Herbert Dyer, Jr.

It was some of the most riveting television I have seen in years. On Tuesday, Sean Hannity was taken to the proverbial woodshed on his namesake show by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.).

The “interview” with Hannity, in Fox News' New York studio, and Ellison standing in the halls of the Capitol in Washington, followed a full five-minute montage of President Barack Obama’s recent statements about the looming “sequester.” That so-called “report” by Hannity was set up with his description of Obama as conducting “doublespeak” as he traveled the country explaining his position to the public. There was whimsical music playing in the background. There was a depiction of Obama speaking the same ideas and words in the various stops. And those words were actually overlaid upon each other and meant to make Obama appear foolish. Hannity called Obama “President Panic,” “Alarmist-in-Chief,” etc.

Cut to Ellison. Before Hannity had fully finished introducing the congressman, Ellison told him to this face that what Hannity had just portrayed was some of the “worst journalism” he had ever witnessed. He said that Hannity was not a “journalist,” that he was a “shill” for the Republican Party, and that everything he had said about Obama and the sequestration was a lie.

At first, Hannity seemed taken aback by the congressman’s attack, and, in fact, was for a moment, actually speechless. During his speechless period, Ellison went right on castigating Hannity personally and professionally. He told the golden boy of Fox News that he was “immoral” in his whole approach to party politics.

Hannity broke in with his standard, “I’m not a Republican” line. He went so far as to offer to bet $1,000 that he was not a registered Republican. “I’m a registered conservative,” he said.

Hannity finally interrupted Ellison again with his standard, “Can I ask you a question?” When Ellison would not back down, Hannity overtalked him as he always does to those whose views he does not wish to hear or to be heard by his “fans.” But Ellison made it clear that he understood well Hannity’s penchant for bullying people with whom he disagreed, and that he would not be bullied.


Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and all of the other right-wing talkers have taken the position that the last election means nothing. As far as they are concerned, Obama is still not the legitimately elected and reigning presiding officer of the United States.

As the “sequestration” fight reveals, once again, there is never going to be any program or policy proposal from Obama with which they will agree. To do so is to accept his legitimacy as president, and that they will not do.

The sad and dangerous thing about this, though, is that it is these guys who really run the Republican Party. These men and their subalterns demand homage from all Republican Party officeholders; a negative word from them can cost any Republican his or her seat.

I sometimes wonder why any Democrats at all even agree to come on these right-wing shows, knowing what’s in store for them. In the case of Ellison, this is not his first run-in with Hannity. So he knew what to expect and came prepared. In my book, he is a real Democrat, unlike the president, who appears ready to back down and compromise at the drop of a hat.

As for the sequestration battle, I am hoping that the president “stands his ground” and lets the cuts come down. When enough people begin squealing from the pain these cuts will cause, they will realize, finally, that it is and has always has been the Republican Party that simply does not care who gets hurt, as long as their class of personal donors do not.

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