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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Into the belly of the beast, redux

Last week brought the surreal experience of making into the Official Conservative Love-In Society, hosted by the friends and acolytes of Hugh Hewitt. Today, I had the experience of listening to the man himself.

I can only think of one thing: I have heard the latter day version of Joseph Goebbels.

Harsh? Yes. Excessive? You be the judge after listening to the hour-long podcast hosted by ABC senior national correspondent Jake Tapper.

Hewitt -- whose extensive resume includes being the first director of the Nixon Library (long before its recent excursion into reality-based exhibits) -- browbeat Tapper from the get-go, after the earnest reporter opened the usual 20-minute podcast with the political question of the day: what to make of Louisiana Sen. David Vitter's straying from the path he urges on others.

When Hewitt wasn't trying to trap Tapper into confessing he was a non-Christian liberal zealot, the right-wing blogger and talk show host was daring him to air the podcast, complete and uncut (he did).

Of course, he spent a lot of time and effort trying to pillory Tapper for not sticking to the supposed subject of the chat -- a book looking at Myth Romney and his religion. When they did get into that near the end of the hour (after taunting him over the "dishonesty" of as pitch letter seeking to focus on the Romney book) Hewitt was sure to posit that only liberals have made an issue of Romney's faith.

Among the more outrageous assertions offered (aside from the truly laughable statement that Rush Limbaugh is a journalist), is that reporters possess liberal DNA (hence the inevitable leap to compare Hewitt and Nazi stalwarts like Goebbels and Josef Mengele); that conservatives are far more tolerant of religious differences than liberals; and that anti-Mormonism is a greater threat to society than either racism or antisemitism.

Hewitt possesses a voice for radio and a calm delivery that would tempt you to believe anything. His insistence that only liberals are to blame for the ills of modern-day society will go down like sugar to his true believers.

Tapper did a more than credible job in handling the Hewitt onslaught -- although he came close on several occasions to losing it in the wake of the browbeating.

The true bottom line to me was that Hewitt was able to blithely skip over the fact that it is the right which has injected fundamentalism into American political life, a right that includes leaders who denigrate Jews and who certainly don't hold back in their views of Muslims.

A master manipulator, Hewitt represents the dogma that has cleaved American society into believers and traitors. But then again, he learned at the feet of a master, Richard Milhous Nixon.

Listen to the hour. Then decide.

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