I think Sean ("dumbest man on TV") Hannity has gone over the edge. I really do. We're four days out from the election and McCain hasn't been able to meaningfully close the gap—indeed, Obama seems poised to close the deal in key swing states. Further, it appears that today's tide of anti-Dubya-ism, in conjunction with the economic meltdown, may cost a fair number of GOP incumbents their jobs in various Congressional and gubernatorial races. I think Sean Hannity sees all this and is almost apoplectic. I think Sean Hannity, who never figured it would "go this far," has watched the Obama train steam merrily on, picking up speed the whole way, and old DMoTV doesn't quite know what to do with himself.
So maybe he figures his last remaining strategy now is to get "the base" so worked up that some leering right-wing extremist will take Obama out between now and Tuesday, no doubt screaming "God and country!" as the Secret Service shoots him or drags him away.
I can't think of anything else that would explain, say, last night's show. Hannity had apparently gone to some trouble to obtain a copy of William Ayers' 1974 revolutionary manifesto, Prairie Fire, and did an excellent job of being aghast at what he read there. He cited in particular the book's dedication page, which includes RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan among a list of "political prisoners." Hannity then spent much of the show making an inferential argument that went as follows:
1. Forty years ago, Sirhan Sirhan shot Robert Kennedy.You betcha! Barack Obama is a man whose tacit agenda is to undermine democracy; why, he may even be capable of assassinating honest-to-goodness American heroes in hotel kitchens! (Warning to John McCain: You better watch your back when Obama's around.) Incidentally, if you're a Kennedy fan, I hope you enjoyed Hannity's encomiums last night because it's the first and last time you'll ever hear him cast a liberal like Robert Kennedy as a martyr. But of course, RFK served Hannity's larger purposes in the moment.
2. Thirty-four years ago, William Ayers wrote a book in which he categorized Sirhan Sirhan as a "political prisoner."
3. Thirteen years ago (by which time Ayers had reinvented himself as a college professor, and a highly lauded one at that), Barack Obama was in Ayers' living room. Ergo:
4. Barack Obama is a dangerous, dangerous man.
I thought about this a lot and concluded that it can't be an urgent 11th-hour appeal to Undecideds, because Undecideds don't watch Hannity and Colmes. Not even many liberals, I think, watch Hannity and Colmes, despite the nominal presence of Alan Colmes. (This is an obviously biased presentation on Bill O'Reilly and FOX as a whole, but the numbers appear sound, and I think the overall argument is valid.) The folks who watch H&C, which nightly presents the most one-dimensional, stick-figure view of politics and life anywhere on television*, are overwhelmingly conservatives. Colmes is there mostly to serve as a foil for Hannity. You can tell by the topics they cover...and the ones they don't. The show never ventures very far into terrain that could be embarrassing or counterproductive for conservatives. You will not, for example, see an H&C show that explores the Keating 5 or McCain's infidelities or his relationship with G. Gordon Liddy or certain non-heroic aspects of McCain's heroism or any of the general substance of the recent Rolling Stone bio. In this election cycle, H&C has picked topics that are problematic for Democrats and Obama, period. Colmes' job is to put up a (generally mild) defense, and give Hannity the openings he needs to make his inflammatory points. The typical H&C topic is along the lines of: "Barack Obama: Is He Really a Communist Sociopath Who Will Destroy America? You Decide." Or, "If the Democrats Gain Control of Both the White House and Congress, How Far into the Toilet Will the Nation Go? A Fair and Balanced Look."
Hence, the thrust of my argument: Sean Hannity knows who his audience is. To this point, Sean has tried everything he can think of to assassinate Barack Obama's character. Is it possible he now feels that killing the man's character alone isn't quite enough to get the job done?
* Olbermann's show on MSNBC is just as biased, but far more intelligently so. He doesn't explore all issues in terms of lowest-common-denominator prejudices and bumper-sticker logic. And so I repeat here: No one on TV covers issues from the simpleton's frame-of-reference that Hannity displays nightly. Have you watched Sean Hannity's America? It is hilarious.