Rush Limbaugh: Not That Influential?

Jonathan Last offers a long retort to the notion that Rush Limbaugh is a significant influencer of American politics, much less the de facto leader of the Republican Party.  He rejects, for example, the notion that having a large audience necessarily matters:

Consider television. From 1998 to 2005, Everybody Loves Raymond was among the top 15 rated shows on TV. For five of those years it was in the top 10. It averaged 17.4 million viewers. Was Everybody Loves Raymond influential? I would argue that the show left a very small–maybe non-existent–cultural footprint.

If you sift through the Nielsens from recent years, you’ll find a number of highly-rated shows pulling in tens of millions of viewers, which were basically invisible after the credits rolled. This is true even at the very top of the heap: CSI and Home Improvement each finished #1 overall and yet, had they been canceled in the middle of their ratings dominance, I doubt anyone would have noticed.

The obvious rejoinder is that Raymond existed solely to make us laugh (and thereby sell high priced ad space) while Rush, although no doubt an entertainer, is in fact trying to persuade his audience toward his political viewpoint.

Well, I’ll assume that Limbaugh can send a crowd of people toward a weblink if he mentions it on his program or his website. But crashing a server doesn’t take all that much. Slashdot and Boing Boing can do that, too. Can Limbaugh sell books? I’m not being pedantic–I honestly don’t know the answer to this question. But if Limbaugh really is influential, then the mere mention of books he likes ought to be enough to routinely put them high on the NYT’s best seller list for weeks, the way Oprah Winfrey’s approval does.

He’s managed to get a couple of (frankly, not very good) books of his own atop the bestseller list.  Otherwise, I don’t know.

Well, I’ll assume that Limbaugh can send a crowd of people toward a weblink if he mentions it on his program or his website. But crashing a server doesn’t take all that much. Slashdot and Boing Boing can do that, too. Can Limbaugh sell books? I’m not being pedantic–I honestly don’t know the answer to this question. But if Limbaugh really is influential, then the mere mention of books he likes ought to be enough to routinely put them high on the NYT’s best seller list for weeks, the way Oprah Winfrey’s approval does.

I understand that Limbaugh (and other conservative talk-radio hosts) weighed in heavily against the Bush immigration deal. That deal failed. But was this because of Limbaugh? Maybe. But presumably Limbaugh was against a great number of other Bush initiatives that passed–No Child Left Behind, Medicare prescription drugs, the omnibus energy bill, the Detroit bailout.

Well, the Detroit bailout failed in Congress and Bush just did it anyway.  But otherwise, that’s right.

The 2008 primary season provided a particularly good indication of Limbaugh’s level of influence. He seems to have supported Mitt Romney. Despite Limbaugh’s support, Romney received only 4.7 million votes. The candidate Limbaugh favored least and argued against most–John McCain–won the nomination. Again, I’m not a devotee of Limbaugh’s show, but my sense is that Limbaugh made his distaste for McCain very apparent. Republican primary voters paid little heed.

Quite true.

After the Romney flame-out, Limbaugh began promoting what he called “Operation Chaos,” where he instructed listeners to vote for Hillary Clinton in Democratic primaries. Limbaugh claimed a good deal of credit for her subsequent victories, but I’ve never seen any data which suggests that his influence was significant, let alone decisive. To the contrary, almost all of the Democratic primary results–both before and after “Operation Chaos”–fit within a stable racial, socio-economic model.

Yup.

Limbaugh’s powers of influence seem more on the level of Howard Stern. At his peak, Stern drew about 13 million listeners, which is in the ballpark with the 14 million or so Limbaugh has drawn through most of this decade. Like Limbaugh, Stern was credited with having a great deal of influence on his listeners. But that influence never really materialized beyond his ability to get people to tune in to a show he was giving away for free. Stern’s one attempt at translating his influence to the movies failed–the 1997 Howard Stern’s Private Parts opened to $14 million and grossed only $40 million. And when Stern moved to subscription-based satellite radio, his audience let him go without a second thought.

Ouch.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    I don’t care who tries to marginalize Rush, unless you have the audience he has, you have no perspective. Critque of Limbaugh, stating he has small or little influence indicates a lack of understanding of influence. Probably from someone who does not listen to his radio show. Likely, a democrat.

  2. Patrick T McGuire says:

    The mistake that most critics of Limbaugh make is that, for his legions of ditto-heads, he is not our leader but rather our spokesman.

    We do not wait for his instructions on what to do next, we cheer him on because he speaks our collective mind.

  3. sam says:

    Probably from someone who does not listen to his radio show. Likely, a democrat.

    Heh.

    he speaks our collective mind.

    Double heh.

  4. sam says:

    I think I should explain the “heh” to Zelsdorf:

    Doofus–google Jonathan V. Last. Wait, I’ll do it for you:

    Jonathan V. Last is a contributing writer at The Weekly Standard and has a weekly editorial column in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

    Last has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The New York Post, Salon.com, Slate, The Washington Times, The New York Press, and other publications. He has appeared on CNN, Sky News, and the Fox News Channel.[1]

    He is one of three writers at the Galley Slaves blog, with fellow Weekly Standard staffers Victorino Matus and David Skinner.

    Note the Weekly Standard ref. Flaming Democrat Liberal that one. Moron.

  5. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Do any liberals understand english? Like a democrat is not the same as “is a democrat”. There are many conservatives, or rather those who claim conservative values when in fact they mean Republican values. Which is not the same thing. Sam, I wonder if the readership the writer in question has compares with the listeners Rush Limbaugh enjoys, numbers wise? To say Limbaugh is not influential is a portrail of denial.

  6. sam says:

    Dude: “Likely, a democrat” != “Like a democrat”

    To spell it out: “Likely, a democrat” = “Likely is a democrat”

    I understand English; I just have trouble sometimes reading your posts, which are written in a language somewhat like English.

  7. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Sam, so you want to make this personal. How liberal of you. Likely equals the possibility of being. Like, while the meaning is similar, it is not exactly the same. Because you write like a mindless fop, your are likely a democrat. Now there. See the difference?

  8. sam says:

    Ragu English: akin to Babu English — only less interesting and accessible.

  9. odograph says:

    I get the tenor of your post, but all I can say is “you wish.”

    (As a Republican drifting out of the party and to centrism, I certainly encountered more ardent Republicans who quoted Rush to me. It was a turn-off, and reinforced my move.)

  10. William d'Inger says:

    If Rush weren’t influential, he wouldn’t be in the news. If Rush weren’t influential, pundits wouldn’t be writing long winded articles saying he’s not influential. The very fact that they are insisting that he isn’t influential proves that he is.

    The president is running scared of this man. The majority side of the isle in both houses of the legislature is running scared of this man. The whole Democrat Party is running scared of this man. They want a “fairness doctrine” law to shut him up, and don’t pretend there is any other reason for that.

  11. Brian says:

    To quote Rush himself: “Words mean things.”

    Zels, you typed in ‘likely’. You even argue sam’s case for him!

  12. Bithead says:

    There’s a point that is being missed in all of this, that needs to be looked at closely, if we’re ever to understand all of this;

    Nobody (Democrats aside) ever claimed that Limbaugh was a leader in the Republican party. Nor is he in reality a spokesman for them, or even for their values.

    What he is, however is a leading voice in the conservative movement. He’s only tied to the Republican party insofar as the Republicans are conservative, which isn’t all that much of late.
    Certainly, he tends toward the Republicans, because historically, they’ve been the more conservative of the two parties. But if you listen to his show, which I do occasionally, he’s been spending his time, when addressing Republicans, in trying to get them to return to conservatism.

    I think I’ve said it here before, and I still consider it the core of this; The attacks on Limbaugh and trying to get him in the public’s perception as the face of the Republican party, is an orchestrated attempt to separate the Republican party from it’s conservative base thereby rendering it impotent.

  13. Brian says:

    Re: the article – Rush is viewed as influential, whether or not the numbers say he is. Steele’s kowtowing would not have been done if Rush wasn’t seen as someone you need to kowtow to.

    As we can see from some of the comments here, Rush does have a fan base who feels he is their leader, in that he speaks for them. Given there are other people with less #s that draw attention and sometimes results to themselves (say, Catholic League leader Donohue), it’s fair to say Rush is indeed influential. Whether or not the infleunce is in proportion to the deference is another argument.

  14. odograph says:

    I was with William up until he said “The president is running scared of this man.”

    I suspect the President is lovin’ it, as I am. Rush is a wedge issue. He creates a division. People who like him are hard liners who just can’t quit him. People on the other side get to laugh.

  15. sam says:

    @Bit

    The attacks on Limbaugh and trying to get him in the public’s perception as the face of the Republican party, is an orchestrated attempt to separate the Republican party from it’s conservative base thereby rendering it impotent.

    But Bit, what’s the public to think when Repubs go grovelling to Rush if they think they’ve offended him? What’s the nonideological public’s perception of that? I’d just amend one thing in the blockquote above–the Republican party, at the current time, is it’s conservative base. The Dems are aiming at independents with Operation Rushbo.

  16. Bithead says:

    I suspect the President is lovin’ it, as I am. Rush is a wedge issue. He creates a division.

    You’re warm, Odo. Think about this;

    More correctly, he’s a hate object. Hitler had the Jews. For that matter, so do the Arabs. Obama has the Rich, as a group to hate, but no longer had any one single personae to focus their hate on.
    Consider; over the last few decades, they had Reagan, Bush, Newt, and Bush, to serve as objects to focus their followers’ hate on. As a result of the most recent election, they have no elected Republicans of any real stature to focus their followers’ hate on. So, Limbaugh now serves that role. So, add that to my previous comments, then.

  17. Bithead says:

    But Bit, what’s the public to think when Repubs go grovelling to Rush if they think they’ve offended him?

    That he’s influential, and that at least some republicans recognize that the conservative base is stilla requirement for election. What we see there, sorta flies in the face of Jon Last, doesn’t it?

  18. sam says:

    Consider; over the last few decades, they had Reagan, Bush, Newt, and Bush, to serve as objects to focus their followers’ hate on. As a result of the most recent election, they have no elected Republicans of any real stature to focus their followers’ hate on. So, Limbaugh now serves that role.

    Ha. That reminds me of something a Kenyan friend of mine once told me. He is a Moslem, and he said they had a saying in the Moslem community: “If you going to eat a pig, eat a fat one.”

  19. PD Shaw says:

    He can’t be that influential, nobody I know listens to him.

  20. anjin-san says:

    What he is, however is a leading voice in the conservative movement

    Indeed. He is very concerned about personal freedom, except women should not be free to control their bodies and a gay/lesbian should not be free to marry the person they wish to spend their lives with.

  21. SoloD says:

    Personally, I think that the Rush stuff should be something that both sides can agree on.Both Democrats and conservative Republicans would like to see Rush as the face of the GOP. It only those pesky (and diminishing) RINOs who are making a stink about it.

    How influential is he? Let’s find out!

  22. sam says:

    @PD:

    He can’t be that influential, nobody I know listens to him.

    🙂

  23. DMan says:

    The way I see things the right loves Limbaugh and its hard to deny that he has some influence on the Republican party. For this reason, moderates and centrists who want a competent opposition party especially hate Limbaugh. Then there are those on the left who would love to dominate on policy for years to come and thus love Limbaugh, perhaps more than the right. It’s sort of like the Michael Moore effect reversed.

  24. Bithead says:

    He is very concerned about personal freedom, except women should not be free to control their bodies and a gay/lesbian should not be free to marry the person they wish to spend their lives with.

    You simply cannot control that jerking knee, can you?

    Oh, and Anjin; there’s a major difference between conservative and the song you’re singing.

    @ Solo:

    It only those pesky (and diminishing) RINOs who are making a stink about it

    So it is. And that was exactly the thrust of my most recent Pajamas Media article. It was they who were the loudest about the grassroots figures such as Palin, JTP, and others, at CPAC. Funny how they were silent, though, after Rush spoke on the last day of the conference. The reaction from both the crowd and the press was enough to drown out the anti-conservatve-grass -roots nonsense.

    I suspect and suppose that the end effect of all of this is going to be a backfire on Obama and the Clinton Strategy team… Their efforts will do naughth but strengthen the conservative movement within the Republican party, though there’s still a lotta fighting left to do to get there.

  25. odograph says:

    Hate, Bit? It’s all about the irony. The forces of morality blink a second, no more, then take a liar and a drug addict back as their spokesman. It was the same sort of moment as when the party of moral responsibility blinked for a second, no more, and then brought a pregnant teen onstage as part of the modern American family.

    Be for a thing or against it – but to be impotently for a thing while abandoning it at the slightest political convenience – that’s more funny than “hate” inspiring.

  26. Bithead says:

    Yes, Odo… Hate.
    You provide an excellent case in point.

  27. sam says:

    @Bit

    I suspect and suppose that the end effect of all of this is going to be a backfire on Obama and the Clinton Strategy team… Their efforts will do naughth but strengthen the conservative movement within the Republican party, though there’s still a lotta fighting left to do to get there.

    Bit, let me repeat. They don’t give a tinker’s dam about the “conservative movement within the Republican Party” — it’s the independents they’re after, a group already not too fond of Rush. And, to repeat again, the conservative base is the Republican party now.

  28. anjin-san says:

    Yes, Odo… Hate.

    Kind of like your irrational rants about how Obama “hates the rich”.

    You use the word “hate” a lot skippy, perhaps you should go take a good long look in the mirror.

  29. odograph says:

    bit, you are dodging. Tell me if Rush’s audience is for treatment or incarceration for drug abuse, then tell me what Rush got. “Hate?” … To say again, you wish.

  30. SoloD says:

    Bit,

    The strategy from the Democratic side is exactly as you would like, push Limbaugh to be the face and voice of the GOP. The thinking/betting being that for every voter he might attract to the GOP he will push away 3 or 4 more. (And lets face it, there aren’t too many Rush devotees who pulled the lever -or checked the box- for Obama in the last election.)

  31. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Sorry if you fail to comprehend my writing. Sam is an unapologetic leftist who will rationalize anything the Marxist Obama does and attack, like a dog, anything opposed to the policies of “the one”. Rush correctly stated his wish for Obama to fail in his attempt to remake America if that differs from what our founders intended. If you do not think Rush Limbaugh is influential, why is this being discussed here?

  32. anjin-san says:

    Rush correctly stated his wish for Obama to fail in his attempt to remake America if that differs from what our founders intended

    Really? Was “Got Oxy”? one of the slogans of the revolution?

  33. SoloD says:

    Zels,

    The whole point is that Democrats don’t think that Limbaugh is as influential as conservatives think he is. We see him as a net negative. Its the same way we viewed Sarah Palin. If conservatives and the GOP want them as the face of the party, we are only happy to help.

    But, shh, don’t tell anyone.

  34. Brian says:

    Sorry if you fail to comprehend my writing. Sam is an unapologetic leftist who will rationalize anything the Marxist Obama does and attack, like a dog, anything opposed to the policies of “the one”. Rush correctly stated his wish for Obama to fail in his attempt to remake America if that differs from what our founders intended. If you do not think Rush Limbaugh is influential, why is this being discussed here?

    If this was meant for me, I didn’t fail to comprehend your writing; you failed to defend what you wrote and tried to change a word from ‘likely’ to ‘like’. You made a mistake. Everyone does. It’s the digging in to try and rewrite that mistake that’s killing you.

    For the second part, I answered this one in a later comment.

    If this wasn’t meant for me, apologies.

  35. Brian says:

    More correctly, he’s a hate object. Hitler had the Jews. For that matter, so do the Arabs. Obama has the Rich, as a group to hate, but no longer had any one single personae to focus their hate on.
    Consider; over the last few decades, they had Reagan, Bush, Newt, and Bush, to serve as objects to focus their followers’ hate on. As a result of the most recent election, they have no elected Republicans of any real stature to focus their followers’ hate on. So, Limbaugh now serves that role. So, add that to my previous comments, then.

    a.)Rush glorifies in being whatever he is; I hesitate to call him a ‘hate object’ in the same way I’d hesitate to call Michael Moore, surely a close comparasion, one as well. He does his shtick with the full intention of pissing people off and pumping up his base. To quote someone, if the camera and the mikes are off, he probably isn’t sure if he exists.

    b.)be that as it may, he is invited to what seems to be fairly important conferences, along with other red-meat commentators (that may be a good term) as Ann Coulter. So why shouldn’t he be focused on? Surely if Michael Moore had commented for the DNC, the Republicans would have made a huge deal of it, yes?

  36. Bithead says:

    Bit, let me repeat. They don’t give a tinker’s dam about the “conservative movement within the Republican Party” — it’s the independents they’re after, a group already not too fond of Rush.

    You’re correct, but you’re missing it at the same time; Think back to 1980. The strength of the conservative base swayed many independants. Thereby, seperating the conservative base from the Republican party, secures many of those independants.

    be that as it may, he is invited to what seems to be fairly important conferences

    Notice, though it’s was the CONSERVATIVE political action Comittee… not the Republican party. There’s a seperation there.

    Really? Was “Got Oxy”? one of the slogans of the revolution?

    Well, if you can’t tell the difference between someone addicted to a pain killer as a result of a medical need, from someone who becomes addicted by choice, I must say, my disgust with you is boundless.

  37. sam says:

    Well, if you can’t tell the difference between someone addicted to a pain killer as a result of a medical need, from someone who becomes addicted by choice

    You’re certainly right about that, unfortunately, the law doesn’t make the distinction. See Addiction, Pain, and Public Health website for a catalog of law enforcement horribles.

  38. Bithead says:

    You’re certainly right about that, unfortunately, the law doesn’t make the distinction

    Here’s the thing; I’m not as reliant on the law and the government, to make my moral judgements for me as are some, seemingly. It is said that in hell, there will only be law and government.

  39. Raoul says:

    If we wasn’t influential we would not be talking about him; more worrisome is how the GOP establishment grovels at his feet.

  40. anjin-san says:

    He is very concerned about personal freedom, except women should not be free to control their bodies and a gay/lesbian should not be free to marry the person they wish to spend their lives with.

    You simply cannot control that jerking knee, can you?

    Rush is anti-choice and against gay marrige, true or false?

    Well, if you can’t tell the difference between someone addicted to a pain killer as a result of a medical need, from someone who becomes addicted by choice, I must say, my disgust with you is boundless.

    Bit, I have 20 years of sobriety and am qualified to counsel people with chemical dependancy issues. People become addicted because they are predisposed to chemical dependancy, not “by choice”. Jesus, could you possibly be more of an ignorant twit?

  41. anjin-san says:

    I’m not as reliant on the law and the government, to make my moral judgments for me as are some, seemingly.

    Hmmmm. So you favor legal gay marriage and woman’s reproductive choice?

  42. Bithead says:

    Ah. So, Heroin gets used, first time, as a medical need? Or, Coke?

    Comon, Anjin. Pull your head out.

  43. Bithead says:

    Hmmmm. So you favor legal gay marriage and woman’s reproductive choice?

    No, I don’t. Laws written to justify each do not make them moral. Ex;

    “A woman’s reproductive choice’ got exercised when she conceived the child. Abortion after that choice is made isn’t a moral solution to the inconvinience springing from that choice.

    And given your recent round of responses, I find you trying to nail me on moral grounds laughable.

  44. anji-san says:

    Ah. So, Heroin gets used, first time, as a medical need? Or, Coke?

    That’s not what I said. But keep trying…

    Anybody you care for ever die because they smoked? Drank too much? At the funeral, did you stand up and tell everyone how they were “an addict by choice”?

    I could easily make an argument that Rush had legitimate need for oxy, but then he just found he liked the high. Did not have the character or moral fiber to stop popping pills. One day a patient, the next, a hophead by choice. But it would be a bogus argument.

    Some people just get hooked, they are wired that way. Some people make dumb choices, often when very young, and put all kinds of crap in their bodies. So what’s your moral fiber about bit? The 13 year old who foolishly tries drugs and gets hooked… screw him he’s an addict by choice, right? Deserves everything he gets, eh?

    You are showing your true colors, and it ain’t pretty…

  45. Bithead says:

    That’s not what I said

    Aha. A bit of light at the end of this tunnel. You do admit there’s a moral difference between the two situations….yes or no?

    but then he just found he liked the high

    Regardless of your particular history, how would you know that? Sorry, I’ve dealt with addicts myself, and I know better. I’m not buying what you’re selling.

    Nice attempt at shifting the topc, by the way. It didn’t work, but a for effort and all that.

  46. Bithead says:

    The 13 year old who foolishly tries drugs and gets hooked… screw him he’s an addict by choice, right? Deserves everything he gets, eh?

    Nice camber shift, there bub. You twist and turn like a dying fly. You were trying to cast question on the man’s morality based on the oxy bit, then you try and pull this. Which way you going, here?

    Regardless, none of it’s selling.

  47. anji-san says:

    BIT! Take a remedial reading class dude. Really. Clearly I was deliberately presenting a BS argument to make a point.

    My comments about Rush were bracketed by:

    “I could easily make an argument that Rush” and
    “but it would be a bogus argument”

    I will use smaller words so you can keep up.

    Rush is simply someone who was prone to addiction. His character has nothing to do with it. The man may be a saint, or he may be a scoundrel, it makes no difference. Addiction is no respecter of persons. Its no more a moral or character issue than getting cancer is.

    You do admit there’s a moral difference between the two situations….yes or no?

    none whatsoever…

  48. anji-san says:

    Anybody you care for ever die because they smoked? Drank too much? At the funeral, did you stand up and tell everyone how they were “an addict by choice”?

    Notice you ducked this one. Stick to your principals pal. If someone you love dies because they smoked or drank (or used heroin) be sure to point out their low morals at the funeral.

  49. anji-san says:

    Heroin gets used, first time, as a medical need? Or, Coke?

    You only mention illegal drugs. It would seem that your notions about morality are defined by what is legal and what is not, as defined by the government…

  50. Clovis says:

    Really? Was “Got Oxy”? one of the slogans of the revolution?

    Way to keep the moral high ground.

    Pal

    Don’t recall you saying “Got Weed, Got Coke” at all, and if you did I must have missed it. My apologies in advance of your proof.

  51. anjin-san says:

    Clovis…

    “Got rational thought?”

    apparently not 🙂

  52. Bithead says:

    BIT! Take a remedial reading class dude. Really. Clearly I was deliberately presenting a BS argument to make a point.

    Trouble is, so much of your output is BS, it’s rather hard to tell when you’re simply making a rhetorical point, versus when you’re serious.

    Rush is simply someone who was prone to addiction. His character has nothing to do with it. The man may be a saint, or he may be a scoundrel, it makes no difference. Addiction is no respecter of persons. Its no more a moral or character issue than getting cancer is.

    The point you keep dancing around is that there is a major difference between how the two examples get addicted. You simply cannot put them in the same bin, as you attempted to earlier.

    You only mention illegal drugs. It would seem that your notions about morality are defined by what is legal and what is not, as defined by the government…

    No. I would consider them in moral either way. In fact, I propose to you that the reason that the law was created was a morality statement on the issue. Law and government are supposed to be the servants of the culture, not the other way around.

    Way to keep the moral high ground.

    Frankly, I for one am not worried about the lack of class. If he ever changed , that would worry me.

  53. steve s says:

    Zels,

    The whole point is that Democrats don’t think that Limbaugh is as influential as conservatives think he is. We see him as a net negative. Its the same way we viewed Sarah Palin. If conservatives and the GOP want them as the face of the party, we are only happy to help.

    But, shh, don’t tell anyone.
    Posted by SoloD | March 6, 2009 | 11:40 am | Permalink

    I thought about this question an hour ago as I walked to and from the nearby package store. I don’t have a firm answer.

    He doesn’t so much influence as embody the worst of the modern GOP. Gluttinous and repeatedly divorced yet lays claim to values. Mocks science and sneers at education. Devoted to economic policies that haven’t fit the circumstances in 25 years. “Babies, guns, and Jesus–Hot Damn!”. Slurs against gays despite being in the closet himself. Wants the country to lose money and soldiers in order to improve his party’s chances. Doesn’t know what’s in the constitution yet thinks he’s its defender. Supported Bush while Bush urinated all over same.

    He’s not influential in a broad sense. By which I mean, like others mentioned, his candidate didn’t win, hillary didn’t win, etc. But he has some influence over the GOP, base. We’ve seen numerous lawmakers say something negative about him only to be quickly compelled to apologize and grovel.

    This is what the Dems are trying to use. They’re trying to use that grovelling, the speeches, etc to hang Limbaugh around the necks of the GOP. Because most people aren’t the GOP base and they recognize the qualities I listed above as those of a bad person. As Wick Allison noted, the GOP is the Party of Stupid. The dems are using Limbaugh to try to make it the Party of Stupid and Repulsive.

    But, shh, don’t tell anyone.

    It doesn’t matter how loudly we say this. The GOPers are dumb and committed. They’re doing their level best to call each other RINOs and have a Purity Purge, which’ll make their party even smaller and less competitive. After another few years of losses at the polls, they’ll grudgingly move to more moderate positions and be competitive again.

  54. anjin-san says:

    Frankly, I for one am not worried about the lack of class.

    Yes, your “jimmy carter in blackface” comment clearly shows you to be untroubled by a lack of class.

    Trouble is, so much of your output is BS, it’s rather hard to tell when you’re simply making a rhetorical point, versus when you’re serious.

    Well, if my decleration that the argument was bogus was not clear enough, perhaps I can make a crayon drawing and email it to you.

    No. I would consider them in moral either way.

    English translation please…

    You simply cannot put them in the same bin, as you attempted to earlier.

    Addicted is addicted. Is there anyone with a drinking problem in your family? Perhaps you will denounce them publicly for becoming an addict by choice. How about street drugs? Their moral failure does not speak well of the moral fiber of your family now, does it?

  55. steve s says:

    Limbaugh represents the Southern Strategy. Nixon reworked the party to appeal to angry, nationalistic, anti-intellectual, conservative southern racists. Pat Buchanan, who was with nixon at the time, more or less admitted as much. Problem is, that’s a shrinking demographic group relative to the overall population. And indeed the Southern Strategy worked best at first and has been losing steam for 35 years. I don’t have the graph on me at the moment, but at one point I made a graph of the % of the vote the GOP presidents have recieved. It’s roughly

    Nixon 60
    Reagan 58
    Bush I 55
    Bush II 50

    and last year McCain got 47%. You can see where that trend line goes. There aren’t enough of the hardcore, ignorant GOP-base Limbaugh types around to win anymore. And the growing number of people who aren’t Limbaugh-types *don’t like* Limbaugh types, and the more power Limbaugh seems to have, the better the Dems’ll do. The people in the middle win the election for you, and the Dems are operating with that in mind.

  56. anjin-san says:

    Ah yes. Rush, the right, and morality. Here is a little chestnut from ol’ Rush:

    If there are no ultimate standards of behavior that descend from God, and if morality is merely an individual choice, then life itself has lost its greater meaning.

    Mind you this is a man who has been divorced three times. I guess he interprets “till death do you part”, which he took, presumable before God and witnesses, differently than I do. Apparently his third wife was married to another man when they hooked up. Moral leadership personified!

  57. steve s says:

    Re Anjin-san’s discussion, I’ve known a lot of alcoholics. Had friends, roommates, and co-workers who were in AA, lived in halfway houses, etc.

    Nobody chooses to become an addict. They choose to drink a beer or do a line of coke or smoke a cigarette or whatever. Most people choose to do something like that at least a few times in their life. A person who winds up addicted starts out expecting that, like most people who do those things once in a while, there won’t be any serious consequences. Then they do them again, because what the hell, they could handle it last time, right? By the time they start noticing that it’s causing serious problems, they’re already addicted. There was never a choice to become an addict. They just chose to do something most of us choose to do, without understanding that they were in a minority who, for whatever reasons of personality or biology, experience big negative consequences from an act that is fairly harmless to the rest of us.

    Meet a few dozen alcoholics and you’ll lose any moralistic desire to blame them. You’ll see that they’ve often suffered ten times over for their mistakes.

  58. anjin-san says:

    Steve,

    I appreciate your level headed and compassionate perspective. I got drunk for the first time when I was 13. I was hooked right away, first time out. Many are. My other drug of choice, cocaine, I first tried at 15. Absolutely loved the stuff, right off the bat. Did as much as I could get my hands on for the next 14 years.

    In the viewpoint of some, I apparently deserved all of the havoc that addiction wrought upon my life. Lost love, lost opportunities, lost time, lost youth… After all, I was “addicted by choice”. Never mind that I was still a child when I became addicted and unable to make rational, adult decisions, or view my life with any sort of perspective.

    I am lucky, I was in a place that supported recovery and did not make moral judgments about substance abuse. I was sober before I was thirty.

    Many of my friend were not so fortunate. They died in car wrecks, with needles in their arms, from heart attacks, or overdoses. Apparently in the eyes of some, they somehow deserve what they got. They “made a choice”.

  59. steve s says:

    http://img12.imageshack.us/img12/4403/goppresvote.jpg

    There’s the chart.

    The Southern Strategy is over. The GOP is toast til they figure out how to appeal to people who aren’t older, uneducated bible-thumping southern while males with moronic economic notions.

  60. steve s says:

    Anjin, I’m sympathetic to alcohol addiction not just because I used to have a mild alcohol problem myself, but also because since I was 15 I’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression, and there’s some social overlap. Some people think that depressives just somehow ‘choose’ to be sad, just as they think that alcoholics just ‘choose’ to drink a lot. “why don’t you just feel better?” some idiots say. Great. Thanks a lot. Why didn’t I think of that? I’ll just choose to not be suicidal. Problem solved!

    Fortunately my case is mild. But I’ve know people who weren’t so lucky. When I moved back to Florida, I went to visit my old Anatomy and Physiology professor, who I’ll call SA. Back when I had his classes in 1995-6 he was a thrilling guy. Really fascinating character. Lively, knew everything. I’d heard about his problems lately. When I moved back, I went to his place–a little farm over on SR-47–and me and my girlfriend chatted with his wife for an hour or so. At some point SA emerged, in a t-shirt and PJs, and we talked for a while, but the poor guy was paralyzed with depression. Had some operation on his thyroid a few years ago and ever since he’s been massively depressed. Like, hardly able to move depressed. Spends his days laying in bed looking at the ceiling. Didn’t remember me at all. Said “Well, I’m glad you thought enough of me that you came by to visit.”…he repeated that two or three times in an hour. I tried to get him interested in NPR–i thought it would serve as a steady stream of interesting information to this formerly intellectual guy– but I could tell he wouldn’t even have the strength to adjust the dial himself. Maybe his wife would do it for him. That was me being stupid, of course. You can’t just Behavior Modify people out of severe depression. Although it sometimes works on people like me who have mild depression. Severe depression is something very deep and the world will be a better place when they figure out how to treat it.

    A lot of people still view mental ailments as somehow fake, like a deficiency in willpower or moral fiber or something. They fail to understand that the brain is an organ, and susceptible to disorder just like the liver or pancreas. Due to its complexity, maybe even more so.