Giving Limbaugh too Much Credit
While I think that there is something to the thesis that the Republican Party is overly influenced by a talk radio/cable news mindset (i.e., a bombastic and simplistic approach to government and politics), Zev Chafets’ column today (The Limbaugh Victory) in the NYT goes quite a bit too far. He starts off:
THERE are many theories for why very conservative Republicans seem to be doing so well lately, taking their party’s Senate nominations in Florida, Kentucky and Utah, and beating Democrats head-to-head in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia.
He then proclaims:
the most obvious explanation is the one that’s been conspicuously absent from the gusher of analysis. Republican success in 2010 can be boiled down to two words: Rush Limbaugh.
First, monocausality is always problematic. Second, if one wants to pick a better variable, how about the economy (including GDP growth and unemployment)? Third, we aren’t actually talking about a large number of cases here. Fourth, three of the cases cited are internal party fights (Florida, Kentucky, and Utah). Fifth, he is ignoring all the House special elections that Republicans have lost in the same timeframe (half a dozen or so, in fact). Sixth, I am not sure how Limbaugh specifically could be given responsibility for electoral outcome anyway (and nor does Chafets actually provide any evidence, rather he just asserts). Seventh, of the above-listed examples the other truly dramatic example is the Senate special election in Massachusetts.
Apparently Chafets has a book on Limbaugh coming out, and hence the column. He must have a great publicist.