Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Why We Don't Take Political Advice from Country Music Singers

The AT team likes to think of itself as open to reason. We try to weigh the evidence, think through the issues and consequences, and come to a considered conclusion.

That process, unfortunately, is not universal. Consider the recent political opinions of Eddie Montgomery, one half of the country duo Montgomery Gentry.

Speaking at one of right-wing talker Sean Hannity's "Freedom Concerts," Montgomery suggested that Hannity should do more than talk about his conservative ideas.

I could see him running for president. I think he's that smart.

We don't. Hannity's record of intellectual achievement and national service is, well, nonexistent. He's college dropout whose pro-military positions are at odds with his notable lack of military service.

Can you spell "chickenhawk," boys and girls?


Dan Paden said...

Of course, there's no way anyone can assess your records of intellectual achievement or national service whilst you blog anonymously (Not blaming you for this, I know there are times when it is not realistically possible to make one's identity known), so I guess we'll have to assume that you're more educated and militarily experienced than Hannity. If not--well, God forbid. That would make you look very bad.

Granting such assumptions, though, I still can't help but wonder: are you seriously telling us that only military veterans can be pro-military? That seems a singularly untenable position to have to defend, and yet, if you don't, your criticism of Hannity on such grounds is rather pointless. And as to his intellectual achievements--well, I'm sure you're much more the achiever than he is. But actually, you know, as you appear to equate non-existent intellectual achievement with college-dropout status, you manage--probably unintentionally--to smear a whole lot of people as intellectually incapable, people including yours truly. Not that I expect you to take me seriously on an intellectual level, but the number of intellectually-capable college dropouts you have just insulted is probably legion.

I hate the "chickenhawk" argument. Slick Willy never served (He infamously said that he "loathed" the military, as you recall, a comment that those of us who have served in the military have never forgotten. Nor have we forgotten that that military-loathing so-and-so was nominated by the Democrats twice. We have a pretty good idea what the Democratic Party as a whole thinks of us.), and I don't recall Democrats calling him a chickenhawk when he sent troops to Bosnia or to Haiti. It's a pointless diversion from the merits (or lack thereof) of a person's argument.

I say all this, mind you, not being a particularly great Hannity fan. I don't listen to him much, as I find much of the show a little surface-level and his presentation often grating. But for you to criticize him on grounds like these isn't even picking low-hanging fruit. It's not even your frequent sarcasm (which I don't mind). It's just being insulting for the sake of being insulting.

(Since you are no doubt wondering, I am a former Marine Reservist and college dropout.)

Tulsan said...

"I could see him running for president. I think he's that smart."

Well, if you've seen the GOP candidates debate, this might strike you as exactly right.

Alternative Tulsa said...

Hi Dan: Thanks for your thoughtful comments. As you surmise, we do indeed have both military experience and university degrees, so we can safely attack Hannity on those grounds. And, as it happens, we don't equate formal education with intelligence or street smarts, since we know lots of people without degrees who can think carefully and well, fix things, solve problems and much more. We don't put Hannity in that camp since his arguments seem largely ideologically driven and evidence free, especially when it suits his preconceived notions. Our argument with Hannity's pro-military line is that he, when he had the chance, failed to serve (unlike you and many of us who elected to serve and served proudly). Like all citizens, Hannity has a right to express his opinions, but we also have the right to criticize him for his repeated misuse use of facts, careless thinking, one-sided presentation of evidence, dismissive attitude toward points of view other than his own and so on. Hannity talks a good line, but it strikes us as more showbiz, hype and emotion than serious political analysis. As for the "Chickenhawk" label, we find it useful in describing political actors (Dick "Five Deferments" Cheney springs to mind) who never served a day in uniform and who now put themselves forth as military experts and/or steadfast military supporters without either the experience or the knowledge to make such claims. If Hannity is going to spout off and be taken seriously about military and foreign policy matters, let's see the goods: serious writing and policy prescriptions on matters of significance. Otherwise, he's a sideshow barker whose ultimate significance as a thinker is, well, more or less nil. Finally, Bill Clinton can be called a "chicken," inasmuch as he famously fail to serve during the Vietnam War (just like Dick). But I don't think anyone ever accused Clinton of being a hawk. True, he put our forces in harm's way in Bosnia and elsewhere, as you note, but he did so reluctantly and because it was the only way he, as president, could take on these particular international problems. Thanks for your time.