True Fact: whenever I pick up a pizza at Mineo’s I spend the 20 or 30 minutes listening to Michael Savage. Oppo research? A weird infatuation with clinical insanity? Whatever, it just puts me in the right mood for a pizza. Anyhow his outraged reasonable-guy act is a lot more listenable than smirking bombasts like Hannity and O’Reilly (distinction without a difference? discuss).
For months now Savage has more or less written off president Bush as a chump and a useless gasbag. The Dubai deal set off the nativist in Savage, obviously, but Savage’s real beef comes from his inner thwarted warmonger. Example, Savage spent most of my last pizza trip wondering whether the GOP has any leaders willing to do what it takes to win the war on America’s enemies. In general each talk radio “talent” has his own decent-size army of dittoheads which presumably overlaps significantly from talent to talent, so it seems likely that Savage speaks for a decent swath of wingerdom. Savage and his listeners have decided that Bush just doesn’t have the cojones to take the fight to enemies both outside and (he spends a lot of time on this point) inside America.
As always, talk radioland gets the new meme before the national media:
At a moment when his conservative coalition is already under strain over domestic policy, President Bush is facing a new and swiftly building backlash on the right over his handling of foreign affairs.[…] “It is Topic A of every single conversation,” said Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank that has had strong influence in staffing the administration and shaping its ideas. “I don’t have a friend in the administration, on Capitol Hill or any part of the conservative foreign policy establishment who is not beside themselves with fury at the administration.” […] Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who is considering a bid for president, called the administration’s latest moves abroad a form of appeasement. “We have accepted the lawyer-diplomatic fantasy that talking while North Korea builds bombs and missiles and talking while the Iranians build bombs and missiles is progress,” he said in an interview. “Is the next stage for Condi to go dancing with Kim Jong Il?” he asked, referring to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the North Korean leader.
“I am utterly puzzled,” Gingrich added.[…] “What they are doing on North Korea or Iran is what [Sen. John F.] Kerry would do, what a normal middle-of-the-road president would do,” he said. “This administration prided itself on molding history, not just reacting to events. Its a normal foreign policy right now. It’s the triumph of Kerryism.”
In sum, the president who many think is batshit crazy has started taking fire from his “side” for not being batshit crazy enough. Keep in mind that these are the people to whom the administration has paid careful attention since before the 2000 election. George Will, to whom they have never paid attention*, comments:
The administration, justly criticized for its Iraq premises and their execution, is suddenly receiving some criticism so untethered from reality as to defy caricature.
In some ways I feel for the Bush crowd. For a short time they let these people live out their talk-radio fantasy world where the brute force of war solves all problems. After a high like that you can hardly blame the denizens of talk radioland for wanting to stay a little longer even after the great White Knight has beat an ignominous retreat to the real world.
It seems somehow poignant that the only caller who answered Michael Savage’s search for a new leader suggested…Dick Cheney.
(*) Maybe because George Will makes a surprising amount of sense. You know, for a conservative.