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The Waterboys

Steve Benen points to similar quotes by two conservative talk show mavens in the aftermath of the election.

Rush Limbaugh:

The way I feel is this: I feel liberated, and I’m going to tell you as plainly as I can why. I no longer am going to have to carry the water for people who I don’t think deserve having their water carried. Now, you might say, ‘Well, why have you been doing it?’ Because the stakes are high! Even though the Republican Party let us down, to me they represent a far better future for my beliefs and therefore the country’s than the Democrat Party does and liberalism.”

Hugh Hewitt:

“[I]t is a wonderful day for new media, especially talk radio. For two years we have had to defend the Congressional gang that couldn’t shoot straight. Now we get to play offense.”

I can’t disagree with Benen’s summation:

In other words, for guys like Limbaugh and Hewitt, they knew congressional Republicans were awful. They knew these lawmakers didn’t deserve their support, didn’t earn their trust, and didn’t perform as they promised. But they went out, day after day, and told their audience how great these Republicans are anyway, despite not believing it.

Commentators, whether they be syndicated columnists, talk show hosts, or bloggers, build audiences by putting themselves on the line arguing for things that they believe in. Those who are perceived to merely be ranting for the sake of outrageousness, like Ann Coulter, are quickly dismissed as frauds.

It’s one thing to be a partisan and quite another to be a partisan hack. If a commentator believes that their party’s leaders are failing to live up to their self-proclaimed values, then it’s incumbent upon him to say so. That’s how you build credibility.

Nor does pointing out the flaws prevent you from arguing that voting for your party is nonetheless the best alternative available. One can simultaneously say Denny Hastert should be fired and nonetheless prefer him to Nancy Pelosi; that Lincoln Chafee is barely a Republican but better than a Democrat; that Conrad Burns or George Allen have proven themselves to be dolts but that they’ll at least vote your way a lot more often than their opponents.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Hoosier Dem says:

    Very good post. Very good postS, in fact, about this election.

    Off topic, I know: I have to confess I’ve never much read you guys before but since tuesday I’ve been amusing myself by reading the wailing and gnashing of teeth on conservative blogs.

    Here, though, not so much of that as of reasonable, rational observations! Not nearly as amusing as watching Goldberg cry over at the Corner, but still!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Patrick McGuire says:

    Rush commented further on his statements during today’s radio show which gave a different twist to this topic. However, I don’t have a dog in this fight so I will bow out with this comment.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. [...] Update: James Joyner weighs in: Commentators, whether they be syndicated columnists, talk show hosts, or bloggers, build audiences by putting themselves on the line arguing for things that they believe in. Those who are perceived to merely be ranting for the sake of outrageousness, like Ann Coulter, are quickly dismissed as frauds. [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. madmatt says:

    so you should act like dems and not fascists catapulting propaganda!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. RiverRat says:

    Have you never heard of compromising, to the extent necessary, to achieve an imperfect goal without admitting it?

    I have to believe you do it every day in your personal and professional life.

    Personally, I’m a small federal government, robust (ideological expansion) foreign policy advocate, and defender of a federalist view on social welfare and values programs (what’s good for MA should stay in MA),(small l)libeterian

    Ordered liberty, not ordered equality.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  6. Anderson says:

    Here, though, not so much of that as of reasonable, rational observations!

    Don’t forget the shrill Dems in the comment threads.

    But yes, seconded — the election coverage has been up to JJ’s usual high standards.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  7. RJN says:

    No thanks. I voted for these hacks twice. I was betrayed. Goodbye RINO hacks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. legion says:

    I don’t mean to be pissy at you directly, RiverRat, but on re-reading my stuff below, it seems this has triggered a bit of a rant…

    Have you never heard of compromising, to the extent necessary, to achieve an imperfect goal without admitting it?

    There’s an enormous difference between making a necessary compromise and completely sacrificing all moral standards. Saying that there were a number of Repubs that didn’t deserve to be in power kinda implies that there were some Dems that did. I’ll freely admit there are some Repubs I trust enough to have power. But guys like Rush and Hugh never did.

    They flat-out, unashamedly lied to their listeners for the last six years, just to keep the people in power happy with them. To the detriment of this nation’s physical and economic security during a time of so-called war. I say so-called because it’s obvious that these people didn’t care what sort of threat this country faced, so long as they & their masters kept power.

    Guys like Rush and Hugh are traitors. They’ve as much as admitted it. And anyone who listens to them and doesn’t feel betrayed, or at least deeply unsettled about the way they’ve been manipulated, is far too stupid for me to care about offending with this rant.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  9. Prometheuss says:

    In other words, for guys like Limbaugh and Hewitt, they knew congressional Republicans were awful. They knew these lawmakers didn’t deserve their support, didn’t earn their trust, and didn’t perform as they promised. But they went out, day after day, and told their audience how great these Republicans are anyway, despite not believing it.

    Nonsense. They told their audience how much worse the Democrats would be. I never heard a lot of praise for the Republicans in Congress. I heard a lot of talk about the horror of Democrats in the majority leading Congress.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  10. Steven Plunk says:

    This seems over the top. Right wing radio hosts first have a duty to themselves, to keep themselves on the air. Giving listeners meat is what got them to where they are. I don’t listen to them for that reason. I still agree with the ideology but getting all fired up the way they do it is not productive.

    I doubt they flat out lied to the listeners. They talk policy and politics, one of the simple rules in politics is to not talk your side down, let the other side take care of that. By enduring the loss of values by the conservatives I expect they feel cheapened but why aid the opposition by pointing out every flaw on the airwaves? Party conferences and private conversations are the proper place to sort things out. The problem is no one listened early enough to right the ship.

    RiverRat is right talking about compromise in politics. Sometimes you look wise when compromising and sometimes you look undisciplined. The Republicans demise comes from a perfect storm of circumstances both nationally and locally. Disappointed conservatives, independents wanting a change and a basically butt ugly slate of candidates. We knew months ago this could be a loss of congress to the Dems so why is everyone acting like it’s an unforeseen disaster?

    Everyone has known that talk radio personalities are partisans hacks. Why all the indignation over it now?

    Anderson, I’m still waiting for you to expand and explain your comment concerning my supposed selective ignorance and how googling me exposed it. Can I expect a reasonable response?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  11. Anon says:

    Hoosier Dem,

    As a fellow liberal, I beg of you to please stop reading this blog. They use this insidious, evil strategy of actually assuming that you have a brain, and can succumb to logic and reason.

    So far, I’ve been able to resist, but it’s been quite a struggle.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  12. geezer says:

    At least as far as Allen was concerned, better we find out now what he was/wasn’t made of.

    Macaca indeed. I see a lot of time and money saved on that one!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. Bithead says:

    James,

    I don’t know is I characterize it quite that way. Say, rather, that they felt, as I still do, and as America will two years hence, that the republicans were the better the two.

    Limbaugh, within my your shot, has never suggested that the republicans were perfect, particularly this latest bunch. But by comparison to what else was available?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. Sheila says:

    Hi, sorry, another “shrill Dem” here, but wanted to commend George F. Will as a conservative commentator who called it as he saw it.

    I commend to you his latest Newsweek opinion column. I always read it because I know that even though I might not agree, he won’t insult my intelligence.

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  15. Rush is a consumate showman, and a very good businessman. He lied, The party is over.
    He did in fact defend the CONgress on so may occasions I can’t count them. True he had lately stated over and over, the Dems would be worse, but I disagree. I’d much rather have an enemy I can trust to be my enemy than a friend I can’t trust at all.

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  16. legion says:

    Right wing radio hosts first have a duty to themselves, to keep themselves on the air.

    On paper, you’re right. And intellectually I agree – they’re just another groups of info-tainers, and they should be treated with the same level of respect you seem to have for them. But they have an enormous (and frankly dangerous, IMHO) influence on public attitudes, and considering the amount of “patriotic” flag-wallowing those guys indulge in, their hypocrisy just triggers something deep inside my bile glands.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  17. bains says:

    But they have an enormous (and frankly dangerous, IMHO) influence on public attitudes…

    That’s not surprising. I heard a caller on yesterdays Dennis Prager show pine for a reinstatement of the fairness doctrine, tacitly admitting that he just wanted to impose gag rules on those with whom he disagreed.

    Of course for people like him, and I suspect you legion, the fact that the majority of this country has their news filtered thru the left leaning biases of the MSM is insignificant.

    One can simultaneously say Denny Hastert should be fired and nonetheless prefer him to Nancy Pelosi; that Lincoln Chafee is barely a Republican but better than a Democrat; that Conrad Burns or George Allen have proven themselves to be dolts but that they’ll at least vote your way a lot more often than their opponents.

    Based on this I suspect that Dr. Joyner (and probably Steve Benen as well) dont listen to Rush or Hugh all that much, for both have been highly critical of the GOP, especially Congress – and both frequently say the same thing. One ought not conflate supporting the President with cheerleading for his party’s majority Congress.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  18. Jon Swift says:

    No Holding Back…

    When Republicans had both houses of Congress it was actually quite a burden. But now the gloves can come off and for the first time in 12 years we don’t have to hold back any longer. We can tell you what we really think and we are ecstatic about our ….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. cian says:

    After this many years at the centre of the conservative movement, Limbaugh is doing what his audience expect. He’s never hidden the fact that he is Bush’s man, that he was not just prepared to carry the admin’s water, he was also happy and proud to gulp it down.

    Is there really anyone still listening to the O’Reilly’s, Hannity’s and Limbaugh’s of this world who believe this bunch to be straight shooters?

    If there are, being manipulated is the least of their worries.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. madmatt says:

    So know that rush has admitted he is a lying whore why should anybody listen to his bs ever again…bush falls into this catagory as well for his pre-election rumsfeld comments?

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