There’s A Neil Peart Joke Here, Somewhere

There are Rush jokes and there are Rush jokes. And there’s the blogosphere talking about Rush, which happens regularly.

We’ll start with an old P.J. O’Rourke article, from the Atlantic. It is the theme of the day, linking to old Atlantic articles.

Commenting on the Corner about the Wanda/Rush controversy, Jerry Taylor:

The administration hopes that it can convince the public that these guys are the leaders of the GOP at the moment. Since these guys are thought to be relatively unpopular with non-movement Americans, this holds all sorts of political promise.

Jonathan Chait takes issue:

I love the delicate formulation of the last sentence: Guys like Limbaugh are thought to be relatively unpopular with non-movement Americans. In fact, they’re known to be extremely unpopular with Americans as a whole. Limbaugh has a 19 percent favorable rating (versus 40 percent unfavorable), including 14 percent favorability among independents and 7 percent among Democrats. That doesn’t make Limbaugh bad, but it does make him unpopular. This sort of casual abuse of language can tell you a lot about the state of a movement.

Steve Benen also argues with Taylor.

Taylor responds:

Chait and Benen really ought to cut back on the coffee. While I suspected that Limbaugh’s popularity rating was as low as CBS reports it to be, I did not know that for a fact and didn’t care enough to dig into it. Reading denial of that CBS-reported reality into my post is to read too much into my thoughts on Limbaugh and Hannity.

But since they brought it up . . . I am no fan of either. While I will admit to not listening to their shows, the snippets that I have caught over the years have irritated. One can agree with a majority of their vision regarding what constitutes good public policy and who is worthy of my vote while being annoyed by the manner in which their arguments are being made and chagrined by the dubious logic and dodgy evidence being forwarded to buttress their arguments. One can also be driven to frustration by the seemingly endless parade of political red herrings and conspiracy-minded nonsense that I have heard both of them traffic in.

Thus a thousand Corner posts were launched.

Kathryn Jean Lopez

Popularity ratings are all fine and good, but more people hear what Rush has to say than know what the Cato Institute (or The Corner, alas!) is saying today. Rush and Sean are incredible assets for the conservative movement. And conservatives ought to appreciate and even celebrate that.

You might not agree with everything. You might do it differently. But I think our time is better spent each doing our part rather than shooting at those who are doing theirs — and successfully.

Another post from K-Lo.

K-Lo posts an e-mail.

Taylor responds.

Mark Steyn weighs in:

Rush has been on the air three hours a day, 15 hours a week for 20 years. If he’d left that many hostages to fortune in all those thousands of tapes, you’d think Jerry Taylor could find something a little more substantial to link to than a feeble New York Times story that isn’t about talk radio at all. Is this the level of research required for a Cato Institute study? C’mon, man, surely you could at least link to a George Soros-funded “Media Matters” laundry list of outrageous if ellipsis-heavy quotations (or “ransom-note racism,” as it’s known in the trade).

K-Lo again:

We seem to have this conversation in The Corner every few months. Wearing “I don’t listen” creds on the Right is not original to you, Jerry. We can all be better, everyday. And more than that. But the “better talk radio” you say you want is on the air already. Criticize and quibble where you want and certainly where it is warranted, but please don’t join the conventional chorus. Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity can take it— they do, in fact, take it — but they deserve better. Rush Limbaugh has been bringing the message of freedom and American exceptionalism to Americans for over 20 years now, most weekdays, for three hours a day. He deserves a little thanks. And he certainly deserves to be listened to before attacked by natural allies.

K-Lo yet again, on the nature of The Corner.

Steyn argues with K-Lo.

Chait was watching the conversation at The Corner. So was Conor Friedersdorf:

Obviously, I dispute Ms. Lopez’s assertion that Messieurs Limbaugh and Hannity are incredible assets for the conservative movement—a proposition for which evidence is never cited. Is there any? It seems to me that as these figures rose to prominence, the conservative movement declined to its lowest ebb since Barry Goldwater, and the nomination of John McCain, the man Rush Limbaugh least wanted to win the GOP nomination, ought to cause conservatives to ponder whether the radio host is as powerful as they think he is. Sometimes I feel as though Limbaugh is the right’s version of the Hollywood celebrity fallacy — oh, that person has such a large following, they must be influential among the American people generally, and we’re so lucky to have them on our side!

Ms. Lopez concludes by writing that “our time is better spent each doing our part rather than shooting at those who are doing theirs — and successfully.” This is a restatement of Ronald Reagan’s dictum to never criticize another Republican (never mind that The Gipper didn’t actually follow his own commandment). I often wonder, when this is invoked by Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity fans in defense of those men, why they never object to criticism of conservatives when it is Mike Huckabee or Ron Paul or John McCain or Colin Powell or David Frum or David Brooks or Ross Douthat or David Dreier or John Boehner being criticized. There is a strange phenomenon on the right whereby it is okay for certain Republicans to be criticized for what amounts to being heretics, whereas it is verboten to criticize other conservatives, because people on the right aren’t supposed to snipe at members of their own team. I’d oppose rules like that in any circumstance, but they might make internal sense were consistent characteristics used to determine ideological purity. In fact, one gets to be a conservative who must not be criticized based on some weird standard I cannot figure out, except to say that Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney and George W. Bush are all occasionally invoked as guys beyond criticism from fellow right-wingers, so multiple divorces, the idea that the executive possesses unchecked power in wartime, torture, warrantless wiretapping, atrocious immigration proposals and wild deficit spending are apparently not disqualifying factors.

I don’t get it.

Obviously, what this situation needs is more Neil Peart:

EARLIER: Forgot To Bring The Funny

UPDATE #1: See the Julian Sanchez piece in the comments or via the link.

Still more posts from the Corner


Taylor responds to all:

To dismiss a book by its cover is silly. To dismiss an argument because you don’t like its source is a logical fallacy (ad hominem to be specific). The brain will atrophy if you habitually shut off your neurons when people you don’t like open their mouths. I’m sure we wouldn’t want non-conservatives to dismiss any argument found in NR simply because they don’t like the people writing for the magazine or because it’s an organ for an ideology they don’t trust. I’m also guessing we would think less of people who do that.

I will not deny that there are a lot of positive things said on Rush Limbaugh’s show. My inbox is full of messages, for instance, about how this or that person first heard about books like Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom on that program. Hence, I am not hoping that Limbaugh’s kidneys fail or that he be waterboarded for his crimes against humanity. I am arguing, however, that the arguments for the ideas forwarded on these shows are too often unworthy of the ideas being forwarded.

Kathryn ends with a plea that “I’d just like to move on and continue that fight for all that is good and right and just. Hitting Rush and Sean isn’t.” But when Limbaugh and/or Hannity argue in a manner that is not “good and right and just” (for instance, when Sean Hannity gives airtime without a discouraging word to someone who claims that Barack Obama is an deep-plant agent for Islamic terrorism), then at least backing away slowly is well worth doing.

K-Lo responds to Taylor.

Rich Lowry steps in.

K-Lo again:

I don’t have a problem with Jerry or anyone else criticizing points worth criticizing — no one is above criticism. But I do think that it is a mistake to dismiss Rush Limbaugh’s influence or to not appreciate that he is penetrating the culture in a way most of us toiling in various niches of the Right can only imagine. He’s an amazing success, a hard worker, a generous talent, and an ally to anyone who believes in things like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

UPDATE #2: Jerry Taylor made Kevin Drum‘s quote of the day.

UPDATE #3: Matt Y. does exactly what we did here. His takeaway:

Conor Friedersdorf has a good response on the merits, but I just find the whole thing kind of mind-boggling. Rush’s defenders understand, I hope, that painting Rush as the all-powerful lord of conservatism before whom all else must submit was, in its origins, a political strategy devised by their enemies, right? So why are they jumping so quickly to prove that the argument is dead-on?

Jason Zengerle on K-Lo’s post on polling.

UPDATE #4: Steve Benen

David Frum concurs with Matt Y. A rarer sentance has never been typed.

UPDATE #5: Chris Orr and Jonathan Chait applaud Conor.

UPDATE #6: Rod Dreher

UPDATE #7: Chris Orr does our job for us, too. Hey, we already have all the links! Orr:

I encourage anyone with the time and interest to follow the links, as there was far too much to quote directly. And if any friends of Jerry Taylor happen to read this post, I’d recommend giving him a call to ensure that he’s okay and still able to pick up the phone.

UPDATE #8: Andrew Sullivan adds his thoughts.

John Schwenkler, who provides a link to the John Derbyshire article in TAC on talk radio.

Michael C. Moynihan in Reason

UPDATE #9: Will at the League

UPDATE #10: More from David Frum

UPDATE #11: Rod Dreher invents a new word and John Schwenkler laments.

UPDATE #12: Chris Orr on Dreher’s invention:

I’m all for this enrichment of the English language. (Obviously.) Dreher suggests that former McCain (and Huntsman) adviser John Weaver may be due for a little jerrytayloring for having the temerity to state that “If it’s 2012 and our party is defined by Palin and Limbaugh and Cheney, then we’re headed for a blowout.”

UPDATE #13: Brink Lindsey and David Frum at Bloggingheads

Brink Lindsey



Filed under Conservative Movement, Political Figures

4 responses to “There’s A Neil Peart Joke Here, Somewhere

  1. Pingback: We Lose Money On Each Unit, But Make It Up Through Volume

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  3. Pingback: What We’ve Built Today « Around The Sphere

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