Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Rush and the MSM: The Today Show Today

So the Today Show OPENS this morning with extended coverage of of Rush and Michael Steele. Here are some of the points emphasized: The Republican Party is less popular now that ever (although the actual study showed a decline of only 1% since December). Michael Steele (maybe a admirable black guy) had the guts to marginalize Rush as an over-the-top entertainer, and then was forced to eat those words by the powerful (old white guy) Rush. Obama is more popular than ever (although the point wasn’t emphasized that his huge personal popularity can be contrasted with only a narrow majority supporting his actual policies). What Rush wants is for Obama to fail, meaning: He wants America to descend into a horrible Depression for partisan reasons. Republicans, of course, are selfishly indifferent to personal suffering, unless it’s by the rich. Meanwhile, a clip of Rush speaking in the strange all-black outfit with the unbottoned, chest-revealing shirt is constantly playing in a box on the screen.

I believe this evidence supports my conspiracy theory. So let me repeat one piece of praise of Rush that’s found in the threads. He was much more astute than the moderate Brooks or the Obamacon crunchies about what the new administration would be like. I hope the Obamacons aren’t sticking to the position that it was better that McCain lose to pay for Bush’s sins and because Palin screwed up the interviews. Obama’s politically correct paternalistic statism is surely taking direct aim at the remnants of what was doubtless a thriving rocking chair culture. Let me add: I certainly hope that the president succeeds in making the economy better. Let me repeat: Rush and Newt can’t be the core of the opposition.

Discussions - 34 Comments

Let me repeat: Rush and Newt can’t be the core of the opposition.

I don't know what that means, and I'm not sure you do either. Rush and Newt are prominent at the moment because nature hates a vacuum, and they are the only people in the GOP saying much of anything at present.

The party and the conservative movement are leaderless. The people sniping at Rush and Newt typically are ones who think they should be setting the agenda nstead, but they have no real following.

"I believe this evidence supports my conspiracy theory"

Because the Today show makes Rush look like a big fat idiot, there must be a conspiracy! No, actually, Rush is a big fat idiot, and any and all conservatives who cross him are forced to kowtow and ask for forgiveness. It's not just the black conservatives, it's all, from Mitch McConnell down to that congresscritter from Georgia. The fact is, the Republican brand stinx right now, and this story is a reflection of that. There's no conspiracy, just as in the lead up to the Iraq war there was no conspiracy to fail to investigate the Bush Admin's claims. It's just the lemming-like media doing what it does best, following instead of leading. That's how it goes. It doesn't take a conspiracy.

Now I know this next name is going to be anathema to you, but Noam Chomsky has really demonstrated how the media works. These are comfortable, mainstream people reporting from that vantage point. Right now comfortable, mainstream people think Republicans are right-wing wackos; they didn't think that just a few years ago, and the media coverage reflected that. So get over your conspiracy theory and realize that sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you.

Peter: Agreed. He was more astute. And they cannot be the core of the opposition--it isn't smart or even possible in my mind.


I think the attacks on Rush from the administration stem from Rush's extremely high negatives. He is a polarizing figure to most the country it appears.

I would second John. Rush and Newt cannot be the face of the Republican revival. However, Rush at least has the ideas that are needed. His CPAC speech was pretty much right on.

I also think that he wants Obama to fail, not in leading to America's destruction, but rather to fail in enacting his policies.

And they cannot be the core of the opposition...

To second John, what does that mean? Do you or Mr. Lawler have a clear thought about this?

I agree with Dr. Lawler, of course sometimes I do think he is fishing like a good reporter....as we both know...search for reaction. I don't think the evidence is quite a conspiracy theory...but rather it is simply the fact that while Rush is a lawgiver with influence...he isn't really a politician...but if you don't understand why conservative=GOP as simplistic as this is...then you don't understand Machiavelli. In some sense a dominant Rush is likely not simply to make and set foward unrealistic expectations for republican politicians but at the same time further exasperate the Seeming rather than Being or Rhino/hypocracy problem. In other words Obama could do a la carte liberalism, while republican politicians must content themselves with being happy for pizza some days and bad sloppy joe the next. In a real sense all effective politicians must be like Reagan or Obama in that they assemble and direct the rhetoric of the movement. So I kind of agree with Eric only I think it is possible for Rush to be the core of the opposition...just the core rather detrimentally...he crowds the stage...when you toss liberals a song like Barrack the magic negro and argue about sense of humor...you soak up the oxygen for any further advance...Rush is a more political Howard Stern... yet both I think almost completly justify the libertarian/ACLU/Jefferson view of Missouri Knights of the Ku Klux Klan v. Kansas City. But the presence of Rush as conservative has to act as a negation of a more conservative view point on public decency. Liberals drastically scared that Rush is influencial and quasi-demonic must reconsider respect for "the market place of ideas"....which is what they do when they stipulate an ethnocentrism that structures reason...of course I think one day we will have radical islamic groups and the klan on TV. Everyone will say what they want and no one will really be around to care, voice objection, or protest...In a sense then preocupation with Rush is a first admendment living constitutionalist question.

Because the Today show makes Rush look like a big fat idiot, there must be a conspiracy!

Man, the morons are coming out of the woodwork on this one.

As it happens, the fact that it is a conspiracy has been confirmed. It's not some crazy theory, it's a cold hard fact.

Link.


"Liberals quickly realized that trying to drive a wedge between congressional Republicans and Limbaugh was unlikely to work, and their better move was to paint the GOP as beholden to the talk show host"

"By February, Carville and Begala were pounding on Limbaugh frequently in their appearances on CNN."

"Neither Democrat would say so, but a third source said the two also began pushing the idea of targeting Limbaugh in their daily phone conversations with Emanuel."

"Conversations and email exchanges began taking place in and out of the White House not only between the old pals from the Clinton era but also including White House senior adviser David Axelrod, Deputy Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Woodhouse."

If the damn MSM had been coordinating their activities with Karl Rove I imagine you moonbats would have had something to say about it, going well beyond "conspiricy".

I don't think the evidence is quite a conspiracy theory...


Then you are not paying attention to the evidence, because it's not a matter open to debate.

I'm actually willing to cut Limbaugh slack on the "I hope he fails" comment. The construction that his liberal enemies are putting on the comment (that he hopes Obama has a failed presidency so that the GOP takes over regardless of the suffering a failure causes) is barely plausible but very hostile. When you broadcast your opinions for 15 hours a week, week after week, stuff like this is gonna happen eventually. You will make a comment that is open to multiple interpretations and if your opponents have the megaphone and the inclination, they will use it to attack you. There is no reason for conservatives to accept the liberal construction of Limbaugh's comment.

But to the extent that the argument between conservatism and liberalism is framed as an argument between Limbaugh and Obama, Obama and Limbaugh both come out ahead and conservatism loses. Limbaugh rallies those tens of millions of Americans who are his well wishers (who are far less than a majority) to his side and Obama shifts the middle over to his side. David Frum - who is so overly harsh about Limbaugh in other ways- is right about that much.

And that doesn't change the the objections to the substance of Limbaugh's CPAC speech when it comes to policy, political strategy, and dealing with intraconservative arguments. Rich Lowry over at NATIONAL REVIEW's The Corner is doing a masterful job of disagreeing from parts of Limbaugh's speech while not seeming to be critical of Limbaugh and making it seem like no big deal. Its really something. Lowry should be working in the State Department or as a hostage negotiator.

I'm actually willing to cut Limbaugh slack on the "I hope he fails" comment.

Golly, that's very generous of you.

But to the extent that the argument between conservatism and liberalism is framed as an argument between Limbaugh and Obama

In the unlikely event that you know how to read, try reading that I posted above. The Democrats have decided to run against Rush. Why do you suggest Rush do about it? Go live in a monastery for the next several years?

At some stage people on the right need to stop going along with the left as they demonize one of us after the other. Gingrich, DeLay, Bush, Palin, ...

You can't appease them for long by throwing them another sacrifical victim. At some stage you have to decide whether you want to live on your feet or on your knees.

John, your loyalty to Limbaugh is impressive, your ability to disagree agreeably less so. The Obama people are trying to identify Limbaugh with conservatism and Limbaugh gave the featured speech at CPAC. Limbaugh gave a major speech that sought to define the parameters of legitimate conservatism. That was one of the themes of his CPAC speech. Fair enough, its a free country. But the speech, the venue, the audience's reaction all helped to cement the impression of Limbaugh as the face of conservatism. The Democrats have pounced on the oppurtunity. As for what I expect Limbaugh to do? Nothing but defend himself. Trap walked into and damage done. What would I have him do? Well it would probably be better for Limbaugh AND his conservative critics to disagree more on principles and policy and spend less time on personal attacks.

So what are conservative to do? Say when we think someone on our side is right and say when we think they are wrong. Julie is right that there is an attempt to demonize Limbaugh. To the extent that the attacks are unfair we should say so. We also should not silence our own concerns lest we give aid and comfort to the enemy. The same goes for everyone else on your list. A concede-no-fault take-no-prisoners defense of any of the people on that list (or anyone else for that matter)does us no good and won't have any credibility outside of that group that has agreed not to mention the particular figure's shortcomings.

What would be sucsess for Obama? A totalitarian state? How does this conspiracy hurt Limbaugh? His ratings will go up because simple people will want to be defiant. He is not running for office and will never run for office. All this does is keep the national robbery masquerading as right vs. left a little longer so the Dow can reach its botton at 1600 or so and the private federal reserve banks can buy up the entire country with our tax dollars. Calling a couple political thugs having an idea to put limbaugh font and center is hardly a conspiracy. If you would suggest that Limbaugh was involved I would start to listen. I hope he(Obama) does fail and that the nation rises from the ashes a little wiser about letting private banks control their currency.

John is correct to notice that as they tear through yet another conservative demon, they do not have to address the arguments coming from conservatism--whatever the brand. While "conspiracy" is probably too strong a word, this is not a coincidence. Like I said, leave this fight to the Rahm Emmanuels of this world. The American people will get disgusted with it soon enough and I'd rather see the disgust piled up on him. No one (and certainly not any public person) is ever above reproach for their opinions or their approach to the debate. But there is no reason allow this internal debate to be hijacked in order to serve the purposes of the other side. I think I tend to agree with Michael Medved today who said that the fact that we do NOT have one person who can be said to be our the "leader" of the GOP or of conservatism shows our strength more than it shows a weakness. We are vibrant and alive with thinking, debating, and ideas. They are suffering from strong dose of Bonapartism, as he said. And they're setting themselves up for a disappointment.

I don't have any particular loyalty ro Limbaugh. I'm simply irritated at the fact that his detractors dislike the man himself and his listeners, and are almost totally disinterested in arguing over what Rush has to say.


Well it would probably be better for Limbaugh AND his conservative critics to disagree more on principles and policy and spend less time on personal attacks.

Dear God, the irony.


The Democrats have pounced on the oppurtunity.

Well Rush has pounced back. He's challeged Obama to debate him. What do you think the outcome of such a debate would be?

We also should not silence our own concerns lest we give aid and comfort to the enemy.

By all means, tell me about your concerns. What exactly are they? I'm not asking anybody to stifle any legitimate concerns. But the knock on Rush I'm hearing from people on the right boils down to "My liberal friends look down on him and I'm too gutless to argue with them".

John, take your points one at a time,

1. You seem to have me confused with somebody. I thought the Limbaugh speech at CPAC had real problems on its approach to offering policy alternatives, the problems of going back to a Reaganite tax cutting strategy both as an economic growth strategy and as an election winning strategy and his personal attacks on conservatives who disagreed with him. If you have a problem with that, fine. I'll stand by my opinion. But lets be clear where I disagree.

2. I see the back and forth between Limbaugh and Obama is playing out like this: Limbaugh is winning with conservatives and Obama with nonconservatives. They are both winning in their own way. Thats not my preffered outcome but thats how I see it going and Limbaugh challanging Obama to a debate doesn't change the dynamic except to make it weirder. Thought that might be the way out in the end. The Democrats have ridden this story about as far as they can (please God)and the absurdity of a talk show host/President debate might be the way to get them to drop it. Then again maybe not. The attack on Limbaugh is mostly being carried out by various henchmen and media allies rather than Obama himself so maybe they will manage to add this to their caricature of Limbaugh.

3. I know the more unfair attacks on Limbaugh can be infuriating but it doesn't help to envenom intraconservative disagreements with the assumption of bad faith. Ross Douthat made some good points about Limbaugh even though I wouldn't agree with every word of his analysis. Rich Lowry made some good critical points in his very diplomatic way. David Frum's attack on Limbaugh is a special case. It had a truckload of double standards that really were personal but also the valid observation that Obama is a more broadly popular face for liberalism than Limbaugh is for conservatism. Its one thing to argue that every critic of Limbaugh is wrong in their analysis, but to argue that they are all just engaged in conformism is deeply mistaken.

Limbaugh rallies those tens of millions of Americans who are his well wishers (who are far less than a majority) to his side and Obama shifts the middle over to his side. David Frum - who is so overly harsh about Limbaugh in other ways- is right about that much.

Limbaugh is right about this - Frum is wrong. These so called "middle" are actually with Obama all along....

By all means, tell me about your concerns. What exactly are they?

My guess is that Limbaugh, Palin, etc. don't tow the line an appearances. They don't easily fit into a Sunday show panel where "conservative" intellectuals sit with "liberal" intellectuals and have meaningless debates. They don't counter every liberal policy with a bullet point response. Unlike Krauthammer, Pete, and the like they also make a difference in the "conservative" movement. Am I far off or is that too cynical?

Christopher, where do you get the idea that I was very critical of Palin? This site has an archive. I assume you have a life and can't be bothered to look it up, but you can check out my Palin posts (mostly in the Peter Lawler threads). And linking me with Krauthammer (who I disagree with on a few things) is grotesque, over-the-top, unjustified, probably actionable flattery.

And linking me with Krauthammer (who I disagree with on a few things) is grotesque, over-the-top, unjustified, probably actionable flattery.

lol! Nope, not too cynical - Krauthammer and yourself will forever never make a difference :)

Sorry, I had you linked with the "let's pretend Romney is a conservative" crowd...

Also, your criticism of Limbaugh (and others) on the" Reaganite tax cutting strategy " reveals that you don't have much of an income, and don't really understand the idea of property rights in the sense of those of us who have massive amounts of their hard work taken from us by the point of the sword. If you do have an income and don't mind the growth of taxes and government as % of GDP then your a liberal at heart....

This is all pretty funny. No, really.

When the Democrat leader in the U.S. Senate, Harry Reid, declared that he was hoping General Petraeus fail in his effort to win the war in Iraq, the media & American people yawned... The result? Democrats win huge in both Congress and the White House.


Seems to me, Republicans could learn a lesson here: Cheering for President Obama's failure could yield a huge victory in the next election, because the American people seem to like failure these days.

Christopher, as insults go you're getting warmer. I suggest "lets pretend Lincoln Chaffee is a conservative" ooh thats mean!

As for cutting income taxes. As an economic matter I don't think cutting the marginal rate at its CURRENT rate would have the same kind of big positive impact that the early 80s tax cuts did. It would probably help some but the impact on incentives would I think be limited. I would be for such a tax cut in principle but have limited expectations of its impact on the economy. I am willing to have my mind changed. I am also against the Obama tax hikes. I understand property rights I guess, but an economic conservative program that has a chance of winning needs broader appeal than can be gotten from cutting income and investment taxes.

If we are talking conspiracy then we are still in the first amendment, or rather Hobson v. Wilson was a case involving real conspiracy, real counter-ideological warfare and infrigement of freedom of assembly...it is an interesting case to read, also I would toss in another rather landmark first amendment case...maybe United States v. Proggressive. I am making use of this case because the argument that anyone with some basic science knowledge and the ability to use libraries could piece together how a hydrogen bomb was made seems interesting...I am almost inclined to say that essentially broad conspiracies are unnecessary because anyone who has done the leg work can put one together. In a sense this almost vindicates Rush from charges for Operation Chaos...the "tactical" idea that Rush had wasn't unique to him, just about anyone can with a little work can become a wreaking crew, actively bringing division to groups of people a la Hobson v. Wilson on a smaller scale(but multiplied thousands of times over). This is especially true of folks on blogs who troll to see points of contention and disagreement and then jump on them.

My comment about the Klan or radical islam finding a place on telivision is dated...they can and do have places online.

...In any case liberal media or not Rush has dominion...the proof is that Michael Steele says something reasonable about Rush but then instantly has to duck and cover and come back and beg forgiveness...

Look John you can spin this any way you want and I still think that strategy has basically evolved to become very conspiracy minded...So I don't doubt that the democrats conspired(had a damn strategy)...but Limbaugh conspired directly against Obama during the election, you cite facts in 7 that don't take into account that warfare was being launched on every level on all sides and that it was constantly egged on by Limbaugh...as if folks needed egged on to label him a muslim/terrorist. I know the election is over, but you are being one sided in your recollection of the climate it all took place in.

Steele agreed with D.L. Hugeley that it was "incendiary and ugly" for Rush to hope that Obama fail in imposing his Leftism. That's not incendiary or ugly.

Yet when Hugeley called conservatives "Nazis", something truly incendiary and ugly, Steele just nodded his head. Apology accepted.

Lots of smart responses. I appreciate it. It goes without saying I used "conspiracy" in a loose and somewhat ironic way.

Pete:


I am in general agreement with you here. Something I have been thinking about that would have made Rush's speech less angry and more fruitful is if he said he wishes America to succeed in liberty or freedom rather than insisting Obama's policies fail. Rhetorically, he could have stated the argument much better and less negatively. (some of these arguments were made by Prager yesterday if memory serves) But, again, he was not really defining what conservatism is or means--and I think there is a bit of a crisis on that front as the CPAC conference demonstrated.


Julie: I think this is the ground of argument now and where the battle will be fought--over the administration's use and abuse of Limbaugh. They have likely mis-stepped and revealing what they are doing shows their weakness to be sure--but this is an administration of hubris.

It also occurs to me that one thing about Limbaugh that is certainly true is that a very large number of people hate him without ever having listened to the man or really knowing why they hate him (other than that's what one is supposed to do in polite society). One result of this dust-up will be that people who have never listened to his show will listen in order to be gratified, they think, in hearing him tank. This has happened before and, when it has, Limbaugh usually comes out ahead. He won't win them all over, of course, and for some he will continue to be a lightening rod. But he will likely win over a large enough portion of his former haters to make this strategy of the White House's ineffective. They depend too much on poll numbers that are polling feelings rather than firmly held opinions.

So I don't doubt that the democrats conspired(had a damn strategy)...but Limbaugh conspired directly against Obama during the election, you cite facts in 7 that don't take into account that warfare was being launched on every level on all sides and that it was constantly egged on by Limbaugh...as if folks needed egged on to label him a muslim/terrorist. I know the election is over, but you are being one sided in your recollection of the climate it all took place in.


JL, you are sometimes worth reading, and sometimes amazingly incoherent. I'm afraid this is one of the latter times. I literally can't understand what it is you are trying to say.


Is it that Limbaugh launched a "war" on the poor hapless Democratic party/media complex? It seems to be, but that is the sort of thing I'd expect to read from poor foolish Fung, or that Marxist moron Craig Scanlon. Not from a person with more than a dozen functioning brain cells.

You seem to have me confused with somebody.

Unless there is more than one person using the handle "Pete" on this site, no, I don't.

I thought the Limbaugh speech at CPAC had real problems on its approach to offering policy alternatives etc

So I gather. I've been pressing you to say something concrete and specific about what you think those problems are. Something you have failed to do again here.

I see the back and forth between Limbaugh and Obama is playing out like this: Limbaugh is winning with conservatives and Obama with nonconservatives.

All, right, let's run with that assumption. Than what?

Thats not my preffered outcome but thats how I see it going and Limbaugh challanging Obama to a debate doesn't change the dynamic except to make it weirder.

Once again, Pete, your are maddingly vague. What is "weird" about a politician going on a radio station to answer questions about and be forced to defend his policies? Given the free ride Obama got from the MSM, it would seem to be a good thing if he were finally pressed by a non-sycopantic interviewer. At least to me. But to you, it seems weird. Pete, you seem weird to me. Very weird.

absurdity of a talk show host/President debate

I've watched Katie Couric debate Sarah Palin. I've been watching left-wing TV and radio people debating Republicans my entire life. Tell me why you object to the idea of a Democrat debating a conservative. I want to know.

I know the more unfair attacks on Limbaugh can be infuriating but it doesn't help to envenom intraconservative disagreements with the assumption of bad faith.

Pete, I hearby accuse you of being a person of bad faith. I will continue to do so until you say say something remotely intelligent and coherent explaining your animus against Limbaugh. Deal with it.

Ross Douthat made some good points about Limbaugh even though I wouldn't agree with every word of his analysis. Rich Lowry made some good critical points in his very diplomatic way.

More evasions. I'm asking you what you object to about Limbaugh. Telling me that you think that some of the things said by certain other were on the mark is completely unhelpful. Which specific points made by Douhat do you agree with? You said "some".

The amusing thing is that you accuse me of being a "loyal supporter" of Rush, which is very far from being the case. I don't even listen to his show. It is entirely possible that I'll agree with whatever it is you have to say, in the event that I can ever get you to say it.

In an effort to break this impasse, let me put it like this. I'm looking to hear you say something like "Rush feels that we should retain the Reagan era approach to taxes, while I feel that we should be willing to change them in the following manner. [insert description here]".

John, lets take them one at a time again,

1.You seem to have me confused with someone who personally disliked Limbaugh or his listenters as opposed to someone who disagreed with some of Limbuagh's statements. To further clarify (since you seem to pesonalize these things) the fact that I disagree with you John does not mean I dislike you, your family, your friends, or your coworkers. Hope that clears things up for you.

2.Sorry I weird you out. Limbaugh's debate challange has its uses. If he is going to be treated like the leader of the opposition, then dammit let him be treated like the real leader of the opposition. The problem with that approach is that Obama has not been the one publickly debating Limbaugh. Its been henchmen or media figures. To the extent that conservatives demand that Obama debate Limbaugh, its a self-marginalizing activity. To argue that its only fair because Katie Couric gave Palin a hostile interview just comes off as bitter. Its fun to argue that Obama is a coward for not going on the Limbaugh show or something but I don't see any reason to think that it will resonate outside of the people who are already on our side. Not that it wouldn't be fun to hear.

3. My problems with Limbaugh's speech. a) The argument that conservatives should not offer policy alternatives to Obama policies and should instead focus on principles. They should focus on both as long as the policies aren't just slightly less liberal versions of Obama policies. The more the public hears about conservative policies, the faster the public will become comforable with them making, the tougher they are to caricature at electon time it easier for later conservative candidates to run on those policies. Reagan's tax cuts are an example of this. A deep across the board income tax cut had been kicking around in the public debate for several years before Reagan picked it up in 1980. b)The 1980s approach of broad cuts in the income tax won't work as well because our tax code is different in important ways. Lots of people pay little or no income tax but are instead pressed by payroll taxes or rising healthcare premiums. An income tax cut does little to help them directly. The higher parts of the tax code are also much lower than in the 1980s. That means that a cut in their income taxes (unless it is huge) will not do as much to spur investment and unshelter income than when the top rate was in the 70s). There is also the problem of revenue. Everyone who is not a fanatic agrees that at some point raising taxes produces diminishing revenue (compared to what you would have gotten if you had not raised taxes). Everyone who is not a fanatic agrees that at some point a tax cut reduces revenue (compared to what you would have gotten if you had not cut taxes past that point) As Arthur Laffer pointed out, a 0% tax produces 0 tax revenue. When the top marginal tax rate was much higher, it was much easier to make the case that a lower tax rate would bring in more money. Now its much tougher to make that argument. c) In his speech Limbaugh counsels his audience that those conservatives who disagree with him are arguing in bad faith - from social pressure. In some individual cases that might even have a bit of truth but the assumption that disagreeing with Limbaugh is proof of bad faith is both a silly and poisonous argument.

4. I brought up Douthat and Lowry as thoughtful and good faith critics of Limbaugh and that all "his detractors" should not be lumped together.

5. Animus? Good grief.

While I wait for Pete to get back to me, let me address Lowery's comments.

As with Pete, Lowery is not terribly specific. He takes issue with a fragment of a sentence from Limbaugh, that conservatives have no pressing need for “better policy ideas right now.” Lowery calls this "policy stasis".

As some of Lowery's respondents pointed out to him, this is taking Rush's remarks out of context. It's pretty obvious that Limbaugh is not arguing that we need to contine the policy preferences of McCain and/or Bush.

He is arguing that the successful conservative ideas of the 1980's and 1990's are still valid and that the path back to power consists of following rhat we might call the Reagan model.

Rush may be wrong in that. But I'm not seeing any very convincing arguments to that effect being made. Lowery and others seem to take it as given than what we might call "traditional conservatism" needs to be updated.

I'd like to see them make the case that this is so, and also lay out very clearly what changes they want to make.

On a side note, you have to be amused at the instinctive use of "stasis" as a pejorative by the editor of a magazine founded on the premise of "standing athwart history yelling 'Stop!'"

John, sorry but you are taking Lowry's remarks out of context and Limbaugh's too. In the speech Limbaugh rejects a tactic of offering "better policy ideas right now" Okay, its a point of view and while I think it is very wrong I see his point. Democrats control the agenda and contrasting our policies with their policies doesn't change that dynamic. Lowry argues that better policies need to go together with sticking to principles both for tactical reasons (voters will be more likely to listen if you have policies to offer) and strategic reasons - there is a common set of policies that conservatives can broadly agree to follow for the day when they are again in a postion to govern. I further believe that the sooner the public starts hearing about other better policies, the sooner the public will get comfortable with those policies. It was easy for the Democrats to demonize McCain's healthcare reform plan because the public did not have much clue how the program would work and what benefits it might produce - then again it doesn't seem that McCain did either. It takes a while for policy ideas to work their way into the public discussion. Work requirements and time limits for welfare followed a similar road from the think tank fringes, to the general discussion (where Limbaugh played a big role) to becoming an issue between politicians until Clinton felt that he either had to go along or risk his political careeer.

You seem to have me confused with someone who personally disliked Limbaugh

I did not feel that way to begin with, but the longer this goes on and the more you say both about Rush and about how you don't dislike him, the more I start to think that you really do have a pesonal dislike of the man.

If he is going to be treated like the leader of the opposition, then dammit let him be treated like the real leader of the opposition. The problem with that approach is that Obama has not been the one publickly debating Limbaugh. Its been henchmen or media figures.

Sounds like a good argument for Rush to discuss politics with Obama all right.

To the extent that conservatives demand that Obama debate Limbaugh, its a self-marginalizing activity.

Once again, Pete, your chain of thought leaps across a gap which I cannot follow. Perhaps I'm just dense, but can you explain that to me?

For one thing, it's not "conservatives demanding" anything. It's the logic of Obamas own position.

For another thing, how are conservaties "marginalized" if one of us gets the chance to finally pin the empty suit down before a national audience? I'm not getting any of this. Unless you don't actually think Rush is one of "us", in which case a win for him is a defeat for us.

Its fun to argue that Obama is a coward for not going on the Limbaugh show or something but I don't see any reason to think that it will resonate outside of the people who are already on our side.

Well Pete, it is more than "fun" to argue. It is actually the correct and proper thing to argue! Our politicians constantly debate hostile interviewers. If there is a reason why you think Obama should not have the same experience, then it's just one more thing you're not saying. Your opposition to an idea which would be a slam dunk victory for us is .... curious.

The argument that conservatives should not offer policy alternatives to Obama policies and should instead focus on principles. They should focus on both as long as the policies aren't just slightly less liberal versions of Obama policies.

You can't focus on both, because policy follows principle. You have to nail down principle first.

Everyone who is not a fanatic agrees that at some point a tax cut reduces revenue (compared to what you would have gotten if you had not cut taxes past that point)

Yup. The tax cut issue is no longer a potent one for the GOP. Still, I don't see that Rush is acually arguing for that or any other policy. The debate here is over his insistence that we tackle principles first. That and whether he has any place in setting the direction for Republicans. WFB thought he did. WFB was not infallible of course. Still ...

I also want Obama to fail, just as liberals want No Left Turns to fail. The Left wanted Bush to fail so badly that they tried their best to manufacture our defeat in Iraq. They even made movies, wrote books and sang songs about W.'s assassination. Let me know when Rush does something like that, would you?

Rush is providing leadership. He's engaging in guerilla theater to good effect, I think. We need more of this, not less. Position papers only go so far. Boehner did well on the Porkulus vote but we need more leadership from all levels, including governors. Everybody needs to step up their game.

John, take your points again,

1. Too bad you feel that, but my writing doesn't support your feeling. Limbaugh's speech had some good points on the limits of "feelings" in decision making. They would see to apply to your approach on this point. Maybe you are kidding here. If not, thats the personalization of differences I were talking about.

2. I think we disaree on how nonconservatives hear the debate for a Limbaugh-Obama debate. It would be good for Obama to go on the Limbaugh show (it would be even better for Obama to get a better set of opinions for himself but I doubt thats happening either). As an actual demand I think nonconservatives think it sounds crazy except as a way to make a point about the Democrats elevation of Limbaugh.

3.Policy vs Principle: okay thats a real disagreement. I made my point on that above so you can agree with it or don't. One other example. drawn from welfare. Even when conservatives agreed on what was wrong with welfare (incentives to fail)they disagreed about the best and most prudent reform policy). Some conservatives suggested benefit cuts, and others work requirements. Some conservatives who might have preffered a benefit cut strategy, went along with the work requirment strategy because they thought that a benefit cut strategy was never going to happen politically and they wen with the second best policy. Even at that, it was years after conservatives settled on work requirments and years of public argument before the policy finally happened on anational level. The sooner we start with other issues the better.

4. That was nonresponsive as to the revenue effects of an income tax cuts that I mentioned. Your conclusion bears no relationship to what you quote.

5.Whether Limbaugh has "any place". Sorry but you are arguing with someone else again, some fantasy that is making points you would like to address. Limbaugh is up for criticism (like every other public figure in politics) , and I wish he would approach intraconservative disagreement in a less personal way. To get any "animus", "dislike" wishing him to "go away" out of this says something about how you approach disagreement (that is if you serious) but not much else.

In his CPAC address, Rush Limbaugh claimed that the inalienable rights to "life, liberty, freedom?, and the pursuit of happiness" are contained in the Preamble of the United States Constitution. A statement of this caliber is really enough to disqualify him, or anyone, from a discussion of American ideals and their role in contemporary American politics. In between issuing urban fist-taps at CPAC and challenging the President to on-air debates, perhaps Limbaugh should spend some time reading, as opposed to shouting emphatically about, the Founding documents. Just a suggestion.

Still, its hard to blame Limbaugh for being angry with Obama. With both a Democratic President and Congress, the GOP is effectually immobilized; they're stuck criticizing Democrats from the side-lines and airwaves, which makes the idea of a Conservative Political ACTION Committee both ironic and hilarious.

The GOP's criticism of the Obama Administration's attempt to deal with the economic crisis follows a predictable, negative conservative form: too much spending, too much government, and not enough tax cuts. You might even call it the "John Boehner Theorem."

As usual, the GOP is doing an unparalleled job of ignoring the economic data from the past eight years. Since Clinton left office in 2001, the US has gone from a record suplus to a substantial national debt; from 22 million new jobs down to 5 million; from an increase in working family incomes of $7,500 to a decline of more than $2,000; from almost 8 million Americans moving out of poverty to more than 5 and a half million falling into poverty. Its time for the GOP to wake up and face the facts; after all, the GOP is the party of realism.

Finally, when its time for the GOP to present viable alternatives, they pull out their default, and only, economics text, "Tax Cuts for Dummies." To be fair, the idea of tax cuts is theoretically sound, GIVEN certain economic conditions are in place. Among these, the most important seem to be sustained increases in consumer spending, as well as rising foreign and domestric direct investment. Without these conditins and others, the idea of tax cuts as a mechanism for stimulating the economy is absolute folly. When unemployment is rising and one-third of Americans are having difficulty paying their bills and mortgages, implementing tax cuts is not going to trigger an enormous spike in consumer spending. Rest assured the money is not going to be used to purchase automobiles from Ford, GM, or Chrysler or any other major US company. If the past is any indication, Americans will save the money they recieve from tax cuts or simply use it to pay off existing debts. In any case, it probably won't be used to stimulate growth and job creation in the United States.

What should the GOP do next? First, its time for the GOP to top clinging to the majority like barnacles. They should immediately withdraw from their secondary position in the spotlight (i.e. Bobby Jindal) for however long it takes to develop an energetic and unified party with a consistent set of policy positions and principles. Their essentially negative role in political discourse today has a retroactive effect on America's ability to address its major problems. Finally, the GOP needs to find a new set of leaders to spearhead its next major political ascent, because Rush Limbaugh and Michael Steele just ain't cutting it.

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