|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Sean Hannity Apologizes to Jon|
Above is Jon Stewart's version of watching Sean Hannity. Yes, I've tried to as well. It's like listening to Hugh Hewitt. Or reading Pravda in the old Soviet Union. But somehow watching a human being so brainwashed and engaging in conscious brain-washing makes it worse. Hannity is a pathological level of propagandist, because his entire reality, his entire mindset is programmed for ideology and partisanship. There is no world for him but politics; and no perspective within politics except conflict and warfare. He greets views that do not comport with the opportunistic ideology of the moment as threats to be extinguished, not ideas to be engaged.
Whatever else this toxic, shallow and brutal perspective is, it is not now and never will be conservative - unless that word has now been so corrupted it has no meaning at all.
Here I am at a conference on two of the greatest conservative minds of the last century: Leo Strauss and Michael Oakeshott. Perhaps Strauss would have regarded this poisonous propaganda as a necessary evil to keep the demos in check (perhaps that's how cynics like Kristol can support and enable this sophomoric, near-fascist crap). Oakeshott would have never stopped throwing up, if, of course, he would even have stooped to watching.
At the core of real conservatism is a distinction between theory and practice, a deep resistance to ideology, a respect for free inquiry and the philosophic spirit, a respect for social stability and coherence, a moderation in governance and a deliberation in action.
It is really time to point out that what Hannity represents, what much of Fox News represents, is not a defense of conservatism but one of conservatism's deepest, most vicious and most pernicious enemies. I am sick and tired of having this political tradition coopted and vandalized in this manner.
Conservatism will not recover as a coherent governing philosophy until it takes this monstrous propaganda on. Conservatism will not somehow emerge through the wreckage of this current moment, until it finds the courage to note that what it has become is not some variant on its tradition rightly understood, but its conscious, active, pernicious nemesis.
And yes, this makes the actual, living breathing representative of political conservatism in our time the current president of the United States. And anyone with any passing concern for the legacy of conservative philosophy knows it.