A bunch of you have pointed to Bobo’s anti-Beck column today and said you thought it was good and reasonable. I don’t agree (though I do sympathize with him). Since my first stab at drawing possibly false equivalences between the respectable right and the real wingers went over so well, I’m going to take another stab at it: I don’t think that Brooks is anywhere near as different from Limbaugh as Brooks believes (I will grant that Beck is on a different planet from either). First, let’s start with the logical issues:
For no matter how often their hollowness is exposed, the jocks still reweave the myth of their own power. They still ride the airwaves claiming to speak for millions. They still confuse listeners with voters. And they are aided in this endeavor by their enablers. They are enabled by cynical Democrats, who love to claim that Rush Limbaugh controls the G.O.P. They are enabled by lazy pundits who find it easier to argue with showmen than with people whose opinions are based on knowledge. They are enabled by the slightly educated snobs who believe that Glenn Beck really is the voice of Middle America.
So the myth returns. Just months after the election and the humiliation, everyone is again convinced that Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity and the rest possess real power. And the saddest thing is that even Republican politicians come to believe it. They mistake media for reality. They pre-emptively surrender to armies that don’t exist.
If Brooks himself admits that the Republican party pre-emptively surrenders to the armies of Rush, then how can he say that it’s cynical for Democrats to claim that Rush Limbaugh controls the G.O.P.?
But what really irks me is the stuff about arguing with showmen as opposed to “people whose opinions are based on knowledge” (clearly Brooks means himself here).
In the main, arguing with Brooks is not that different from arguing with Rush Limbaugh. Let’s leave aside the fact that Brooks has quoted white supremacist Steve Sailer, claimed that immigrants bring with them a “culture of criminality”, and spends a great deal of time hippie-baiting, because my point here is about policy positions not rhetoric.
I’ve read nearly every column Brooks has written for the past eight years. They tend more towards personal profiles and cultural musings than policy pronouncements. The main policy positions I’ve seen him espouse are (1) support for the Iraq war, (2) support for vouchers/opposition to everything about our current educational system, and (3) concern-trolling about Democratic budget deficits (for whatever reason, the Bush budget deficits were not problematic for him). These are, of course, all positions that Limbaugh takes too. Obviously, you all know how the Iraq war turned out, but it’s also worth noting that political opposition to a robust stimulus package has had dire consequences.
It’s nice to believe that if so-called reasonable people of good will got together and stopped listening to “extremists”, then everything would be well and good. It’s just not true. Plenty of completely and utterly disastrous policy decisions are supported by so-called reasonable people of good will.