Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Factor

I used to drink the Bill O’Reilly Kool-Aid. It’s easy to admit embarrassing things once you’ve stopped doing them.

I read his first couple of books, and I said to myself, “Okay, here’s a guy who’s capable of making sense.” I actually respected the guy for dropping off the face of the earth, going back to school for a new degree at a relatively advanced stage in his career, then redefining himself as a “serious” journalist – as opposed to whatever he’d called himself when he hosted Inside Edition back in the early 1990’s.

I thought it was sort of cool that he came from Levittown, which historically has been just about as working-class as it gets on Long Island. I thought it was sort of cool that he grew up under the thumb of a disgruntled, iron-fisted Irish-Catholic father, the same way I did. I thought it was sort of cool that he went to the same high school one of my brothers did.

I said, “Here’s a guy I can identify with, and I’m glad he has a platform from which he can take on all the assholes out there and bring a little bit of New York Irish-Catholic sensibility to the world. This is a good thing.”

You know what, though? He’s not the guy for it.

I picked up my mother at the eye doctor’s office today. Her pupils were dilated and she couldn’t drive herself home, so she told me to come and get her in her car. Her radio was tuned to 710 AM, which is WOR here in New York. Nobody under sixty has ever listened to WOR, except maybe me, today. Bill O’Reilly’s radio show was on, so I listened to it for a little while. It made me very angry.

Bill O’Reilly is a very arrogant man. He’s the conservative Keith Olbermann, complete with all the smugness and the smirking. He told me that if I sent him money and subscribed to some service he was offering, I could go online and have full access to everything he had to say, and I could “learn something.”

I don’t like when people tell me they can teach me things. I like judging that on my own, using my own set of criteria. Under my terms, Bill O’Reilly doesn’t qualify as someone who can teach me anything, unless we’re talking about the things he’s qualified to teach me – like hosting a conservative talk show. I don’t really want to learn how to do that unless someone wants to pay me a lot of money, so I don’t see how listening to Bill O’Reilly can benefit my life in any way.

With regard to everything else in life, I don’t think there’s much he can tell me. He’s significantly older than me, but he doesn’t have the life experience to teach me all the things he believes he’s capable of teaching me. He’s also delusional. I heard him say on the air once that he’d “been in combat.” When people say they’ve “been in combat,” at least in the United States, it means they’ve served in the military. It means they’ve been forward deployed to a dangerous place, and that somebody has shot real bullets at them in the process.

Bill O’Reilly apparently once went somewhere where people were shooting at each other. Nobody was shooting at Bill O’Reilly, but to Bill O’Reilly, this means that he’s “been in combat.” I find this rather odd, and maybe a little bit offensive. Maybe he can teach me how to exaggerate in order to make a point. Maybe that’s the point he was trying to make.

I’m not a liberal. I’ll admit to having voted for George W. Bush twice. I did this because he was running against people I thought were slapdicks. I didn’t like the sound of Al Gore’s voice, and I thought John Kerry was completely full of shit. I still believe John Kerry is completely full of shit. George W. Bush irritated me less than his opponents did, so I voted against his opponents. In retrospect, I could certainly have thought things through a little better, which is what I’m doing this time around.

Theoretically, someone like me should enjoy listening to Bill O’Reilly, because his shows are supposed to provide something different. It should be a relief to watch someone who’s not a smirking, arrogant liberal douche. It’s not, though, because he’s a smirking, arrogant conservative douche, which is just as bad, if not worse.

This is how I feel about Bill O’Reilly.