I first heard Rush Limbaugh on the radio in 1988 when I was still living in College Station. He immediately reminded me of the loud-mouthed TV demogogue Morton Downey Jr.
From the very first time I heard him until this day, my impression has not changed. He is the epitome of the schoolyard bully. He is like the kid who tries to build himself up by picking on and beating up the weakest, most unpopular kids in school. And the legions of “dittoheads” who listen faithfully to Rush everyday? They are like the kids who would stand around squealing and cheering everytime the bully would start attacking some other kid.
Rush Limbaugh and his army of clones have always been like this. They may cast themselves as the outsiders and the defenders of the little guy, but they are in truth on the side of the rich and the powerful and the well connected. Just look at Limbaugh’s political agenda and how it stacks up to the army of lobbyists in Washington, D.C. The most powerful lobby groups in D.C. - The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the NRA, the AIPAC; the largest and best funded think tanks - Heritage Foundation, AEI, Cato Institute.... None of these groups ever have much conflict with Limbaugh. He supports their agenda and promotes their positions.
The groups that receive Limbaugh’s wrath and ridicule are the least popular, least powerful groups that are most often marginalized in Washington. These include minorities, the poor, gays, feminists, immigrants, environmentalists and just about anyone who fails to fall in lockstep behind the conservative agenda.
Over the years, Limbaugh has come to dominate the Republican Party and much of the political discourse in this country. And in so doing, he has come up with a successful formula that has been copied and imitated by nearly everyone in the conservative movement - that is to make up for a poor defense by having a good offense.
The conservatives are currently weighed down with tired, old ideas that have been tried and failed (in some cases multiple times). So how is it that they can continue to tout these ideas and gain the support of the electorate?
Simple. They don’t even bother trying to defend or explain the rationale for the ideas. They just skip the defense and go straight to the offense by attacking the person or persons who leveled the criticism, thus changing the parameters of the debate.
Was there a story in the newspaper that exposed major flaws in Republican policies? It’s the “Liberal Media” trying to tear down the country once again! The Liberal Media can’t be trusted! The Liberal Media wants the terrorists to win! And so forth.
A deputy communication aide for President Obama stated the obvious fact last week that Fox News is essentially the propaganda arm of the Republican Party. Does Glenn Beck try and defend Fox News and demonstrate how it is really an objective (fair and balanced) news operation? Of course not! Instead, some of his flunkies dig up a speech that the communication aide made some time ago in which she quotes Mao Tse Tung. She’s a communist!, Beck shrieks. Nevermind that Republican GOP presidential nominee John McCain quoted Mao in speeches as well. The terms of the debate are now reset to where we talk about how horrible Mao was and not about Fox News and its bogus news gathering operation. Works like a charm everytime.