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    May 28, 2007

    Defending Rosie (sort of)

    Posted by: Chris

    Rosiehasselbeck By now you've no doubt heard about Rosie O'Donnell's split-screen blow-up last week with conservative 'View' co-host Elizabeth Hasselbeck. Shortly thereafter, Rosie announced she wouldn't return to the show — even though her contract doesn't expire until the end of June. Most pundits dismissed the whole thing as a catfight, which is as misogynist as it is untrue.

    I appreciate the Rosie O'Donnell who speaks her mind on "The View" far more than the saccharine sweet Rosie who self-censored for years on her own daytime talk show. (Are you listening, Ellen?) And I appreciate even more a daytime talk show that's willing to feature a toe-to-toe on the Iraq war instead of pander about the latest celebrity DUI.

    So let's take the confrontation seriously.  Was Rosie justified in the level of umbrage she took from Hasselbeck? The tete-a-tete was actually in response to an earlier show, on May 17, when Rosie argued that U.S. policy in Iraq is a "terrorist" policy because (she claims) 655,000 innocent Iraqi civilians have died.  From Rosie's own blog, here's an excerpt of what was said:

    O’DONNELL: I just want to say something. 655,000 Iraqi civilians are dead. Who are the terrorists?
    HASSELBECK: Who are the terrorists?
    O’DONNELL: 655,000 Iraqis — I’m saying you have to look, we invaded –
    HASSELBECK: Wait, who are you calling terrorists now? Americans?
    O’DONNELL: I’m saying if you were in Iraq, and the other country, the United States, the richest in the world, invaded your country and killed 655,000 of your citizens, what would you call us?
    HASSELBECK: Are we killing their citizens or are their people also killing their citizens? 
    O’DONNELL: We’re invading a sovereign nation, occupying a country against the U.N.

    Subsequently, Chris Matthews on "Hardball" (hardly a right-winger) and other TV talking heads suggested Rosie was calling "our troops" terrorists. Flash forward to Friday, when Rosie blamed Hasselbeck for not defending her against the charge when the two subsequently revisited the issue on-air.  Apparently Hasselbeck only put the question back to Rosie rather than saying she knew it wasn't what Rosie really believes.

    Here's the clip for those who want to see:

    Lost somewhere in the obvious passion that Rosie brings to this subject is that her provocative rhetoric has consequences, and it's up to her, and not "her friend" Elizabeth, to defend what she says.  Rosie's point about U.S. policy is interesting, and one that probably rarely gets heard by a "View"-type audience.  She was focused on whether U.S. policy in Iraq is responsible for the deaths of far more innocent civilians than are "the terrorists."

    But she can't be too surprised that some would conflate calling "U.S. policy" terrorist with calling the soldiers who execute it terrorists.  I've never seen anyone suggest that only Osama Bin Laden is responsible for his terrorist policies, and not the foot soldiers who execute those policies.  So Rosie's suggestion is an inflammatory one and, as much as I oppose this war, I'll take Hasselback's side on whether Rosie's wrong-headed or not.

    What's more, calling U.S. policy "terrorist" is equally wrong-headed.  Terrorists target innocent civilians to terrorize their opponents and achieve their theocratic objectives.  U.S. policy, however poorly executed, has been to establish a democratic government and is directed at enemy combatants.  I believe that "our side" (including "our troops") have made every effort to spare civilians to a degree far greater than, say, we did toward "innocent" Germans and Japanese during WWII.  (Hiroshima anyone? Nagasaki? Berlin?)

    The biggest irony, for me, was that Rosie claimed Elizabeth Hasselbeck "cowardly," and yet it was Rosie who bailed from the show after the confrontation. "The View" has at times done a commendable job of breaking the daytime monotony with some real conversation on real issues. But that means engaging in a respectful debate with those who disagree, not walking off in a huff (and a schmaltzy blog poem or two) when we don't get our way.

    Speculation on who might replace Rosie on "The View" includes fellow comedian Kathy Griffin, who is as loud and as gay-friendly (though with the gay boys not the gals).  From everything I've seen of her over the years, I doubt she'd duck from a fight — with Donald Trump, Elisabeth Hasselbeck or Rosie herself.

    In case you missed it:



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    1. Kevin on May 28, 2007 7:57:07 PM:

      Couldn't have said it better myself. I think you captured the full story very well.

    1. Rob Power on May 29, 2007 10:18:06 AM:

      Rosie is a gun-grabbing, physics denying, alarmist windsock. But she's the only person in mainstream media who really argued that Ron Paul (or the 9/11 Commission, who said it first) was right that American policy was the cause of terrorist attacks on the United States. Everyone else in the media who covered the issue decided (for the first time ever) to let "both sides" debate the issue, even though most of the people on Ron Paul's side were quite mealy-mouthed in their statements.

      Note that Rosie's departure wasn't over WTC conspiracy theories or her love of gun grabbing or her "blood for oil" rhetoric. It was over her agreement with Ron Paul (and the 9/11 Commission) that American policy incites terrorism.

      That the media wants to cover up this truth, at the urging of both Republicans and Democrats alike, shows just how dangerous this idea is to their grip on power.

      Here's an idea, Chris. Do your next poll on whether Ron Paul and the 9/11 Commission were right or wrong about American policy being the primary motivator for most anti-US terrorists.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on May 29, 2007 12:47:03 PM:

      I think that, since we have been attacked by terrorists regardless of which administration and its policies is in power, be it an appeasement-oriented Democrat like Clinton or Carter or a confrontational Republican like Reagan, GWB, and GHWB, it can be logically stated that the policy is rather irrelevant.

      And as far as Rosie is concerned, what she and her fellow hyperventilating screamers who are whining about "civilian casualties" should be asked is why they were perfectly content to perpetuate a system that had, according to the UN ( http://www.commondreams.org/headlines/072100-03.htm ) , already killed 500,000 children alone (not to mention the other half-million or so that Saddam killed because he didn't like their race, ethnicity, or political views).

      The reason was that the media, in collusion with Saddam, was covering up his regime's brutality, aided by the numerous European and UN bureaucrats who were receiving billions of dollars in kickbacks -- which makes it easy to argue that the current situation is worse, since there is no honest comparison out there to what it was like previously.

      In short, it's easy for liberals like Rosie to ignore what was going on under Saddam, just as it was easy for the anti-Vietnam liberals to ignore what happened after we caved into them and pulled out. They know that, if they hide the information, the American people, by and large, can be easily manipulated.

    1. Amicus on May 29, 2007 8:09:37 PM:

      But she can't be too surprised that some would conflate calling "U.S. policy" terrorist with calling the soldiers who execute it terrorists.
      Surprised? No, perhaps not, given that it has been a long while since those on the right have had her in their sights, perhaps almost since she started with The View. This is just the culmination of a long line of 'get Rosie'. So, surprised, no - she ought to have thought of 'controlling her message', as is a la mode in 'freak-show' politics in the age of FOX "News".

      But, even if she ought not to have been 'surprised', she could have expected better. And, in that, Elizabeth is at fault (and so is Chris Matthews). It would not have been hard for her to reject the 'our troops are terrorists' while still engaging Rosie on the rest.

      I cannot believe that Kathy Griffin would be on the show, after she has had Barbara Walters in her comedy routines quite the way she has. Stranger things have happened, though.

      Oh, and, if you are really interested in using Rosie's comments as a springboard to frank discussion, then let's examine whether the Army is doing all it can to keep our troops from being "terrorists".

      There are polls out there that show 40% of the troops support torture of civilians, if it might help.

      We know also that some commanders have been called back for 're-education'.

      Fragging has been an issue, too.

      So, all told, since the Right want to talk about the bust-up job that the Army is doing, let's hear the whole story, yes, instead of using platitudes to lampoon the likes of Rosie.

    1. Maureen on May 30, 2007 11:21:01 PM:

      Actually, in the full clip, I believe Hasselback did say "no" to Rosie's question of "do you believe I think our troops are terrorists?" But she ended up telling Rosie that (paraphrasing) "what's cowardly is asking a quote-rhetorical-quote question and not answering it yourself."

      Also, is your dig at Ellen fair? Ellen does a great job of making people feel good, and what's wrong with that? I think Ellen's hosting the show her way has led to many a Republican wondering why she should be treated any differently than anyone else. And should we be getting our political news and debates from celebrities like Ellen, Rosie, Joy, Elizabeth, Oprah, Dr. Phil, etc.? One of the reasons I can't stand Rosie's opining is that she doesn't know how to articulate her opinions or debate; nothing she says is completely formed. Same for the late-night hosts. I turn on Letterman to laugh, because he's a comedian. I hate it when he gets some pundit or commentator on his show and attempts to keep up with the conversation. Because he can't. If we want serious daytime talk, let's hire a serious, knowledgable person for the job. (But I bet they'd lose a lot of daytime viewers.)

      Your comments about U.S. policy as terrorism are appreciated. Arguing about whether we should be there or whether the war has been incompetently run is one thing; saying that U.S. policy is equal to terrorism, or that the troops are terrorists, is just wrong.

    1. Sean on May 31, 2007 5:05:41 PM:

      Rosie tried her best to be friends with Elisabeth. However Elisabeth has some deeply engrained prejudices. She compared gay relationships to toasters just last year. Elisabeth also said that gay people can get married as long as it's to the opposite sex. That is extremely offensive to suggest that gay people have to live THEIR life by someone else's rules. That gay people have to pretend not to be gay. Deny who they are.

    1. Dale S. Milne on Apr 16, 2008 12:04:53 PM:

      "O’DONNELL: I’m saying if you were in Iraq, and the other country, the United States, the richest in the world, invaded your country and killed 655,000 of your citizens, what would you call us?"

      I'd call them "rich". I mean, that's what she just called them: "rich". What does being rich have to do with anything? Oh, sure, if you're rich you can buy _more_ and _bigger_ weapons, I'll grant you that. But, speaking for myself personally, if someone were to murder me, it wouldn't make a darn bit of difference to me if she were rich or poor, if she used a machete or a multi-million-dollar death ray.

      Why must people always bring "rich" into political, not to say even worse, militant, decisions! Is it because "rich" is in and of itself an Ee-uh-vool!? If so, then the questions that should be asked are, "Elizabeth, are you rich? Rosie, are you rich? Citizenchris, are you rich?" (You could even consider poor little me 'rich' compared to the majority of people in certain other nations.) And we'll let THAT determine whether a person, like we let it determine whether a nation, is good or bad.

      Of course that would be silly! "Rich" is a 'charged' word intended to get support for opposition ("support for opposition"!?), same as the use of the words "Nazi", "racist", "fundamentalist", "pervert", and so on. They are thrown in by emotionally immature people, intellectual incapable debaters, to solicit emotional support. Argumenti ad Invidiam, Odium, Misericordiam.

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