Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Limbaugh, Hannity credibility-challenged after W years

By Rick Morris

After more than 20 years of national syndication and a prime commonly regarded to have come and gone during a period of opposition to the Clinton Administration, Rush Limbaugh is once again the hottest broadcaster in America due to his active feud with the new Obama crew. Surely, this is proof, if proof were yet needed, that what is good for El Rushbo ain't necessarily good for those he claims to represent.

Sandwiched in between Limbaugh's battle against President Bubba and his current clash with Obama were eight years of completely sycophantic shilling for George W. Squish -- and the same is true of America's biggest Rush-wannabe, Sean Hannity. Way before Barack Obama took up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, George Bush was spending like a drunken sailor, backing ill-defined and ill-administered federal bailouts and tainting the political image of sound public policy with his watered-down, wimpy "compassionate conservatism." By creating a climate where a cypher like Obama could succeed, George Bush largely created him. Indeed, inasmuch as FDR did not invent his wild ideas, but took Herbert Hoover's government intervention several steps further, Bush may go down in history as the man who directly laid the groundwork for Obama based on his own practice of government intervention. And as John Derbyshire notes in Pat Buchanan's great paleoconservative journal The American Conservative, Rush and Sean were brown-nosing through it all. As Derbyshire further points out, there are far too few intellectually honest talk show (and really entertaining) hosts like Glenn Beck -- and virtually none who are interested in explaining to people the advantages of Austrian economics.

Clearly, Limbaugh, Hannity and their ilk (including Mike Gallagher) are mere political hacks, Republicans and opportunists first. This is why I am so troubled that conservatives are flocking to them, especially Limbaugh, and playing into the White House's hands by creating a national Obama vs. Limbaugh debate. Given every advantage, fair and unfair, that the president has at his disposal, this is a losing fight -- and the hard-nosed among us know that tactics are every bit as important as principle. It's not enough merely to have the right ideas, it's equally important to have the commitment to use them properly -- and at a time when Republicans in D.C. are virtually powerless anyway, cultivating an image as blind obstructionists is woefully counterproductive no matter how drunk on your own self-satisfaction it makes you.

If, as Limbaugh claims, conservative ideas are what are most important, let them stand as the symbol of opposition to the ObamaJunta, not some bloated gasbag who takes different stands depending on who's in the White House. Because my warning is heartfelt, I am saddened by the fact that it will be dismissed out of hand by so many on the right who I admire -- including, I predict, some of my fellow FDH Lounge Dignitaries. They are falling into a trap by letting the White House create a disastrous one-on-one battle with a man the American people know to be a phony based on his conduct over the last eight years. New faces, untainted by the debacle that George Bush inflicted on American conservatism, are the only ones fit to make the case for an alternative to Obama. But given the fact that so many on the right have yet to even come to grips with the legacy of Bush (he was largely ignored at the CPAC conference in Washington, instead of being recognized as an anchor that would have to be removed from around the proverbial neck), I fear that the conservative movement -- like the economy -- is still nowhere near the bottom.

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