The right-wing apologists are out in force to defend Rush’s horrible comments (and actions — you can check out Rush’s mimicing of Fox’s movements here) about Michael J. Fox’s “performance” on several ads for Democratic candidates that support embryonic stem cell research. Sean Hannity appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America and largely lied about the records of those against whom Fox has been campaigning, saying that Fox would only support Democratic candidates (in fact, he made a similar ad for Arlen Spector, Republican of Pennsylvania, in 2004), that he was a hypocrite for supporting Maryland Senatorial candidate Ben Cardin because Cardin supposedly “voted the opposite way” that Fox would have wanted (actually, Cardin voted to amend the Public Health Service Act to provide for human embryonic stem cell research), and numerous other distortions.
This is just public record, folks. Hannity and the other right-wing hatemongers know that people aren’t going to be looking up this stuff, particularly the people that they hope to affect with their comments. It’s not about getting swing voters at this point, it’s about minimizing the damage. This talk, not to mention the racist ads being run against Harold Ford Jr. is all about motivating the base. If the talking heads can get the GOP’s base to the polls on election day, they just might tip some elections, and November 7th won’t look quite like the total rejection of the Bush playbook that it would otherwise seem to indicate.
This is all about allowing the GOP base to “feel OK” about hatred. If Limbaugh and Hannity and others, very visible and public figures, can say these sort of baseless things about otherwise good people, then millions of Americans who follow them will think it’s totally OK to behave this way too.
I would think a majority of these people, this large part of the GOP’s base, consider themselves Christians. But I ask them, would true Christians behave like this? I know politics can get very dirty, and it’s all part of the game, but let’s not forget that this was part of the GOP game plan all along for this election cycle. They said it outright. We are going to dig up every bit of information we can on our opponents and use it to smear them. Very Christian of them.
So what did Michael J. Fox have to say to all the hateful speech being directed at him from the authoritarian conservative right? It’s called turning the other cheek, and here is what it looks like: “It is hard for people and I understand, it’s difficult for people who don’t have Parkinson’s or don’t know about Parkison’s to understand the symptoms and the way they work and the way medication works. You get what you get on any given day.”
Hannity, Limbaugh, Levin, Savage, Coulter & Ingraham could all take a lesson there.
Hannity said on GMA, “I think this Michael J. Fox [ad controversy] is going to backfire… I think the race ultimately is going to be decided on issues: national security, immigration, taxes. And when people focus on that, I think it benefits the Republicans.” Gee, that’s exactly what the Democrats tried to do in 2004, and it didn’t work out too well for them did it? Apparently, Hannity is wrong here too though. A study conducted among 955 Americans by HCD Research and Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion (MCIPO) during October 24-25, obtained Americans’ views on the stem cell research before and after they watched the ad (I am quoting a lot of text from the article here because that Yahoo link will only be valid for a couple weeks, as usual). The participants included self-reported Democrats, Republicans and Independents. They were asked to view the ad and respond to pre-and post-viewing questions regarding their opinions and emotions concerning the ad. Here are the findings:
Among all respondents, support for stem cell research increased from 78% prior to viewing the ad, to 83% after viewing the ad. Support among Democrats increased from 89% to 93%, support among Republicans increased from 66% to 68% and support among Independents increased from 80% to 87% after viewing the ad.
- The level of concern regarding a candidate’s view on stem cell research increased among all respondents from 57% prior to viewing the ad to 70% after viewing the ad. Among Democrats, the level of concern increased from 66% to 83% and Republicans’ level of concern increased from 50% to 60%. Independents’ level of concern increased from 58% to 69%.
- The perception that the November election is relevant to the U.S. policy on stem cell research increased across all voter segments, with an increase of 9% among all respondents pre- and post-viewing from 62% to 71%. The Democrats’ perception increased from 75% to 83%, Republicans’ perception increased from 55% to 62% and Independents’ perception increased from 60% to 68% pre- and post-viewing.
- The advertisement elicited similar emotional responses from all responders with all voter segments indicating that they were “not bored and attentive” followed by “sorrowful, thankful, afraid and regretful.”
- The vast majority of responders indicated that the advertisement was believable with 76% of all responders reporting that it was “extremely believable” or “believable.” Among party affiliation, 93% of Democrats 57% of Republicans and 78% of Independents indicated it “extremely believable” or “believable.”
Respondents were asked to indicate what candidate they would vote for in the U.S. House of Representatives election if it was held today before and after viewing the ad.
- Republicans who indicated that they were voting for a Republican candidate decreased by 10% after viewing the ad (77% to 67%). Independents planning to vote for Democrats increased by 10%, from 39% to 49%.
Rush later refocused his attack and said that Fox was just shilling for Democrats, and they were taking advantage of victims like Fox to further their own agenda. Fox responded to that yesterday. In an interview with Katie Couric (one that answers all the questions the right-wingers have been asking), Fox was asked about the “rocking effect” seen in the ads.
That’s caused by the medication. What happens is when you I’m 15 years out from diagnosis, one of the problems with medication, one of the reasons they are looking for cures particularly for Parkinson’s is that the medication only has an efficacy that lasts so long and then at a certain point it ceases to, or it works with horrible side effects, which is the dyskinesia that you see. But on any given day, I can’t design where I’m going to be at any given time. You just take the medication and hope for the best. If it’s humid that day, if you get stressed that day, if you eat the wrong thing, if you have too much protein, it doesn’t kick in. It’s just part of living with this. It’s funny the notion that you could calculate it for a fact. People with Parkinson’s out there, we’re just kind of god, would that we could.
Couric then asked him, couldn’t you have done the ad when the dyskinesia was at a “low point?”
Well, when do you know that’s going to be? You don’t know when that’s going to be. Funny, my mother was visiting that day, was in the backroom and she was saying throughout the filming of it — and she was talking to my friends back there– and she was saying “he’s trying so hard to be still” and so she was the one actually when the comments were made, she was the only who was really angry and she said “I can’t even see straight.” I said “Mom, just relax, it’s okay, don’t worry about it.”
I strongly encourage anyone who believes that Fox was “faking it” to read the interview at the link above. Hopefully it will be very enlightening. The outrage against Rush and Hannity’s defense of him is justified, but I have to think that if the Democrats do return to power in less than two weeks, that a prime mission of theirs should be to restore some decency to government — to stop the political bickering that trickles down from the White House and the halls of Congress. It’s about time Congress started looking after the country’s business again instead of the political pandering. Do we really need to worry about flag burning or creating legislation for a 700 mile wall on the southern border that has not even been funded and will never be built? I have no idea if government can even be effective in helping usher in a new era of civility. Perhaps it’s not up to them. But it’s a good place to start. It certainly won’t harm anything, and it could do a lot of good and get this country back on track. Imagine a country where citizens have faith in their government to do the right thing? I wish I could. I can’t right now, but I hope to someday soon.