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by Steve Young

Steve Young columns

You know the cast.

Bob Beckel, Susan Estrich, Lanny Davis...Joe Lieberman (the only elected Dem who regularly wades into the Hannity mire).

They'll say they do shows like Hannity's to speak for their side; to have the opportunity to get their word to the Right. Sure. Like Hannity would book them if that would be the result.

You may think Hannity is an intellectual airhead, but he's not stupid. They don't give you a $25 million contract because you are. He knows exactly what he's doing and there are plenty who say they're on the left who are helping him.

It's a pattern of party-defeat. Worse: It's party-deceit.

Beckel, Estrich and the lot show up on Hannity and start off by giving their Dem-side credentials to prove who they are, when for the most part, it describes who they once were.

Then the issue they were brought on to discuss is introduced. It's usually a quote by someone like Cindy Sheehan, Jack Murtha, Howard Dean or such. You know, some individual who has the balls to actually say what we all want said. They may not have said what they said perfectly, but look for Sean to pull the part of the soundbite that pleases his agenda, even if that not be what the person meant. In some cases, such as Senator Dick Durbin's speech concerning the Gitmo conditions, Hannity will play an edited version of the speech to make it appear more "damaging to our soldiers" or some such other objective.

Next, the (in the case of Estrich and Beckel, Fox) "contributor" will condemn the quote and the person who said it. They may attempt to excuse it, but they still find it a problem.

"I would have said it differently." "Sheehan doesn't speak for all of us." "Murtha certainly is due his props as a war veteran, but..." Bingo! Game over! Sean wins!

And then Sean will pounce and pile on. "What wrong with your (Democratic) party that they're run by these far left Michael Moore nuts who (place any Hannity litany of liberal evil against apple pie here)."

It wasn't always this way. When I used to be invited on Hannity, I was able to get out enough information prior to Sean's interruption that my views and facts were fully aired for his fans to hear. That many of those on the Right wrote or called in to say so made that rather evident. So clear was it that Sean once said that we were both right. How many times does Sean say that now? That Sean will no longer let me on the show asserts that things have changed.

Today, Sean has nailed down his formula and he is unbelievably good at it.

It's not a debate to learn -- it's a debate to win. It's simple math that is emblematic of the present two party politic, and why, if the numbers aren't reworked by the Left, the Right will always win.

Here's the math:

On most issues, the Right, who talk radio represents, is 50 percent of the equation, but they're also 100 percent in agreement. There is no grey. No listening to all sides before making a decision. The Left's 50 percent is embedded by an intellectual process that is both their strength and Achilles heel. Just the fact that they will consider the Right's argument at all, hands the Right the win. It's quite rudimentary: L(eft) vs R(ight) is actually...

L (½ L + ½ R) vs R which becomes...

½L vs 1½R.

Ergo, the Left is always up against three times the firepower. It's unfair, really. The crime is that we've actually acquiesced to the opponent to hand them the win.

The media has fallen for the math too. But this one's a bit more complicated. The Right (or Fox News), speaking as one, no matter the truth or inanity of their argument, has been legitimized by the media as one half of the debate. On the other hand, because the mainstream media (MSM™ ) offers both sides of an argument (it's called "balance") and not what the Right walks in lockstep to, they are deemed on the Left. It's a coopted process by the Right, but the Left has bought it lock, stock and bull.

So pounded by the Right, with Hannity and Fox News mate, O'Reilly leading the way, it's become a given, even by many of those in the media. Want proof? Watch the MSM™ Sunday morning talk shows.

The Formula is perhaps the top reason why liberal talk radio that mimics the right just doesn't work certainly not any way near as well. The liberal audience scoffs at anything that plays one note. That song doesn't pass the whole truth smell test and gets boring very quickly. A little like disco or so-called patriotic country western. But the Right eats it up.

Democrat who appear on Hannity feeds right into this equation and Sean's hands. Although ridiculed by many on the Left, it might just be that Alan Colmes handles it best because, by show rule, Sean doesn't get to interrupt (that much). But even for Alan to reveal some distortion Sean has hammered into place, it takes being on every night.

That Democrats who continue to come on Hannity don't get the math is unfathomable. They can't be that stupid. That they've traded their principles for a piece of the Right side of the pie is unforgivable, and if nothing else, they should have their Democratic credentials pulled. I'm not saying that we should drop fighting the good fight intellectually, but if you're bent on using it on Hannity, the stupid one on the screen will not be Hannity.

Steve Young, author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Successful" and the forthcoming "15 Minutes" (Harper Collins). Steve's column can be read every Sunday in the LA Daily News Op-Ed page (right next to Bill O'Reilly)

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Albion Monitor   July 6, 2006   (

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