Sean Hannity is often praised for being a "great American" by his fans, who undoubtedly consider the talk show host patriotic. While patriotism can be defined in many ways, supporting the brave men and women who serve in the U.S. military is undoubtedly one of them. As he constantly reminds his listeners, Hannity believes it is impossible to support the troops without supporting their mission in Iraq. To question the president, his motives, or the wisdom of our current policy is unpatriotic, says Hannity. At least that's what he says today.
But it might be worth remembering what Hannity said in 1999 about U.S. military action in Kosovo: "It seems that we're talking about a very ill-conceived military action here. And now the question is, do you go in further and deeper, or do you pull back and rethink what the strategy's going to be here, because there has really been no stated goal, mission, or objective."
Hannity clearly questioned then-President Bill Clinton's military wisdom. Hannity continued, "There's no stated goal. There's no definition of success. All these important things. There's no exit strategy. One mistake after another. Why would you go in deeper when we have not been successful up to this point? That seems to me to be folly."
Hannity further explained his position: "I say, back out of it, because innocent people are going to die for nothing. That's why I'm against it." It seems that once-upon-a-time, Hannity was concerned that American soldiers might die in vain.
Clinton insisted that the United States involvement in the Balkans was necessary and just, and believed that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic could become the next Adolf Hitler. Hannity had his doubts, or as he questioned the president, "My question ... is from all reports that I have been able to dig up, 2,000 [were] killed in Kosovo in the last year. We keep hearing the president refer to genocide, ethnic cleansing, comparisons to Adolf Hitler. Is the president purposefully using propaganda and hyperbole to garner the American public for support? Every day now with the president and vice president, this Hitler analogy. You know what? That's all propaganda. That's misinformation."
Years later, Hannity not only compared Saddam Hussein to Hitler, but today he makes the same analogy about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
In the '90s Clinton insisted that it was America's role to dethrone brutal dictators. Fellow talk show host Bill O'Reilly sided with the president. But not Hannity, who said, "Is Bill O'Reilly then saying we go to Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, Sudan? Where does this stop?"
In 1999, Hannity did not support the president of the United States and his mission in Kosovo, and he constantly criticized Clinton, even as our troops were fighting overseas. Today, Hannity says those who question Bush or our mission in Iraq are aiding the terrorists and are "invested in defeat." If this is true, this is precisely what Hannity did in 1999. By his own definition this makes Hannity unpatriotic.
When Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul questioned the wisdom of the Iraq invasion during a post debate interview on Fox News, Hannity immediately dressed him down, asking "Are you saying then that the world has no moral obligation ... when an innocent country's being pillaged, and people are being raped and murdered and slaughtered, or in the case of Saddam, he's gassing his own people, are you suggesting we have no moral obligation there? Do you stand by and let that immorality happen?" Paul replied "We have, on numerous occasions." During the Clinton presidency, Hannity wanted Kosovo to be one of those occasions.
It might be easy to dismiss Hannity as a mere hypocrite, but he's actually something much worse. Whereas Republicans like Ron Paul put America first, place the national interest above their party, and oppose wars conducted by both Clinton and Bush on the same principle, Hannity puts the Republican Party first and has no qualms about putting our troops in harm's way and policing the world so long as the sheriff's badge reads "GOP." I have no doubt that if our current war in Iraq was the work of President Al Gore, Hannity would oppose it as he did Clinton's war in 1999, simply because it was being waged by a Democrat.
A "great American," indeed.
Catch Southern Avenger commentaries every Tuesday and Friday at 7:50 a.m. on the "Morning Buzz with Richard Todd" on 1250 AM WTMA.