Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sunday Question for Conservatives

Rush Limbaugh: Good or bad for the Republican Party? Good or bad for conservatives?


  1. During Clinton years good for both because he pointed at flaws in liberals and dems.

    Starting with Bush Jr beating war drums for Iraq bad for both. He never uttered a critical comment about a poorly fought war that damaged the party. Little criticism of the other failures of Bush term. Poor economy of Bush years shows failure of current GOP doctrines but Rush sticks to neocon and supply side dogma.

    Last week a gift to dems and feminists. I think Rush is of an age when any women having pre-marital sex was thought a slut. Sexual mores have changed and he resents it. When he talks about sex he turns off most people younger then himself. His personal life makes him a poor choice to criticize feminists.

    I wish some GOP politicians would call for making birth control pills OTC.

  2. "I think Rush is of an age when any women having pre-marital sex was thought a slut."

    Perhaps, but Rush was a single adult for the vast majority of the 1970s. I would not call him a product of his time in this regard.

  3. Agreed with Mercer about Limbaugh's silence during the Bush administration. Unfortunately for him, Obama's governing philosophy does not stray far from Bush's. Soo... here comes the culture war! Cultural issues gin up the base without disturbing any vested interests, making them "safe" for Rush. Having to make an embarrassing apology is preferable to actually challenging the GOP establishment, which is what honest opposition to Obama would require.

  4. Its an interesting question, since at a visceral level the answer is certainly bad, if only because Limbaugh is so unpleasant to hear. But I think the answer might actually be good, because of something Anastasios said to (conservative) Anonymous in that fascinating ideology thread last week.

    Anastasios expressed sympathy for conservative ideals and also frustration that conservatives haven't moved on. As I read it, Anastasios meant that the war of ideas had been pretty much won by the left, which I think is pretty much correct. There's a difference, though, between winning the war of ideas because your ideas are better and winning because your memes are more marketable. Two pertinent examples:

    The Tea Partiers are crazy, no? This crowd would pretty much universally agree to that, I would imagine. Those folks are animated by xenophobia or hatred for progress or whatever, but their one connection to sanity is hostility toward the increasingly alarming debt.

    You hear the anti-deficit urgency argument here - and elsewhere - often. "We'll cut the debt when economic conditions allow". That's a very appealing argument, because it allows one to sound responsible while still not disconnecting from the drug. Has a deficit 'realist' ever argued something like "Give us nine more months, than its Simpson-Bowles, with feeling!" No, its always spending responsibility at some unknown point in the future, very similar to how the alcoholic or nicotine addict will quit their addictions at some appropriate future day. Great to hear, does it mean anything?

    Secondly, jobs. A million reasons the US can't extricate itself from its jobs mess, but one of the main ones is that big companies exist for two big reasons: 1) Increase profits, and 2) do so by firing people. A healthy entrepreneurial environment is of course critical to retaining full employment.

    Slight digression: I wouldn't necessarily say anything that Obama has done, including the ACA, is particularly anti-entrepreneur. Generally, though, the bigness of government that comes with traditional liberal ideology is exquisitely anti-entrepreneurial, for which one needs look no further than the sorry (nanny) state of Greece, which is damned if they do (austerity) and damned if they don't (stimulate) because there's so little private economic activity left there.

    What does this have to do with Limbaugh? Well, the memes "we'll cut the deficit when the time is right" and "government solutions bringing order" have largely won the popular imagination, together with many leftist ideas, as Anastasios argued the other day.

    But winning the popular imagination is not the same things as what's best for the country. It might be sometimes, and other times not. So having a very visible figure kicking sand in the face of those memes, no matter how revolting, is probably a good thing. If nothing else, it keeps the ideals of conservatism alive, even in a twisted form, since we conservatives don't really know how to win legitimately in the marketplace of ideas.

  5. The problem with Rush Limbaugh as a conservative leader is that he becomes a very successful broadcaster and a very rich man if 10% of the US population likes him and listens to him, even if he turns most of the other 90% strongly against him. A political party, on the other hand, needs toughly 30% of the electorate to strongly support it and another 30% or so to find it at least tolerable, in order to obtain the 51% minimum required to win control of the government (since no party ever gets all of the swing voters). So Republican political leaders need to keep their distance from Limbaugh, even while getting his hard core listeners to support the party, in order to have a shot at winning national elections. On balance, I think Limbaugh's prominence is a modest net negative for Republican electoral fortunes.


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