context, a long chain in which some would prefer to believe they are not a link, while the other image does not:

    “The predominant colonial theory of race was the great chain of being… the idea that human races could be lined up from most superior to most inferior. That is, God, white people, and then an arrangement of non-white people, with blacks at the bottom. Depicted here in this image from 1579, originally published in Rhetorica Christiana by Didacus Valades … “

    “… This next image is a drawing that appeared in Charles White’s “An Account of the Regular Gradation in Man, and in Different Animals and Vegetables” (1799). On the bottom of the image (but the top of the chain) are types of Europeans, Romans, and Greeks. On the top (but the bottom of the chain) are “Asiatics,” “American Savages,” and “Negros.” White wrote: “In whatever respect the African differs from the European, the particularity brings him nearer to the ape.”

  6. avatar
    Pastor Charmley November 19, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    As one who has followed the 9/11 Truthers the way I now also follow the Birthers, I can assure you that there were those accusing Bush of seeking to destroy America. There were people who seriously believed that George W. Bush was going to mount a false flag attack as an excuse to cancel the 2008 Presidential election, declare martial law and make himself dictator for life.

    Four years later people were saying the same thing about Obama, prompting me to promise that if Obama did so, I would undertake to EAT him.

  7. avatar
    Pastor Charmley November 19, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

    In fact of course there is a lot of rhetoric about FEMA camps, martial law and the like which has been slotted into both Bush and Obama without much regard for the actual men in question. The switch was made very quickly by some folk. I still recall the answer of one “Truther” whom I pressed, saying, “If there is no false flag attack, will you admit that you are wrong?” After Obama was sworn in, the fellow said, “Obama is the false flag.” I retorted, “That’s incoherent, you know what you were saying, and now you are trying to wriggle out of it.”

  8. avatar
    Joey November 19, 2013 at 5:32 pm #

    There’s nothing new or unique about [insert a president’s name here] Derangement Syndrome. 18 presidents had assassination attempts against them (41%) and four attempts were successful.

  9. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy November 19, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

    Whether anti-Obama rhetoric tends to be more extreme and more frequent than anti-Bush rhetoric is a question that cannot be answered by memory or anecdotes, which is why I don’t get anywhere trying to answer the question for myself.

    I just finished Jesse Walkers’ book and one of the things I took away from it is that America has always been paranoid–and the paranoia spans all classes, albeit different classes are paranoid about different things.

    I suppose one of those university studies might help out. It would be nice to know if we’re seeing the same old paranoia (perhaps more visible because of the Internet) or whether we need to be afraid of something totally new.

  10. avatar
    Keith November 19, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

    BatGuano:
    “cooks”?

    Well, at least there is some justification that cooks, like the birthers and other anti-govern-mental cases, want to end America as we know it.

    Just walk down any street in the country.

  11. avatar
    Keith November 19, 2013 at 10:01 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy: I suppose one of those university studies might help out. It would be nice to know if we’re seeing the same old paranoia (perhaps more visible because of the Internet) or whether we need to be afraid of something totally new.

    Not exactly a University study, but pretty solid evidence that it is EXACLTY the same as its always been.

    Right Wing Radio Duck

  12. avatar
    jdkinpa November 19, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

    Depicting your political opponent in a visual derogatory manner has probably been around since the first cave paintings. I know that the first time I say Abraham Lincoln depicted as a monkey I was disappointed but not surprised. If you search long enough I’m pretty sure you will find some politician being called a monkey, or depicted as a monkey or a simian of some sort. And actually ole Abe does kinda look like a monkey, just like GWB.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=Abraham+Lincoln+Monkey&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=ISqMUoWbKsi3sATRsYCoCA&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAQ&biw=1077&bih=417

  13. avatar
    Woodrowfan November 19, 2013 at 10:41 pm #

    there is a bit of a difference. Showing Bush as a monkey is claiming he was stupid. Showing Obama as a monkey is claiming he’s not fully human. And I don’t remember Laura Bush being shown as an ape, but Michelle has been.

    Truthers claimed Bush caused 9/11, but how many were there among Democratic officials? There was Cynthia McKinney, but she lost her primary and left the Democratic party to become a Green. In contrast, there seem to be a lot of Birthers among Republican officials.

  14. avatar
    Steve November 19, 2013 at 11:29 pm #

    Woodrowfan:
    there is a bit of a difference.Showing Bush as a monkey is claiming he was stupid.Showing Obama as a monkey is claiming he’s not fully human. And I don’t remember Laura Bush being shown as an ape, but Michelle has been.

    Truthers claimed Bush caused 9/11, but how many were there among Democratic officials?There was Cynthia McKinney, but she lost her primary and left the Democratic party to become a Green.In contrast, there seem to be a lot of Birthers among Republican officials.

    I think Bill Clinton’s response to a Truther (“How dare you!”) as opposed to the “They-may-be-whackjobs-but-we-need-their-votes” treatment that Republicans give birthers pretty much says it all.

  15. avatar
    Lupin November 20, 2013 at 3:03 am #

    Respectfully, I think your thesis ignores the impact of the illegal Iraq Invasion.

    My sense is that prior to it, American liberals just put up with Bush, sighing and groaning, but generally not hate-filled.

    There was even a definite uptick in support after 9/11, despite the My Pet Goat incident.

    What sealed Bush’s fate in history and turned him into a war criminal (along with Cheney and Rumsfeld at the very least) was the illegal Iraqi invasion. At that point, the gloves were off.

    With this arguably equally illegal drone policy, Obama is also, in many’s people’s eyes, including mine, a criminal, but the fundamental difference is that the haters hate him not for his policies (unlike Bush) but for his race, religion, etc.