If I want a diatribe, I’ll write it myself.

Desperate for talk radio on Monday, while driving around running errands on my day off, I turned on Rush Limbaugh’s program. He wasn’t there, of course, and Roger Hedgecock was sitting in for him.

I listened. I really tried. I withstood about 10 minutes of it, but the tone of it was viscerally upsetting to me. Hedgecock was exhorting the Democratic presidential hopefuls to “just stop.” His tone was, “Somebody please tell these clowns to just quit now,” referring to their debate in Detroit on Sunday night, which had been sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus.

It wasn’t that he was disagreeing with the candidates, it was that he was belittling them. He played a montage of their debates — because, in his words, “you don’t need to hear the whole thing” — in which he pulled out quotes from each of them about their plans for the economy, if elected. Some of it was obviously chosen to be laughable, like John Edwards’ “I have a plan. I have written it down,” and all of it had obviously been cherry-picked to support Hedgecock’s claim that the candidates are all idiots who don’t know anything about the current state of the economy.

His “support” for the claim that the candidates were out-of-touch buffoons was the front page of Monday’s New York Times, which had run a front-page article with the banner, “Wages Give Unexpected Lift to Economy.” Hedgecock was sure to point out with dripping sarcasm that the NYT, to his knowledge, has not yet been linked to any vast right-wing conspiracy. Hedgecock proceeded to read a bit of the article to illustrate his point, and then venomously attacked the candidates for their plans to revitalize an economy that, in his opinion and now backed by the Times, is beginning to recover.

First of all, I was irked by Hedgecock’s apparent expectation that the candidates be prophets. Should they have known Sunday night that Monday’s NYT would run this banner? Furthermore, the article specifically used the word “unexpected” to describe the news about the beginnings of an economic turnaround. Moreover, wages being only one positive factor, that’s hardly proof that the economy is “just fine,” as he repeatedly hammered home.

What really bothered me about the program, though, was the disgustingly smug and rude way Hedgecock skewered the Democratic candidates. This is why I could never be a conservative (and the fact that most conservatives are not only accepted but lauded by the Republican party explains why I could never be a Republican). Conservative talk shows and pundits routinely use belittling, mocking, degrading language to cut down their opponents. Over the course of just 10 minutes of the program, Hedgecock implored the candidates to stop debating, called them clowns, and asked if anyone really takes them seriously as candidates for any office, let alone the presidency.

Say what you want about NPR or any other liberal news outlet, but I have never heard or read them calling opponents “clowns.” Neil Conan doesn’t mock Tom DeLay on “Talk of the Nation.” Bill O’Reilly may not have liked the subject matter of Terry Gross’ Fresh Air interview with him, but she wasn’t ripping into him the way that Hedgecock was ripping into the presidential candidates.

After ten minutes, I flipped over to another station to listen to commercials, rather than waste any more time listening to Hedgecock and his bile.

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