I think we won the debate. Think of the vast majorities they have in congress, and they had to bribe, backroom deals, corruption, that’s all because the tea party movement, the people, all these Tim McVeigh wannabes here… Sean Hannity concluding his hosting of a discussion at the Simi Valley Reagan Library entitled, “Conservative Victory: How to Defeat the Obama Agenda” (Remarks start at 7:43 mark)
To be fair to the audience, the applause began before Hannity mentioned Tim McVeigh, and would be unlikely to stop on a dime. It’s quite possible that many audience members were looking at each other going “waaaah?” even as they clapped.
But Hannity’s excuse? There are several possible explanations:
1. It’s a malicious April Fool’s joke and the video has been doctored. Note that the camera is not on Hannity during the comment about Tim McVeigh. Nor is it on his guests, (whose faces I would dearly love to have seen if and when they heard him comparing their fan base to one of the most loathed right wing domestic terrorists in recent memory.)
2. It’s a slip of the tongue. Hannity didn’t mean to say tea partiers were “Tim McVeigh wannabes.” He meant to say they were some other kind of wannabes. Which raises the question about who he actually meant to invoke, and why Tim McVeigh managed to slip into the discussion. It’s not like the earlier recorded conversation mentions Oklahoma City. It is interesting to note, however, that Congressman David Dreyer’s comments immediately before Hannity’s remarks were, shall we say, a bit on the apocalyptic side: “You said we lost the war on healthcare. I believe that was a battle. The war is in November. And this country is worth saving…”
3. The most likely explanation is that Hannity was attempting to mock, in his own thuddingly tin-eared way, concerns about the recent rise in violent rhetoric on the right. Which, given the recent arrests of a heavily armed right-wing Christian group, is remarkably ill-timed and irresponsible. It’s the kind of sarcasm that relies on the naïve assumption that nobody in his enormous audience could possibly take literally rhetoric from prominent right wingers about being “at war” with a Democratic president in order to “save the country.”