The book jacket describes him as “the hottest talk-radio personality in the country,” the host of “the number one debate program on cable television today,” the host of an afternoon radio show “which is heard on four hundred stations and by more than twelve million listeners,” and the author of a “New York Times bestseller.” Perhaps it was just an oversight, but the publishers forgot to add “militant warmonger,” “Republican apologist,” and “Bush idolater.”
Most people first heard of Sean Hannity when he made frequent appearances as a guest host for Rush Limbaugh. More militant, more religious, and without any “baggage” that has dogged Limbaugh (like drug use, questions about military service, and multiple marriages), Sean Hannity has taken the nation by storm. His new book, Deliver Us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism (Harper Collins, 2004), is itself evil, for if Hannity’s philosophy is followed, terrorism will increase, despotism will continue, and liberalism will triumph.
The title of the book has obviously been appropriated from the “Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:13). Hannity invokes religion early on in the book. He claims that “Islamic extremists” attack us because “we’re a largely Judeo-Christian nation that supports Israel” (p. 15). In the last chapter he terms President Bush’s goals in Iraq “our righteous goals” (p. 242).
Hannity’s Quest for Evil
Hannity wrote the book because of one thing: the existence of evil. He writes in the beginning of the first chapter: “I decided to write this book because I believe it is our responsibility to recognize and confront evil in the world — and because I’m convinced that if we fail in that mission it will lead us to disaster” (p. 2). He also says near the end of the first chapter: “This is a book about the reality of evil in the world, about the importance of acting against it, and about the urgency of confronting and opposing those who won’t” (p. 23). The book ends with an epilogue where Hannity maintains that “the sheer persistence of evil” is a challenge of the future (p. 275).
The word “evil” is mentioned so many times in the opening chapters as to render it meaningless. Hannity apparently senses this and gradually uses the word less and less as the book progresses. Forms of the word “evil” appear in each chapter the following number of times:
Sometimes the word “evil” is amplified to “pure evil” (p. 2), “absolute evil” (p. 25), “political evil” (p. 26), “absolute and aggressive evil” (p. 28), “state-sponsored evil” (p. 30), “profound evil” (p. 31), “voracious evil” (p. 39), “group evil” (p. 45), or “pure, conscious evil” (p. 46).
In each of the book’s nine chapters, Hannity presents us with a cast of evil characters.
In chapter one, Saddam Hussein is evil, Osama bin Laden is evil, Stalin is evil, al Qaeda is evil, the Democratic Party is evil, suicide bystanders are evil, a crooked pharmacist is evil, a pedophile priest is evil, the Iraqi regime is evil, and Bill Clinton is evil.
In chapter two, Hitler is evil, Nazis are evil, the Holocaust is evil, Japan is evil, Mussolini is evil, the DC sniper shootings are evil, the kidnaping of a girl is evil, and the murder of a young man is evil.
In chapter three, the Soviet Union is evil, Jimmy Carter is evil, communism is evil, Leonid Brezhnev is evil, the Democratic Party is evil, and George Kennan is evil.
In chapter four, Jimmy Carter is evil, Bill Clinton is evil, Saddam Hussein is evil, the Ayatollah Khomeini is evil, the Democratic Party is evil, and Ramsey Clark is evil
In chapter five, Bill Clinton is evil, Muammar Qaddafi is evil, John Kerry is evil, the Democratic Party is evil, the Iraqi regime is evil, Yassir Arafat is evil, Al Gore is evil, the Taliban is evil, and France is evil.
In chapter six, Noam Chomsky is evil, antiwar protestors are evil, Saddam Hussein is evil, Bill Clinton is evil, Martin Sheen is evil, Richard Gere is evil, Sean Penn is evil, Edward Kennedy is evil, Marcy Kaptur is evil, and Dennis Kucinich is evil.
In chapter seven, Bill Clinton is evil, Hillary Clinton is evil, Osama bin Laden is evil, Ramzi Yousef is evil, Yasser Arafat is evil, Terry McAuliffe is evil, Madeleine Albright is evil, Warren Christopher is evil, Al-Jazeera is evil, Joe Lockhart is evil, the PLO is evil, Janet Reno is evil, Suha Arafat is evil, and al Qaeda is evil.
In chapter eight, the Democratic Party is evil, Jay Rockefeller is evil, Dick Durbin is evil, Barbara Milkulski is evil, and Carl Levin is evil.
In chapter nine, Ted Kennedy is evil, Bob Graham is evil, Dennis Kucinich is evil, John Edwards is evil, Al Sharpton is evil, Terry McAuliffe is evil, Howard Dean is evil, John Kerry is evil, Richard Gephardt is evil, Joseph Lieberman is evil, Wesley Clark is evil, and the United Nations is evil.
There is no question that the vast majority of these people and organizations are either inherently evil or usually on the side of evil. Anyone with an ounce of sense knows this. Hannity would like you to think that if someone opposes the president or the war then they are evil like these men and groups he mentions. We know all about the evil Hannity speaks of, and we abhor it just as much, but we also know about the concentration of evil that exists in government — any government — including the United States government.
Aside from identifying evil in the world, the main content of each chapter is as follows.
In chapter one, “Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism,” Hannity compares the September 11th attacks to the attack on Pearl Harbor. He rails on Democrats, liberals, and “moral relativists” who fail to see that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden “are not morally depraved murderers” (p. 3). He blames Bill Clinton for appeasing Saddam Hussein and tolerating the “growing military threat Iraq posed to the world” (p. 18).
In chapter two, “Evil on the Record: The Holocaust,” Hannity can’t speak highly enough of Winston Churchill while at the same time condemning appeasement and “isolationists” (p. 27). He revisits World War II and the Holocaust, equating America entering World War II with America beginning the War on Terrorism. He insists that “still evidence is mounting that Saddam Hussein’s regime was also in collusion with Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network” (p. 42).
In chapter three, “Fighting Communism: The Reagan Way,” Hannity refights the Cold War and practically deifies Ronald Reagan. After recounting the evils of the Soviet Union, he concludes that Jimmy Carter “was willfully blind to the Soviet leadership’s horrific history of violence” (p. 65).
In chapter four, “Iraq I: War and Appeasement,” Hannity revisits the Carter presidency. He blames Carter for the rise of Saddam Hussein and Clinton for the World Trade Center attack since he was not aggressive enough with al Qaeda after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He also refights the First Gulf War, but downplays the fact that “during the 1980s the Reagan administration did business with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq” (p. 94). He likewise dismisses the charge of “liberals” that “Bush and his u2018neoconservative’ advisors and supporters” are “trying to build an American empire under the guise of fighting the War on Terror” (p. 96).
In chapter five, “Axis Iraq,” Hannity revisits the Reagan vs. Qaddafi episode. He blames Bill Clinton for the September 11th attacks because he was not tough enough on terrorism during his presidency. Although the U.S. defense budget was higher than the next twenty or so countries combined, he believes that Clinton “downgraded and gutted the American military, reducing our navy to dangerously low levels” (p. 123). Clinton is also criticized for his “air war against Serbia” (p. 127). In this chapter he also introduces us to Bush’s “axis of evil” speech (p. 131).
In chapter six, “The Gathering Storm,” Hannity rails against the news media, Hollywood, and the antiwar movement while defending Bush’s preemptive strike against Iraq. He approvingly cites Rumsfeld’s invoking of the Cuban Missile Crisis to justify “defensive” action against Iraq (p. 155). The fact that “no weapons have yet been found in Iraq” only gives Hannity “greater cause for concern” (p. 159). The war in Iraq is justified because of Saddam Hussein’s “intent” (p. 161).
In chapter seven, “Hillary and Bill Clinton,” Hannity relives the Clinton presidency. He faults Clinton for not getting Osama bin Laden after the attack against American marines in Yemen in 1992. He does not, however, fault George Bush the elder for not getting Saddam Hussein during the First Gulf War. He believes with all his heart “that the Clinton administration’s delays and hesitations, coupled with the ineffectiveness of its fleeting military strikes, paved the way for the attacks of 9/11″ (p. 193).
In chapter eight, “Playing Politics at the Water’s Edge,” Hannity lambasts the Democrats in Congress for being partisan, oblivious to the fact that the exact same thing could be said of the Republicans. He makes a big deal over the lack of military service of Democrats serving on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, but later, when discussing Vietnam veteran John Kerry, he says: “I don’t believe that simple military service renders anyone immune from criticism when it comes to foreign policy” (p. 252). Naturally, questions about Bush’s “service” in the National Guard are not raised.
In chapter nine, “The Candidates,” Hannity presents his rouge’s gallery of “Democratic Bush-haters” (p. 239). He then gives his reasons why we would not want Howard Dean, John Kerry, Richard Gephardt, Joseph Lieberman, or Wesley Clark to be the next president. His choice is, of course, George Bush, since the others “are unwilling or unable to confront the great threat that faces our nation” (p. 240). What he fails to realize, or refuses to accept, is that most conservative Republicans who will vote for Bush will do so by default, not because they like Bush at all. Actually, every Republican candidate that many conservatives and libertarians have ever voted for was merely the lesser of two evils, and usually not much less.
Hannity’s Trilogy of Errors
When I said at the outset that Hannity could be characterized as a militant warmonger, Republican apologist, and Bush idolater, I was not exaggerating.
Hannity is one of the most militant warmongers in the public spotlight. Not only was he overwhelmingly in favor of the war in Afghanistan, not only is he supportive of the current war in Iraq, not only does he encourage an endless war against terrorism — he ends the book with a virtual declaration of war against China, Iran, Syria, and North Korea.
Hannity is a master apologist for the Republican Party. He continually rails against “left wing elites” (p. 26), “liberals” (p. 88), “Democrats” (p. 52), the “Democratic Party” (p. 2), the “liberal elite” (p. 59), the “liberal establishment” (p. 56), the “left-wing establishment” (p. 57), the “left” (p. 167), “liberal opposition” (p. 72), “liberal detractors” (p. 61), and “liberal government leaders” (p. 57). The fact that Republicans have basically controlled the Congress since 1994, and are therefore responsible for every piece of bad legislation passed during the last ten years, escapes his eyes. As a Republican apologist, the hypocrisy of Sean Hannity is appalling. Ronald Reagan is “the twentieth century’s greatest president” (p. 21). In his “evil empire” address, Reagan “articulated a set of priorities that still define conservatism today” (p. 83). But as been pointed out here many, many times, Reagan did anything but roll back or even slow down the growth of government. Under the last year of the “evil” Jimmy Carter, the federal government spent $591 billion; in the last year of the “good” Ronald Reagan, the federal government spent $1.064 trillion. Do the math. The top tax rates were cut, which helped the “rich,” but the Social Security tax rates were raised, which hurt everyone.
But if Reagan was so “good,” and Clinton was so “evil,” then why does Hannity continually blame Clinton for appeasing Saddam Hussein when he admits that “during the 1980s the Reagan administration did business with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq” (p. 94)? But the larger question is this: If Saddam Hussein was evil and a threat to the United States, then why wasn’t he “taken out” by Ronald Reagan or George Bush I? If, as Hannity maintains, “Clinton’s refusal to seize Osama bin Laden is another failure that endangered Americans” (p. 189), then why is not Reagan’s and Bush senior’s refusal to seize Saddam Hussein an even greater failure that endangered Americans? Hannity further states regarding Clinton and bin Laden: “Presented with multiple opportunities to seize one of the world’s most notorious terrorists — a known threat to our country — the Clinton administration chose not to act” (p. 190). Again, why did not Reagan and Bush senior act to seize Saddam Hussein?
Then there is the case of North Korea. Hannity correctly says about this communist paradise: “North Korea is known as one of the most evil regimes in the world. Its dictator, Kim Jong Il, has subjected his people to mass starvation and torture. He has routinely sent individuals to prison camps modeled on the old Soviet gulag system” (p. 194). True. Speaking of Secretary of State Madeleine Albright having dinner with Kim Jong Il of North Korea, Hannity comments: “It was a disgraceful performance: A man responsible for the deaths of untold thousands, who maintains an iron grip on his terror-stricken people, who starves his populace to arm his military, socializing with a senior U.S. official even as the murderer’s regime was in flagrant violation of a critical arms agreement” (p. 197). True again. Then Hannity insists that “as a result of the Clinton administration’s refusal to confront this tyrant, future generations of Americans are now forced to coexist with an isolated, militaristic nation that possesses the most terrible of weapons — and a maniacal dictator who might be willing to use them” (p. 197). But again, how many Republican presidents have we had since the Korean War who “refused to confront” the dictators of North Korea? One — Eisenhower, two — Nixon, three — Ford, four — Reagan, five — Bush I, six — Bush II. Surely Hannity would not say that North Korea has only been a “threat” to the U.S. under the presidency of Bill Clinton?
But why stop with North Korea, evil regimes exist all over the world — they always have and always will — that oppress, starve, rape, maim, torture, and kill their citizens. Should the United States become the world’s policeman? Should we, as Murray Rothbard, said, “Invade the world“? Hannity apparently thinks so: “America has the moral right — no, obligation — to fight for its own security, and that of any oppressed nation” (p. 12).
Hannity is a fanatical Bush devotee. He claims that he is “no blind supporter of President George W. Bush. I have often criticized his domestic policies, and I don’t believe he is perfect” (p. 273). But nevertheless, Bush is “the right man in the right place at the right time” (p. 273), one of “our greatest modern presidents” (p. 25), our “leader” (p. 1), a “powerful leader” (p. 18), a “masterful crisis president” (p. 114). Hannity has the audacity to claim that Bush is a “defender of our liberties” (p. 114) even though it has been documented that Bush has made war on the Bill of Rights. Hannity should have been more careful when he talked about Bush’s religious faith (pp. 9, 13, 15) and how he is the “personification of moral clarity” (p. 9). He should have remembered that, back in 1986, Bush told The Wall Street Journal’s Al Hunt that he was a “f—ing son of a bitch” or that during the presidential campaign Bush called a New York Times reporter a “major-league a–hole.” Time magazine reported earlier this year that during a briefing for three senators by Condoleezza Rice in March of 2002, Bush stuck his head into a White House meeting room and exclaimed: “F— Saddam. We’re taking him out!” The only man mentioned in the book more than Bush (except for “evil” men like bin Laden and Hussein) is the socialist warmonger Winston Churchill (pp. 28, 47, 49, 50, 51, 52, 87, 112, 128, etc.).
Not everything in Hannity’s book reinforces his image as a militant warmonger, Republican apologist, and Bush idolater. He raises a few good points — but nothing profound or worthy of a 338-page book. He laments the “growing secularism” of the United States (p. 58), the undue emphasis on “diversity” and “tolerance” (p. 14), and the increasing “moral relativism” (p. 24). He recognizes that Nazism and communism are “two systems with the same root” (p. 41).
However, the most accurate statement in the book comes not from Hannity, but from the “evil” former secretary of state, Warren Christopher:
As we now know, the Bush administration’s decision to wage war in Iraq was grounded in faulty intelligence and false urgency. Contrary to the impression created by the administration, Iraq was not responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks, and there was no proof that Iraq was in league with al Qaeda. Similarly, Niger did not sell uranium to Iraq, Iraq was not on the cusp of nuclear capability and Saddam Hussein did not have at the ready scores of weapons of mass destruction. In sum, the United States launched a preemptive war without convincing evidence that Iraq constituted an imminent threat to our nation and without any effective plan for dealing with the aftermath of a military victory (p. 201).
Hannity the Comedian
Although he does not intend them to be so, some of Hannity’s statements are downright comical:
Hannity the linguist: “I often make a point of saying that I don’t like the expression ‘antiwar,’ because it suggests that all the rest of us are u2018pro-war’” (p. 164).
Hannity the private eye: “As my radio and television audience knows, I recently uncovered evidence of a deliberate and systematic plan, orchestrated by the Democrats, to discredit and undermine President Bush and the War on Terror” (p. 215).
Hannity the unrevisionist historian: “Dean raised the idea that the Saudis had given George W. Bush prior notice of the 9/11 attacks. This incredible notion echoes the baseless slander the FDR knew about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor but did nothing to stop it” (p. 250).
Hannity the optimist: “Given our remarkable successes in Iraq and Afghanistan, you would think that Dr. Dean and his colleagues would be a little more circumspect with their criticism” (p. 249).
Hannity the reserved optimist: “With the capture of Saddam Hussein the war in Iraq is largely over, though we still face challenges in quelling terrorist uprisings there” (pp. 271—272).
Hannity’s references to Iraqi prisons would be funny if they were not so tragic in light of how the U.S. military has used those prisons:
American troops discovered horrific torture chambers in places like Iraq’s Military Intelligence Directorate, where a grim paper trail documented decades of atrocities (pp. 41—42).
We have seen tapes of his medieval torture chambers, of rooms where unknown hundreds of citizens were raped, of mass graves filled with murdered Iraqi citizens (p. 17).
The Evil of Sean Hannity
Hannity knows how to push the right conservative buttons. Criticize the United Nations and invoke the name of some Founding Fathers and you can get any conservative to listen to you.
Hannity occasionally criticizes the United Nations (pp. 114, 142—144) — even calling it “demonstrably corrupt” (p. 266) and “corrupt and ineffective” (p. 265) — but then turns around and condemns Saddam Hussein for breaching UN agreements (p. 153). Naturally, Hannity never points out, as Congressman Ron Paul did, that the Congressional resolution authorizing the president to invade Iraq “mentions the United Nations 25 times, yet does not mention the Constitution once.”
Hannity likewise appeals to James Madison (p. 10) and warns against “unquestioned loyalty to the state” (p. 30), “the dictates of the state” (p. 40), and serving the state (p. 47). Does he not realize that war is the health of the state? Most men will do anything for the state in time of war — including this war.
Incredibly, Hannity mentions George Washington’s warning in his Farewell Address against America having “entangling alliances” to persuade his readers to vote for Bush in the November election instead of Democrats who want to use “the highly questionable United Nations to aid our efforts throughout the world” (p. 273).
But perhaps the most tragic thing about Deliver Us from Evil is Hannity’s refusal to even consider why much of the world hates the United States. Near the end of his book he says:
From the very first days after 9/11, the left started talking about the “root causes” of the attacks, asking “Why do the terrorists hate us?” Well, I don’t believe there’s any answer to that question that could ever explain, justify, or excuse the terrorists’ decision to slaughter three thousand people on that day. And anyone who’s inclined to waste much time dwelling on such a question just isn’t likely to have much grasp on the reality of evil in the world. The search for “root causes” is an invitation to address the grievances of a group whose actions have put them permanently beyond the reach of sympathy or explanation.
This is tragic. Don’t ask why they hate us. Don’t ask why they bomb our embassies. Don’t ask why they try to blow up our ships. Don’t ask why they destroyed the Twin Towers. Don’t ask why they burn American flags. Just “take them out”! Hannity laments that “American soldiers are in harm’s way in all corners of the world” (p. 219), but never even thinks to question what in the world our troops are doing “in all corners of the world”?
The publication of this book is sure to give Sean Hannity’s career a boost among Republicans loyal to the president and his war on terrorism. He can certainly count on the support of the Republican Party if he ever decides to run for office. However, among opponents of Bush and his war, the book unequivocally elevates Hannity to that noble pantheon of warmongers that make up the true axis of evil. Bush, Cheney, Libby, Rumsfeld, Feith, Wolfowitz, Rice, Powell, Pearle, Frum, et al. never had such better company.