By Mark Cromer, Santa Barbara News-Press
July 8, 2007
If you listened carefully in the moments after the immigration bill was killed for a second time, a bitter gnashing and rending could be heard from the Senate floor all the way to the editorial boardrooms at the great metropolitan newspapers across the nation.
As the death of amnesty was announced, its most fervent supporters in Congress and the self-styled “mainstream media” began a meltdown that will slowly ebb to a simmering boil over the next few weeks as the post-mortems fly and payback is plotted.
The 46 votes that the architects of the legislation were able to garner to end debate on the bill was cold evidence that the unthinkable had occurred yet again: the American people’s voice had risen above the control of the anointed gate-keepers and its furious echo rattled enough of the exclusive Senate to effectively kill the amnesty plan.
The rage that will now flow like lava in the aftermath of this bill’s defeat will not surprisingly pour down upon talk radio, which gave voice to the vast sea of discontent that has been building among the American working and middle classes for years.
The true scope of the disconnect between the power structure inside the Washington beltway and its corporate media cohorts and the vast majority of America’s working and middle classes will again be laid bare.
Rather than concede that there never has been any significant support for this bill among the American people, the bi-partisan purveyors of mass amnesty will decry the caustic influence of a medium that is perhaps the last great forum for the opinion of the ordinary American.
Talk radio reaches deep into the proletariat because it only requires a dime store transistor radio and occasional access to a phone—much less than the blogosphere’s threshold of a computer, an Internet connection and some web savvy.
Since vox populi is at its most pure and raucous form on the AM-band, those senators that are the targets of the anger vented over the airwaves increasingly choose to dismiss the entire medium as “hate radio.”
Over the past two weeks, senators as ideologically diverse as Hillary Clinton and Trent Lott have denounced the audacious nature of talk radio, hardly bothering to conceal their contempt for those unwashed masses that listen and participate in its daily roundtable.
And since they believe the medium is the message, the architects and media proponents of a bill that was brokered in the shadows of the Senate cloakrooms will now lash out against talk radio, hoping to silence it in advance of some future drive for mass amnesty.
Yet the venom they spew only betrays their entrenched sense of entitlement.
Consider that when the bill was first derailed several weeks ago, the reaction from the Senate floor to the editorial pages was swift and visceral.
Both Newsweek and the Los Angeles Times declared senators voting against this bill to be hostages of a radical “know-nothing fringe,” a characterization that kept with the carefully scripted narrative rampant in both editorials and news coverage of the debate.
The editorial board at the Wall Street Journal claimed opponents of the legislation had a “cultural” agenda (that’s an anemic way to call Americans “racists”) and the New York Times has long been swinging for the fences in its denunciations of opponents of the amnesty bill.
But it was Geraldo Rivera who took that contempt over the top, shamelessly declaring on FOX News Channel that voting against the immigration bill was akin to the Nazi street thugs who roamed German cities pulling the pants off men they suspected were Jewish to see if they were circumcised.
If there is any analogy to be made between the epic struggle of World War II and the atmosphere surrounding the immigration debate in America today, it is not Geraldo’s truly sick evocation of the Holocaust.
Rather, a better comparison would be of our federal government and the Vichy government that administered occupied France for the Nazis. Smug and self-serving senators telling working Americans that this bill was the best deal they could expect indeed carries the echo of a Vichy collaborator: accommodate surrender while pretending to preserve some shred of national sovereignty.
And like those collaborators a half-century ago who chaffed at the underground press of the resistance for exposing and chronicling their betrayal, official Washington and its courtier of media elites are truly whistling past their mutual graveyard if they actually believe it is the medium of talk radio that is the problem.
Talk radio is indeed the medium, but the defeat of the immigration bill is a triumph of the American people’s message.
And that message will be ignored at Washington’s peril.