Let It Go – Fueling the Rush fires

Remember Nightmare on Elm St? Freddy Kruger could attack people in their dreams. Kruger’s came from whether or not people believed in him. In the most recent film to feature the slasher, Freddy vs Jason, Freddy had become powerless because the folks in Springwood have placed a moratorium on speaking about the killer. It seems that no one in the Democratic party has seen any of the Nightmare movies. If they have they didn’t see what I saw. If the Dems and left pundits had they would shut the Hell up about Rush Limbaugh.

Rush is the talk of the town right now. Bloggers left and right can’t seem to type enough about him. The Dems blame him for spoiling the bipartisan spirit. Repubs are trying desperately to find the millimeter of Limbaugh’s ass they have yet to kiss. If the Whitehouse is looking for anyone to blame in this mess they ought to look in the mirror.

It all started with a little comment by Rush. You all know it by heart now. “I hope Obama fails.” The comment was splashed all over every sort of media outlet you could imagine. People got pissed. People ranted and raved. The President told Republicans to stop listening to Rush if they wanted to get things done. Then came the firestorm, just like Limbaugh wanted. Rush put out the bait and many, including myself, took it.

The Democrats made this Frankenstein’s Monster, now they’ve got to deal with it. Constantly trying to strike back at Rush is not the answer. An egomaniacal entertainer like Limbaugh thrive off that. He can take it back on the air and say “ah ha they attack me because they’re afraid.” And the cycle continues. The same goes for pundits like O’Reilly and Olbermann. They feed off publicity, good or bad. Though Keith is really just leeching off the infamy of those he blasts. He’d have a fifteen minute show if he didn’t

How do the reasonable people out there put a stop to this? We’re doing it already. Though the media, and unfortunately our government, thinks we care what Limbaugh has to say they’re wrong. Limbaugh speaks to a certain base. He doesn’t represent all republicans or even a majority. Limbaugh’s followers are mainly on the fringes. Even if people may agree with what he says on occasion, his abrasive delivery keeps a good portion away. It’s not any different than Michael More.

Michael More became the poster boy for anti-American leftism during the Bush administration. Roger and Me and Bowling for Columbine were two of my favorite movies. I never saw Fahrenheit 9/11, but it was clear after that point that More had taken a left turn and was driving till he ran out of gas. Republicans tried their damnedest to link More to the Democrats any way they could. The Democratic core loved Michael More and didn’t care about the associations. Dem politicians and moderates quickly claimed they’d never heard of that More guy. The moderate public turned away from More and he became a non-issue. He still pops up once in a while, but the media power he seemed to once wield is gone.

Limbaugh appears to be a similar animal

from Donklephant

Remember those dark days for Democrats just a few years ago when controversial characters like Michael Moore and Cindy Sheehan became symbols of the liberal movement? Certain portions of the base loved it. The rest of American turned away.

Limbaugh could very well have the same effect on the conservative movement. And here’s why — like the Michael Moore of the Bush era, Limbaugh seems to be actively rooting against America. That’s not to say he’s anti-American (or that Moore is/was either), just that he’s so vituperative in his critique of the current administration that his words can easily be turned against him and the right in general.

Politically speaking, Democrats are smart to play up Limbaugh’s influence within the Republican party. But they don’t want to overplay it. If Obama’s early economic initiatives fail or if he mishandles an unforeseen foreign crisis, Limbaugh has the rhetorical power to whip American resentment into real anger. The more prominent he is, the more damaging to the Democrats he could be.

Limbaugh’s core will always love him. That should be of no concern to anyone. If the Republicans grow some balls and disassociate from Limbaugh, Rush will sink back to the safety of his strongest supporters. He will still periodically lob a few grenades into the trenches on the other side. That is what he does, and like his opinions or not he does it well. Keep poking Rushbo, keep bowing to him and you might find voters wont discount him as easily as they did More.


Are You Listening? – Does the Government Listen to Pundits

Eliot Cohen brought something troubling to my attention in a recent Wall Street Journal article. Our government functions in a vacuum. The government doesn’t really listen to pundits and outside advisors say. If they rarely pay attention to people who study policy for a living, maybe even for fun, could we even hope that they listen to us?

Cohen said that in his time working for Condoleezza Rice in the State Department he read outside works with passing interest. He called outside sources, “a background noise of which I was dimly aware, unless it was either unusually nasty, or unusually perceptive, which often merely meant that it fit my own views.” So if you are only following that which supports what you think already, how can you be getting the full picture? You can’t, but most of us are guilty of that behavior. It’s a hardy soul that can read Ann Coulter and Michael Moore without becoming steaming mad at one of the two.

Cohen goes on saying that outside information is seldom listened to because it is just that, outside the circle. Those of us not right in the mix cannot have all the knowledge of what is going on. He compares it to the telephone game. “Government resembles nothing so much as the party game of telephone, in which stories relayed at second, third or fourth hand become increasingly garbled as they crisscross other stories of a similar kind”

I get a great deal of comfort from what commentary officials do listen to.

“What, then, is a pundit to do? The best commentary has an impact, less because it offers new ideas (most ideas have been considered, however incompletely, on the inside) than because it clarifies problems or solutions that the insiders have only vaguely or incompletely considered.”

Blabbermouths like Limbaugh, Ingraham, Olberman, and Matthews are seen for what they are; people with huge egos trying to see who can shout the loudest. “WATCH ME!” “NO ME!” I’LL SAY SOMETHING SHOCKING SO YOU LISTEN TO ME!” Bla, bla, bla. Only serious work gets the attention it deserves. Those talking heads have much less of an impact then they would like to think.

I have hope for the voice of the common people though. We are in the trenches. Policy choices have a direct impact on our lives. If you want to know if a policy is successful just look out in the streets. President Obama’s pledge for transparency and an almost wiki style government, coupled with the ease in contacting our reps through email and online petition sites like Change.org will give us unprecedented access to the halls of power. Will we make use of these tools or just get on TV and yell? It’s clear what gets better results.