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