National News

Obama jeered, Harper cheered on U.S. radio

By Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON - A highly popular conservative radio talk show in the United States has heaped praise on Canada's Harper government, while simultaneously blasting U.S. President Barack Obama and his administration.

Its host delivered a gushing review of Canada's foreign policy to millions of listeners this week during a segment with Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, where they discussed the Harper government's position on the Gaza conflict.

The Canadian minister received that hero's welcome on the Mark Levin show, whose audience size has been reported at somewhere between just under seven million and just over eight million people.

Baird reiterated the government's views, saying: Israel has a duty to defend itself; Hamas is a terrorist organization; the conflict is with Hamas, not the Palestinian people; and there can be no moral equivalency in the face of terrorism, the great struggle of our generation.

The host asked whether Baird also has to deal with media that treat both sides in the conflict equally, like they do in the U.S. The minister said that, indeed, the phenomenon also exists in Canada.

"There's a significant left-wing media bias, an anti-Israel bias, in a lot of the Canadian media," Baird said in the interview, which aired Thursday night.

"And you know what? We don't care."

In the segments before and after Baird's appearance, the host engaged in his more customary pastime: unloading on Obama. Levin briefly toned down his presidential criticism while Baird was on the air, saying he didn't want to make his Canadian guest too uncomfortable.

"I must tell you, sir... how refreshing you are for your bluntness and your rationality. Because I don't feel that way about some of the things that are happening in my own government here, and some of the things they're saying," Levin told Baird.

"I don't want to put you on the hot seat, and I'm not, but the message (in the U.S.) is a little confusing, it's a little mushy, and yet your government and your prime minister are unequivocal."

Once Baird was gone, Levin put things a little more bluntly.

The host spent a few minutes comparing Baird favourably to Obama, to Secretary of State John Kerry, and even to moderate Republicans like Jeb Bush, who is a popular punching bag of the tea party right.

Levin explained that he'd invited Baird onto his show so that America's youth might draw some inspiration.

In the process, he managed a few more colourful digs at the U.S. president.

"I was thinking, 'Wow, what would we do for a secretary of state like (Baird)?'" Levin said. "And his boss Stephen Harper, the prime minister of Canada, same way. You know folks, the country, our country, we're really in the dumps right now, aren't we?...

"We have many, many young people in the audience. And I want you to know what it's like to hear a solid, conservative thoughtful public official — because you so rarely do.

"Imagine somebody of this mindset, these principles, this kind of vision, this belief system, being in our Oval Office — not some lightweight cheap-shot artist."

Unfortunately, he said, Americans are stuck with a president who — according to Levin — worships communist thinkers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, and community activist Saul Alinsky, the author of "Rules for Radicals."

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