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Monday, February 19, 2007

Alan Colmes Unleashed?

Just got "The Smirking Chimp" (see link on sidebar) delivered to my email, and the first thing I opened was this unusually tame liberal look at Alan Colmes, famed pussy of the liberal persuasion of "Hannity & Colmes" on the Fox News channel. Steve Young paints a sympathetic portrait of the beleaguered Colmes, fighting the good fight to get his progressive point across in a boiling sea of neocon neanderthals, who deride him regularly with remarks that he's their "favorite liberal."

Now, I am not one of those who believes that Colmes is a Fox plant. I believe he is a genuine progressive, albeit one with an exceedingly high tolerance for bullshit and a maddening philosophy that to get ahead, you've got to get along, even if it's with the likes of goons like Newt Gingrich.

"I believe it's better to put out fires with water, not with more fire," says Colmes when asked why he doesn't adopt a more aggressive approach akin to the pitbull style of his cohost.

Which in and of itself is not a bad philosophy, actually. Done well, and in the right context, it can be very, very effective, as the success of Al Franken's show and books attest-bury them with facts, as well as evidence of their own deception, and let your arguments stand on their own. The problem with it in Colmes' case is that it is neither done well (Colmes is far too conciliatory), nor is it in the right context. This is an important point that seems lost on him, as well as, apparently, Steve Young, the Chimp's blog author.

The point of "Hannity & Colmes" is not to compare liberal arguments to conservative ones. Nor is it even to compare Hannity to Colmes. Remember, we live in a bizarro world where the electorate freely admits that John Kerry and Al Gore are smarter and make better points, but they still elected George Bush. Why? Because-at least until recently-they liked his bravado. His machismo. His ability to project that he is correct in any situation, and to dismiss any opponent with a smirk. No, the point is not to compare viewpoints, but to compare what the voting populace apparently finds more compelling-styles of leadership. With conservative Hannity cast as the arrogant fire-breathing dragon and liberal Colmes as the calm, thorough Professor Milquetoast, it really doesn't matter who makes the best intellectual argument or how much Fox ensures that each commentator is given equal time (in fact, the more time spent on Colmes, the better, in this model). The impression the largely illiterate, gum-chewing, tobacco-spitting audience of Fox is left with is that conservatives are bold and decisive (with larger cocks) and liberals are (sexually inadequate) intellectual weenies.

So Alan Colmes can continue to delude himself that he is "bringing a liberal voice to Fox in a style that reaches many with a conservative mind-set that would otherwise never hear it." The fact is that in doing so he is also cementing the image of a cautious, conciliatory weasel that Ruport Murdoch is so eager to have broadcast into millions of homes every night.

Thanks, Alan, and oh, by the way, I hear that John Doe #410 at the LA County Coroner's office returned your call and is willing to fill in for you next week (couldn't do a much worse job than Chuck Norris, I suspect). He shouldn't miss a beat. Your listeners will never be able to tell the difference.

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