Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Tale of Two Americans

Yesterday my friend John V. Moore of the Windy City Watch Blog alerted me to this disturbing video:

It’s GEICO spokesman, R. Lee Ermey, appearing at a December 10, 2010 Marine Corps Toys for Tots event hosted by Chicago radio personality Roe Conn of WLS-AM Radio. Pointing out the obvious – that “the economy sucks” – Ermey goes on to say:

Now I hate to point fingers at anybody, but the present administration probably has a lot to do with that, and the way I see it they’re not going to quit doing it until they bring this country to its knees, so I think we should all rise up and we should stop this administration from what they’re doing because they’re destroying this country. They’re driving us into bankruptcy so that they can impose socialism on us, and that’s exactly what they’re doing and I’m sick and damn tired of it and I know you are too.

Never mind the fact that “GEICO” is an acronym for Government Employees Insurance Company. From GEICO’s own website:

GEICO has a long history with government employees. The company was originally started to serve their insurance needs, and GEICO’s founder Leo Goodwin made it a point to name the company after them—Government Employees Insurance Company.

They were GEICO’s first customers in 1936 and the strong bond that was formed then remains today.

Smells like … socialism!

Interestingly enough, though, GEICO, despite its warm embrace of government employees (or, at any rate, its warm embrace of government employees’ wallets), seems to have a bit of a double-standard when it comes to the political commentary of its spokespeople. The Bearded Crank reminds us that last spring, GEICO fired Lance Baxter (a/k/a DC Douglas) for leaving a sarcastic message on the voicemail system of FreedomWorks, a major supporter of the Tea Party movement, questioning the Tea Partiers’ sanity; but when asked about Ermey’s bizarre rant at a charity event three weeks ago, GEICO’s reaction was simply this: “Mr. Ermey has expressed his own personal views.” In other words: No biggie.

But beyond GEICO’s double standard, I can’t emphasize enough how deeply offensive it is for Ermey, a successful, undoubtedly highly paid Hollywood celebrity, to politicize a Christmas toy drive; to use an event like that – one of the most benign and innocent charitable events imaginable – to spread base political lies and incite hate. Because, frankly, that’s exactly what that type of rhetoric is. Ermey isn’t expressing an honest disagreement with the President over policy (more power to him if he wants to do that; just not at a charity event for kids). Instead, he’s using the buzzwords that fear mongers like Glenn Beck and disgraced former Tea Party Express leader Mark Williams have used since Pres. Obama was sworn in nearly two years ago. The absurd accusation that Pres. Obama, a centrist at best, wants to impose socialism on America is purposefully dishonest, and folks like Beck and Williams – and now Ermey – spread that lie to defame the President and to undermine honest political discourse. Worse, to say people who have policy disagreements with the President should “rise up and … stop this administration from what they’re doing” – well, you’d have to be willfully ignorant to think that that type of rhetoric isn’t likely to encourage hatred of the President. Indeed, we’ve already seen that Glenn Beck’s rhetoric, which Ermey knowingly parrots, has the potential to incite violence against liberals.

But I guess when you live a cloistered life in the rarified air of Hollywood, living among some of the richest people on the planet, maybe you’re a little out of touch with the rest of us.

It turns out, however, that not all celebrities are so out of touch with reality, nor are all celebrities so callous with their political rhetoric. Take country legend Merle Haggard, a guy who’s been around the proverbial block and has probably seen considerably more hard times in his day than R. Lee Ermey.

Here’s what Mr. Haggard has to say about the hateful rhetoric that’s been directed at our Commander in Chief lately:

“It was also nice to meet Obama and find him very different from the media makeout,” Haggard told [Rolling Stone] magazine. “It’s really almost criminal what they do with our president. There seems to be no shame or anything. They call him all kinds of names all day long, saying he’s doing certain things that he’s not. It’s just a big old political game that I don’t want to be part of. There are people spending their lives putting him down. I’m sure some of it’s true and some of it’s not. I was very surprised to find the man very humble and he had a nice handshake. His wife was very cordial to the guests and especially me. They made a special effort to make me feel welcome. It was not at all the way the media described him to be.”

I have no idea what Mr. Haggard’s personal politics are, and I don’t care one way or the other. It’s worth noting that in addition to his warm comments about the current President, Haggard recently said in an interview in the Washington Post that “the intelligence of [Richard] Nixon was impressive” and that Ralph Nader is “pretty damn smart” too; so he’s an equal opportunity compliment-giver, I suppose.

But that’s the point, isn’t it? Haggard, who’s open-minded enough to praise the qualities of both Pres. Obama and Pres. Nixon – and political outlier Ralph Nader – and who’s lived a pretty hard life for a man of 73, has a certain wisdom that Hollywood insider R. Lee Ermey doesn’t. So whether Merle’s a Republican or a Democrat is beside the point. He’s an American, and he actually acts like one.

Take a lesson, Ermey. You jackwagon.

© 2010 David P. von Ebers. All rights reserved.

2 comments:

  1. Hmm. Full Metal Jacket featured both Mr. Emery and one Adam Baldwin. Coincidence? You be the judge.

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  2. Yeah, I think I hurt Adam Baldwin’s feelings – although to be fair to him, I did confuse him with a different Baldwin. My bad.

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