Friday, February 11, 2011

Another non-violent Tea Partier gets eight years in prison for assaulting Obama supporter with pool cue

-- by Dave

Because, of course, Tea Partiers are just innately civil, nonviolent people who only want to reduce government spending:

Tea party member gets 8 years for attacking Obama supporter

A Gwinnett judge sentenced a tea party member to serve eight years in prison for attacking and hospitalizing a President Barack Obama supporter during a 2009 bar room altercation, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Jurors convicted Carnesville resident Larry Morgan, 39, of aggravated assault and two counts of aggravated battery this week for smashing several bones in the victim’s face with a pool cue on Jan. 31, 2009 — a few days after Obama’s inauguration. Deliberations took only an hour.

The single blow, which broke the pool stick in half, happened about 1:30 a.m. at Will Henry’s Tavern in Stone Mountain, said Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Taylor, who prosecuted.

The victim, Patrick O’Neill, then 24, was hospitalized for five days and endured a months-long recovery. He testified that he suffered numerous facial fractures, including a broken nose and orbital ethmoid bone, Taylor said.

“The pictures of his injuries were some of the most egregious pictures I have seen,” Taylor said. “(He) is very lucky to be alive.”

According to testimony, trouble began when Morgan was talking to other bar patrons about his negative feelings about Obama, when one of O’Neill’s friends said he had voted for the president.

Morgan replied, “Well, you are stupid as hell,” before making some racist comments or jokes, witnesses testified, Taylor said. All people involved were white, she said.

Later, O’Neill and his friend were laughing about or poking fun at Morgan’s comments when he became angry, fetched a pool cue and broke it across O’Neill’s face. The impact was so forceful that the victim had no memory of being struck or the circumstances leading up to it, Taylor said.

Morgan, who testified he considers himself a tea party member, told the court he was acting in self-defense. He claimed O’Neill and his friend had threatened “to beat him up in the parking lot,” Taylor said, recalling testimony.

There, you see! It's just another liberal plot to make Tea Partiers look like violent thugs.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Like Howard Beale on hydrocodone: Glenn Beck approaches final meltdown in extended angry rant

-- by Dave

There really isn't much to say about Glenn Beck's opening rant for his Fox News show yesterday. It really pretty much speaks for itself.

Which is to say: Better ready that nice rubber room for the pudgy guy.

It does feature what will no doubt become a classic line:

BECK: You want to call me crazy? Go to hell. Call me crazy all you want!"

See, this is like all those times Beck has pretended that he was asked his viewers, "What if I'm right?" He never seems to reckon much on the consequences of his being wrong.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

If multiculturalism is dead, what do its critics propose to replace it with?

-- by Dave

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Britain's new Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron, joined in what is becoming an increasing right-wing chorus in Europe proclaiming the failure of multiculturalism, coming shortly on the heels of German chancellor Angela Merkel's similar proclamation in October.

This, of course, pleases the cultural warriors at Fox News, especially John Bolton, who was on Greta Van Susteren's show last night proclaiming how right Cameron is.

For the sake of argument, let us concede at least that multiculturalism has developed some important flaws over the years, some of which the conservatives have identified. What none of these critics have explained, however, is what system of racial ethics they would champion in lieu of multiculturalism.

If multiculturalism is dead, what do they propose we replace it with?

Remember: As I've explained many times, multiculturalism -- a concept first proposed by the father of modern anthropology, Franz Boas -- was specifically a direct reaction against white supremacism, and eventually overthrew it as the dominant American worldview. Most American critics are coy about what they would replace it with -- though of course, there are some Nativists who are not: they want to resurrect the white-supremacist ethos that was dominant in America for much of the first half of the 20th century and before.

Nonetheless, it was a concept tailored for America -- in part because of the national "melting pot" that has been our history, and in part because Boas saw it as a specifically democratic ethos. This may go a long way in explaining why the Europeans are continuing to struggle with it.

Consider, for instance, Cameron's chief rationale invoking what he calls "state multiculturalism":

"State multiculturalism is a wrong-headed doctrine that has had disastrous results. It has fostered difference between communities," the Conservative leader said in a speech.

"And it has stopped us from strengthening our collective identity. Indeed, it has deliberately weakened it."

Cameron defined "state multiculturalism" as "the idea that we should respect different cultures within Britain to the point of allowing them – indeed encouraging them – to live separate lives, apart from each other and apart from the mainstream."

But that's the root of the problem, isn't it? Arriving immigrants in Europe are never treated -- either legally or culturally -- as real citizens, full participants in the society and culture. You can claim French citizenship, but if you're Muslim, no one in France treats you as a Frenchman.

Europeans have been distinctly slow -- indeed, expressly reluctant -- to assimilate their arriving immigrants, and this has ultimately driven the arriving cultures into insular enclaves, for their own self-protection and sustenance.

It's not so much that multiculturalism has failed in Europe as that Europeans have distinctly failed at being multicultural -- in many regards because of their own deeply embedded racial and cultural attitudes about arriving immigrants and their own native ethnic identities. And now, they're blaming that failure on the arriving immigrants instead of taking a good hard look in the mirror.

Sort of like the people like John Bolton, who made similar remarks about American immigrants. He also made a claim typical of revisionist right-wing jingoes:

BOLTON: I think it's absolutely fundamental in a country like ours, where we have always welcomed immigrants, we have insisted that they all go into the melting pot.

That's simply historically false -- at least, prior to the arrival of multiculturalism after 1950. Look, for instance, at how we treated Asians for years: We denied them citizenship and the right to naturalize as citizens until after World War II, forcing thousands of Asian immigrants to exist here in a kind of political limbo that only their children were able to climb out of, thanks to birthright citizenship (and yes, the Nativists of that era worked to deny those Asian-American immigrants that right, too, back then).

Moreover, it was a commonly held belief that Asians could never become "real Americans" -- "oil and water never mix" was the oft-heard explanation for this belief -- because they were deemed too "alien" to ever become full-blooded Americans and full participants in our society. Indeed, the term "illegal alien" was devised to describe Asian immigrants after the passage of the 1924 Immigration Act -- an expressly racist piece of legislation dubbed the "Asian Exclusion Act" (it forbade all further immigration from Asia) and the foundation upon which our modern immigration laws rest even today.

These views were based on the prevailing racial ethos of those times. It has been only since the rise of multiculturalism after 1950 as the gradually prevailing ethos that America began not only recognizing but welcoming immigrants of all races and ethnic backgrounds -- and actually assimilating them. Before multiculturalism, all immigrants faced real difficulties, and nonwhite immigrants in particular were kept out of the "melting pot" almost entirely.

So this again begs the question: If David Cameron thinks multiculturalism is a failure, what does he propose to replace it with? Does he favor the right-wing approach that ultimately favors white supremacy? Or does he have some hithero-unknown system of racial ethics in mind?

The rest of the world would like to know.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Birthright-citizenship bill stalls: Arizonans may be hesitating to invite another firestorm

-- by Dave

You know that plan by Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce -- the architect of SB1070 -- to push through legislation that would deny the children of undocumented immigrants their traditional American citizenship by birthright?

Seems it ran into a bit of an obstacle this week:

A bid to deny citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants faltered Monday when proponents could not get the votes of a Senate panel.

After more than three hours of testimony at the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, yanked the two measures. Gould said he lacked the backing of four other members of the Republican-controlled panel, which he chairs.

Gould said he will keep trying to secure votes. And Senate President Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, said, if necessary, he will reassign the proposal to a more friendly committee.

There was a lot of testimony about the bill, including an invited "expert" who urged the senators to pass the bill just so the state can immediately embark upon an expensive legal defense that they hope will go all the way to the Supreme Court -- where he predicts there will finally be "clarity" on the 14th Amendment's guarantee of citizenship to every person born on American soil.

But other than that, the committee heard nothing but criticism, including testimony from children begging them not to take their citizenship away, to a Democratic senator who wanted to know how people would prove their citizenship: Would they have to carry copies of their parents' birth certificates too?

However, I will just about guarantee that the testimony that convinced this committee full of Republicans to think twice before committing the state's taxpayers to this misadventure came from the business community:

The proposals also drew opposition from the business community.

Kevin Sandler, president of Exhibit One, said he worried about the message adopting such a law would send.

Sandler said his firm, which provides audiovisual equipment to courts across the nation, had to lay off six employees after some out-of-state firms boycotted Arizona businesses after lawmakers adopted SB 1070 last year. That measure gives police more power to detain illegal immigrants.

"We've created a toxic environment," he told lawmakers. "Businesses don't want to move here."

He said companies looking to relocate pay attention to the political climate in a state.

"What we've really done is create a not-open-for-business environment here."

And Glenn Hamer, president of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told legislators they should leave the question of citizenship where it belongs: in Congress.

Arizona's economy is completely in the toilet, far more so than in most other states. And while it may not be the chief culprit, the reality is that the furor over the immigrant-bashing SB1070 dearly cost the state -- not just with the boycott, which had a major impact, but with the dramatic loss of tourism dollars thanks to Republicans' incessant and hysterical fearmongering in defense of the bill.

And remember that Pearce already snookered his Republican colleagues by promising not to promote this bill in order to win his Senate presidency, and then promptly reneging on it. They demanded the promise because they know that their most important job should be resuscitating the state's economy, not trying to strip Latino children of their citizenship and embroiling the state in another disastrous controversy.

Oh well. Arizonans are getting what they deserve for electing these fools and cretins.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

DeVore, Fiorina Fight It Out For The Populist Prize By Joining Beck In Blaming Everything On Progressives

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Glenn Beck yesterday had on both of the Republican candidates in the California Senate primary, the winner of which race will be facing Barbara Boxer. And both Chuck DeVore and Carly Fiorina worked hard to curry Beck's favor, though it isn't hard to figure out which one won, judging by Beck's headline: "Is Chuck DeVore the next Scott Brown?"

Both interviews were essentially explorations by the candidates of Glenn Beck's favorite theme, to wit, progressives are the root of all evil in American life. This was especially the case in the interview with DeVore, who actively stoked Beck's fetish about Woodrow Wilson:
DEVORE: Well, Woodrow Wilson and people like Frank Goodnow, about 130 years ago, saw the Constitution as a roadblock to their plans for perfecting government and for basically ushering in a paradise on earth. And instead of what was set up by Madison to be a separation of powers, with the legislative, the executive and the judicial, because the Founders understood that people like power. And that you'll end up with tyranny in your country if you can't separate the powers.


BECK: I think the system is full of — it's riddled with a disease called progressive. If you've got cancer, no doctor says, yes start using filter tips cigarettes. They say no more cigarettes.

DEVORE: Right.

BECK: Progressives and the progressive idea are the cigarettes. So you tell me how to fix it.
Ah, nothing like a little eliminationism in the afternoon, is there?

Predictably, DeVore also revealed himself as one of those Patriot "tenthers" frequently promoted by Beck -- right-wing extremists who believe the Tenth Amendment gives states the ability to nullify federal law:
DEVORE: Well, first of all, we have to follow the Constitution. That's the very first thing that any lawmaker does when they get sworn in.


BECK: This audience won't, but most people say well, where aren't we following the Constitution?

DEVORE: Well, where do we start?

I think a good obvious place is Tenth Amendment. As a state lawmaker, I find my powers as a state lawmaker being short-circuited at the federal level.
As we've explained, these theories originated in the 1990s with the militia/Patriot movement.
Fiorina, in contrast, was perfectly corporate even as she tried to assure Beck that she really was a populist:

Mostly she did this by joining Beck in the progressive-bashing:
BECK: Yes, I understand that. But here's the — here's the problem.

We have — go back and read — I read it last night, Calvin Coolidge and his — first, his inaugural speech. OK?

He knew what the problem was. The problem was the progressives. The problem in Washington are the progressives. The problem in California, the progressives. And the progressives in the Democrat and the Republican Party.

FIORINA: Yes. And so —

BECK: Until you — until somebody stands up and says, "You know what, John McCain and Barack Obama had many of the same traits."
Beck clearly suspects that Fiorina may have such "traits" as well. Which is why the teabaggers are all lining up behind DeVore.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Stuart Varney is a lying scumbag. Just sayin'.

-- by Dave

Megyn Kelly invited the resident expert in all things British at Fox, Stuart Varney, on to discuss that sensational story from the Telegraph claiming that the Obama administration was selling British nuclear secrets to the Russians.

Of course, Varney believes every word of the story, even though it has in fact been pretty readily debunked. And lots more, too:

VARNEY: There's an increasing feeling in Britain that the American administration doesn't like the British, for whatever reason.

KELLY: What's the evidence of that?

VARNEY: Well, there's two symbolic items, and two more serious items. To first, the symbolism: The first act of President Obama when he walks in the White House -- send back a bust of Winston Churchill, the great statesman between America and Britain. Second --

KELLY: Why did he do that?

VARNEY: Because his father -- President Obama's father -- disliked the colonial administration in his native Kenya.

Varney then described the other supposed anti-British offenses: the White House's clumsy gift gaffe of presenting the Queen with an iPod; the administration's ardent prosecution of British Petroleum over the catastrophic Gulf oil spill; and now, the supposed nuclear-secrets release.

Kelly ran through these and actually demonstrated that they're all either nonsense -- such as the supposed "secrets" release, which has been debunked by the State Department (it seems we've been providing Russia with this information since 1991, and everyone has known about it) -- or otherwise perfectly explicable. But she was at a loss on the Churchill-bust charge, which Varney again asserted has convinced Britons that President Obama "dislikes" them:

KELLY: But the thing about the bust -- has the White House ever come out publicly to explain why they sent that bust back?

VARNEY: It was apparently because President Obama's father, who was a native Kenyan --

KELLY: Have they admitted that?

VARNEY: I believe that is out there. I've not read the formal statement. But an explanation was requested. And the explanation was that Obama's father, being a native Kenyan, disliked the British colonial rule in Kenya, which ended in 1963.

Now, the folks at Media Matters are more polite than I am. They called this a "fact-free Obama smear and a "betrayal of reality." Actually, this is just a flat-out baldfaced lie.

Because in reality, back when the explanation was requested, a very clear one was given by both the White House and the British embassy: The bust had been a loan to the White House that expired with President Bush's tenure and was simply due to be returned.

A British Embassy spokesman said: "The bust of Sir Winston Churchill by Sir Jacob Epstein was uniquely lent to a foreign head of state, President George W Bush, from the Government Art Collection in the wake of 9/11 as a signal of the strong transatlantic relationship.

"It was lent for the first term of office of President Bush. When the President was elected for his second and final term, the loan was extended until January 2009."

Varney is right in at least one respect, though: This theory linking the return of the bust to Obama's father and his Kenyan background has been "out there" alright -- floating around the GlennBeckosphere since at least last summer, when Beck adopted Dinesh D'Souza's cockamamie theory that Obama is secretly an anticolonialist, just like his father from whom he was utterly estranged and for whom he had no known affinity.

As Matt Gertz observes at MM, in a sane and rational world in which journalistic standards actually meant something, Varney would be fired for this kind of naked race-baiting:

That is an extraordinary and -- if true -- damning allegation. Such allegations, when made on an avowed "straight news" program, demand evidence. But Varney offered no evidence whatsoever. Instead, Varney portrayed his claim as conventional wisdom that is "out there."

One of two things is true: Either Fox News is sitting on a story that would be massively damaging to the Obama administration, or they are employing a hack who pushes libelous, evidence-free speculation during its news reports.

It's pretty obvious that Door No. 2 is the only one that's going to open. But at Fox News, it will almost certainly make no difference.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Monday, February 07, 2011

The Reagan Mythology: It has little to do with the man

-- by Dave

[H/t commenter Mugsy]

It was pretty hard this weekend to find anything but warm, gushing encomiums to Ronald Reagan on his 100th birthday anywhere on the teevee -- particularly at Fox, where the fawning coverage doubled as an opportunity to bash President Obama. The one exception was this brief report from ABC News' Jake Tapper.

While far from complete, it at least covers some of the more significant differences between the real president that Ronald Reagan was and the fake myths about him that have become enmeshed in right-wing conventional wisdom since -- and thus embedded as truth for mainstream media.

But really, this only points to the larger truth about this whole weekend's worth of praise for Reagan, which included a special halftime program at the Super Bowl, fergawdsake. As Charles Pierce adroitly observes:

By way of historical comparison, the centennial of Franklin D. Roosevelt's birth took place in 1982. The halftime entertainment at that year's Super Bowl -- the telecast not yet having been blown up to 96.5 hours -- consisted of Up With People singing a medley of Motown hits. Somewhere between those two events is something that says a great deal about this nation, not much of it encouraging. Maybe the NFLPA should change its acronym to PATCO and eliminate all confusion.

Much as Reagan himself was during his presidency, his image is now functionally just a stand-in for conservative-movement ideology. Whatever conservatives need him to be now, that's what the Reagan Myth stands for -- even though, as Jon Perr points out, today's Tea Partiers would call Reagan a RINO.

And that's why, as Will Bunch explores at length in his great book, Tear Down This Myth, there has evolved in fact a cottage industry around the mythologization of Ronald Reagan -- naming airports and boulevards and buildings after him, constantly burnishing his achievements, constantly celebrating various Reagan anniversaries, including slightly odd ones like his 100th birthday. This industry exists not to much to celebrate Reagan the actual president, but to embed conservative mythology in the nation's political landscape -- even after its disastrous consequences are made manifest:

There has always been a place for mythology in American democracy – the hulking granite edifices of the Capitol Mall in Washington are a powerful testament to that – but this nation has arguably never seen the kind of bold, crudely calculated and ideologically driven legend-manufacturing as has taken place with Ronald Reagan. It is a myth machine that has been spectacularly successful, launched in the mid-1990s when the conservative brand was at low ebb.The docudrama version of the Gipper’s life story, successfully sold to the American public, helped to keep united and refuel a right-wing movement that consolidated power while citing Reaganism – as separate and apart from the flesh-and-blood Reagan – for misguided policies from lowering taxes in the time of war in Iraq to maintaining that unpopular conflict in a time of increasing bloodshed and questionable gains.

As Bunch recently observed, in recalling the way the so-called liberal media attended to Reagan's funeral on bended knee:

The death of Reagan some six-and-a-half years ago, and the remarkable tenor – not to mention the depth -- of the news coverage, especially on cable TV news channels, marked something of a turning point. It showed the extent to which a vast content-hungry media world – much more extensive than when Reagan was president in the 1980s, when their main concern was the half-hour evening network newscast -- was eager to swallow the manufactured myths about Ronald Reagan, and thus honor what the unnamed TV executive told Hoagland, that “today history is what we say it is.” Any chance for an honest portrayal of Reagan and his presidency – the dangerous overreach of the Iran-contra scandal, the growing embrace of deficit spending (both in Washington and for credit-card-laden consumers), or even the positive idea that his greatest contribution to history was a heartfelt desire to rid the world of nuclear weapons (an idea out of step with modern conservative thinking) – has been tossed down the memory hole for the last decade.

What the American people have been news-fed instead has been an ideology loosely based on Reagan, called Reaganism – a notion that has led to the Tea Party’s hatred of anything involving government and the bogus ideas that taxes can only be cut or that diplomacy with America’s rivals is for wimps. With each passing election, more and more of the electorate is too young to have remembered or experienced the real Ronald Reagan, yet are searching for an idealized president based on these right-wing perpetrated fallacies. Many of the worst aspects of the George W. Bush presidency – more tax cuts for the rich, soaring deficits, and “axis of evil” bluster – were rooted in this legend of a man who wasn’t there.

My own recollection of Reagan was that he destroyed the Republican Party for moderate Republicans such as I was at the time, especially by empowering the Religious Right. It drove people like me out of the GOP, and we've never looked back.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Bill O'Reilly wants to assure us that Fox News isn't 'out to get' President Obama. Uh-huh.

-- by Dave

Bill O'Reilly phoned in to Fox News' Happening Now program this morning to talk over his interview with President Obama with Martha MacCallum retrospectively.

O'Reilly's real impressions sound like classic cases of projection: He thinks, among other things, that the president is "thin-skinned" and probably "self-centered." Indeed. Our impression of O'Reilly exactly.

And then he tried to pull a fast one:

MACCALLUM: I also want to get your thoughts -- at the very beginning of the interview, I appreciated that you took a moment to thank him, and to thank the administration, for some help that they gave us at Fox News in helping two of our colleagues, Greg Palkot and Olaf Wiig, and the whole thing kind of reminded me too of that moment, way back, when they talked about the fact that Fox News wasn't a news organization. And clearly we were treated in a very respectful way in this whole thing. I just wanted to get your thoughts on all that.

O'REILLY: Well, look, you have to understand that interview that we did yesterday was the most widely viewed interview of all time, because of the Internet -- you know, the moment it was done it was all over the world, everybody was looking at it. And I wanted people who don't know Fox News, and all they hear about is the liberal media defining us, to know that we don't have any personal animus against the president of the United States -- and he did, and Robert Gibbs and the State Department did really, really good work in helping Palkot and Wiig. That's the truth. So why not say that?

And why not say that to him? And I wanted him to get the message that, look, we're not out to hurt you. We the network. There might be guys like Hannity and Beck who really feel that you're not a good president and your policies are destructive. But we have other people on the staff who feel the opposite.

So, yes, Fox News is skeptical of President Obama, more so than the liberal networks, of course. We're not personally invested in hurting him and I think that that statement up top was true. It needed to be said. It was in the context of the event, and I'm glad I said it.

Of course they don't hate President Obama at Fox News. They just call publicly wish for him to fail and announce their intention to make him fail. They just call him a racist, a socialist, a fascist, a radical Marxist revolutionary, and an America-hater.

But hey, it's nothing personal. Really.

And those "staff" members who "feel the opposite"? OK, my guess is that they're all members of the janitorial staff. Because you'll sure as hell never see them on the air at Fox News.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]

Fox talkers use Reagan's birthday as an opportunity to bash Obama

-- by Dave

As you might imagine, Fox News was practically a nonstop Ronald Reagan 100th birthday commemorative channel over the weekend, with practically wall-to-wall coverage of events and speeches at the Reagan Library. And at times it was so maudlin that it was embarrassing.

Pretty typical of this was a segment yesterday featuring Greg Jarrett and Casey Stegall discussing the day's events, as Stegall gushed over what a moving tribute it all was, and Jarrett eagerly agreed.

And of course, this also meant that Fox couldn't miss the chance to bash President Obama by comparison. So immediately afterward, Heather Childers -- a new weekend co-anchor at Fox -- came on with a George W. Bush lackey named Christian Whiton, speculating about how Reagan might have handled the crisis in Egypt.

Interestingly, Whiton insisted that Reagan would have been on the side of the pro-democracy marchers because "he just believed in freedom that much."

Then he and Childers proceeded to slag Obama:

CHILDERS: You just mentioned 'tear down this wall' -- four words, changed the worlds, helping end Communism, and of course, the fall of the Berlin Wall -- those words, pretty straightforward, unlike President Obama's initial words to Hosni Mubarak calling for an 'orderly transition.' Did Obama do the right thing initially?

WHITON: No. And you know, Ronald Reagan also believed in being somewhat concise in foreign policy, especially the big goals. And he knew what was really behind the threats we faced -- he had spent the better part of three decades before he took office in 1981 thinking about the threat from Russia -- not just its more apparent manifestations like the Red Army in Eastern Europe, the Red Army in Afghanistan, ICBMs, but understood what drove it, the Communist ideology. And he understood that ultimate victory meant undermining Communism.

But in the same way, not only President Obama but his predecessor in the White House have not really made the same analogy of our current conflict. We haven't identified Islamism as the chief thing that unites groups from Al Qaeda to the Islamic Brotherhood, the Hezbollah. Nor have we figured out how to fight it, and President Obama, the Obama administration saying that it would be fine for the Muslim Brotherhood to be part of a future Egyptian government shows that our Washington foreign-policy establishment really doesn't understand today's threats the way Ronald Reagan used to.

CHILDERS: And while President Reagan had some dramatic successes, there still remain some questions regarding his policies with South Africa and apartheid. He maintained a constructive-engagement policy. Are there lessons to be learned from that in dealing with Egypt.

WHITON: There are. You know, President Reagan was a very principled person, but he was not a Boy Scout, nor should we want our presidents to be Boy Scouts. You know, one analogy, the Philippines was run by an autocrat, and we partnered with that autocrat, Ferdinand Marcos, out of necessity, because the bigger objective we were working toward was the defeat of Communism. But we still always behind the scenes and sometimes in front of the scenes put pressure on Marcos to reform politically, to liberalize. And then when the Filipinos took to the streets to demand his ouster, we helped facilitate that ouster. So you can work with unsavory characters, and unfortunately often you have to do that in diplomacy, but keeping your eyes on the bigger picture, which at that point was the defeat of Communism, and at this point ought to be the defeat of Islamism -- you know, keep your eye on that ball and you'll do OK. And I think Ronald Reagan knew that.

CHILDERS: It's so obvious from the ceremony today -- Ronald Reagan followed words with action -- he believed in being clear -- famously called for the Soviet Union, called it an 'evil empire' -- pretty clear words. Do you think Obama's problem is that he appears to waver, or was that necessary in the initial stages of the revolution going on in Egypt?

WHITON: Well, there was tremendous wavering at first, then the president came out and said a few positive things about democracy and freedom, but he has no credibility on that issue, and actions have not been followed with words. You can't say that and then turn around later and say that, you know, the Islamic Muslim Brotherhood ought to be welcomed into an Egyptian government. You can't welcome people into your political system who want to destroy that political system unless you're willing to have it be destroyed.

You know, Reagan backed up his rhetoric against the Soviet Union -- we supported freedom movements in the Eastern Bloc, we supported Solidarity in Poland, we fielded a 600-ship Navy, a Strategic Defense Initiative missile defense, all sorts of other things. So when President Obama, and frankly before him, with President George W. Bush, when they say nice things about democracy, people around the world judge us on our actions, not on our words, and frankly, actions haven't followed words as they did under the Reagan administration.

This is all just so incoherent that it's laughable. If Ronald Reagan was so clear and straightforward about dealing with threats to the United States, then how does Whiton explain the fact that Reagan secretly traded arms for hostages in his dealings with Iran?

Indeed, Reagan's "clarity" and obsessive focus on Communism at the expense of all other potential threats led to the Reagan administration financing and creating monsters who later became real threats to American security themselves. We can't forget, after all, that is was the Reagan administration that propped up the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein, against whom we later engaged not just in one but in two wars. Nor can we forget that it was the Reagan administration that underwrote the Afghanistan resistance that then gave birth to Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

But comparing Mubarak to Marcos is indeed worthwhile -- though not in the way Whiton seems to think. Because in fact the Reagan administration -- which had been Marcos' staunchest ally -- notoriously dithered while the "People Power Revolution" gathered. It was only when Marcos' removal became a fair accompli that the Reagan White House acted to help him remove to Hawaii -- absconding with millions of dollars in gold bullion certificates.

In contrast, the Obama administration has been a model of quiet consistency on the situation in Egypt, where it has been pushing Mubarak to liberalize consistently, and has been consistent in supporting the pro-democracy forces marching in the streets, as Whiton clearly believes we should.

Meanwhile, right on Fox News, we have right-wingers like Dick Morris arguing loudly that, in order to defeat Islamism -- which Whiton thinks is our top priority now -- we need to strongly support Mubarak and his thugs.

Really, right-wingers can't seem to be able to decide whether to crap or go blind when it comes to Obama and Egypt. The only thing they know: Obama Bad, Reagan Good.

[Cross-posted at Crooks and Liars.]