A conservatory of Ldotter blogs.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

I listened to Rush today. . .

. . .for the first time in a while. I also caught a little bit of Glenn Beck, who has become a big budget version of Rusty Humphries, apparently. I'll get back to Rusty in a bit.

Rush came on like gangbusters this morning, launching into McCain over the now-infamous Bob Dole letter. Claiming that it was a private letter and that the McCain campaign had used the former senator as a pawn, Limbaugh trashed McCain from pillar to post for releasing it. Unfortunately, Rush is undercut by Dole's own words in his interview on Hannity & Colmes where he forthrightly stated that he assumed that someone would find out about it, and that he was aware that Rick Davis had received a copy of the email.

Now, come on. Does that really sound like a kindly note from the good senator asking you to go easy on his former colleague only to have it "leaked" to the press by the nefarious forces of Capt. McCain and his dastardly cadre of ne'er-do-wells? Really, Rush, you're asking listeners to swallow a lot by the simple fact that you're doing everything you can to see to it that Mitt Romney is perceived as the conservative's conservative. Are you really going to insist on making Bob Dole an unwitting dupe in all of this?

Beyond the note itself, there's the matter of Mitt Romney's reaction to it. He essentially made the case for what many conservatives like myself have suspected all along. For all the talk of John McCain being a "maverick" who likes to "stab his party in the back," it strikes me that Romney revealed himself as something a little darker. His first inclination was to attack widely admired WWII hero, long-serving senator and one-time Republican nominee as though he were nothing more than an embarrassing footnote to the GOP, and he gave into it in a rather ugly fashion.

While I think it goes a little too far to turn it around on Romney in terms of his own military service, I don't think it's unfair to point out that Romney showed a rather impetuous kind of disrespect for a great man who has given much for his country. To distill Bob Dole's importance down to that of a pathetic loser in order to discount the influence he has among Republicans is a rather gratuitous kind of insolence. In a profound way, it reveals just how deeply Republicanism is ingrained in Mitt Romney's being.

I supported Mr. Dole in his run, and I still believe, as any true Republican would, that the better man lost in the '96 election. It may be true that he didn't instill enough enthusiasm in the electorate to carry the day in his run for the presidency, but Bob Dole commands the undying respect of his fellow Republicans and, I'm sure, the vast majority of Democrats. He is a man of wit, pragmatism, magnanimity, and uncommon stature. In short, Bob Dole is the first man I would want to write a letter for me.

As for Rusty Humphries, he's a conservative squawker I once listened to on XM Radio. How he managed to land the gig is a bit of a mystery to me. I didn't find him particularly insightful, nor entertaining. What he is, really, is loud.

The few times I listened to the show were because I just couldn't find anything else I felt like listening to on all of satellite radio at the time. It's sort of like stumbling upon something on C-SPAN that looks like it might have the potential to be interesting, but never quite makes it there. So, you just leave it on and set the sleep timer on the TV.

One night, Humphries was going on in his calamitous way on the topic illegal immigration to the point that I felt compelled to call in. I was surprised, somewhat, to find that getting through was not an issue. The screener answered the phone, asked my name and location, and what topic I wanted to discuss. Within a few minutes, I was on the line with ol' Rusty and letting him know that I didn't think he was approaching the subject in a very constructive way. He asked me what I thought was wrong with it, and I told him that I thought it was over the top and that he was doing far more harm than good with his tone.

At that point, ol' Rusty cut me off and launched into a diatribe about people like me, and how we just want to give the country away -- "Throw the doors open and let them all in! Screw the taxpayers, we don't want to hurt anyone's feelings." He went on in this vein for a few more minutes until he finally went to break, at which point I found something else to listen to.

That moment with ol' Rusty told me everything I need to know about talk radio. Of course, not all of them are jabbering dullards like Humphries. But, more and more, they're playing the part these days. And, since they control the microphones and the kill switches, they're pretty much left with the field all to themselves. So, when someone comes to Limbaugh's defense and says that he takes all kinds of calls from regular people every day, and that many of them are voices of dissent, you'll just have to forgive me if you catch rolling my eyes. I know how it works.

Of course, they have every right to run their shows as they see fit. This is America, and you're entitled to do things your way on your show and stand or fall on its merits. And, Rush and his fellow talkers obviously have their merits. But, after the past three weeks of non-stop hectoring of John McCain on behalf of a man whose Republicanism runs about as deep as the pinstripes in his suit, it's a little difficult to see the merit through all the sanctimony.

UPDATE: Stephen F. Hayes at the Weekly Standard's campaign blog, Campaign Standard, has an interesting point regarding Romney's propensity to flip after flopping.

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