Everyone is talking about David Frum’s “Waterloo” piece today. I’d like to highlight the part that I find most interesting (and agree with most):
I’ve been on a soapbox for months now about the harm that our overheated talk is doing to us. Yes it mobilizes supporters – but by mobilizing them with hysterical accusations and pseudo-information, overheated talk has made it impossible for representatives to represent and elected leaders to lead. The real leaders are on TV and radio, and they have very different imperatives from people in government. Talk radio thrives on confrontation and recrimination. When Rush Limbaugh said that he wanted President Obama to fail, he was intelligently explaining his own interests. What he omitted to say – but what is equally true – is that he also wants Republicans to fail. If Republicans succeed – if they govern successfully in office and negotiate attractive compromises out of office – Rush’s listeners get less angry. And if they are less angry, they listen to the radio less, and hear fewer ads for Sleepnumber beds.
So today’s defeat for free-market economics and Republican values is a huge win for the conservative entertainment industry. Their listeners and viewers will now be even more enraged, even more frustrated, even more disappointed in everybody except the responsibility-free talkers on television and radio. For them, it’s mission accomplished. For the cause they purport to represent, it’s Waterloo all right: ours
I was on the road last week and it seemed like everywhere I went (the breakfast bar at the Quality Inn, the Moe’s Burritos, to use exact Brooksian detail), Fox News was on. There’s no question that it’s GOPTV; sure there is some actual reporting, but it’s mostly Republican propaganda. I know the ratings aren’t that high but it’s a ubiquitous part of American life now.
Fox and Rush are bigger than the Republican party. The idea that Republicans can somehow break away and start acting independently is silly. I like David Frum’s blog and I think his analysis is dead-on, but his project of de-Foxifying the Republican party is hopeless.
Bobo and Frum and the rest need to look themselves in the mirror and say: I belong to the Fox News party. That’s the first step.