Ebert on the ‘Festering Fringe’

I’ve always admired Roger Ebert as a movie critic. When he and his partner Gene Siskel started reviewing films I always found my views aligning with the Ebert half of the aisle. As he and I have grown older, that alignment has only strengthened. Lately, Roger has also earned my respect as a political voice of reason. In a piece out this week, Ebert takes the fringe elements of today’s political society to task for their increasingly bizarre and worrisome tirades against the President, even in the face of logic and reason.

A great example of what Ebert’s talking about is today’s announcement that the United States and the city of Chicago lost the bid to host the 2016 Olympics. In the past week President Obama flew to Europe to throw his hat in for his country and try and convince the IOC that Chicago was the right place at the right time. As soon as the bid failed, conservatives all across the board cheered the loss and berated Obama for his failed attempt to bring the massive event home. This despite the fact that hosting the games would have undoubtedly been an economic boon for Chicago as well as the country as a whole. Tens of thousands of jobs would have been created, billions of dollars in revenue generated and goodwill for the U.S. spread around the globe.

Sadly, right-wing fringe hypcrites such as Michelle Malkin, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh would rather see shame come to our country and our President than have Obama be on the side of success. These gas bags have the gaul to root against their country in the midst of massive economic hardship simply because they want to spite Barack Obama. Self-indulgent children, one and all.

These are the very same fringe elements that have been whipping up fear and loathing against the young administration in the hopes of bringing it to utter ruin. They think nothing of ignoring facts and pushing their own agendas even in the face of massive contradictions, some of which they themselves have railed against in the past. They call Obama Hitler, they claim he’s not an American, they want you to believe he’s trying to brainwash your children or that he’s the most ineffectual President of the modern age. In his latest journal entry Roger Ebert speaks out:

“These beliefs are held by various segments of our population. They are absurd. Any intelligent person can see they are absurd. It is not my purpose here to debate them, because such debates are futile. With the zealous True Believers there is no debating. They feed upon loops within loops of paranoid surmises, inventions which are passed along as fact. Sometimes those citing them don’t even seem to care if you believe them. Sometimes they may not believe them themselves. The purpose is to fan irrational hatred against our president.”

He goes on to say:

“They are told to oppose, even hate, those who might be trying to help them. Leaving all ideology aside, who in his right mind doesn’t want an affordable health insurance plan for his family and his loved ones? Who doesn’t believe religion, any religion, does not belong in the schools? Who really thinks the census, which is a vital tool of democracy, represents some kind of occult threat? If census figures had been frozen 50 years ago, most of these people would be disenfranchised today. Who can seriously compare American president to Hitler? Who believes a man who attends church more regularly than any president since Carter is an atheist?

What is the benefit of this hate? What good can come of it? Where might it lead us?”

When an entire segment of the population roots against their President to fail (be it Bush or Obama), something is seriously wrong. I came to believe that George W. Bush was bad for the country, but never once did I wish him to fail in his mission to stamp out terror and keep the United States safe from violence. I longed for checks and balances to curb Bush’s disregard for the rule of law but I never abdicated insurrection against his authority. I believed him and his efforts were misguided but I never compared him to Adolf Hitler or cheered when the results of his actions had a negative impact on my country.

All of these things are happening now with Obama and his administration and we’re only 8 months into a 4 year term. What will the festering fringe be like a year, two years from now? How can “the center hold” in such an atmosphere? Occasionally there are voices of reason from the right as there were today with Joe Scarborough’s piece applauding the President for attempting to capture the Olympics, but they are a dying breed.

It seems like all the reasonable people in this country are hogtied in the back of an ’87 Buick, kidnapped by the lunatic currently at the wheel. The right thinks the driver is the President, but as most sane people can see the car is driven not by Obama but by the fringe elements of our society. As precious seconds pass, the car speeds up and careens towards certain disaster. It has all the makings of a blockbuster movie, but it’s one that neither I, nor Roger Ebert can recommend in the least. Thumbs waaaay down from the both of us.


  1. When I read “Festering Fringe” I got worried thinking you were going to agree with Ebert about some scathing review of “Fringe” the TV show. I was relieved that wasn’t the case. LOL

  2. A hypocrite commenting on hypocrisy. Classic, Ged. None of the criticisms of Bush were ever “tiresome” were they? None were the product of a “fringe”?

    I don’t blame Obama for the Olympics, but I also know that if Chicago had won, liberals like you would use that as more evidence that Obama is Jesus Christ.

    There is a mirror in your house, I’m sure. Maybe you should look at it sometime and see if you can find your integrity.

  3. Spag, I don’t recall us liberals ever hoping Bush would fail. We just wanted him not to be such a sorry excuse for a world leader. We wanted him to succeed at leading a nation, instead of merely at being a clueless frat-boy.

    And, as memory serves, under your guy, your team felt that giving the Prez anything less then fervent, full-throated support was treason. Guess when the shoe’s on the other foot, that rule goes out the window.

  4. Atomant,

    Indeed an interesting piece, but I think Brooks actually proves his theory is incorrect. Just because the masses didn’t go out and get their guy into the primary or Rush’s minions didn’t vote for Hillary, it doesn’t mean they don’t have sway over the GOP. Brook’s last paragraphs are proof that intentional or not, Rush, Beck, Malkin and the rest are driving the direction of the GOP.

    When Beck goes on the air and uses his position on FOX News to organize a rally of tens of thousands of people (1.5 million if you believe the right-wing) and when no self-respecting GOP senator is willing to cross Rush in the media without apologizing for it days later, then those figures have influence.

    I don’t doubt that they have less sway in the center-right than they do on the fringe, but the problem is that every day that passes with the amount of hate being spewed towards the administration, the fringe grows and grows.

  5. I would contest that the idea that the Olympics would produce an economic boon, as evidenced in this article: http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/02/do-olympic-host-cities-ever-win/?scp=6&sq=olympics&st=cse, filled with exactly the arguments that any responsible conservative (a group that wouldn’t include Limbaugh or Beck) would use against bringing the Olympics here. Despite the inherent gag reflex provoked by any issue championed by these morons, I don’t think rooting against the Olympics is inherently an unpatriotic act.

    More directly to your argument, I think you have to characterize Obama’s Olympics pitch as a massive public relations mis-step. It plays directly into the most damning narrative about him: that he’s a guy that injects himself into situations he knows nothing about. And since it’s too early to get a substantive read on whether his other initiatives–the stimulus, auto bailout, or health care efforts–are successes, this works as a pretty good (and damaging) metaphor. Whoever told him Chicago was a front-runner in this Olympics voting is someone he should never listen to again.

    Finally, regarding Brooks’ column, I think he’s dead-on: the right-wing nut jobs get a lot of media attention, but speak for a smaller group than they themselves proclaim, provable by the sheer number of election initiatives they champion, yet fail to pass. The GOP’s problem is the lack of reasonable-sounding party members (which do exist) that have been willing to speak up. Whether they decide to before 2012 is anyone’s guess, but it would be a healthy thing for both parties if that happened.

  6. Let’s try that first sentence again:

    I think it’s arguable–and in fact, fairly conclusive in the negative–that the Olympics would provide an economic boon to its host city and country. As evidence…

    (Wish more blog comments had an ‘edit’ button!)

  7. I’m not very familiar with Michelle Malkin, but I stopped listening to Rush a long time ago, just can’t stand the guy. Ditto on Glenn Beck. Ha! I would call them opportunistic, reactionary, hysterical gas bags actually, and I don’t know who listens to them. Anybody who sells Gold Bond powder … I was sad when Chicago didn’t get the olympics, but I was also irritated that Obama went himself to try to get it. I just feel like there are bigger fish to fry for a president in any kind of times, and in these times especially.

    The loyal opposition

  8. “This despite the fact that hosting the games would have undoubtedly been an economic boon for Chicago as well as the country as a whole.”

    Does anyone other than politicians really think so? All other Olympics in recent memory have cost billions of dollars that was never made back while disrupting local industry, displacing residents (see Beijing), and leaving behind monstrous facilities that had no economically viable use afterwards. Montreal 1976 was such a financial disaster that the city *just* finished paying it off, 30 years later.

  9. What is the benefit of this hate? What good can come of it? Where might it lead us?”




    the hatred, from both sides, has led us to where we are right now. and where is that?we are citizens of a once great nation that is dying. hope you enjoyed your stay.

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