Yesterday in the Los Angeles Times, a writer named Zev Chafets extolled the power of Rush Limbaugh to inspire the right-wing Republican base. He said (here) that Limbaugh
got his way with the choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. Limbaugh now
believes, with more than a little justification, that the pick was an
effort by McCain to satisfy him and fellow conservatives. And he is
indeed satisfied. In an e-mail last week, Limbaugh informed me that,
post-Palin, his support for the McCain ticket was "balls to the wall."
This is a very big deal. A satisfied Limbaugh means an enthusiastic
Limbaugh, and an enthusiastic Limbaugh could be the difference in a
close race. Between 14 million and 20 million people listen to
him every week, by far the largest audience in talk radio. His show
energizes the Republican base, but, even more important, it appeals to
a great many conservative Democrats and independents of the kind McCain
needs to win swing states.
Absolutely true. Limbaugh was a huge fan of Palin — "Guns, Babies, and Jesus!" he crowed, when she was named to the ticket. "Hot damn!" (By the way, Limbaugh was a huge fan of going to war in Iraq for oil, and now hugely opposed to the bail-out. Could he be equally wrong this year, as he was in 2003?
Yes, says David Brooks (here) in The New York Times. Unlike Limbaugh, he fairly distributes the blame, from President Bush ("who has squandered his influence with Republicans as well as Democrats"), to Henry Paulson ("an inept legislator"), and including House leaders Barney Frank ("media darling") and Nancy Pelosi (for giving a speech as if she was "at a Democratic fund-raiser").
But most of all he blames the "the loudest and angriest voices" on the right — talk radio hosts, whom he calls "nihilists."
They showed the world how much they detest their own
leaders and the collected expertise of the Treasury and Fed. They did
the momentarily popular thing, and if the country slides into a deep
recession, they will have the time and leisure to watch public opinion
shift against them.
House Republicans led the way and will get
most of the blame. It has been interesting to watch them on their
single-minded mission to destroy the Republican Party. Not long ago,
they led an anti-immigration crusade that drove away Hispanic support.
Then, too, they listened to the loudest and angriest voices in their
party, oblivious to the complicated anxieties that lurk in most
Now they have once again confused talk radio
with reality. If this economy slides, they will go down in history as
the Smoot-Hawleys of the 21st century. With this vote, they’ve taken
responsibility for this economy, and they will be held accountable. The
short-term blows will fall on John McCain, the long-term stress on the
existence of the G.O.P. as we know it.
Perfect example. Some quotes from yesterday’s Rush Limbaugh show as the market takes its biggest fall in decades. (As a Wall St. disaster-maker, Bush is now bigger than 9/11.)
Limbaugh blames the Democrats, of course, mentions Bush, and then like Nero with his fiddle, happily blathers on, pointing the finger at everyone but himself, as the market melts down…
goes the Dow, down 603.49 since the thing has failed. This is a
monumental day. There is so much to learn in what happened here
today… This tells me that the Democrats easily holding the
House and Senate is not a slam dunk. This tells me that a lot of
Democrats in the House really fear not being reelected, and you see how
those Democrats voted. So, folks, once again, the lesson is ignore the
shouldn’t say this, but I’m going to say it anyway. Screw the market!
…When the government fails to pass a socialism
bill and the market goes south, let it go south.
You got it, Rush…