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The Influence — Or Lack Thereof — of Rush Limbaugh

PH2009012701302.jpgI take an inordinate amount of potshots at conservatives. We have a particularly liberal streak here and over on Pajiba, where I often let my anger at the far right get the best of me and stoop to childish bullshit to get a rise out of our readers. But what I’m angry at is the face of the Republican party, and not the more moderate ideals beneath the evangelical, war-mongering, poor-people hating facade.

They are harder and harder to find these days, but the true conservatives — who are more like Ron Paul without the crazy — are probably the most reasonable people in either party. They don’t let their political platforms and the cable-news soundbites taint their opinion, one way or another. And, without a true political leader out there anymore to voice their opinions publicly, these real conservatives have, in a way, become the real independents. But the media loves contention, so the extremes of both parties ultimately become their voices — Eric Cantor vs. Nancy Pelosi. Tom Coburn vs. Harry Reid. Nobody listens to the middle, even when great Senators like Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins (from my own home state!) try to bridge the gap.

It’s a shame, too, because often the people with the most reasoned opinions fall somewhere in the silent middle. There’s a guy named Eep who visits here a lot — he’s one of the few who don’t let their party’s ideology control his opinion. Our friend John Williams is, likewise, more sane than many of us for his ability to not be blinded by party talking points (he was not only an early Obama supporter, but one of the first people I knew who recognized Hillary for what she was — a Democratic fear-mongerer, using Rovian tactics during the campaign). Whenever I let my political affiliation and my loyalty to my own party’s talking heads get the best of me, I like to read JMW’s ultra-rational stuff, and Eep’s comments to keep me grounded.

But there’s another guy, too, a conservative who writes for a conservative magazine, even, who also happens to be one of the smartest writers I read. He had a great piece up on his blog today about the influence of Rush Limbaugh on the Republican party, or rather, the lack thereof. Here’s a taste:

I’m open to the argument that Limbaugh is influential; but I don’t think there’s a prima facie case for it. On the contrary, I’d argue that the evidence suggests Limbaugh is an expert entertainer in a medium with a small cultural, intellectual, and political footprint. He has very little influence in the world of ideas. And when it comes to actually energizing the masses toward action, his record is, at best, mixed.

It’s a great overall piece, and a quiet reminder that, though we do like to demonize Republicans around here, real conservatives and centrists are quietly more reasonable than the rest of us.

| Comments (9)


Also excellent on Limbaugh is Timothy Egan's column in today's New York Times. Although he's definitely a liberal, Tim Egan is not your typical NYT Manhattan-dwelling east coaster. He's from Idaho (currently living in Spokane). He writes incredible books about the experience of the west during the depression. He understands why so many people west of Chicago feel alienated from the Democratic party and he writes with that in mind.

That was a fine piece. Here's another, this one from The American Conservative magazine:


I am torn between being glad the Republican Party doesn't listen to sane conservatives like this guy - I have to say I'm enjoying watching them flail around - and wishing that they WOULD listen - then we'd have two viable parties that were actively working for the good of the American people, even if they were coming at it from different angles.

what do you call someone who feels that government should help those who need it, but not for all eternity?
Someone who feels that increasing taxes on those that make >$250K does nothing ultimately other than dis-incentivise people from trying to achieve, while at the same time, making it that much easier for those who would take advantage of the system to milk it for all its worth?
Mind you, I am a social liberal, but as I get older I am finding myself becoming more and more fiscally conservative.
Case in point, NPR interviewed Judd Gregg and one of the questions posed was, why SHOULDN'T the rich bear more of a burden for the rest of us?
And I have to say, I was struck by how pissed that made me. Who ever said that Rich = **obligated** to help the rest of us.
I seriously started to flashing back to scenes from Atlas Shrugged, and as a staunch opponent of Objectivism, I did not like seeing comments like Renee Montaigne's (I think she was the interviewer) feeding fuel to the Objectivist fire.
Anyway, I am just confused. I am not sure how to reconcile my feelings of our need to help as my own family was helped when we moved to this coutnry with my belief that we must move away from an endless cycle of entitlement to true answers of how to help those that deserve it find their American Dream. And what to do with those that would leech off it.

Good to know!
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As someone who will be "hurt" by the tax increases proposed by Obama, I feel qualified to comment on this. My belief is that there is a basic social contract that obligates the wealthier to participate in the betterment of all. Yes, I have been lucky enough in the past few years to earn substantially more than many members of society (as a consultant that could change at any moment) and much of that was generated by my own hard work, but there was a foundation in that social contract there also. I have university degrees that were enabled by a good basic education which was paid for by taxes. I am healthy thanks to research that identified health care interventions, nutritional norms, and treatments, and most of the research was paid for by taxes. I would like to live in a society where there is less ignorance and more of a focus on quality of life. I know that can only be achieved by pulling up the uneducated and achieving a basic level of health care coverage in this country. For this I am willing to pay more taxes. I want the cycle that helped me to get to where I am continue and lift up more people.

Frankly, I don't understand why people are so worried about all the 'leeches' of the world, taking 'their personal money'. In the form of taxes. Why are the 'everyone is out to get me' underlying fears so strong in America?

On balance, those taxes pay for programs which benefit everyone. If the wealthy get into trouble, those programs are there for them too. It seems to me that one surgery can bankrupt even a successful family over there! The current economy should be a great example as to why the system must be upheld by everyone, in case it happens to you.

So, in essence, only the wildly wealthy have a dis-incentive to pay higher taxes - but do the wildly wealthy really risk much of their wealth or security, truly? I don't see how...they accumulate at a much faster pace by virtue of their bulk.

And yes, people abuse the system at the lower levels. But isn't it equally obvious that people abuse the system at the highest levels too? No one is exempt. Working hard for what you have is important - but I wouldn't tell the newly unemployed OR the mom (who by virtue of not getting her three attempts at Yale through parental funding) that they can't eat today or access retraining or whatever because they're just not trying hard enough!

This is very general and perhaps naive, but c'mon. Don't hide in a mental bunker!


You actually have several good conservative-ish posters over on Pajiba, but I appreciate the shout-out.

I'm not going to get into the political debate this time, but I would say two things:

One: Ron Paul is a little crazier than I would like in some ways, and definitely comes off crazy, but I would argue that a lot of the "crazy" is really what sanity looks like when the rest of the world has lost its mind. I would take him in a heartbeat over any current politician I've heard.

Two: While I appreciate you noticing the fact that my views are different from neo-cons and whatnot, I think it's important to understand that I don't believe what I do because I lean one way but I compromise back the other to be a reasonable human being or anything like that. I believe what I do absolutely and I only change my opinion when I think another position makes more sense. When I oppose prop 8, it's not because it just seems a little extreme to me to ban gay marriage, or because I was softened by interacting with my gay friends, it's because I think it's nonsense to ban something that doesn't harm me.

I think it's an important distinction, because if you just try to accomodate everyone's opinion to some degree or another or you like or don't like a person or group, clever politicians are going to tie you in knots. How many times have you heard a conservative say that the people who oppose the war are just against it because they're sissy liberals (paraphrasing)? That's no fucking reason to go to war. That person has been used and abused, and the RNC thanks them for their free vote.

Even the gurus will agree with what is being said here. I am glad I found it.

Very Nice Post. I love it. Have a Great day.