Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 6, 2011

POLITICS ON A HAIR-TRIGGER.... Yesterday afternoon, ABC's Jake Tapper had a fairly innocuous tweet: "One minute to air and they decided to take the flag down from the live shot!" It was accompanied by a photograph from Ground Zero, where an American flag was being removed.

It was a harmless little message. President Obama visited Ground Zero yesterday, and there were many American flags on display. Hours later, when Tapper was getting ready to appear on the air, he was disappointed about the change in backdrop. No big deal.

But then the right saw the message and took it to mean that President Obama had the flag removed for his appearance, hours earlier.

Drudge told his readers, "REPORT: Team Obama takes down US flag before Ground Zero event..." Conservative bloggers were driven to apoplexy, with one arguing:

This administration and, by extension, the Democrat [sic] Party are now so thoroughly divorced from the history, traditions and morals of America that we might as well admit the Marxist left has executed a successful coup d'etat on this Republic.

Other online Republicans were equally outraged, apparently never considering the notion that Tapper, posting an item at 6:30 p.m. (ET), hours after the president had left Ground Zero, might be referring to his own live shot.

Dan Amira explained, "Everyone makes mistakes, but this mistake illustrates the mind-set of some of the people who despise Obama with every fiber of their body. Even conspiracy theories that would appear entirely illogical to everyone else -- like the American president ordering the American flag removed from ground zero -- are readily embraced because they conform to a warped view of Obama's patriotism."

Agreed. Tapper's tweet didn't mention the president or "Tea Obama" or anything related to the afternoon's event. The whole message was 16 words, and was a harmless complaint about a news backdrop.

But for the right, all politics is on a hair-trigger at all times. It just doesn't take much to get hysterical, again, about Obama and their distrust of his patriotism.

It's just not healthy for such a large group of Americans to hate their president this much.

Steve Benen 3:10 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (34)

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Tapper should do the right thing and make a huge deal about this. Call them on their bullshit. Of course he won't.

Posted by: Steve on May 6, 2011 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK


You are giving Drudge et al entirely too much credit for sincerity. They almost certainly know that the President did not order that. It is likely that they are lying in the hopes that the media will pick it up as the next chew toy. It would help distract the public from the President's message and helps promote the anti-patriotic smear in the minds of the unengaged viewer that only hears the headline or reads the crawl at the bottom of the screen.

Posted by: AK Liberal on May 6, 2011 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Really...this is not about hate. This is a concentrated campaign to jump on ANYTHING and spread lies and dissension. They hold a cross in one hand and a flag in another and lie their petty asses off...

Posted by: SYSPROG on May 6, 2011 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Young children are shaking their heads because they have learned that the shadows know.

The right-wing now has children understanding what they are trying to do to President Obama.

The young children are sad that bloggers like malkin couldn't get to their computers fast enough to taint the President.

The right-wing cast a darkness over what was to be a healing day for America.

Hang you heads in shame. Get on TV and explain that from the shadows on the buildings you should have been as smart as a third grader and know that it was towards the end of the day and not the beginning.

Be responsible for your words.

Posted by: chris on May 6, 2011 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, have you ever read David Roberts over at Grist? He's got a couple of mind-blowing articles about why the Dems fail on both politics and policy, even though they should be winning in landslides.

It all comes down to Republican party discipline and their exploitation of the fact that politics and policy are no longer related. Policy is still important but is ignored b/c it's too complex; politics is almost 100 percent sideshow/distraction and gets almost 100 percent of the media attention.

Posted by: Taylor on May 6, 2011 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

I can't believe a whiner like Jake Tapper is getting a pass. He bitched via Twitter that lowering a flag was interfering with HIS live shot? Really?

Get a grip, Jake. You ain't the most important person in the story. Or any story.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on May 6, 2011 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

The same crowd of rabid-righters is already trying to disprove, as fakes, the situation room images of Obama and others watching bin Laden's demise. The crazier they act, the crazier they will be remembered (I hope).

Posted by: -syzygy- on May 6, 2011 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Re the Marxist left: it's funny to think it's over 20 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union. These people are really living in a time warp.

Posted by: davidp on May 6, 2011 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

I mentioned earlier today about chaff being used as a political tool. Drudge simply grabbed a handful, and tossed it in the air, just in case the MSM radar could be spoofed (another military term, and useful here, as well!)
Anyone recall the mustard/ketchup kerfluffle? Or Kerry asking for Swiss cheese on his Pat's steak sandwich? Or George Washington's broad, effeminate hips, his skin tight breeches?

What about Julius Caesar's hair style? And that Toga!

Posted by: DAY on May 6, 2011 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

Let the wingnuts hate, this from an article on the effects of negative emotions on health:

'We can see the effects of "negative" emotions on our bodies in countless ways: damaged immunity, impeded digestion, increased risk of heart disease, sleep disturbances, high blood pressure, water retention, anxiety, depression, reduced sexual function, lowered pain thresholds, etc. Emotions can also assist in holding onto pain and existing disease processes and can impede a successful wellness plan.'

So, teabaggers, hate on! and destroy your health and quality of life in the process. I look forward to reading more from you very soon... in the obits.

Posted by: BillFromPA on May 6, 2011 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Oh no, you mean they went off half Koched????

Posted by: sue on May 6, 2011 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

At least Emily Litella did this sort of thing innocently, and had the decency to say "never mind."

Posted by: varmintito on May 6, 2011 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

"hate their president this much"
They hate having a black man as president. It is just racism. nothing more, nothing less.

Posted by: T2 on May 6, 2011 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

It is not healthy for a large group of Americans to hate an even larger group of Americans as much as the teapublicans dislike and distrust the young, the old, the non-white and woman. We are spiraling out of control, as this article shows. It is a warning to us all to reach out a touch each other and find common ways to heal our differences. LOVE

Posted by: iyoumeweus on May 6, 2011 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

"It's just not healthy for such a large group of Americans to hate their president this much."

Nope - It's not healthy. It's not rational. It's not right. And it is not appropriately understood or talked about in media-land, save for the great work of Rachel Maddow and a few blogs like this one.
True, every president has been hated in some quarter of the population. FDR took pride (and political advantage) in being hated by the people he wanted to have hate him. Presidents know what comes with the job, so after a day of low blows and late hits, they answer the charges and hit back, then go home to dinner with the family. All politicians need rhino-thick skin to get through the day.
Obama is a pretty calm, reasonable guy. He came up in Chicago politics, so I doubt anything really surprises him about politics. But I wonder what he privately thinks about the degree and nature of criticism he has received. He does not seem to welcome it in the way FDR did, and his pleas for unity seem sincere. I wonder, though, just how ticked off he is when he gets home at the end of the day? After all, the criticisms he gets, as regular as the tides, are not, at the first level anyway, about his being a socialist or a liberal. Instead, they are about him not being an American, or not being fully an American. Therefore, he is not fit to hold the office and not worth listening to, even if he won the 2008 election fair and square and by a wide margin. This criticism does not arise from the rational, sensible part of America, but from a troubled, hysterical, sad, even dangerous part of America that simply refuses to adapt to the reality of an Obama presidency. That must frustrate and disappoint Obama very much, since his policies and plans for the country are grounded in rationality, tolerance, reasonableness, unselfishness, and common sense--the virtues he believes--and that many of his supporters like me believe as well--are the best part of our nation. The media-abetted anti-Obama hysteria on the right is beyond troubling. It is profoundly disturbing that our common values, at least the ones that I supposed existed in common, are not shaming the irrational and bigoted and ignorant segment of our population into the quiet irrelevance where they belong. When I hear an Obama speech, he is usually speaking to the values of progress and hope that I thought many people shared. Are those values gone, or is the media simply unable to recognize them, captured as they are by noise and hysteria? Will Obama revive those values as he hopes, or are we in for a troubled, confused age, with our basic values in doubt or in unwanted transition?

Posted by: wesfromga on May 6, 2011 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

What does this tell us about the left-wing media aparatus ABC and its hatred of America?

Posted by: LoveHate on May 6, 2011 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

"This administration and, by extension, the Democrat [sic] Party are now so thoroughly divorced from the history, traditions and morals of America that we might as well admit the Marxist left has executed a successful coup d'etat on this Republic."

One last desperate attempt by the Wall Street right and conservative airheads to claim the military as their constituency. Republican voting records on veterans rights issues like the new G.I. Bill and over 4,000 killed in Iraq for absolutely no good reason is the GOP's true relationship with the military.

Posted by: max on May 6, 2011 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Just a guess, but I believe that the "American" flag is not to be flown after dark unless it is lighted. 6:30 PM EST is close to sundown, so maybe they were observing proper flag protocol and lowering the flag as prescribed in said protocol. Of course, I see hundreds of flags being flown in complete violation of proper flag protocol, so who knows. Flags worn as bikinis, shorts, hats, t-shirts, etc. Where are the patriots who protect the flag like they protect fetuses? How many are made in China or some "other" Communist or Marxist country?

One more red herring to hang around Obama's neck.

Posted by: st john on May 6, 2011 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, I hated Bush this much. Then again, there were actually REASONS to hate Bush.

Posted by: es on May 6, 2011 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

T2, I halfway disagree. It's not only because he's black, but also because he's the most terrible thing that can happen to America: a Democratic president. They hated Clinton with every fiber of their being too.

They simply lost their minds after Nixon's disgrace. I see plenty of it within my own family.

Posted by: jTh on May 6, 2011 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

At least lawyers who are accused of chasing ambulences are smart enough, for the most part, to reason right from wrong!

Drudge, on the other hand, doesn't know right from wrong, let alone reason rightly, because he's obviously suffering brain damage caused by chasing parked cars all these years! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on May 6, 2011 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Bigotry is alive and well here in the good old USA. A black man is president of the USA is one thing but a sucessful black president, NO WAY. And the Repugs have done EVERYTHING to prevent Obama from being sucessful.

Posted by: Chris on May 6, 2011 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

I think this makes sense.

Work with me: progressives (like me) wonder why the cable news outlets parrot everything the GOP wants them to, while often providing little context nor critical analysis. And I think I know: the GOP talking points are *bat-shit crazy*, which makes for really interesting news ("Man bites dog!"). Most progressives positions, on the other hand, are intended to be reasonable. Aka, boring.

The GOP hair-trigger isn't bat-shit crazy by accident -- it's willfully irrational, because that makes headlines.

Posted by: sbest on May 6, 2011 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK
Just a guess, but I believe that the "American" flag is not to be flown after dark unless it is lighted. 6:30 PM EST is close to sundown, so maybe they were observing proper flag protocol and lowering the flag as prescribed in said protocol.

Correct. 4 U.S.C. § 6(a): "It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness."

Posted by: cmdicely on May 6, 2011 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Obama is in full stride right now. The take down of Paul Ryan and the Ayn Randers. The humiliation of Trump and the birthers. Justice for Bin Laden.

Now he's in a love embrace with the firefighters, the police and the soldiers -- heart-moving speeches and touching humble gestures.

Of course, they've notched the delirium to 11.

Posted by: Mark on May 6, 2011 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK
Tapper should do the right thing and make a huge deal about this. Call them on their bullshit. Of course he won't.

Actually ...

Bloggers who created a lie about the flag based on my innocuous tweet: please feel free to unfollow. don’t want my facts to become your lies
Posted by: Sasha on May 6, 2011 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

@st john:

Thank you for mentioning this. I was not observant enough to pick up on the time of day, and the obligations of flag protocol.

In truth, it has always bothered me that the flag or elements recognizable as parts of our national flag are used in articles of clothing and for other unworthy purposes.

Posted by: Daniel Kim on May 6, 2011 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

3+ years ago when we first started to see ODS, (Obama Derangement Syndrome) I thought that it couldn't get any worse. But was I wrong.

Now can't wait to have another 4 years because I'm beyond imaging what insanity they will come up with. The National Enquirer has serious compeition.

Posted by: Just Guessing on May 6, 2011 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

"...It's just not healthy for such a large group of Americans to hate their president this much...."-Benen

I disagree with your assessment of "such a large group"....They are but a drop in the bucket compared to our population. They try to make themselves appear large by screaming at every opportunity...but these are the same Clinton and Liberal haters that have always been present...they just have a larger megaphone now with the net.

Only a very small percentage are this petty and small minded...but they all do seem to come from the same side of the platform

Posted by: bjobotts on May 6, 2011 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

I don't agree bjobotts.

The hard-core haters may be a small percentage of the total population but that still represents millions of people who don't just disagree with the President of the United States, they hate him with ever fiber of their being and are willing to believe any bad thing they hear about him no matter how ridiculous.

This is a problem.

Posted by: tanstaafl on May 6, 2011 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

Today I listened to the President talk to the troops and say how great America is and united we can accomplish anything.
At the same time the conservatives were busy posting their false story and enjoying tainting the President.
I keep thinking it can't get any worst.
The story about the flag is so false that a young child wouldn't believe it and could see the holes.

Posted by: chris on May 6, 2011 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

Hatred has blinded the right to reality and just good ole common decency. The Repug party is going down big because of their embrace of bigotry, hatred and high school politics. The demographic shifts in this country will eventually lead to their demise. The Repugs are more and more a small tent party unfit to lead and rule this great diverse nation.

Posted by: RmL on May 6, 2011 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

Someone needs to call these motherless jerks on their disrespect for the American flag. An American takes down the flag in the evening because it is disrespectful to fly it at night. They should have learned this in the Boy Scouts, but then I doubt that they ever were Boy Scouts because of their total lack of integrity.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on May 7, 2011 at 1:55 AM | PERMALINK

It's odd that Benen writes so much about conservative hypocrisy and yet can write "it's just not healthy for such a large group of Americans to hate their President this much" with no sense of irony.

I hated George Bush this much. So did a lot of people. I think we're justified in our hatred and the right is not...but that's beside the point. Benen didn't write "to hate their President with little justification this much". He made hating the President by a bunch of people an inherently bad thing.

If it wasn't inherently bad when we did it, it's not inherently bad when they do it. What's bad about it is that these people are nuts and they're wrong. Not that they hate the President. Different people have always hated Presidents, oftentimes large numbers of people. You think more people hate Obama than hated LBJ or Nixon?

This kind of post should disqualify Benen from writing any more post complaining about the opposition's hypocrisy.

I'll say it again: there's nothing inherently wrong with deeply hating a President, or any politician, who supports policies and represents interests and ideologies that one finds noxious.

Posted by: Ketih M Ellis on May 7, 2011 at 2:34 AM | PERMALINK
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