THERE'S A GOOD CHANCE that if you read this magazine, you've never heard of left-wing radio talker Randi Rhodes. Consider yourself lucky. I used to listen to Randi Rhodes periodically when she had a show broadcast in South Florida. I considered her to be obnoxiousness personified, but then again, I doubt she's much of a fan of my work. Besides, people have some strange tastes. How else could one account for Michael Bolton's one-time popularity?
In recent years, Rhodes took her act national when she boarded the broadcasting Hindenburg known as Air America. Because joining Air America is roughly tantamount to entering the witness protection program as far as achieving fame is concerned, Rhodes never did become the liberal Limbaugh that her ardent fans figured she would.
But she does have ardent fans. While most of the American public has no idea who Randi Rhodes is, there are people on the left who hang on her every bile-drenched syllable.
Earlier in the week, misfortune befell Rhodes. According to the Daily News:
Rhodes' lawyer told the Daily News she was injured in a fall while walking her dog. He said she's not sure what happened, and only knows that she fell down and is in a lot of pain. The lawyer said Rhodes expects to be back on the air Thursday. He stressed there is no indication she was targeted or that she was the victim of a "hate crime."
That last part about the "hate crime" doesn't reflect that Congress, having almost completed adjudicating the Armenian Holocaust, has taken time out of its busy schedule to extend "hate law" protection to radio talk show hosts and other members of the punditocracy. Rather, it is an acknowledgement that in the hours following Rhodes' mishap, the progressive part of the political spectrum immediately accused conservatives of having mugged Randi Rhodes in order to silence her brave voice.
Rhodes' Air America colleague, Joe Elliot (whoever he is), got the conspiracy ball rolling on the air, querying his dozens of listeners:
"Is this an attempt by the right-wing, hate machine to silence one of our own?" he asked on the air, according to Talking Radio, a blog. "Are we threatening them? Are they afraid that we're winning? Are they trying to silence intimidate us?"
When the truth came out that Rhodes was a victim of her own clumsiness rather than a vast right wing conspiracy, Elliot (whoever he is) was appropriately contrite. In a written statement, Elliot (whoever he is) allowed, "I shouldn't have speculated based on hearsay that Randi Rhodes had been mugged and that it may have been an attack from a right wing hate machine. I apologize for jumping to conclusions based on an emotional reaction."
END OF STORY, RIGHT? If you thought that, you don't know the modern progressive movement. The Daily Kos diarists haven't allowed the truth behind Rhodes' accident to mitigate their anger. Kos diarist WinSmith, in a remarkably ignorant and intellectually incoherent essay even by Daily Kos standards, defended the progressive rush to judgment:
Who assassinated John Kennedy (D), Robert Kennedy (D) and Martin Luther King? Was it "liberals"? I think not When talk show personalities paint one side of the aisle as a "Fifth Column," as threatening to destroy the country from within, as threatening the very fabric of America, don't be surprised when unhinged listeners take it upon themselves to "do something" about it.
So if we jump the gun and assume another unhinged "patriot" fired up by Sean Hannity's hate speech decided to "do something," it's a god damned reasonable assumption. (Bold face in original)
Obviously WinSmith doesn't have his historical data completely straight. The fact that he has drafted Lee Harvey Oswald and Sirhan into the conservative movement indicates a high level of factual confusion.
Not to mention dishonesty. Air America personality Joe Elliot (whoever he is) was at least honest about having botched the facts. The Kos diarist opted to fall back on Dan Rather's cherished "fake but accurate" defense. According to WinSmith, Sean Hannity has sent his hate-filled minions into battle. In WinSmith's fevered mind, that they had nothing to do with Randi Rhodes' stumble shouldn't obscure the fact that the Hannitized legions are out there, just waiting to visit violent mischief on pure-hearted progressives. Of course, WinSmith doesn't offer any evidence of Hannity or other assorted "wingnuts" urging their listeners/readers to violence.
This entire sordid tale fairly drips with irony for those familiar with the most extreme progressives and their lust for their political enemies' blood. When Tony Snow's cancer recurred and when a rumored assassination was made on Dick Cheney, many progressives disgraced themselves and their movement as they cheered the thought of each man's potential demise. Unlike WinSmith's broad assertions, these historical facts can be easily gleaned via a painful romp through the Huffington Post's or the Daily Kos's archives.
But yes, it is easy to see why those lovable and peaceful progressives instantly believed without any foundation that those violence-crazed conservatives had attacked Randi Rhodes. Projection anyone?
Obviously, each side of the political spectrum has its extremist lunatics. The only difference between conservatives and liberals is that on the conservative side, such people loiter on the margins. On the liberal side, when they hold a convention, all the Democratic presidential candidates come running.
Dean Barnett is a staff writer at THE WEEKLY STANDARD.