What I Learned About Liberalism From Barry Manilow

Andrew Tallman

10/24/2007 3:27:00 PM - Andrew Tallman

Barry Manilow recently gave a seminar on liberalism. Oh, not intentionally, of course. But sometimes unintentional seminars are the most instructive of all.

It all started when the singer suddenly cancelled his September 18th appearance on the television show “The View.” This statement was posted on Manilow’s Web site on the 17th:

I wanted to let you know that I will no longer be on “The View” tomorrow as scheduled. I had made a request that I be interviewed by Joy, Barbara or Whoopi, but not Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Unfortunately, the show was not willing to accommodate this simple request so I bowed out. It’s really too bad because I’ve always been a big supporter of the show, but I cannot compromise my beliefs. The good news is that I will be on a whole slew of other shows promoting the new album so I hope you can catch me on those.

Although he had appeared twice in the past year without conditions, the fuss between Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Rosie O’Donnell back in May changed all of that. As a close friend of Rosie’s and a large Democratic contributor, Manilow didn’t relish the idea of putting himself anywhere near the token conservative. As he told TMZ, “I strongly disagree with her views. I think she’s dangerous and offensive. I will not be on the same stage as her.” When “The View” refused his “simple” request, he declined to appear.

Or did he?

Barbara Walters discussed the event on her radio show with Bill Geddie, her co-executive producer. According to them, Manilow didn’t cancel “The View.” They cancelled him. Geddie explained it this way: “He said, ‘I’ll do Barbara and Whoopi or I’ll do Whoopi and Sherri or some combination, but I won’t sit with Elisabeth,’ and I said ‘Well, then you won’t be on the show. It’s that simple. And that was the end of it. He’s not going to call the shots. You’re not going to tell me how to produce the show.”

So what did Barry Manilow teach me about liberals through all of this?

1. Liberals are very confident in their views. In fact, Manilow is so confident that he doesn’t even feel the need to demonstrate the fact in a public discussion. He’s like the kid on the baseball team who is so much better than the other players that he doesn’t even want the coach to put him in the game. Some people think this is because he can’t really play his position, but that’s only because they don’t realize how good he is.

2. Liberals really believe in free speech. Regrettably, truth is fragile and must be protected from dangerous people like conservatives. Free speech, therefore, means letting a wide variety of liberals speak as freely as possible. This is called diversity. As a good liberal, Barry Manilow opposes all forms of censorship and wants to ensure that everyone who agrees with him has full freedom of speech.

3. Liberals think clearly. Barry said that he really supports the show, which can only mean he believes in robust debate. When he also says that appearing on “The View” with Hasselbeck would compromise his principles, we must infer that he has an even stronger personal conviction that’s it’s wrong to actually be a participant in such debates. One wonders whether Barry thinks that Barbara, Joy, and Whoopi are also compromising their values by being on stage with her. Then again, their value systems probably just aren’t as refined and contradiction-free as his.

4. Liberals are friends of the minority. Of the five people, including Barry, four of them would have been liberal or liberal-leaning. You might think Barry would champion Elisabeth in her underdog status, but you would be forgetting that minorities only count as minorities when they agree with liberals. “Conservative minority” is, by definition, a contradiction. This is confusing when the conservative is a woman, often considered a minority. But one must remember that conservative women are really gender-traitors, so it’s okay.

5. Liberals are gracious to their enemies. As Manilow told one reporter, “I will not be on the same stage as her.” Given Barry’s obvious self-confidence, he probably didn’t want to risk crushing poor Elisabeth’s fragile mind with his overpoweringly rigorous political philosophy. Since he also called her “dangerous,” you might think he’d want to stop her from harming others. He must have meant that she’s only dangerous if his glorious presence on the show entices other, less-confident liberals to watch and risk being infected by her.

6. Liberals are very good at thinking ahead. Although the spat between Rosie and Elisabeth leading to Rosie leaving “The View” happened three months ago, Manilow wisely decided to make his demands the day before his show was to air. Sure, he could have declined to book the appearance in the first place or cancelled earlier, but only people who plan poorly would do that. Then, when reporters wanted to ask Barry about his provocative comments, he became frustrated, even telling one Fox TV reporter, "Alright, stop! I'm sorry this thing had to happen. Let's just talk about the album, OK?" If only all of these developments weren’t so darned impossible to foresee!

7. Liberals are honest to a fault. “I bowed out” is virtually the same thing as “They refused my silly request.” Only a grammar-Nazi would think otherwise. Besides, we all know Barbara Walters’ terrible reputation for deception over her four decades of broadcast journalism. Anyone who says Manilow’s statements were self-serving or misleading just hasn’t plumbed the depths of his honesty yet.

8. Liberals are not their own worst enemies. Whereas Elisabeth, the lone conservative-leaning voice on “The View,” sticks it out day after day with as much grace and eloquence as she can muster, Barry writes songs, attends hair-frosting parties and throws darts from a distance at people he dislikes.

The contrast between Elisabeth’s conservatism and Barry’s liberalism is stark. With role models like Barry Manilow, it’s amazing everyone isn’t a liberal already.