As Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs, Rush, and other wackos compete to be the loudest and most hysterical opponent of Barack Obama, one former boogeyman has toned it way down. Bill O'Reilly just wrote the President a nationally syndicated birthday card.
In Sunday's Parade magazine, Bill O'Reilly writes a long, glowing tribute headlined "What President Obama Can Teach America's Kids." It's not like a sarcastic "he can teach the kids to be a secret radical communist" thing either.
"Barack Obama, a youngster in Hawaii without his parents around, has toughed it out and become one of history's great stories, no matter what happens going forward," he writes at the end. "What he has achieved in his 48 years is simply astounding. Consider the odds. The United States is a nation of more than 300 million citizens. Only one person is currently the Commander in Chief. That man had no fatherly guidance, is of mixed race, and had no family connections to guide him into the world of national politics. That adds up to one simple truth that every American child should be told: 'If Barack Obama can become the President of the United States, then whatever dream you may have can happen in your life.'"
Now most of this inspiring life story and only-in-America stuff was covered by almost everyone else back in January, and none of it is even remotely controversial or scandalous, but admiring a man you disagree with is not a very popular concept in the partisan media.
Of course Bill has always held himself to be more independent than true-blue GOP water carriers (even when that is patent bullshit), and he has generally shown no desire to be thought of as a right-wing talk radio shock jock, but his self-declared independence rarely stops him from whole-heartedly embracing the arguments and language of Republican talking points on nearly every issue. (He's still going after GE and abortion doctors, obviously.)
But: Obama did his show. Obama showed him that courtesy, and Bill didn't end up being one of the leaders of the right-wing media revolt against the president.
Let this be a lesson to Democrats: doing O'Reilly may grant him unwarranted legitimacy, but it'll shut him up, too. If you're nice enough to him he'll write a long column about how pretty you are and how much he wants to kiss you and stuff.
We'll monitor the usual channels for outraged conservative blogger responses to this bit of turncoatery.