COMMENTARY | Jon Stewart took a turn at revealing the utter hypocrisy of the political Right during Wednesday night’s “The Daily Show, ” something he does on a regular basis. Of course, he’s safe in doing so since so few conservatives will even consider watching his show. And to be fair, he admits they have some justification for going after Vice President Joe Biden. But they do not have the moral superiority to act as if the political Left are the sole generators of divisive rhetoric and fractionalizing vitriol.
The subject of divisiveness has become a hot topic in today’s political arena, especially after Vice President Joe Biden made comments recently that Republicans wanted to “unchain Wall Street” and put “y’all back in chains.” Conservatives immediately twisted it to mean something slightly racist (especially with the use of the southern colloquialism of “y’all”), as noted by the Christian Science Monitor , and totally derogatory toward the Republican Party. But they have also taken the time to castigate the political Left as if they were the only ones trying to divide the country into “us and them” camps.
Stewart simply displays their unmitigated hypocrisy for what it is, using sound bites and book titles as examples of acidic divisiveness from the political Right. He illustrates the Right’s penchant for divisive rhetoric and clearly stated non-inclusiveness in their definitions of “real America” with their demonstrable dislike of certain geographical areas, like Chicago, the East Coast, Massachusetts, Hollywood, and the “liberal haven that is New York state” (from Fox News’ “Hannity”).
Then he illustrates the types of people that are not “real Americans” within United States that the political Right has problems with: members of unions, the professionally unemployed, lawyers, professors, moochers (welfare recipients), radical environmentalists, poor people, and teachers.
Taken as a collective, that would mean that Republicans and/or conservatives would exclude a majority of Americans from being Americans.
But what Stewart really takes exception to is operatives like former Alaska governor Sarah Palin saying things like there are no Republicans or conservatives that can match the political Left for divisive attacks. Stewart quickly points out that she, Sarah Palin herself, was a good match for spewing politically charged and vitriolic language in blatant attempts at showing or promoting division.
Stewart showed one of the now famous “palling around with terrorists” clips from when Palin was running for the vice presidential spot in the 2008 election. It was quickly followed by numerous clips of Palin making accusations, allegations, insinuations, and derogations. In one clip, she called House Minority Leader a “dingbat.” In another, she refers to the “Washington elite.” Still another: “…radical Left agenda…” And another “…socialists…” And on and on…
And she’s just one of the many conservatives that operate with this kind of rhetoric, some upon occasion, others as a regular part of their public personas. In the last few years, there have been several examples of politicians and their surrogates labeling the political Left as socialistic, communistic, and/or fascistic. Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) went so far as to call the Democratic Progressive Caucus nothing short of actual communists .
But Stewart sees the humor in all of it, as he usually does. After showing a clip of Palin saying she hasn’t heard a “prominent Republican” make comments as bad as the language being used by liberals, he breaks the half-governor’s words down to mean two things: 1) Even Sarah Palin understands she’s no longer a prominent Republican, or 2) She can no longer hear herself speak.
He says you can find out the details of Palin’s hearing loss in his new book, “The Luckiest Person In America.”
So here’s the thing: There is often ample reason for both sides of the political aisle to attack or condemn or even denounce each other for taking particular stances and/or making outlandish, misleading, and/or false statements. But as Jon Stewart points out on “The Daily Show,” taking a morally superior tone is gross overreach. Sure, Vice President Joe Biden may have offended a few with ill-considered “chains” metaphor (and deserves to be publicly chastised for it), but in no manner are his words any worse, vitriolic, or more divisive than those in constant use in conservative circles.
In short, the political Right’s high horse is unwarranted. And what they don’t realize is that, like the political Left, they rode their mount into the ground years ago, overloaded with political baggage, hypocritical self-righteousness, and faux outrage. And although many of the politicians that practice the politics of division have, like Sarah Palin, chosen to either live in denial of themselves or have grown deaf to their own words, there exists the unfortunate fact that voters can still hear them — and know them for what they truly are.