Conservatives Reject Rush Limbaugh and Joe the Plumber (But Do We Still Ask Conservatives About Dinosaurs?)

It is a horrible time to be an intelligent conservative. Not only has their party been thoroughly rejected by the voters but their ideas are now being represented by anti-intellectuals such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Joe the Plumber. Some conservatives see the downside to having their ideas be represented by such individuals.

John Derbyshire writes on How Talk Radio Wrecks the Right:

With reasons for gratitude duly noted, are there some downsides to conservative talk radio? Taking the conservative project as a whole—limited government, fiscal prudence, equality under law, personal liberty, patriotism, realism abroad—has talk radio helped or hurt? All those good things are plainly off the table for the next four years at least, a prospect that conservatives can only view with anguish. Did the Limbaughs, Hannitys, Savages, and Ingrahams lead us to this sorry state of affairs?

They surely did. At the very least, by yoking themselves to the clueless George W. Bush and his free-spending administration, they helped create the great debt bubble that has now burst so spectacularly. The big names, too, were all uncritical of the decade-long (at least) efforts to “build democracy” in no-account nations with politically primitive populations. Sean Hannity called the Iraq War a “massive success,” and in January 2008 deemed the U.S. economy “phenomenal.”

Much as their blind loyalty discredited the Right, perhaps the worst effect of Limbaugh et al. has been their draining away of political energy from what might have been a much more worthwhile project: the fostering of a middlebrow conservatism. There is nothing wrong with lowbrow conservatism. It’s energizing and fun. What’s wrong is the impression fixed in the minds of too many Americans that conservatism is always lowbrow, an impression our enemies gleefully reinforce when the opportunity arises. Thus a liberal like E.J. Dionne can write, “The cause of Edmund Burke, Leo Strauss, Robert Nisbet and William F. Buckley Jr. is now in the hands of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity. … Reason has been overwhelmed by propaganda, ideas by slogans.” Talk radio has contributed mightily to this development.

It does so by routinely descending into the ad hominem—Feminazis instead of feminism—and catering to reflex rather than thought. Where once conservatism had been about individualism, talk radio now rallies the mob. “Revolt against the masses?” asked Jeffrey Hart. “Limbaugh is the masses.”

In place of the permanent things, we get Happy Meal conservatism: cheap, childish, familiar. Gone are the internal tensions, the thought-provoking paradoxes, the ideological uneasiness that marked the early Right. But however much this dumbing down has damaged the conservative brand, it appeals to millions of Americans. McDonald’s profits rose 80 percent last year.

Patrick Ruffini is critical of The Joe-the-Plumberization of the GOP:

If you want to get a sense of how unserious and ungrounded most Americans think the Republican Party is, look no further than how conservatives elevate Joe the Plumber as a spokesman. The movement has become so gimmick-driven that Wurzelbacher will be a conservative hero long after people have forgotten what his legitimate policy beef with Obama was.

Actually there was no legitimate policy beef with Obama. Joe claimed that Obama’s policies would result in a tax increase for him when actually they would not.  While there is a lot I disagree with in Ruffini’s analysis of the political parties, at least he does realize that Joe the Plumber is a poor spokesmen for his party.

The Republican Party establishment does not help with this problem, even if you consider those leaders of talk radio to be outside of the party. Joe the Plumber was elevated to his position by John McCain, their last presidential candidate. Even worse, McCain elevated Sarah Palin to a major position in the party and she has become more popular in the party than he is. Rejecting talk radio and Joe the Plumber won’t help the conservatives if they have someone like Sarah Palin as their leader.

Ultimately the conservative movement has the leaders it deserves. With both Palin and many of their followers believing in creationism Derbyshire and Ruffini must face the fact that a rejection of science and reason does represent the current state of the conservative movement even if such views are not universal among conservatives.

Holder Promises End To Raids on Medicinal Marijuana

As I’ve noted here and here, hold overs from the Bush administration have continued to enforce federal laws against medicinal marijuana in states where it is legal since Obama took office, despite promises from Obama that he will end this practice. The Huffington Post reports that Attorney General Eric Holder has stated at a news practice that he will end these raids.

Senate Shows Lack of Support for Fairness Doctrine

I’ve noted several times that conservatives have been using the Fairness Doctrine as a scare tactic. Obama and the Congressional leadership have already indicated that they do not support restoring the Fairness Doctrine but the right wing has found this to be a useful threat–similar to their claims that Democrats will take away people’s guns and Bibles. A vote in the Senate shows how little support there is for restoring the Fairness Doctrine. The Hill reports:

The Senate voted Thursday in favor of an amendment to the District of Columbia voting-rights bill that would prohibit the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from reinstating the so-called Fairness Doctrine, which critics say would decimate conservative talk radio.

The Senate passed the measure 87-11.

Reportedly the House will not be having a vote on this so this will not become law, but it is a good indicator of how little support there is for the Fairness Doctrine in the Senate. If 87 Senators voted in favor of this measure, there is no way that any bill which calls for restoring the Fairness Doctrine could receive the necessary sixty votes to overcome a filibuster, or even a simple majority .

Kenneth the Page’s Response to Bobby Jindal

If the 2012 battle for the Republican sacrificial lamb to go up against Barack Obama should be between Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal the cast of 30 Rock will be well positioned for political satire. First we had Tina Fey playing Sarah Palin, and now we have Bobby Jindal being compared to Kenneth the Page.  Jack McBrayer, who plays Kenneth, has responded to Bobby Jindal on the Jimmy Fallon’s show (video above).