Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Big Bill wants to help

I often use this blog to mock and insult Bill O'Reilly. I think he's a pompous nincompoop and a dead weight on our national discourse, dragging it deeper into the outhouse pit. I join hundreds of other bloggers in their outrage and amazement ever time he does something like announce that he personally brought France to its knees with a boycott, accuse WWII vets of atrocities against German troops, invite terrorists to blow up San Francisco, demonstrate his ignorance of the difference between the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, or describe how he personally defeated the forces of secularism in our war against Christmas. Granted, he's a bully, a buffoon, and a bombastic blowhard--just to mention the B's--but perhaps I've been to hard on him. Perhaps I have failed to give credit to his compassionate side.

Last night he offered to personally house every homeless vet in the United States.
Progressive radio talk show host Ed Schultz went on The O’Reilly Factor (Why, Ed? Why?) to give his views on the Democratic half of the presidential slate. Never one to pass up the chance to bring up past stupidity, when the talk went to John Edwards, Billo brings up the ridiculous assertion he made when John Edwards was on that there are no homeless veterans.

ES: I think (Edwards’) message is strong and he has tremendous conviction, but I think he needs a little bit more material than just the “Two Americas” talk, he got to get a little bit deeper…

BO: Well, we’re still looking for all the veterans sleeping under the bridges, Ed, so if you find anybody, let us know, because that’s all the guy said for the last three nights…

ES: Well they’re out there, Bill. Don’t kid yourself.

BO: They may be out there, but there’s not many of them out there. Okay? So if you know where one is, Ed…

ES: Well, actually…Now, wait a minute…one in ..

BO: Ed, Ed. If you know where’s a veteran, sleeping under a bridge, you call me immediately, and we will make sure that man does not do it. Is not there.

I know, you're saying, "that's a rather ambiguous statement. Maybe he plans to send a couple of his producers down with ax handles and dogs to chase the homeless vets away from our bridges." But the theme of this post is giving Bill the benefit of the doubt. Let's take him at his word. He intends to house any homeless vet that he hears about. The National Alliance to End Homelessness that there are about 200,000 homeless vets in the US. That's a lot. But O'Reilly is a multimillionaire, so he should be able to house them all for a few nights.

Nicole Belle of Crooks and Liars suggests finding a homeless vet in NYC, where The O’Reilly Factor is taped and having them show up to FOXNews HQ to thank Bill in advance for helping them. That's a good idea, but as several commenters pointed out, the vet would be unlikely to get past the station guards and Bill would never see them. And while it might give our inner monkey wrencher a giggle to imagine hundreds of homeless vets laying siege to Fox stations around the country looking for the shelter O'Reilly promised them. It would be cruel to the homeless to build up their hopes like that, when Fox almost certainly would not give them shelter.

I think a better way to make homelessness real to O'Reilly would be to put some names to the statistics. If you know a homeless vet or a homelessness advocate, give them Bill's e-mail address ( and have them send their story to The O’Reilly Factor. Normal letter to the editor rules apply: be polite and be brief.

Maybe if he got letters from a few hundred or a few thousand real people in trouble, it might put a crack in that wall that he keeps between himself and reality. I don't for a minute think he would have a sudden conversion and become a nice person, but it would be worth while to make him face one fact that he can't just flippantly deny or spin away.

Other coverage of this story is here and here.

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