Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lord Limbaugh

This story is quite telling (see also comments by Steve Benan and Think Progress), I should say. Apparently, even minor criticism by any Republican of Lord High Gasbag is an intolerable sin. So what happened was that GOP Congressman Phil Gingrey of Georgia expressed a mildly critical opinion of Rush Limbaugh. Indeed, calling Rep. Gingrey's opinion critical is a bit of a stretch. To quote the representative, here is what he said:
I think that our leadership, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, are taking the right approach. I mean, it’s easy if you’re Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or even sometimes Newt Gingrich to stand back and throw bricks. You don’t have to try to do what’s best for your people and your party. You know you’re just on these talk shows and you’re living well and plus you stir up a bit of controversy and gin the base and that sort of that thing. But when it comes to true leadership, not that these people couldn’t be or wouldn’t be good leaders, they’re not in that position of John Boehner or Mitch McConnell.
(See here for full article from which the quote was obtained). Well it would seem that these measured words were far too much for a large segment of Rush fans and they precipitated a large volume of angry calls, emails and letters to the Georgian representative. Within a day he offered a complete retraction and indeed appeared on-air to appologize for this criticism and retract his comments. These comments are pretty banal and yet they are too much for the Republican base to tolerate. This is the power that Rush now has on the Republican party. This is the face of the modern Republican party.

This is a good opportunity to mention the thing that I find most galling about Rush and about modern conservatism. Rush Limbaugh has made himself quite a wealthy man by making use the opportunities afforded by broadcast radio. Now broadcast radio is a medium that is completely dependent upon services provided by the federal government. Without the FCC guaranteeing that a give opporator will have sole use of a band of frequencies, it would not be possible to have a broadcast network. Interference would be rampant and would make the medium useless for anything more than the most local communication. Nothing like our modern networks could exist. Were Rush left to try and make his money by renting out a theater and doing his schtick to a ticket buying audience, he would not be quite so wealthy. Indeed, one of the things that most terrifies the right wing today is the phantom menace of the Democrats restoring the fairness doctrine. In spite of the paucity of evidence indicating that Democrats have any intention of doing such a thing (see here for info on the issue), Rush is frequently going on about how his business will be completely destroyed if the Federal government should reduce his guaranteed sole use of his portion of the frequency spectrum from the current 100% all the way down to 95% of the time. His dependancy on this federal service is, by his own admission, this great.

This, in itself, is fine except that Rush then spends three hours a day complaining, effectively, that he doesn't get this for free. In fact his basic complaint is that if only we did not provide any services for poor people then we could provide the FCC protections to him for free. This then is the essence of Rush Limbaugh and the modern Republican party and modern conservatism, the principaled demand for free services for themselves while simultaneously demanding that no such free services be provided to others.

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