I’m always on the lookout for someone to explain to me – and I say this with a completely straight face, and no hint of irony – why I voted for Barack Obama. I don’t mean that cynically. I know why I voted for him, but I should say I’m always on the lookout for anyone who can explain why I voted for Barack Obama better than I can. And, in a more general sense, I’m always looking out for anyone who can articulate beliefs similar to mine – as I’ve mentioned before, I’m still searching for a coherent and comprehensive worldview, since some of my beliefs, if followed to their logical conclusions, can tend to be contradictory. I know what I believe, and I know what’s right when I hear it, but I’m always interested in anyone who can explain it better than I can. As an aspiring writer, you can imagine that this takes a certain amount of humility…which are two other things that may seem contradictory – aspiring writer and humility – but are not mutually exclusive.
Anyway, this has all been a long way around to the fact that the good folks at Esquire, specifically one Tom Junod, have once again articulated what is in my head better than I can (emphasis mine):
I watched the inauguration on Fox News. I admit there was some perversity involved — I wanted both to tremble with outrage and to gloat. I also wanted to remember why I liked Barack Obama, and there is no better way of liking Barack Obama than watching him on a network that pays people to hate him. His first term was questionable in many ways, but one thing was certain — he wasn’t them. He wasn’t Brit and Megyn and Brett and Chris, with their grievances and their grudges and their hurt feelings, and he wasn’t the man they were still half-heartedly defending, Mitt Romney.
On any list of Obama’s best qualities, this should be at or near the top. It is certainly one of the best arguments in favor of him.
The article is a brilliant piece about how extensively Fox News has marginalized itself, and is very much worth reading in its entirety. Junod continues:
Has anybody else besides Ann Romney mentioned Mitt Romney’s name since November 6? Has anyone watched Fox? The network once thought to be integral to Karl Rove’s “permanent Republican majority” now has to live down the election-night memory of Rove standing in the schoolhouse door between Megyn Kelly and the announcement that Barack Obama had won a second term. Roger Ailes created a news network designed to elect presidents, but he built it upon his own immortal and immortalized sense of injury, and now that he “lost” the election, the sense of injury is all that’s left. If you’ve decided to give Fox a rest because life is too short, it’s worth checking out again, if only because it provides a handy time warp: Fox News is so very 2009, so very terrorist-fist-bumpy. The difference is that back then, it was able to turn its election loss into win, by marshalling nascent anti-Obama sentiment and becoming the voice of unbridled opposition. Now it just seems dispirited. Roger Ailes does one thing very well: white-guy disgruntlement. It’s a potent force, when there are enough disgruntled white guys. But now that the demographics are turning against him, all Ailes can offer is a fulfillment of his own paranoia — the spectacle of cafeteria overlords like Megyn Kelly and Brit Hume turning into permanent underdogs.
The roiling anti-Obama opposition – a formidable force in its own right – took a pretty big hit when the country once again elected him, allowing for the possibility that maybe the rest of us weren’t brainwashed by post-racial optimism and a shiny historical moment the first time around. So they’re certainly not broken, but maybe they’ve taken a knee, maybe they’re double-over from the gut punch that was just delivered to them on November 6th. They’re certainly weakened. Their glorious vision – as a result of his first-term failures – of an earth-splitting backlash against Obama that would conjure up a tidal wave of negative and repentant public sentiment of such size and velocity that it would wash away the remnants of his initial wave of hope and change, retrospectively rendering him not a movement but a one-hit wonder, needless to say did not happen. Obama’s victory was moderate and decisive. And now, Fox News has narrowed itself past the boundaries of reasonable opposition, and even past the confines of the Anybody-But-Obama constituencies, to representing only, as Junod so perfectly describes, “disgruntled white guys.” He goes on to say “the demographics are turning against him” – “him” being Ailes meaning Fox News – a fact I can’t help but hold my breath until taken to heart by the GOP. Fox News’s determined, righteous underdog of populist opposition – what is now just plain ornery disagreeableness – has projected such an image for so long and so thoroughly that is has been permanently branded that way, not in the context of a marketing mechanism as much as a red-hot iron pulled from the fire to bestow a symbol of ownership on livestock. Fox News chained itself to the railing of a great big Anti-Obama cruiseliner, the biggest and grandest ever built, and sailing was smooth while Obama kept struggling and opposition to him rose, until they hit an iceberg on November 6th… So now they’re drowning in a vast sea of their own churlishness, self-pity, and obstinance, doomed to convey their message of opposition from the bottom of the ocean, where it is very hard to maintain your relevance, or even be heard.