Is the Left Finally Wising Up?

Mark Tapson, a Hollywood-based writer and screenwriter, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He focuses on the politics of popular culture.


bmIs the Apocalypse upon us? Are we living in the End Times? What is the world coming to when fissures begin appearing in the left’s normally unified front, and some of the most prominent leftists in the entertainment world and academia begin openly espousing positions usually associated with the right, even going so far as to condemn President Barack Obama? Is the left finally waking up to their failed policies and leaders?

Pop music icon Madonna, for example, who in past performances has campaigned for Obama and equated President George W. Bush with Hitler, let slip an eyebrow-raising comment in an interview Friday with Good Morning America’s Elizabeth Vargas while promoting her latest concert tour. That show has come under fire, if you’ll pardon the pun, for the brandishing of fake guns as props.

When Vargas asked her if she would consider changing or deleting that aspect of the concert, Madonna said absolutely not. “That would be like asking people to not have guns in action movies,” she said. “I mean the thing is, guns don’t kill people, people kill people. That whole first section of the show is like an action movie, and I was playing a super vixen who wanted revenge.”

Hold on – guns don’t kill people, people kill people? That phrase is straight out of the NRA’s pro-Second Amendment playbook. Vargas then countered with recent examples in which the movie biz tried to be more sensitive to the issue of gun violence. “But I know there was [sic] several movies that delayed release because of the shootings, for example, at Sandy Hook Elementary school,” she said.

“Well that’s not going to change the situation,” Madonna replied. “This all comes from fear and ignorance, and people not really raising their children, or not paying attention to what’s going on.” It’s not clear what she’s saying here, but it sounds suspiciously like Madonna is touting individual responsibility, a notion verboten to the collectivist left.

Then purported comedian Bill Maher spoke with female Saudi Arabian filmmaker Haifaa al Mansour last week about the dismal results of the so-called “Arab Spring.” Said Maher: “The Arab Spring kind of turned into the Arab Winter.” Arab Winter? Conservatives have been using that line from the uprising’s very beginning. Maher admitted vaguely to “criticizing a belief system that turns people into something they wish they wouldn’t be,” and complained that “American Muslims and liberals” just can’t wrap their minds around that:

Mecca is the capital of [Saudi Arabia]. And they routinely put people to death… the religious capital, and it’s equivalent to like the Vatican, right, with Catholicism. And, if at the Vatican, they were putting people to death for homosexuality and apostasy and, you know, adultery… I feel there would be a big outcry. I feel that liberals would be upset about that.

Of course they would. The left already irrationally refers to Christians here as “American Taliban” while turning a blind eye to Islam’s grotesque human rights abuses. By pointing out that hypocrisy, Maher is literally echoing the right.

Speaking of comedy, the unapologetically left-leaning, fake news program The Daily Show, normally hosted by Jon Stewart, actually began taking potshots at Obama. Last week guest host John Oliver contrasted the lackluster attendance at Obama’s recent speech in Germany with the enormous crowd present at the president’s first visit there in 2008, comparing him to a floundering TV network: “Losing 95 percent of your audience in just five years, that basically makes Obama the NBC of presidents.”

It’s not only show biz figures condemning Obama. Some of the left’s most revered academics, including Obama’s former friends and associates, are making eye-opening comments. A month ago, race-baiting radical professor Cornel West said in an interview that Obama is “just too tied to Wall Street. And at this point he is a war criminal.” Unrepentant Weather Underground terrorist and respected educator Bill Ayers himself declared in an interview last week that Obama should be tried for war crimes. The following day Noam Chomsky, the Godfather of Radical Academics, stated unequivocally that “Obama is running the biggest terrorism operation that exists, maybe in history.”

The right has been trumpeting these in the social media as examples that the left is finally beginning to “get it,” finally starting to recognize that their policies might not be working and that their man in the White House isn’t the Messiah they had hoped for. Is the optimism of conservatives warranted? Is the left finally showing early warning signs of wising up? In a word: no.

Madonna has at best sent mixed and hypocritical messages on guns. She has built a career on shock and controversy; for her, brandishing guns onstage is just another way to make herself “edgy” and relevant, particularly as she gets a concert tour underway. There’s no reason to assume that she has acquired any wisdom in her old age.

Maher has on numerous occasions been willing to call out Islam on its false reputation as “the Religion of Peace,” but he’s no friend to religion in general or to the right, nor will he ever be. Maher will never abandon the adulation of the hateful minions in his core audience, or risk getting himself banned from his regular haunt, the Playboy Mansion Grotto.

Likewise, Jon Stewart and The Daily Show will not betray their core audience of young lefties who consider him their most trusted news anchor. Yes, it’s notable when leftist comics finally begin teasing their own leaders, but conservatives shouldn’t begin toasting a 2016 election victory just yet.

Leftist academics may be willing to denounce Obama in terms they usually reserve for Republican warmongers, but their dissatisfaction is only evidence that Obama isn’t proving to be radical enough for them.

Obama may be hitting a few speed bumps, but he is far from being derailed, and we are a long way off from seeing mass defections from the left. The right cannot afford complacency.

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  • CowboyUp

    Something else to consider about this criticism is that it doesn’t really matter at this point. Obama’s last election is over, it’s Hillary they’re protecting now.

    • bluffcreek1967

      Yeah, the Left has got out of Obama about as much as they could, so now it’s somewhat ‘safe’ to criticize him – although such ‘criticism’ is very mild and frequently veiled. Even when the Left criticizes their own, they mostly do it tenderly.

  • kshapero

    Focus on Hillary

  • jzsnake

    Stupid article. The left is criticizing him because he is not leftist enough. There is no common cause with conservatives. Also Maher has several times in past made derogatory comments about Islam and positive comments about Israel.

    • NAHALKIDES

      Tapson agrees with you! You’d be well-advised not to call him stupid…

  • EarlyBird

    Hilarious. Tapson actually manages to expose that he – not the left – is the one living in an ideological bubble.
    Does he know there are liberal gun owners and 2nd Amendment supporters? Does it actually take a conservative to recognize that there is currently chaos in the Arab world?
    At this point in history, it is the right – not the left – which demands rigid adherence to ideological orthodoxy, ever on the search for apostates to excommunicate from “conservatism.” They even have an acronym for it: RINO. Currently the right is constantly on the look-out for those not pure enough, and demand more and more right-leaning candidates.
    Did the Democratic voting base require their candidiate to state that he was a “severe liberal” to get the nomination? No. Was the Democratic candidate required to ignore his successful governorship of Massachusetts due to it being an eeek! blue state and eeek! that he used government to ameliorate the downsides of free market healthcare? Did Democrats use evangelical Chrisitanity as a litmus test for their candidates?
    There is zero breathing room on the right any more for differences of opinion. Conservatism is about as open-minded and thoughtful as a Berkeley student union circa ’69.

    • NAHALKIDES

      Hysterically funny, although unintentionally so. Yes, there are a few “liberals” who believe in gun rights, and perhaps a few recognize the chaos in the Arab world (significantly, none of them are admitting that Obama has made things worse in that region), but in the end. the Democratic Party is now openly socialist, and the voices of moderation, if there are any, are seldom if ever heard. The Democratic leadership is to a man completely totalitarian, even if those in districts in which Republicans are still competitive strive to hide their true feelings. See, e.g. Joe Manchin in W. Virginia, who pretended to be in favor of gun rights before voting in lockstep with more radical Democrats who desire gun confiscation and are moving as quickly in that direction as the political danger will allow them .

      Manchin, by the way, is now criticizing Obama’s war on affordable energy, but in the end, he’s unlikely to defy his masters in the party leadership.

      As to Republicans who adhere to the same core beliefs as Democrats, please explain why these RINO’s should not be tossed out of the party? What possible use are they to anyone except Democrats? Your side expels Democrats for far less, e.g. Joe Lieberman for supporting the Iraq War even though he was still 100% in favor of a Big Government Welfare State.

      • EarlyBird

        Are you saying I’m wrong about the GOP nomination process this past election?

        I am a registered lifelong Republican who votes a straight GOP ticket in California and have only voted for a Dem for president twice (Obama). And to a great degree those votes have had to do with the fact that the Party has just gone insane.

        You talked about Dem party “leadership.” Tapson was talking about ALL people on “the left” (which means practically everyone on earth in relation to him). There are of course all sorts of knee-jerk reactionaries on the left regarding race, homosexuality, but lot of room to discuss tax rates, how much to spend or not to spend on X, etc.

        I remember when the conservative movement was on the rise and was the place where ideas lived and there was room to differ without being cast out, and it was the left which was a bitter rump of stale identity politics (late ’70s, early ’80s) purging impure liberals from their ranks.

        As successful movements tend to do, the Reagan Revolution has ossified and those roles seem to have switched. What we’re seeing on sites like this, and on shows like Limbaugh and Fox, etc., is the bitter enders burning out. It’s why the right hasnt’ bee relevant to Americans for quite a while.
        There is a need for serious conservative ideas and loyal opposition. We’ll come back.

        • OfficialPro

          oh so you’re one of those White Guilt Voters?

          • EarlyBird

            No, I’m one of those sane voters. I don’t vote for insane parties.

          • Abort Leftists

            Insane parties that aren’t asserting the power to drone strike American citizens without a trial….riiiiight.

            You’re one of those traitorous voters if you voted for Barack Obama twice. You want to see me go insane? Start violating every single amendment Americans got, like Obama, and I go pretty crazy about preserving my god-given rights.

        • NAHALKIDES

          I would have to say each and every one of your conclusions is completely wrong. The Reagan Revolution hardly “ossified”; instead, we’re plagued with Establishment/RINO types like John McCain, the Bush Bros., Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, etc. If you think the Republican Party has “gone insane” then you almost certainly share the basic assumptions of the Progressive Left: you want a massive Welfare State even bigger than the one we have now but you want it a little better run than Democrats can manage or perhaps you’re just a little more serious about defending the country than they are.

          In that you resemble Colin Powell: both of you are solipsists who think the Party should be more like you. In fact, Conservatives are far more consistent than you are in support of freedom. The Party didn’t leave you as you seem to imagine; you left the Party.

          We don’t need two parties devoted to Statism any more than we need two parties dedicated to abortion on demand. If you want Statism or abortion on demand, then you belong with the Democrats. Might as well admit it to yourself and stop suffering.

          • EarlyBird

            Here’s an example of what I mean by “ossification.”

            Reagan was a man for his times. We desperately needed to slash the scope of government, roll back taxes and regulations and set the markets free. And that should be the general direction in which we should lean. But not all times demand those policies.

            Yet, can you imagine ANY economic circumstances whereby the Republicans’ answer would NOT be “lower taxes and reduce regulations”? We were in the midst of two major wars during W’s time, spending a billion dollars a day, at a time when we were already suffering a huge deficit, and his answer was “lower taxes and fewer regulations.” No taxes to even subsidize a war? (Instead we borrowed from the Chinese.)

            We had a crippling meltdown in the financial sector in ’08 because the banks’ regulatory apparatus was not working right, and the answer to THAT was “fewer regulations”!

            In the name of “free markets” many Republicans (said they) were willing to let the “too big to fail” banks fail, which would have sent us into an utter abyss. As absolutely painful as it was to bail out these banks, as terribly un-laissez faire as that was, it was necessary. (I get the theory; but reality doesnt’ always work that way.)

            And on and on. Applying conservative principles to reality is conservative. Never budging from specific conservative policies regardless of reality is just ideological radicalism.

            Nor does the right realize how incredibly successful it’s been, how far to the right economic policy has gone since Reaganism and its attendant starvation of government has been. Clinton was only able to be elected after promising that he was a “new Democrat.”

            And yes, the vast majority of Americans have fallen behind due to Trickle Down Economics, as the tiny top wealthy minority has flourished. Admitting this does not mean I endorse a vast welfare state.

          • NAHALKIDES

            The problem with Republicans is not, as you seem to believe, that their answer to our problems is to cut taxes and regulations, but that they rarely actually say or do cut taxes and regulations (of course spending must be cut too, down to a reasonable level of taxation).

            Yes, the answer to the financial meltdown WAS fewer regulations – but I didn’t hear too many Republicans saying that. The problem wasn’t that the free market didn’t work, the problem was that we didn’t have anything like a free market in the financial sector. Regulation is what caused all the problems. And yes, it would have been better to let the banks fail, repeal regulations, and let better banks take their place. It would have been painful but it would have been over with quickly. Here we are 5 years later, and “too big to fail” is still with us and still predictably causing nothing but trouble.

    • Abort Leftists

      “It is a conglomeration of angry, reactionary, nativist identity politics, not a vibrant place of ideas.”

      It’s always hilarious to me how those who criticize something as “not vibrant enough” tend to live in gated communities with people who are racially,culturally,religiously and economically similar to themselves.

      Do they have armed security guards in your 95% white affluent liberal neighborhood,EarlyBird?

      You know what’s funniest about your statement? Angry,reactionary, nativist,identity politics are the reason our country was the most prosperous in the world for 200 years. Angry nativist reactionaries rebelled against the British Empire and turned a group of hardscrabble farmers into the most powerful military in the world.

      If you feel that trading these things for “vibrancy” is a reasonable trade, then you should be forced to see what vibrancy really looks like 24/7/365 until you understand that it isn’t. Trading economic and military independence for “vibrancy” is like trading your rent money for a handful of magic beans from a Somali crackhead. I mean, you are really getting bent over on that one,bub.

  • EarlyBird

    One more thing: Obama has taken FAR more criticism from the left than the right in regard to his aggressive foreign policy, for not closing Gitmo, wars, drones, surveillance, etc., not excepting this gaggle of reactionary right wing psychopaths on Front Rage Magazine.

    • NAHALKIDES

      If you really think we’re “reactionary right wing psychopaths”, please feel free to leave us at any time. I think we can struggle on without you very well.

      • EarlyBird

        “If you really think we’re “reactionary right wing psychopaths”, please feel free to leave us at any time. I think we can struggle on without you very well.”

        You could not have illustrated my point any better than with this comment. Thank you.

        • bluffcreek1967

          Your comments are so off base that it’s obvious your personal political agenda has blinded you from seeing things as they truly are. Obama has indeed taken SOME criticism for certain policies and other things, but it has been relatively mild and downplayed in the MSM.

          If Bush would have done even half of the things Obama has done, the public outcry and the media’s hounding of him would be endless. In comparison to Bush, however, Obama has received very little real criticism from the Left. And when he does, it’s because he hasn’t gone far enough to the Left?!

          By the way, now that Obama has involved us even more conflicts than Bush had ever dreamed of, where are the massive anti-war protests? Where is outrage from the Left? Truth is, liberals don’t hate war. They only hate it when a sitting president who is a Republican engages in it. The Left is hypocritical to its core – but we always knew that, didn’t we?

          • EarlyBird

            I don’t disagree with the specifics of your post, especially about the partisan hypocrisy. But I think in the big picture, if you’re honestly looking at where the relevant ideas and energy are coming from right now, it’s not from the right. It’s too busy fighting the culture war (and losing), and adhering to dogma (no raise in taxes, ever, not even to fund two foreign wars and when we have $trillion + deficits).

            Do you know why Obamacare exists today? Because for Republicans to even consider out loud that there is a national problem with the costs of healthcare as delivered by untouched free markets, is to commit heresy. Someone like Kemp (RIP) would have come up with a real market-based solution. In 2013 we have Palin screaming “Death panels!”

          • bluffcreek1967

            I appreciate that, thank you. I don’t have the time or space to reply in depth to some of the broader issues that you raised since none of those were the original matter at hand. Contrary to what you’ve posted, the ‘relevant ideas’ have indeed come from the Right – particularly in the way of tax reform (which liberals aren’t even attempting to change) and the deficit. Conservatives have proposed serious, well-developed measures to turn our economy around.

            The problem has been that the Obama administration has only feigned an interest and openness to such things. The MSM, additionally, has tended to ridicule and downplay important policy insights and alternative plans from those on the Right. The Left, more so than conservatives, has done its best to maintain the status-quo – and this explains why our economy is genuinely NOT improving with them in leadership.

            As far as Obamacare is concerned, it will prove to be a complete disaster (and it already has). But perhaps the deeper question should be: Is this really the role of our government? Has not history and human experience shown that wide-scale government intrusion in almost every sphere never works out for our good?

            Finally, conservatives should not be fearful in addressing the broader cultural issues that any public policy brings. As Americans, I would hope, we should indeed protect and defend those aspects of our culture that promote life and liberty (abortion) and which preserve our American way of life. It’s simplistic to imply that the Right’s only response to Obamacare is to shout, ‘Death Panels!’ as if we’ve had nothing more substantive to say. By the way, Sarah Palin was right.

          • Abort Leftists

            Besides that, when he talks about “the Right” he’s only talking about Pat Buchanan and Ted Cruz and Mitch McConnell and the Pauls,the right is a little bigger than just the guys you see on tv.

          • Laura Thompson

            She had a good reason to “scream” death panels because as it turns out, hmmm, there is a panel of non health care providers to determine who gets treatments for specific medical problems, AND, as it turns out, this panel will be using the “Lives Cycle” to determine if you are in a productive state in your cycle of life. Now it is a long bill to read, but I strongly suggest you buff up on some of the atrocities that are considered part of The Affordable Care Act.

          • EarlyBird

            Laura, I know Obamacare very well, and know medicine very well, having been in it for nearly 20 years as a researcher at a major academic health center (currently in radiation oncology).

            And guess what? If you have insurance or doctors, you already have a “death panel.” There have been “death panels” as long as there has been end of life care.

            If you have an 89 year old man with congestive heart failure, diabetes and prostate cancer, and there is a chemotherapy which might prolong his life by a number of years but which costs $30,000 per cycle, insurance will say “no.” That’s a “death panel.”

            When an ER doctor decides to stop defribrillating a patient because he believes the patient will have suffered brain death – though could continue biological life – that’s a “death panel.”

            When an organ becomes available for transplantation, it’s going to go to the younger person with a longer, healthier life expectancy, not the elderly person with multiple conditions. That’s a “death panel.”

            Palin’s nonsense was wonderful demagoguery, but terrible analysis. There is and always has been a rationing of healthcare.

            I have LOADS of problems with Obamacare. It came to be because Republicans refused to offer any real solution to the cost of healthcare in America which is ruining individuals’ life savings, hurting companies’ ability to compete with foreign companies, and dramatically curtailing the establishment of new, small businesses.

            Why? Because any real solution is going to require some government manipulation of free markets and sharing some of the cost collectively, and that is considered “Marxism! Socialism! The End of the Republic!”

            The Democrats win when the Republicans opt out of governance in the name of purity. They simply become irrelevant. Like I mentioned earlier in this thread, Jack Kemp would have found a much, much more market-friendly approach to the problem. (But he’d be denounced as a “RINO” by today’s “conservatives.”)

          • Laura Thompson

            EarlyBird, I too am in healthcare as a neonatal nurse for 19 years so I know health care up close and personal. I too have had experiences in my own life where health care procedures were done (46 surgeries) to try to save my left leg, so I know a little bit about health care insurance myself, and while I am quite aware that insurance companies are hell bent on not paying and find all kinds of reasons not to, and thank God I never had that particular problem. My father had end of life care and was never denied the next treatment available for his problem but chose himself not to take the last hope of chemo that would devastate the quality of his life. There is no doubt that health care is in trouble but you are wrong in the the GOP did offer other plans but when Democrats had both parties and the executive branch, non were interested in what their program looked like. I would like to see a free economic insurance company like it used to be before managed care got into the picture, back in the day when insurance was for catastrophic care and you kept a savings for what medical expenses came along with life. Health care before co-pays, being able to go to the hospital or doctor of your choice and insurance rarely played a role unless you were sent to the hospital. I just prefer a free market period with just about everything and those businesses that can’t get their act together for whatever reason (and I’ve been there too) simply fail and there are no bail outs and no cronyism pay offs, no subsidies, no grants, etc. In following this thread and comments others I remarked how the entire political system left and right are simply all moving to the left and that is what bothers me. I am a conservative and believe what the country was founded upon, IS the best plan ever offered up for the governance of mankind. The problem is that the culture has drifted into such moral decay that the free market system and less government can no longer work. The people who run things just do not have enough moral fortitude to let go of the power, the president has made congress irrelevant and fiat decisions by one man who has lost his moral conscience is a scary thing. That is my stand, probably more libertarian than republican and I am sticking to it until I learn a better path for myself. I do read/research constantly to learn as much for myself and try to remain open to new ideas, but the older ones from the founding are so far better than anything I’ve seen in modern times. Long response, sorry.

    • defcon 4

      I find it strange how your vitriol is reserved for FPM, while the ongoing ethnic cleansing, persecution, rape, forcible conversion and mass murder being carried out by your fellow islamon-azis all over the world, on practically a daily basis, doesn’t cause you the slightest consternation.

      • EarlyBird

        Okay.

  • NAHALKIDES

    Right you are, Mark – being a Progressive means never saying you’re sorry for all the misery your failed programs have caused. Leftists may be souring on Obama as The Anointed One, but they’re not questioning their faith in Leftism itself.

  • OfficialPro

    Chomsky, Ayers, and Cornel West are all right for the wrong reasons. Madonna, gee, I never thought she’d smarten up. I guess miracles are possible. Maher’s a sort of “equal opportunity religion basher” so it’s really not a surprise with him.

  • Andy_Lewis

    I’m on the left, and I never had any goddamn use for him. I voted McCain without hesitation or regret.

  • Butseriously

    Viva “Talking Points Memos”. America’s only defense of that thing in the WH.

  • Steve Fair

    This just more dumbass rightwing sophistry. The leftists are not agreeing with conservatives. They are upset that Obama is too moderate.

  • Philo Vaihinger

    Maher was never with the left about Islam.

    And you are actually quoting Ayers and Chomsky with approval as they attack Obama for continuing GOP measures to defend America against Muslim terrorism?

    You guys are such unbelievable hypocrites you sicken me.