Prescriptions for the Other Side

Those all-powerful radio hosts are to blame for the Republicans’ misfortunes, according to Steven Stark. If that’s the case, perhaps liberals’ difficulty succeeding in the medium was a function of strategy. More seriously, I’d point out that Stark has picked two moments in history and asserted a trend, even though Republicans’ fortunes have been more of an arc since the late ’80s than a downward slide.
But let’s allow that some percentage of the electorate has been driven away from the Republican Party out of aversion to heated, audio-only rhetoric. I’d argue that the perception is a generated one. Even the characterization of “the relentless stream of invective from the right side of the dial” is an arguable description, especially in comparison with the viciousness of the Left, in the multiple media that it controls. And it hardly explains why the affable President Bush is so unpopular.
To be sure, Bush’s big-government results are far from the conservative ideal. Some might go so far as to accuse the president of trying to be the populist that Stark is gratified to see in Mike Huckabee. At least in the realm of political theory, conservatives are justified in complaining that their philosophy is inaccurately tarred by association with Mr. Bush.
And there’s the edge of the paper covering Stark’s argument: President Bush was vilified as a conservative, and conservative media stars are portrayed as beyond-the-pale invective slingers, even when their rhetoric is no more heated or divisive than many a successful liberal. If Mike Huckabee had emerged victorious from the Republican primaries, we’d have spent the last six months hearing what a fire-breather he is.
The lesson for conservatives, in short, is not that it needs to present nice, conciliatory policies, or to take mollifying the skittish middle as a priority. To be sure, I’m a fan of calmness and good humor, but I’d suggest that the liberals who are currently deigning to review the faults of the right are not really complaining about style, but about content, and the only way to remedy that is to change our very nature and to turn a blind eye to reality.

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15 years ago

Rush peaked in ’94, when the GOP took Congress. Then the hubris set in.
When he did the victory lap with Newt, he made the transition from truth-teller to GOP functionary. He allowed himself to become so identified with the Republicans that it became easier to vilify him as a partisan functionary. Same goes for Hannity and the rest of the bunch. At least O’Reilly keeps some distance beuween himself and the GOP (probably because he’s pro-choice).
The Dems learned their lesson, and keep the loudest liberal voices of the media at arms’ length from the party. I still think Joe Lieberman would be out of the Senate right now if Al Sharpton hadn’t crashed the stage at Ned Lamont’s primary victory party two years ago.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
15 years ago

I quit listening to Rush in 1993 whenhe made it all about Clinton all the time.
before that he was often very funny,frequently with nonpolitical stuff like the fast food order skit and the Spatula City “ad”.He even brought humor to his attacks on feminists,extreme environmentalists(note “extreme”),and the PETA crowd.
He became a humorless one-note song and I switched him off.

15 years ago

Oh and do your gambling at FW and Mohegan.
SCREWRI-and the crooks who run it.

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