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My Dream Date with Bill O’Reilly

Where were we? Right, the blowback from my Los Angeles Times editorial (“Wimps, wussies and W.: How Americans’ infatuation with masculinity has perilous consequences,” May 3, 2007).

I learned a few tough-love lessons from My Dream Date with Bill O’Reilly.

(By the way, The Radio Factor‘s transcripts and audiofiles are available exclusively to paid-up members of the Fox Nation. A subscription gives you all-areas access to Bill’s World, not to mention a pitchfork, a chain-mail tunic, and front-row seats at Saruman’s next Nuremberg rally. But for those of you interested in my gentlemanly smackdown with O’Reilly, send an e-mail and I’ll send audioclips in RealPlayer format, as attachments. Of course, you’ll have to have RealPlayer to play them.)

And I took a few pearls of wisdom away from the Reich-wing hate mail I received, much of it in screaming, spittle-flecked CAPSLOCK, all syntactical trainwrecks and grammatical spaz attacks, like those epic Sharpie-marker screeds that your friendly neighborhood Manson-eyed homeless guy used to staple to telephone poles when he was off his meds.

From O’Reilly, I learned that I’M MORE NAIVE ABOUT THE FOX NATION, BY AN ORDER OF MAGNITUDE, THAN I EVER SUSPECTED. For example, O’Reilly called me a “communist,” like, five times, deadpanning, “I’m not using that in a pejorative way…I have nothing against communists,” all because I say on the AUTHOR page of this site that I’m “deeply committed to a progressive politics whose calls for social justice, economic equality, and environmental action are founded on a tough-minded critique of the catastrophic effects of multinational capitalism.” During the interview, I was at pains to point out to Mister Bill that, since Buchanan, Perot, and other nabobs of nativism have inveighed against the yawning chasm between CEO and wage-slave salaries as well as the global race to the bottom of the wage pyramid, calls for economic equity and critiques of multinational capitalism aren’t exactly the Mark of the Commie Beast, right about now. Naturally, my argument was just so much static to Bill, who blinked, then recommenced shelling.

I was naive enough to think that this sort of paleoconservative red-baiting was buried under McCarthy’s gob-streaked tombstone, or at least under Khrushchev’s. I mean, Moscow fell to McDonald’s without firing of a shot, China’s parvenu bourgeoisie are buying up SUV’s as fast as Detroit can turn them out, and Castro’s playing Peter Falk playing a paranoid, cigar-chewing banana-republic dictator in that old Twilight Zone episode. The last of America’s red-hot Marxists are either cowering under Bill O’Reilly’s bed or tenured members of the professoriat; not since Eugene Debs walked the earth has the Archie Bunker demographic viewed the Left with anything but cordial contempt, if not the paranoid fear and loathing of the John Bircher, and I say that as a Leftist, for chrissakes. I mean, I love Mike Davis like a brother, and Terry Eagleton is my homeboy, but compare their royalty statements to Anne Coulter’s if you want a reality check about how big a neighborhood threat Marxism really poses, beyond the fever dreams of a few swoony grad students. So how can O’Reilly use an Atomic Cafe-era smear like “commie” with a straight face? Is he just playing a throwback to the era of blacklists and bomb shelters, chuckling all the way to the bank? Or is the Fox Nation so cretinous that it really, truly equates calls for economic justice with being a “loopy” (unquote) commie? Clearly, I need to spend more time in O’Reilly Country, taking the pulse of the average orc.

I also learned, when O’Reilly asked if I was gay (because my LAT essay inveighs against homophobia), that ONLY GAYS CAN DECRY HOMOPHOBIA. In other words, if a public intellectual (a pompous sobriquet, but there it is) makes the case against an anxious American masculinity that defines itself in neurotic opposition to wimps, wussies, and fags, he’s got to be a homo. Incredibly, neither O’Reilly nor his legions of flying monkeys seem to have Clue One about the homophobia inherent in the presumption that anyone arguing against homophobia must, by definition, be a homosexual. Somewhere, the founding fathers of the Enlightenment are weeping tears of blood into Diderot’s Encyclopedie…

Finally, I learned that WHEN YOU PASS THROUGH THE COSMIC BUNNYHOLE BETWEEN FACT-BASED REALITY AND FOX REALITY, YOU FIND YOURSELF IN A PARALLEL WORLD WHERE IRONY IS AN ALIEN NOTION AND HYPOCRISY EXCLUSIVE TO THE LEFT. After thumping his tub angrily about “secular progressives'” underhanded tactic of smearing their opponents rather than debating their ideas, O’Reilly proceeded to invalidate my ideas by…demonizing me as a loony commie. The “hysteria building around the secular progressive movement has basically said, ‘Look, if you don’t agree with us…we’re going to find a way to put a psychological tag on you that will marginalize you,'” said O’Reilly. “The only thing that you’ll hear through all the cacophony is someone calling someone a nasty name.” Then he proceeded to characterize me as “a communist” who “hates Bush,” just some nutty professor who’s “nothing,” really, “just some bloviator down at NYU who wants the United States to be a communist country.” That’s right, Bill. I, and my dark hordes won’t rest until the red flag flaps from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and every knee bows and every tongue confesses that Karl is Lord, our godless atheism notwithstanding.

Finally, from the right-wing mouth-breathers who sent me mash notes from all over this fair land of ours, I learned that

THE IRONY OF ASKING IF THE AUTHOR OF AN ARTICLE ABOUT HYSTERICAL, HOMOPHOBIC MASCULINITY IS GAY IS LOST ON MOST CONSERVATIVE READERS, INCLUDING THE GUY WHO THOUGHT HE COULD SIDLE UP TO MY INBOX, WHEN I WASN’T LOOKING, AND SLYLY TRICK ME INTO REVEALING THE SORDID SECRET OF MY SEXUALITY WHEN MY GUARD WAS DOWN:

Sir:

I really enjoyed your article today in the LA Times.
My question to you, sir, are you gay?
Alex ——

I also learned that

MY ARGUMENT IS INVALID BECAUSE WHEN YOU’RE GOING MANO A MANO WITH A TOWELHEADED JIHADI, YOU DON’T WANT A GIRLYMAN COVERING YOUR, UH, ASS

Mark,
Just read your LA Times piece. Very interesting. One quick question for which I’m sure you have an answer. If you were to go 2 on 2 with a couple of Islamofascists in a Baquba alley, would you pick a.) W., b.) Harry Reid, c.) Steny Hoyer, or d.) Dick Durbin? (Nancy Pelosi is not a vialble choice.)
You can only pick one. Hopefully, you wouldn’t be flumoxed by the choice.
Regards,
John ——

No, John, I’m not at all “flumoxed” [sic]. But I can’t help wondering why Pelosi isn’t on our dance card. Maybe I’ve been cruising too many MILF sites, but I’d much rather spend a few idle hours in a Baquba alley with the leggy Speaker of the House than any of the gentlemen you mention, none of whom are my type.

Next, I learned that

The trouble with manhood “American-style” is that the wussies have indeed taken over and “balls” simply are not an important portion of the anatomy for anyone left of center in this country.
My best to you,
Sue, California

And my best to you, Sue! One thing worries me, though: Why the ironic quotes around balls? Are you implying that, while the Left has none, the Right has only faux balls—“balls,” rather than true-blue balls? A scary thought! I don’t know which is worse—no balls, or Stepford balls, just lurking there in the shadows between our legs, passing as the Real Thing. Spooooooky. Please keep me posted on the state of America’s balls, Sue. I sleep a little better knowing you’ve got your unblinking eye on American manhood’s low-slung undercarriage.

I also learned that I SUFFER FROM W. ENVY, because I had some mean-spirited, snark-monkey fun in my LAT op-ed with G. Gordon Liddy’s approving remarks about the size of the Presidential Package in that photo of W. in a flight suit, I have “the hots for President Bush,” according to some bottom-feeder on AOL. “Dery definitely seems to be in a crouch…over the presidential crotch.” Maybe that’s because liberal “men on magazine covers require air-brushing in the crotch area in order to create the illusion of having balls,” whereas “W. didn’t require any help in this area. In the pilot jumpsuit, his manhood spoke for itself. Lib men have to be airbrushed even in a Speedo in order to project their manhood. They must suffer from W. envy.”

And there you have it, dear reader. The yahoos have spoken. Vox bacilli.

There is a silver lining to this cloud: According to his producer, Big Bad Bill rilly, rilly, rilly didn’t want to like me, but just couldn’t help himself. To his horror, he liked me, he really liked me, his producer confided. Could this be the beginning of a beautiful friendship?