Monday, February 02, 2009

Why Rush Derangement Syndrome is Replacing BDS

The NY Post explains why BarackO mentioned Rush Limbaugh to the Repubs in his tete-a-tetes recently as a bete noire. And The Wall Street Journal has a different approach describing the bipolar nuttiness of the ultra-left Dems who need to demonize their opponents to mask the utterly silly and self-contradicting policy options they are propounding in the "stimulus" package. After citing Hamilton in The Federalist Papers, the WSJ article gets down to cases:
Bush hatred and Obama euphoria are particularly toxic because they thrive in and have been promoted by the news media, whose professional responsibility, it has long been thought, is to gather the facts and analyze their significance, and by the academy, whose scholarly training, it is commonly assumed, reflects an aptitude for and dedication to systematic study and impartial inquiry.

From the avalanche of vehement and ignorant attacks on Bush v. Gore and the oft-made and oft-refuted allegation that the Bush administration lied about WMD in Iraq, to the remarkable lack of interest in Mr. Obama's career in Illinois politics and the determined indifference to his wrongness about the surge, wide swaths of the media and the academy have concentrated on stoking passions rather than appealing to reason.

Some will speculate that the outbreak of hatred and euphoria in our politics is the result of the transformation of left-liberalism into a religion, its promulgation as dogma by our universities, and students' absorption of their professors' lesson of immoderation. This is unfair to religion.

Even religions in their advanced forms advocate some sort of limitation based on the frailty of human nature. However, the sad state of secular propagation of the civic faiths of today lack much of the nobility and universality of old-time religion:
biblical faith encourages skepticism about grand claims to moral and political authority and an appreciation of the limits of one's knowledge, both of which well serve liberal democracy.

In contrast, by assembling and maintaining faculties that think alike about politics and think alike that the university curriculum must instill correct political opinions, our universities cultivate intellectual conformity and discourage the exercise of reason in public life. It is not that our universities invest the fundamental principles of liberalism with religious meaning -- after all the Declaration of Independence identifies a religious root of our freedom and equality. Rather, they infuse a certain progressive interpretation of our freedom and equality with sacred significance, zealously requiring not only outward obedience to its policy dictates but inner persuasion of the heart and mind. This transforms dissenters into apostates or heretics, and leaders into redeemers.

Consequently, though Bush hatred may weaken as the 43rd president minds his business back home in Texas, and while Obama euphoria may fade as the 44th president is compelled to immerse himself in the daunting ambiguities of power, our universities will continue to educate students to believe that hatred and euphoria reflect political wisdom. Urgent though the problem is, not even the efficient and responsible spending of a $1 trillion stimulus package would begin to address it.

Yes, the fickle and transient passions of the weak-minded academics and other purveyors in the "marketplace of ideas" are switching to what Saul Alinsky used to call a rallying-cry for the committed men/women of the left---ridiculing and reviling Rush Limbaugh, who averages 20 million listeners on a daily basis, making him more widely listened to than any opponent on his left. Michelle Malkin notes concerning Obama's recent anti-Rush remarks:
it points to a neurosis on the part of Democrats. By defining themselves more by who they oppose rather than who they are, they find themselves lost without an enemy.

The stimulus bill is a prime example - a collection of pet projects connected by no coherent ideological strategy except spending. Do Democrats really support it because it's a good bill? Or is it simply because Republicans oppose it?

Either way, picking a fight with Rush was disastrous for the White House. Obama's criticism of Limbaugh - and by extension, the broader influence of conservative talk radio and grass-roots activism - galvanized the base. Let's face it - there's been a little bit of moping since the November losses. Conservatives retreated into think tanks and blogs, trying to figure out what went wrong, sure that the public mood for empty promises would sour soon enough.

It didn't take long. My colleagues here at the New York Post tell me after the newspaper ran its story about Obama calling out Rush, the article vaulted to No. 1 on its Web site for three consecutive days - and garnered more than 4,200 comments.

I asked Limbaugh this week why his enemies on the Left repeatedly fall into the trap of distorting his words and overreaching in their anti-talk radio demagoguery. Why, after 20 years, don't they learn?

"On the contrary," he said, "I think they believe all of these campaigns to have been profoundly successful. Their objective is to use their brethren in the drive-by media to echo their charges against me for the purpose of ensuring that I do not become 'mainstream' in the popular and political cultures. They strive to have the general population, particularly those who do not listen to the radio, hate me (and by association, all of conservatism). This happens for one reason: I am effective and thus have to be marginalized as an extremist, fringe figure." Invoking Obama intellectual mentor Saul Alinsky's "Rule for Radicals," Limbaugh has reminded his audience of Rule No. 13 to explain the White House strategy: "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." Indeed, outraged that conservative talk radio has succeeded in the marketplace while liberals have bombed, and unnerved that new media outlets have upended mainstream journalism's monopoly apple cart, liberals have long targeted, personalized, and polarized the medium. Bill Clinton blamed the Oklahoma City bombing on the "many loud and angry voices" in conservative talk radio that "spread hate." Democrats continue to deride "Republican noise machines" and have long worked in Congress to marginalize, regulate and stifle influential talkers - most notably by pressing for the Armed Forces Radio Network to drop Limbaugh (Sen. Tom Harkin's failed hobby horse in 2004) and by threatening to reinstitute the Orwellian Fairness Doctrine (as Sen. Jeff Bingaman did last fall when he hailed a return to the equal-time mandate as a way to force radio to reach its "higher calling.") It's all part of a recurring pattern. Conservative dissent cannot stand. Two years ago, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid picked a fight with Limbaugh over comment he made on his show about soldiers who had falsified their records. Indignant Democrats, looking to bolster damaged credibility over their failure to support the Surge, accused Limbaugh of calling all troops "phony soldiers." Senate Democrats sent a letter of condemnation to Limbaugh. The radio host pulled a jujitsu move, calling out the distortion and auctioning off the letter on eBay for $2.1 million - which he donated to the children of fallen Marines and law enforcement officers. Limbaugh, 1; Reid, 0

Aside from the Dem's aversion to criticism and affection for totalitarian-leaning ideologues like Alinsky, there is another reason for the Dem's penchant to pick a shibboleth or symbol for uniting their cadres in opposition. Their control of vast swathes of the "thundering herd" of mediocre journalistic pressies allows them to exaggerate without much contradiction:
During the election season, meanwhile, Team Obama personalized the campaign fight with a ridiculous Spanish-language smear ad tying Limbaugh to McCain.

The spot so egregiously distorted Limbaugh's monologues on immigration and the North American Free Trade Agreement that even ABC News jumped into the fray to debunk it. Wrote Jake Tapper: "There are some real factual problems with this ad, which is titled 'Dos Caras,' or two faces First of all, tying Sen. McCain - especially on the issue of immigration reform - to Limbaugh is unfair. Limbaugh opposed McCain on that issue. Vociferously. And in a larger sense, it's unfair to link McCain to Limbaugh on a host of issues since Limbaugh, as any even occasional listener of his knows, doesn't particularly care for McCain. Second, the quotes of Limbaugh's are out of context." Again, par for the course. And now with Obama in the Oval Office, the cycle continues. Right on cue (or rather, Left on cue), the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched a petition drive against Limbaugh over his hope that Obama's expansive government policies fail (What he actually said: "I do not want the government in charge of all of these things. I don't want this to work.") Next, the George Soros-funded MoveOn rolled out a Limbaugh-bashing ad to scare up votes for the increasingly unpopular stimulus bill. To borrow Obama's frequent explanation, it's all a grand distraction.

Whether Limbaugh's common sense caveats and recitations of the many ridiculous items in the "Stimulus" package are actually changing public opinion or not, the Dems want to discredit Limbaugh's ideas through personal attacks on his integrity and political honesty:
As Limbaugh told me: "I am being used to distract from the polls [Rasmussen] showing falling support for the Porkulus bill. Senate Republicans need to understand that this is also about intimidating them, especially after the show of unity in the House. It is about the 2010 and 2012 elections. This is an opportunity for Republicans to redefine themselves after a few years of wandering aimlessly looking for a 'brand' and identity." "Remember, the Left needs a villain, a demon, to advance their agenda. They cannot win a single argument in the arena of ideas, so they have to try and destroy the credibility and reputation of the person they feel most threatened by. In that sense I guess I have taken the place of President Bush." And so the torch has been passed. What was once all Bush's fault is now all Rush's. The difference this time? The conservative talk radio bogeyman of the unhinged relishes fighting back, poking his enemies in the eye - and winning.

As is evident from his last term, George W. Bush was more of a cheerleader than a quarterback, leaving the strategy ["strategery"] to coaches like Rumsfeld and Cheney and the down-and-dirty backroom dealing to Karl Rove and other operatives. GWB was more a figurehead than a hands-on political junkie like Clinton or Obama. GWB was a gentleman who allowed too many nasty innuendoes and ridiculous accusations to go unanswered, simply because he knew the swinish nature [or vapid nitwittery in the cases of Reid and Pelosi] of his opponents.

Hopefully, the Repubs will be as disloyal an opposition as the Dems were in both GWB's terms, and if someone like Rush points out strategy and tactics on-air daily, so much the better.

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