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March 10, 2009

Setting The Terms of the Debate?

You know, I'm sick to death of the silly bickering over a radio talk show host's choice of words. How many days now has the right wasted arguing over whether Rush ought to be more careful in his choice of words or not? This whole debate seems to have devolved into a cage match between two positions that don't make much sense. On the one hand, Rush has every right to say whatever he wants and though it would be helpful if he didn't go out of his way to be outrageous, he isn't going to change anytime soon.

Which makes any debate over whether he ought to be more circumspect a moot question. He isn't going to change, and that's really not the point. The point is, how much time do we want to waste defending him and others like him? Apparently, some people seem to think the future of conservativism is inextricably bound up with defending the casual utterances of a radio talk show host. Since Rush isn't running for office, I happen to think that's a distraction that chews up time we could be spending talking about what WE want to talk about: conservative ideas. And I don't understand the utility of defending Mount Rushbo. Shorter Goldstein:

1. The media will dishonestly misquote, mischaracterize, or Dowdify conservatives, no matter how careful their phrasing.

This is undoubtedly true. But the point consistently overlooked by too many conservatives is that some people make easier targets than others and that those people (in addition to making remarks that are misquoted) have a reputation for making Olbermanesque statements like this one:

... in his CPAC speech, [Rush] went out of his way to describe liberals as “deranged”:

I have learned how to tweak liberals everywhere. I do it instinctively now. Tweak them in the media. And no reason to be afraid of these people. Why in the world would you be afraid of the deranged?

Using the word “deranged” to describe liberals as a whole is just silly. It’s true of some of them. But not all of them. Calling liberals deranged may make you feel good, and it may make you laugh. But many of you consider Limbaugh to be the spokesman of the conservative movement — and if our spokesmen regularly say stuff like that, we’ll alienate voters.

2. Therefore, conservative leaders should "control the terms of the debate" by vigorously defending each other's every utterance.

Oh really? How is it "controlling the terms of the debate" to allow yourself to be manoevered into defending statements like these?

The difference between Los Angeles and yogurt is that yogurt comes with less fruit.

“When a gay person turns his back on you, it is anything but an insult; it's an invitation”

[to a Black caller] "Take that bone out of your nose and call me back"

The Va Tech shooter was a liberal.

Last time I checked, the Va Tech shooter was also mentally ill. There have been killers who displayed liberal and conservative leanings. What are we reasonably to infer from that? That both liberals and conservatives are psychotic? Why even make such a statement?

Remarks like these are just plain stupid. They require no mischaracterization in order to do damage to the image of conservatism. But somehow we're "controlling the terms of the debate" when we allow the media to play them over and over and over again and then fuel the controversy by responding to them (often generating negative second order brouhahas in the process?).

The fact that Rush says perceptive things conservatives agree with doesn't alter the fact that he also intentionally makes inflammatory remarks no reasonable person wants associated with the Republican party and if your idea of "controlling the terms of the debate" is to exhort the leaders of the Republican party to defend a guy who openly admits his aim is to enrage listeners, I'm going to question your reasoning:

What's even more depressing is that so many conservatives seem to lack the fundamental ability to look honestly at themselves and see how offensive this type of statement would be if directed at conservatives by a liberal. Janeane Garofalo anyone? It doesn't matter whether Rush is joking or not.

Most people aren't going to bother to check for themselves.

There's a reason Rush is a lightning rod for the left. He openly admits trying to piss people off.

How is this a "win" for those of us who would prefer to see the Republican party control the terms of the debate by refusing to be held hostage to juvenile attempts to trap them into commenting on the ramblings of every ostensibly conservative pundit in a cast of hundreds? That's a full time job. When do we make time to promote what the party wants said?

Do we defend Kathleen Parker? How about David Frum?

Do we reflexively defend any conservative pundit, regardless of the fact that conservative pundits are all over the map? That strikes me as a fool's errand.

There's a reason the media and the DNC engage in this tactic: it presents them with one more opportunity to associate an entire party with sensationalistic quotes most of the population are never going to bother to research for themselves. The fact that some of these quotes are easily disprovable doesn't change the fact that few people's minds are changed by defending these twits. The right answer is not to get trapped into perpetuating the uproar, but to firmly move on to what WE want to talk about. If you seriously believe you're going to change minds (much less the way the media report the news) then please demonstrate how successful conservatives were in refuting the imminent threat or 16 words memes?

Sorry, but controlling the terms of the debate means not allowing ourselves to be lured off message by defending intentionally controversial pundits - by defending any pundit at all. If we want to position ourselves as the party of serious ideas, Republicans need to focus on the party platform and refuse to comment on the utterances of anyone who isn't an actual player.

To do anything else plays right into the hands of manipulative journalists who are more interested in promoting their own agenda than giving air time to ours.

Posted by Cassandra at March 10, 2009 07:38 AM

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Comments

Good post. You nailed it a couple of days ago, though, with the Schumers Disease post. Any time anyone brings up Limbaugh every GOP politician (and every conservative in private conversations) needs to simply ask 'Why are you asking me about a radio show host? Is it because you don't want to talk about how Democrats are tripling the deficit, adding $4 trillion to a national debt that took more than 200 years to reach $10 trillion, or the fact that the stock market has lost more than half its value since 2007, coincidentally not long after the Democrats took control of Congress?' As you say, anything else is simply allowing them to control the debate.

Posted by: Falze at March 10, 2009 11:02 AM

"If we want to position ourselves as the party of serious ideas, Republicans need to focus on the party platform and refuse to comment on the utterances of anyone who isn't an actual player.

To do anything else plays right into the hands of manipulative journalists who are more interested in promoting their own agenda than giving air time to ours."
!!!

But as you pointed out the other day, the non-denouncers will be denounced. So the non-denouncers should be prepared and ready in such a circumstance to state the obvious, i.e. Rush et al. speaks for Rush.

Now this would be an outstanding segue for someone skilled in the art of political speak to, without pause, immediately follow up with something along the lines of, "But since you ask me for an opinion, this is what I wish to say on the <insert relevant topic or issue here >..."

Alas, as someone commented the other day, maybe RonF, in another thread here at VC, when the GOP leadership once again has the collective wherewithal to sequester their stuff in one sock, maybe... Just maybe.

Ok, what Ron actually said was

"One way to combat this would be for the Republican Party's actual leader(s) to stand up and start leading. Fat chance of that happening, though."
But same meaning, in essence.

Posted by: bthun at March 10, 2009 11:06 AM

I ceased to wallow in Rushisms long ago. I listened to him when we were in Calfornia back in the late 80s, and for a bit when we were at Knox.

But while there are times when he is absolutely brilliant, there are times when he is just a rash.
He and Ann Coulter, as much as I like her ability to research and for all that she is quick-witted, are a match made in hell.

However, the left has their scolds, and I think Falze has an excellent point; instead of succumbing to the Party of Outrageous Tactics, we need to refocus the attention on the Issues, as Rushbo likes to say.

I just took a logic test. I got an 80%. I hate, hate hate diagramming arguments.

Posted by: Cricket at March 10, 2009 11:29 AM

The way to control the debate is to have your objectives clearly in sight. When I taught public affairs, we taught the acronym CAMO, which stands for Communicate A Message Objective.

Have your message objectives already thought out. Skillful communicators can use a short phrase as an internal shorthand message objective (e.g., triple/4/10) and then use their message objective in a complete sentence. The rest of us have to have the message objective in sentence form right from the start (e.g., "You don't want to talk about how Democrats are tripling the deficit, adding $4 trillion to a national debt that took more than 200 years to reach $10 trillion?").

Always segue back to your message objectives. That's how you control the discussion or interview. This technique, although developed for talking with the media, works well in small groups, committees, or one on one, such as when you're trying to influence the colonel or general you're briefing. In the case of the media, they're always looking for sound bites, so the ideal case is to have the media use your message objective as their sound bite.

We used to teach it as a form of leadership. Good leadership includes good communicating.

Posted by: Rex at March 10, 2009 11:44 AM

Like bthun quoting RonF, "One way to combat this would be for the Republican Party's actual leader(s) to stand up and start leading. Fat chance of that happening, though."

Do we have one of those?

Posted by: Russ at March 10, 2009 12:11 PM

I think that's a big problem right now, and the primary reason I think it's dumb for the RNC to get drawn into defending the comments of 3rd parties.

We're having enough trouble articulating what *we* want conveyed, yet somehow we're going to do an effective job of refuting dishonest mischaracterizations that have the potential to be repeated a thousand times by a thousand different journos? Why am I reminded of the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dike? :p

I agree with Rex. Condi Rice used to excel at staying on message - it was a pure joy watching her "control the terms of the debate". If a journalist asked her a question, but she had something she wanted to get across, she'd say, "That's an interesting question, but I want to address x, y, or z".

And they couldn't deflect or shake her, no matter how hard they tried. Just because you're asked a question doesn't mean you have to answer it. If we're going to waste energy defending anyone from misrepresentation of their remarks let's defend our party leaders and elected officials.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 10, 2009 12:28 PM

And bthun is right: this is just a variant of 'don't feed the trolls'.

Use the opening to segue to what you want said but don't fall into an artificially manufactured trap.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 10, 2009 12:30 PM

The only time I ever listened to Rush was when I happened to be working for a short time in a warehouse in Tinley Park, Ill., that was 200 yards from the transmission antenna of the 50,000 watt radio station that broadcast his show in the Chicago area. Then I could hear him every time I picked up my phone. Really.

All the sh!t going on in the world and our President is concerning himself with partisan politics by engaging a talk show host. Think of all the calumny and abuse heaped on President Bush. Did he even once engage them? President Obama is showing some very thin skin. But then if you look at his political career up to now he's never been a target of anything but adulation and supplication. Critical opposition is something new to him (at least not without the Chicago machine to run interference for him) and so is having to actually DO something rather than just TALK about it.

As has been stated elsewhere, Obama is screwing up by trying to do everything. He didn't win because he opposed the war. He didn't win because he had some great healthcare plans. He won because the economy took a dump and he wasn't a Republican. The last Democrat president we had ran on "It's the economy, stupid". But once elected he mistook it for a coronation and dissipated his mandate on healthcare, gays in the military and blowjobs (oh, like he was the first to get serviced in the Oval Office, please) and was never able to advance his domestic agenda.

Forget what's going on in Iraq, Afghanistan, healthcare or anything else. If the economy isn't back on the upswing by November of 2010 the Republicans should at least get a solid minority (i.e., > 40 seats) in the Senate and might take one or the other of the houses of Congress. It won't matter what else he does. And if the Republicans don't take advantage of all this then they're a failure and we need a new party in opposition to the Democrats.

Posted by: RonF at March 10, 2009 12:35 PM

2. Therefore, conservative leaders should "control the terms of the debate" by vigorously defending each other's every utterance.

whaaaaa? Where did you get that from? conservative leaders are called upon to "control the terms of debate" by vigorously defending distortions of other's utterances. If you think what someone else said is stupid, feel free to say so.

Posted by: maggie katzen at March 10, 2009 12:40 PM

Something's odd here. I've been getting "Did you hear what Rush said?" for some months now from a liberal friend of mine. I kept telling him "No. I neither know nor care what the man said" and yet he keeps it up. I thought it was just him. But now it's everywhere.

How is it that ANYONE cares what he says other than the people who listen to his show? He's not that influential. I hope that Obama's people keep this up. The more effort they expend on marginal things the fewer resources they will have to promote socialistic policies. But it's important that we take the same tack as suggested by Falze. Don't respond to complaints about Rush, ask why they're not talking about ACTUAL problems. As noted, this is a battle to control the debate space. Let's make sure that we put something substantial in the debate space as opposed to something from People magazine.

Everyone got so offended when Rush said "I hope he fails." How is it that nobody got offended when people hoped that Bush would fail or that the war or the surge would fail? How come that wasn't a huge fuss in the MSM? Only human lives were at stake then.

Posted by: RonF at March 10, 2009 12:43 PM

Good leadership includes good communicating.

True, and it is something that President Bush was poor at. He was good at a lot of other things, though. Now we have someone who's great at communications but poor at doing anything else.

What's the difference between President Obama and Jesus Christ?

Jesus was a trained master carpenter. Obama can't even put together a cabinet.

Posted by: RonF at March 10, 2009 12:45 PM

conservative leaders are called upon to "control the terms of debate" by vigorously defending distortions of other's utterances.

These are legion. Distorting what various conservatives say is pretty much a cottage industry for the media.

How much energy are conservative leaders supposed to expend upon keeping fully briefed about every possible remark that might be distorted so they can vigorously refute it?

Especially when even obvious things like Bush's imminent threat remark are still being distorted today (and that actually mattered?). There's a different between deciding it's not worth the time/energy to defend something you didn't say and ceding the debate to your opponent.

If you consistently feel duty bound to comment on things other people say rather than getting your *own* message out, you ARE ceding the debate to your opponent. It's rewarding behavior you don't want to continue.

Just decline to comment and move on.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 10, 2009 12:47 PM

We need an Ultimate Arbiter of the "Conservative Message" (whatever that is). I nominate Cassandra. :D

I usually listen to Rush for 15-20 minutes on my lunch hour (in the car, going out for a bite), and Cricket is right. Sometimes he is funny and on message, sometimes he is obnoxious and dreary. But he has millions of listeners. So he has influence.

And the response from the Obama Administratin is instructive in many ways. They understand that controlling the message and the medium is essential to getting people to accept their solutions. As long as there is strong dissent, or any dissent anywhere, there is a disturbance in the Force, er, their ability to get their agenda through.

Comparing Obama to Bush is meaningless, because their political ambitions are quite different. Think about that one for a while.

Years ago, I sometimes wondered if Rush were actually a Democratic Party mole, deliberately created to undermine the Republican/conservative message (whatever that is), by at times being obtuse and spreading disinformation. But I think that the Republican Party does that well enough on their own.
Face it, the Republican Party will always be villainized by the mainstream Media because they are villainized by the Academy; you know, all the really smart educated people. It's frankly amazing that they poll as well as they do.
The R-party exists as a fire brigade. Whenever the majoritarian party (Democrats) fall flat on their face doing the stupid populist things that the majority of people seem to want, or the country is in a real crisis, Republicans seem to get elected.
1) Eisenhower after Truman, because of Korea
2) Nixon after LBJ, because of Viet Nam
3) Reagan after Carter, because of the economy and Iran
4) Bush after Clinton,....just because. :)

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at March 10, 2009 12:59 PM

Just decline to comment and move on.

well, yes, that's another option. It's just I don't think Jeff was insisting that we defend every "conservative" utterance. But why let someone say something untrue and get away with it? It will just encourage them to do it more often because they know they can get away with it.

Posted by: maggie katzen at March 10, 2009 01:11 PM

maggie,
They're going to get away with it either way. There's two old sayings that are appropriate here, "Never argue with someone who buys ink by the barrel" and "Don't get in a braying contest with a jackass".

By ignoring it and moving on, the media gets heard, but so do you. By addressing it, only the media gets heard.

So the media gets heard either way. The question is do *you* want to get heard too?

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 10, 2009 01:26 PM

But why let someone say something untrue and get away with it? It will just encourage them to do it more often because they know they can get away with it.

For two reasons:

1. The media's goal is not really to get Republican leaders to comment either for or against an idea. Their goal is to publicly link you to Rush because they know Rush is controversial and widely disliked.

2. If the first doesn't work, there's always the chance you'll disown Rush (so the media can marginalize him or discount what he says). That's a mistake too because sometimes Rush is right.

So the only way to make it less likely for the question to be asked is not to go there. Don't do what Steele did and diss him. But don't defend him either. Reframe the situation into its proper perspective:

"You asked me here. Why are we discussing a talk show host. If you want to interview Rush, ask him on your show."

No reporter wants to waste a question. If it doesn't pay off, they are less likely to keep doing it. But given the persistent foot-in-mouth disease displayed by too many Republican leaders, trusting that they'll always do a good job of defending third parties assumes a bit much :p

They're not all Jeff Goldsteins out there, by any means.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 10, 2009 01:28 PM

It's good to see the rightweb focusing on the proper response to this nonsense about Limbaugh, now we all just need to spread that in our own lives when we talk to coworkers, etc.

Incidentally, Scott Rasmussen has another poll out that might be of interest:

"Two percent (2%) [of Republican voters] see conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh in that role [leader of the party]..."

2%. Feel free to bring that up when a liberal asks you what you think of Rush Limbaugh before you change the subject back to how long your employer will keep employing you all after Obama and Pelosi raise their taxes to pay for trillions in new spending.

Posted by: Falze at March 10, 2009 01:34 PM

While this is somewhat off topic, it raises hackles.....

Cojones fail to convey the audacity of one of the latest utterances from the current pResidident - Pbo:
***********************************************
Calling into question the legitimacy of all the signing statements that former President George W. Bush used to challenge new laws, President Barack Obama on Monday ordered executive officials to consult with Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. before relying on any of them to bypass a statute.

But Obama also signaled that he intended to use signing statements himself if Congress sent him legislation that had provisions he decided were unconstitutional. He pledged to use a modest approach when doing so, but said there was a role for the practice if used appropriately.

"In exercising my responsibility to determine whether a provision of an enrolled bill is unconstitutional, I will act with caution and restraint, based only on interpretations of the Constitution that are well-founded," Obama wrote in a memorandum to the heads of all departments and agencies in the executive branch. The document was obtained by The New York Times.
***********************************************
This from the person who has repeatedly failed to provide irrefutable documentation that he himself is Constitutionally qualified to even warm the seat he occupies.

Posted by: kbob in Katy at March 10, 2009 02:23 PM

Why do you think Obama chose Rush Limbaugh to (mis)characterize as the leader of the Republican Party?

Was it because Rush Limbaugh is controversial, or was it because the MSM has already succeeded in characterizing Limbaugh as a far right wing lunatic?

Rush Limbaugh is deliberately provocative, that is without question. But EVERYBODY can be taken out of context and characterized as making outrageous statements. There is a reason that Obama's regime singled out Limbaugh.

Cass wrote:

1. The media's goal is not really to get Republican leaders to comment either for or against an idea. Their goal is to publicly link you to Rush because they know Rush is controversial and widely disliked


No, they do not "know" that Rush is widely disliked. They BELIEVE that, because they believe their own propaganda. There is a difference between defending one another's ideas and defending one another's choice of words.

You can cringe all you want at Rush Limbaugh's choice of words, but his ideas are for the most part, sound.

We need to focus on defending the ideas, and not on semantics. If we allow the left to force us to focus on semantics, we will be playing right into their hands, because THEY can't DEFEND their ideas.

Posted by: JannyMae at March 10, 2009 02:35 PM

Peeling the "onion" a little further, I have difficulty moving beyond the blatant hypocrisy of the liberals and progressives. The rules of civility and polite discourse applies to us but not to them?

They need to be called out for their engaging in the type of discourse and shenanigans that had conservatives done the same thing all hell would have broke loose. I call BS on that. True, two wrongs don't make a right. However, turning the other cheek in the face of rhetorical anarchy disguised as robust discourse needs to be dealt with immediately and without pity. It is abusive and will not be tolerated.

These spoiled children running the democratic are stuck in campaign mode when they should be acting like grown-ups dealing with geo-politics that will dictate what they do. Somebody should be making an issue of Hillary and her staff insulting the Russians with a "Reset" button with 'overcharge' on it and the Obama's insulting our best ally Britain with cheap gifts and standing up Brown on his arrival. We then ask them to supply more troops to Afghanistan!

Time to start playing out of Alynski's playbook and speak truth to power. We need a man or woman conservative to show he/she has a pair and call these people on their blatant hypocrisy. Carville and Begala make the rules of the game, we beat them at it.

Posted by: vet66 at March 10, 2009 02:52 PM

Janny Mae, I replied with a post because I don't expect anyone to believe something is so just because I say it is.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 10, 2009 03:04 PM

Vet66, I completely agree with you.

Not defending third parties doesn't mean we can't attack - and attack vigorously - the actions of our opponents.

I do that every day. What I try NOT to do is unnecessarily piss off moderates. I don't refrain from pointing out where Obama has screwed up.

But I DO try to maintain some modicum of awareness of how people who may not agree with me in every particular think. I censor myself. That's why you do whenever you're in "mixed" company, when a wrong word will cause people to stop listening. Most people accept even strong criticism in politics if it's perceived to be two things:

1. Not motivated by partisan animus, and

2. Backed by a logical argument or facts.

They understand we don't all agree and the fairer ones (who are the only ones we're likely to win over) are receptive to views they may not agree with at first. But nothing turns away people faster than insulting them. And when Rush calls liberals "deranged", there's not much daylight between him and Keith Olbermann.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 10, 2009 03:28 PM

FWIW, my daughter in law, my mother in law, my sister in law and a brother in law are all liberals.

Now I may think they're misguided, but they are NOT deranged. That's a cheap shot and it isn't good for the image of the Republican party. It pisses ME off, and I've voted for these folks for nearly 30 years. Disagree all you want.

But arguments like that are pathetic.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 10, 2009 03:29 PM

Cassandra, you seem a genuine person who would like to argue in good faith. I take your comments in that spirit. I have respect for and aspire to those same goals.

Unfortunately, it seems to me that you do not understand Jeff's argument. You appear to conflate the "defending [of] Mount Rushbo" and an attempt to summarize Jeff's thesis as if these were equivocal. Jeff begins his essay,

Let me begin by noting that this post is not about Rush Limbaugh.

You’re welcome.

Now, just to be clear, Mr Limbaugh will appear in the post — and as a character he will be prominently featured — but this post is no more about Rush than, say, Moby Dick is “about” cetology, or “The Jeffersons” is “about” a string of dry cleaning stores....which makes me confused about how you could feel comfortable suggesting precisely the opposite.

You offered this two-point summation of Jeff's position:

1. The media will dishonestly misquote, mischaracterize, or Dowdify conservatives, no matter how careful their phrasing.

2. Therefore, conservative leaders should "control the terms of the debate" by vigorously defending each other's every utterance.

Neither of these goes to the heart of what Jeff is on about. Were I to attempt my own two-point summation, it would look like this:

1. There are people who have been attempting, for the better part of the last century, to undermine the epistemic foundation of liberty which is located in the the processes we use to communicate meaningfully. They have been successful in this endeavor such that public discourse has suffered immeasurably.
2. The only hope for liberty is the reinvigoration of our epistemic foundations. To police language among free people is to preempt the coming totalitarian state.
This is not merely about the media; they are just another vector for the disease. The disease is the "democratization of meaning". As Jeff pointed out in his essay, (a point I would think should give pause to anyone wishing to characterize his argument as you have), the UK government has now defined "racism" as anything that feels offensive to the putative recipient. Such a definition makes the word effectively a naked power grab. I'd say it's Machiavellian if it weren't so damn Orwellian.

The point in this particular case is that Rush's comments, when taken in context, and when he has gone to great lengths to further explicate his intention, cannot be characterized otherwise in good faith. Any other interpretation is a rewriting of Rush's remarks. Whether he is a blowhard or a cokehead or a member of the Village People matters not one bit with respect to Jeff's argument, which is that "pragmatic" conservatives who find Rush's comment's impolitic and would like him to parse more carefully are unwittingly aiding and abetting these forces that seek to undermine language in general. What needs to happen in this case, is that the communicators whom have mendaciously reinterpreted Rush's remarks should be taken to task for their lies. They should be shamed.

Jeff's argument is not an entreat to circle the wagons 'round every populist voice. Jeff's argument is to circle the wagons 'round the primacy of meaning; the primacy of intent; of agency; of liberty. All these things are of a piece, and if we manage to get elected by making strategic use of the fact that the enemies of liberty have poisoned the well, we will not have defended liberty, we will only have slowed its death ever so slightly.

Posted by: malaclypse the tertiary at March 10, 2009 05:51 PM

Ugh. Formatting errors. Looked right in the preview. Oh well. My apologies.

Posted by: malaclypse the tertiary at March 10, 2009 05:52 PM

I think that much of what Limbaugh says to be inflammatory is done with a "wink a smile," knowing that it's going to tick people off. He's like the brat that says things because he knows his targets will take the bait and probably make fools of themselves over it. Then he just sits back and watches the ratings pour in. The comment about "liberals are deranged" was part of that, I think. I watched the video of his speech and he wasn't saying that as part of a rational argument. It was thrown on the end of a discussion of how he likes to tweak liberals because it's so much fun. (Paraphrasing) "I love tweaking liberals, and I'm good at it. It makes them crazy! Then again, it's not that hard... 'cause liberals are already deranged."

His style is the kind of commentary that when a friend says it you just roll your eyes and then ignore them because both you and he know he's full of it.

At least that's my take on things--he can make some compelling arguments for conservative philosophy, but he can be a pain in the butt.

Posted by: FbL at March 10, 2009 06:18 PM

*sigh*

To police language among free people is to preempt the coming totalitarian state.

Where, O where, did I say anyone's speech ought to be "policed"? :)

This is, with respect, a totally inaccurate summation of my argument. Bringing up Rush with some specious demand to comment on him is an attempt to discredit his arguments. In this, I agree with Jeff completely.

My point is: don't cooperate. Don't reward the tactic. At the end of the day, Rush isn't electable. As several commenters have pointed out, only 2% of Republicans see Rush as our "leader".

We need to rally around electable Republicans, not defend a talk show host who admits he makes outrageous statements to generate ratings.

I watched the video of his speech and he wasn't saying that as part of a rational argument.

And that's why comments like that don't deserve ANY response. Just ignore him and focus on getting OUR message out.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 10, 2009 06:46 PM

"pragmatic" conservatives who find Rush's comment's impolitic and would like him to parse more carefully are unwittingly aiding and abetting these forces that seek to undermine language in general.

And I disagree with this point.

I don't think either Patterico or I said we thought Rush should shut up.

We didn't say anyone should SHUT HIM UP. What we said was (or at least what I said was) he can say what he wants, I wish he were more circumspect in his phrasing but he's not going to change b/c being outrageous brings him money and traffic, and therefore it's a waste of time to defend him.

Nor is it smart to disown him, as Steele tried to do. That was dumb.

Just put his remarks into proper perspective: he isn't a public servant, he's not electable, he tells everyone in sight he's an entertainer first and foremost. Treating his utterances as though they dropped from the mouth of the Oracle at Delphi doesn't make much sense.

He's an entertainer. So no one in politics (though they are certainly free to - neither Patterico nor I can stop them) should be raising Rush to a status even he doesn't claim for himself.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 10, 2009 06:52 PM

Jeff's argument is to circle the wagons 'round the primacy of meaning; the primacy of intent; of agency; of liberty.

And I agree. I just disagree about the best way to do this.

I don't want the "primacy of meaning" to come from a guy who intentionally pisses people off for a living. Just as there is absolutely NO need to apologize for anything Rush says, so there's no need to defend anything he says.

The farthest I'd go in that direction MIGHT be to say, "Not going to comment on Rush. But since you bring it up, the party's position on this issue is... blah blah blah. Oh. And by the way why aren't we talking about what the President is doing, b/c that's far more important than some random comment by an entertainer."

Posted by: Cassandra at March 10, 2009 06:55 PM

"there is absolutely NO need to apologize for anything Rush says, so there's no need to defend anything he says."
In a nutshell.

Yet, on the other hand, the Congress and I One! have some 'splainin' to do but everyone is distracted... Masterful use of misdirection and subterfuge by I One! & Gang.

Posted by: bthun at March 10, 2009 07:05 PM

Again, with respect, I think Jeff's assumption that most people either care about or have time to think about Rush Limbaugh is misguided. Mostly, as Fbl said, they roll their eyes. Which in my opinion is just another indication that he's cheapening the discourse. He's an entertainer, not an intellectual like Buckley, Sr.

On any given day, there are far more important issues facing this nation and there is a finite amount of air time.

If you want to defend the primacy of meaning, why not refuse to reward those who intentionally distort it? When my kids brought up something stupid and unrelated as a distraction, I called them on it and refused to be baited into changing the subject from what *I* wanted to say. IMO, when the media act like children they ought to be treated exactly the same way: like children.

Any other interpretation is a rewriting of Rush's remarks. Whether he is a blowhard or a cokehead or a member of the Village People matters not one bit with respect to Jeff's argument, which is that "pragmatic" conservatives who find Rush's comment's impolitic and would like him to parse more carefully are unwittingly aiding and abetting these forces that seek to undermine language in general.

Well, first of all Rush does say genuinely obnoxious things too, as demonstrated in this post.

And secondly, I don't agree that those who disagree with Jeff are doing what he says we are. We are allowed to have opinions, and to express them. It seems that asking those who have considered the matter and think Rush, et al, do more harm than good to "shut up" for the good of the party on some vague notion that expressing an opinion somehow "aids and abets these forces that seek to undermine language in general" do violence to the very ideals of unfettered speech they profess to love.

I'm not asking Jeff to pipe down. I'm simply disagreeing as to tactics.

Jeff's argument, on the otter heiny, seems to be that anyone who disagrees with him is harming the Republic, not to mention the forces of Truth and Beauty :p That's a small big of linguistic legerdemain I'm not quite ready to countenance. But wallah! At no time did Jeff's fingers leave his hands! :D

Admittedly, I'm having a little fun here. My "defend every utterance" was a bit snarky. I don't really see that as his position - it was taking his argument to the extreme to demonstrate what would happen if we fall into the habit of defending every conservative pundit who draws the attention of the media. That was the point of the "do we defend Kathleen Parker" part.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 10, 2009 07:14 PM

Finally, sorry for the long comments but you raised several very interesting points and I wanted to respond to them.

Great (and very thoughtful) comments - especially from many who disagree with me.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 10, 2009 07:17 PM

And that's why comments like that don't deserve ANY response. Just ignore him and focus on getting OUR message out.

Exactly. And frankly, I think both sides should take that stance. I mean, look at peoples' reaction to Keith Olbermann: conservatives/Replubicans think he's a nut, no one is even outraged by him anymore. Not saying Rush is in exactly the same category, but certainly that must be how his ideological opponents see him (as someone stupid and ridiculous/self-important who gets off on being obnoxious). So, why do they bother...

(I know, but if they were smart, they'd ignore him).

Posted by: FbL at March 10, 2009 08:22 PM

The problem with things that begin "Shorter x" is that they tend to do no justice to the argument they shorten.

If you haven't understood what I've written, I'm happy to clarify. But what you've suggested here is my position is ridiculous.

Just as an example, you write: "My point is: don't cooperate. Don't reward the tactic. At the end of the day, Rush isn't electable. As several commenters have pointed out, only 2% of Republicans see Rush as our "leader"."

-- Which seems consonant with what I wrote: "Rush Limbaugh speaks for Rush Limbaugh. Which is why the next reporter who asks a prominent Republican figure whether or not he or she agrees with Limbaugh’s “hope” that “the President fails” should be met with a firm reminder that the reporter has left out an important part of the context, one that effectively alters the suggestiveness of the question, and that aside from such fundamental dishonesty, Rush Limbaugh is not the head of the party, nor is he an elected leader, so why on earth would I presume to answer for something he said?"

Having said that, if you still can't understand how playing a game in which we become circumspect over how we speak, you haven't understood what I've written.

To make this easier for you, forget Limbaugh. Explain to me instead why conservative leaders were forced to answer for Bill Bennett, and why many of them responded by distancing themselves from his "impolitic" remarks.

Email me at jeff -at- proteinwisdom- dot -com when you answer and I'll be happy to engage further.

At no time in my essay did I say we need to rally around all conservative utterances. That's ridiculous. What I said was this: "If we are worried about 'undecided voters' who get nothing but soundbite news, we must work to change the culture of how news is delivered. For my part, I don’t want to have to measure every word I say with the thought in mind that somebody is going to take me out of context. Instead, I’d like to be free to say what I mean, and when my meaning is obvious, I would like to know that honest people have my back — and will tell dishonest people to stop being dishonest, and uninformed people that they need to smarten up before they presume to join the conversation."

What I'm seeing from many who've disagreed with me (even as they seem to be disagreeing with some caricature of my argument) is plenty of defeatism, as is somehow the press and the linguistic attitudes of the left are some force of nature that we just have to deal with.

They aren't. The left worked hard to institutionalize the kinds of ideas of language that have gotten us to this point. It took them only a little over 40 years.

We can undo the damage if we hammer home what's happening -- that to live under those rules means that your intention can always be overridden by what a mob claims you've intended.

That's a frightening condition to be in, and it's a message that should transcend party lines.

Posted by: Jeff G at March 11, 2009 01:25 AM

Cassandra, MiniTrue here. BB says wake up. Get back to your job at the novel-writing machine in the Pornographic Section. You're lousy at this doublethink thing. Even the proles see right through you.

Posted by: George Orwell at March 11, 2009 02:15 AM

You know, I've been watching this debate for a while. And other than being utterly tired of it, I'm also a tad confused. This is what I'm hearing- someone correct me if I'm wrong.

Side A: Rush is not the leader of the Republican party. Not everyone agrees with 100% of what he says. Not only that, but as an entertainer he purposefully tries to be abrasive, and at times, offensive in order to make headlines and get attention. We as Republicans should not be using him, or allow others to use him as the image we present to the rest of the world.

Side B: Who the H*** are you to tell me who to stand behind? You took Rush's quote entirely out of context! He is a TRUE conservative, unlike you, you C** Guzzling B****. You probably don't even vote Republican! Get the H*** out of my party!

Side C: The problem here is not who people see when they think of Republicans. The problem is how conservatism is defined and by whom. If we cannot get people to see us as the wonderful, freedom loving people that we are because of the brief utterances of a few, totally awesome and very powerful people with much influence in our own circles, then we should change the way the American people receive their news. I propose we take over the media, remove all news anchors from power and replace them with autonomous hamster bots. They will be free from political bias and have the added benefit of being mind numbingly cute. Then we superimpose our voices of reason over their squeakings and report the news in a completely new and outstandingly awesome way.

Posted by: Red Bird at March 11, 2009 02:41 AM

The problem with things that begin "Shorter x" is that they tend to do no justice to the argument they shorten.

Jeff, you're right about that. I was being snarky (as I believe I've already admitted in a comment) and I stretched your points a bit in an attempt to take them to the illogical extreme, a rhetorical device you're familiar with, I'm sure. In doing so, I failed to do justice to some of the nuance in your arguments. But I can assure you I understood exactly what you argued.

I simply disagree with you, and being condescending in your response doesn't really accomplish much.

It doesn't matter whether it's Rush or Bill Bennett, really. Non-righties disapproved of Bill Bennett because they saw him as a moralizing prude who wants to limit their freedom; as pushing social conservative values they fundamentally disagree with. So it does no good to defend him. The farthest I'd go there would be, (again) "Why are we talking about what Bill Bennett said? If you want to interview Bill, ask him on your show."

I don't mind if that is followed by, "Since you bring it up, this is what the Republican party stands for.... blah blah blah." Stay on message.

None of what you said changes my fundamental point. Here, you say:

-- Which seems consonant with what I wrote: "Rush Limbaugh speaks for Rush Limbaugh. Which is why the next reporter who asks a prominent Republican figure whether or not he or she agrees with Limbaugh’s “hope” that “the President fails” should be met with a firm reminder that the reporter has left out an important part of the context, one that effectively alters the suggestiveness of the question, and that aside from such fundamental dishonesty, Rush Limbaugh is not the head of the party, nor is he an elected leader, so why on earth would I presume to answer for something he said?"

Actually, it's not consonant at all because the first part still amounts to defending third parties, thus allowing the media to link Republicans to a 'scandal' of sorts (even if it's of their manufacture). It still places the recipient of the question in the position of defending Rush to the extent that now he has to:

1. Be well briefed enough that he can honestly say Rush was misquoted. Let's face it: Rush talks for a living. You want politicians to do their jobs and keep up with everything Rush says, too?

Sorry. I don't believe they're that competent. A pundit's (or blogger's) job is to keep up with that kind of thing. A politician has more important things to do, and if he misspeaks or gets the facts wrong (especially when he's confronted with a juicy quote that just happened) he's not always going to have the context. That's how politicos end up giving the media another juicy quote they can use to perpetuate the uproar.

How often have we seen this happen? It's a tactical mistake. As I mentioned in the comments, not everyone is a Jeff Goldstein (and that's a compliment, not a dig).

2. It completely ignores the fact that most of the media don't really care about the answer.

They don't care what a politician thinks about what Rush did/didn't say.

They simply want to associate Republicans with Rush Limbaugh because they know liberals will think, "Oh, he's just a Rushbot. I don't have to listen to anything he says." The fact is that Rush has, partly by virtue of mischaracterizations and partly by virtue of his admittedly outrageous comments that are calculated to make people angry, become a charicature of conservative beliefs in the minds of the voting public.

Yes. He often says very insightful things. And often he argues extremely forcefully and well for conservative principles.

And then he undoes everything he's accomplished by making some stupid wisecrack that makes him look like a homophobe or a racist or a sexist. Do I think he's those things?

No. But it doesn't matter what I think. It matters what most people think. And the fact is, several of his quotes need NO mischaracterization to give that impression and most people who are turned off by him are NEVER going to listen to him long enough to have that impression reversed. We have to deal with reality, not an ideal world that doesn't exist.

Reality is George Bush's 16 words and the imminent threat meme that we never did effectively refute. That wasn't for lack of trying. However, I don't argue that it's not worth the effort to defend elected Republicans even when that rarely works either. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't have gotten up at 4 am since 2004 and written way too many posts doing just that.

What you're not addressing is the media's attempt to discredit electable Republicans by linking them to unpopular conservatives. It absolutely works.

How often have you heard a lefty try to refute an argument with "Oh, he listens to Fox News/Rush/Hannity. He's a 'winger' and I don't need to listen to another word he says"?

As a refutation of a serious argument, it makes about as much sense as "George Orwell" telling me to go back to writing novels in the pornographic section.

Like the usual Lefty rejoinders, it doesn't address a single thing I said, but I guess that's all he has :p

Posted by: Cassandra at March 11, 2009 06:20 AM

Red Bird, I think you nailed it :p

FWIW, I think my position (which I haven't really outlined well since most of these posts are a response to things other people wrote, which just underscores my point about not responding to third parties :p) could aptly be summed up by some combination of A and C.

I do think it matters how Republicans are perceived, because the purpose of portraying your opponents as "deranged" or "knuckle dragging, snake handling Jesus freaks and Chinese toy loving minions of the richest 2%" is to discredit their arguments before they've ever opened their mouths.

In a court of law, that would be impeaching the credibility of the witness.

If you successfully impeach someone's credibility, people don't trust what they have to say. Why would you listen to someone you don't view as credible?

This is why I've written over and over again that we need to avoid (as Newt Gingrich did in his Contract with America) divisive social issues and focus on areas where there is broad agreement (fiscal conservatism, for instance). Winning elections is about forging consensus, and you don't achieve consensus by adopting a hard line and insulting the folks you're trying to persuade.

Look what Obama just did.

He's not a moderate. But he managed to convince a majority of swing voters that he was a moderate by effectively recasting liberal issues as reasonable and moderate.

Now we don't have to lie, but we do need to do a better job of pitching our arguments to moderate ears because no Republican president I'm aware of has been elected by attracting only registered Republicans to the ticket. Some here may not like that, but it's reality.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 11, 2009 06:32 AM

Mostly I think we've reached a consensus that Michael Steele is an idiot. This is progress.

Posted by: happyfeet at March 11, 2009 06:59 AM

Mostly I think we've reached a consensus that Michael Steele is an idiot. This is progress.

*snort*

Posted by: Cassandra at March 11, 2009 07:05 AM

I thought that was a reasonable interpretation. Oh hey. You ever think maybe if you has to walk on eggshells so you don't piss off moderates then maybe they're not really all that moderate? It's a conundrum.

Posted by: happyfeet at March 11, 2009 07:29 AM

Your ire is misplaced, happyfeet. I was agreeing with you and amused by your comment. Hence the snort.

At least twice in the comments, I've said I thought Steele was wrong:

Nor is it smart to disown him, as Steele tried to do. That was dumb.

You ever think maybe if you has to walk on eggshells so you don't piss off moderates then maybe they're not really all that moderate?

Attributing some desire for others to "walk on eggshells", like a lot of arguments made here, does exactly what Jeff complained about: it distorts and mischaracterizes my argument to the point where it's unrecognizable. How can you possibly get there from what I actually said?

On the one hand, Rush has every right to say whatever he wants and though it would be helpful if he didn't go out of his way to be outrageous, he isn't going to change anytime soon.
Which makes any debate over whether he ought to be more circumspect a moot question. He isn't going to change, and that's really not the point. The point is, how much time do we want to waste defending him and others like him?

Reading any desire to silence Rush Limbaugh or make him walk on eggshells requires a complete misreading of what I said.

Which pretty much underscores my argument: people, especially when they disagree with a speaker don't pay a whole lot of attention to nuance. In fact, they're perfectly happy to mischaracterize someone's remarks because doing so reinforces their preconceived notions about both the speaker and his or her ideas.

Talk about irony :p

Posted by: The Trees at March 11, 2009 07:39 AM

And for what it's worth, I'm not going to respond to Jeff's post (which didn't address any of the points I made, but was instead a huffy putdown disguised as an argument).

I don't see the point in pissing contests.

I don't think I was disrespectful to Jeff. I do think it might be helpful to read this post as I intended it: as a response not only to Jeff but to several of the arguments made on previous posts by other people. Yes, I used Jeff's post as a starting point because it was an interesting post.

But it's not all about him. If I failed to make that clear, you'll have to chalk that up to the constraints of trying to crank out a post in the limited time I have before work. I should have done better, but then a lot of things should be perfect, but aren't :p We live in the real world.

I'm not interested in attacking Jeff or his ideas, but in the proper response to media mischaracterizations and the linkage problem I've raised, but that Jeff didn't respond to.

Now you (and he) are free to disagree with me, and I'll be happy if you want to argue that or other points here. But mischaracterizing my argument or insulting me personally doesn't further that goal.

It's also not an effective refutation of anything I've said. In fact, it's not any kind of refutation at all.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 11, 2009 07:48 AM

oh. I wasn't ired. The reasonable interpretation thing is a fun Patterico formulation we explored already. Nevermind on that. But on the other ... that was just a tangent. I for real just meant that moderates by definition are probably not all that easily offended. The offendableness of moderates is mostly an NPR construction they like to offer up during campaigns when Republicans chance upon an effective attack I think. For real moderates shrug all this off and it's just the media what gets all anthropomorphic about them. It's just a lie though. You can tell cause it's on NPR.

Posted by: happyfeet at March 11, 2009 07:56 AM

Let's be friends!

Posted by: happyfeet at March 11, 2009 07:58 AM

Hey, I'm all about being friendly.

Sorry. I thought you might have misinterpreted my "snort" as disagreement. That's easy to do - that's why, because I'm so often sarcastic, I use those detestable emoticons so much. It's a way of saying I'm just trying to poke a little fun :)

Posted by: Cassandra at March 11, 2009 08:03 AM

brb. I have something for you I just gotta find it.

Posted by: happyfeet at March 11, 2009 08:03 AM

Here.

The conventional response to myths and urban legends is to counter bad information with accurate information. But the new psychological studies show that denials and clarifications, for all their intuitive appeal, can paradoxically contribute to the resiliency of popular myths.

I can't elaborate cause I have to get to work but I think this is one of those sciencey things you a lot figured out all by yourself up in your post. I suspect it's something what can challenge the intentionalist argument cause it comes at an oblique angle I think. I think about this sometimes but it gets confusing.

Posted by: happyfeet at March 11, 2009 08:14 AM

As early as 1945, psychologists Floyd Allport and Milton Lepkin found that the more often people heard false wartime rumors, the more likely they were to believe them.

The research is painting a broad new understanding of how the mind works. Contrary to the conventional notion that people absorb information in a deliberate manner, the studies show that the brain uses subconscious "rules of thumb" that can bias it into thinking that false information is true. Clever manipulators can take advantage of this tendency.

BINGO.

Thanks so much. This goes to the heart of my argument that the point of these media questions is not to ask a question, but to give them an opportunity to repeat misinformation over and over, knowing that the subsequent denials or defenses will never be as effective as the initial lie. When the speaker is someone unpopular, it also accomplishes something else very important: linking the interviewee with an unpopular and controversial third party as a means of impeaching his or her credibility (guilt by association).

Posted by: Cassandra at March 11, 2009 08:36 AM

And it gets confusing (I agree) because the listener's response is not rational. But that is the point I was making when I said it's important to understand how people who don't think the way we do will receive and understand our arguments.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 11, 2009 08:38 AM

According to Nordlinger at NRO, Limbaugh has inspired conservative youth like Buckley did before him, at least to some extent.

If this be the case, doesn't very basic math dictate the more people talk about Limbaugh, which has proven to increase his listenership, the more conservatives there will be?

Shouldn't you therefore focus more on Limbaugh?

Posted by: easyliving1 at March 11, 2009 09:59 AM

I don't think the folks at NRO get out enough. The phenomenon they describe is real, but it's not the whole truth, easyliving.

My two sons and one daughter in law all vote Republican. They are all conservatives.

They all dislike the Rush style of rhetoric - so much so that it undermines their support for conservative principles like fiscal conservatism. Like so many these days, they're fiscal conservatives but social moderates. They're not at the point of voting Democratic - yet.

But they are thoroughly disgusted by the Republican party's abandonment of fiscal conservatism and thus find it increasingly hard to defend to their liberal and moderate friends. Now you (generically) can malign people like this, or you can try to hold onto their votes.

Me? I prefer the latter option.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 11, 2009 10:18 AM

Ah, the Protein Wisdom Rapid Response brigade is in full irrational form, albeit reduced in numbers!

Cassandra, do me a favor. I'm a devoted lib and a proud Obama voter, who gave up a day's pay to work the polls for his campaign. Please post more on this. Please let the black hole that is the argument continue.

It serves a number of purposes for me. First, it's very entertaining.

Secondly, it helps to tie Limbaugh to you people in a way that you will never get rid of him. For instance, he has permanently wounded Michael Steele. Steele and the investigations in to his campaign and his lies about being pelted with Oreoes was already a laughing stock on the left, but his forced apology to Limbaugh....well, he's done with the middle and McCain-esque voters now. And, Limbaugh's deep unpopularity is permanent, whereas the Republican party's is more temporary (their support should be around the traditional 33-36%, instead of 26%).

[Ed. note: removed b/c it violates my no ad homunculus rule :p - Cass]

[This, however, was funny so I'm leaving it in:]

... you never see them together. I think Goldstein is Limbaugh.

Anyway, I've gone on too long, but I hope you can turn this into a few more posts....I know Jeff will.

Posted by: timb at March 11, 2009 10:49 AM

Actually, I think I'm done :p

That's why I'm not going to respond to Jeff's post. He didn't make any arguments for me to address and that leaves only the insults, which I don't really think deserve a reply.

I've always thought this was a distraction from what we ought to be talking about, but since it does look at the important question of how to get our message across, I decided to engage with that part of it.

With the results you've seen. Sadly, I agree.

Rather than discussing our differences civilly, we're shouting and tearing each other down. I wish I could say this was helpful...

To us.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 11, 2009 10:59 AM

Also, I'd really prefer to limit the discussion (at least on my site) to ideas and not personalities. It's not always consistently applied b/c I'm human and I also apply my subjective judgment to various situations. But I really do believe it's a good policy that makes it easier for us all to keep our tempers whilst discussing contentious subjects.

I generally allow insults to me to remain in the comments section. To me, they often make my point for me rather than undermining it. But I do have a no ad-hominem policy here.

I hope you'll understand that it's in that spirit that I'm going to edit part of your comment.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 11, 2009 11:03 AM

Drink!

Happyfeet mentioned hating NPR!

I never get as drunk as I do when playing the happyfeet mentions NPR game...

Posted by: timb at March 11, 2009 11:05 AM

I understand, although between you and me, I think that third reason is pretty important. Nonetheless, it is speculation and it might offend, so, I respect the rule.

As for my second comment....you might want to remove the whole thing (although I still think it's funny too).

I gotta say, I like serious conservatives. If you don't mind, I may take a look around and sit on the couch for a moment. After my experiences on other blogs, these rules might help after all, I too am human and have been party to many an ad hominem and ad homunculus attack

Posted by: timb at March 11, 2009 11:12 AM

OK.

Please do look around. Hopefully you won't be too infuriated, but if you disagree please do comment.

We do try to be open to serious arguments. The only thing I won't allow is personal insults. Sometimes we get mad at each other (and we mostly agree!). When you start off disagreeing - often violently - I think it's imperative to be civil.

Cheers.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 11, 2009 11:17 AM

Well, if your children say they don't like Rush, then I would dismiss whatever Nordlinger says too without further consideration.

Good day.

Posted by: easyliving1 at March 11, 2009 12:22 PM

I didn't "not consider it".

I suggested that perhaps the 'firing up' he's observed among some young conservatives is counterbalanced by Rush's tendency to turn off others.

Can you show me where I said Rush doesn't fire up some young conservatives? I think perhaps it's not me who just dismissed an argument they didn't like.

And FWIW, I read Nordlinger's piece.

You guys are really not getting what I'm saying. YES, Rush is often right. I'm not disputing that.

YES, Rush has a loyal audience who very much enjoy his broadcasts.

NO, I don't think they're stupid for doing so.

YES, he has influence.

But that influence not solely positive, as many readers here (all conservatives, by the way) have noted.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 11, 2009 12:26 PM

easyliving:

My husband has been reliably conservative for over 30 years now.

He doesn't have a high opinion of Rush either. And he still listens in every now and then.

We don't all have to march in lockstep, and if we do then maybe a whole lot of us are in the wrong party. I'm beginning to get the impression many Republicans would like anyone who doesn't agree with them to stop voting Republican.

Do you really see driving these people out of the party as a winning strategy? I hope not, and I think not.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 11, 2009 12:29 PM

Well Cass, I would note that many of the conservatives on the internet are more closely described as libertarian.

And we've already seen how the Libertarian Party has decided the perfect must always be the enemy of the good. If bad wins, so be it. At least *they* were perfect.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 11, 2009 12:45 PM

Yu-Ain,

Please don't make the mistake of thinking that the Libertarian Party in any way reflects the thinking of us small-L libertarians.

Posted by: Rex at March 11, 2009 01:31 PM

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 03/11/2009 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

Posted by: David M at March 11, 2009 01:59 PM

Rex,

I am well aware of the L/l divide. I, myself, am rather sympathetic to the small l philosophy.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 11, 2009 04:00 PM

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