A reader recently contacted MT and suggested we check out the Facebook page of a guy named John Truscott.
People who pay attention to politics will recall that Truscott was the wunderkind mouthpiece for John Engler during his reign as our governor. As the profile on the website of his public relations firm, the John Truscott group, points out, he was the youngest press secretary in the country when he signed on with Big John, and went on to become the longest-serving press secretary of any governor in the country.
He's obviously a bright guy. He also has an interesting sense of humor. Or maybe not.
Which brings us back to his Facebook page, which, until a few days ago, listed for all to see other websites he supposedly liked. Among those sites being promoted on Truscott's page was "Not having Obaaama as president." The site features a photoshopped pic of the prez looking much like the Joker from Batman, with a pasty white face and a freakish red grin. Beneath it is the word "fascism."
According to the online Oxford dictionary, fascism "tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one national or ethnic group, a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach."
When Robert Kennedy Jr. was in town several years ago speaking at Wayne State, he said one of the hallmarks of fascism was corporate control of government.
News Hits can't see the term applying to Obama in any way, and asked Truscott via e-mail if he thought the president to be a fascist, and what his definition of the term is.
We also asked Truscott about his apparent fondness for a site that, we kid you not, has this as its name: DEAR LORD, THIS YEAR YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTOR, PATRICK SWAYZIE. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE ACTRESS, FARAH FAWCETT. YOU TOOK MY FAVORITE SINGER, MICHAEL JACKSON. I JUST WANTED TO LET YOU KNOW, MY FAVORITE PRESIDENT IS BARACK OBAMA. AMEN.
We asked Truscott, who serves on the board of the Lansing Chamber of Commerce, if he thought that was funny.
His initial reply, to an e-mail sent last week, was: "I'm in a meeting right now. I have no idea what you're talking about."
That was on Friday. On Tuesday morning, after returning to work after a long holiday weekend, we went to the Truscott page that's open to any Facebook member (as opposed to the material that's available to just his friends) and saw that all the websites listed as being liked by him had been removed.
We e-mailed again, reiterating our questions and pointing out that he had apparently figured out what we were talking about, seeing as how the links had been excised.
"I never visited those sites, was never a participant and didn't know they were on my page. They are gone now (finally figured out how to remove them)."
Then, he added: "It appears you already have your column written."
We sent another e-mail to Truscott — who until recently was spokesman for U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra's failed gubernatorial campaign — asking how he thinks those websites could have gotten posted on his page as being among those he liked. He responded by saying he had no idea.
So, what's the point?
Simply this: As much as we despised President George W. Bush, and as much as we vilified his policies and actions — lying us into war (and failing to have an exit strategy before launching it), taking a balanced budget and blowing it to hell (in part by giving massive tax cuts to the rich), the torture and other human rights abuses, etc., etc. — we can't ever recall suggesting, even as a joke, that God might want to strike the dimwit down. We can't recall many — well, any — members in good standing of the prog-left-lib-Democratic establishment doing so either. (But refresh our memories if we've forgotten.)
Some things, it seems, are beyond the pale. And creating a website that, under the guise of feeble humor, trumpets a desire for our president's demise, strikes us as worrisome.
Robust political discourse is one thing. And stinging political satire has a long history in this country. Hell, this rag once depicted Truscott's one-time boss Engler on the cover as a Porky Pig-like creature.
But there's a level of vitriol being leveled at Obama that seems neither justified nor rational.
The guy came into office with two wars under way and the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression staring him in the face. So what, we wonder, has he done to deserve such vilification?
For starters, according to a controversial online survey conducted by the Harris Poll earlier this year, of the 2,320 adults surveyed, nearly 25 percent of Republicans surveyed said they believe that Obama may be the Antichrist.
In an interview with The Economist earlier this year, John Avlon, a former speechwriter for one-time Republican New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, and author of Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America, lamented how extremists on both ends of the political spectrum are more "dangerous and influential" than ever.
Among the reasons for that, he said, is the Internet, which "has enabled people who in the past might have been isolated by their extremism or absurdity to form online armies across geographic boundaries, becoming in effect the loudest (not the largest) lobbying bloc, creating real leverage on the party leadership."
According to the "Dear Lord" site, more than 1,104,715 people "like it."
We're not sure if that was before or after Truscott removed his name from the list.News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact him at 313-202-8004 or NewsHits@metrotimes.com