Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Peter Daou is just plain wrong about this:

Why on Earth Are Democrats Legitimizing and Empowering Rush Limbaugh?

... Limbaugh and his cohorts (Coulter, Hannity, Beck, Savage, and so on), are largely responsible for our toxic political environment. Given major media platforms to launch crude and brutal political and cultural attacks, to demonize liberals, and to use rage as a means of lining their own pockets, these 'entertainers' have poisoned our national discourse.

There's precious little benefit in making Limbaugh more of a central player, in engaging him directly from the White House podium, in raising his stature, in stamping, sealing and approving the years he's spent bashing his political opponents....

It's simply bizarre that the guy who started Salon's old Blog Report (which was once called the Daou Report) would say something like this. So much of what we bloggers were doing when Daou was aggregating our posts was to expose the toxic things being said by right-wingers, including Limbaugh and the others he names.

Why was this worth doing? Because, prior to the rise of lefty blogs and Media Matters and Think Progress and, eventually, Stewart and Colbert and then Olbermann and Maddow, hardly anyone was paying attention to the toxic things these people said except people who approved of them. The mainstream press wasn't paying attention. Most non-right-wingers weren't paying attention.

These people were saying vile things -- but most of the people who would have thought the utterances were vile didn't know that. Therefore, much of America just had a vague sense that Limbaugh et al. were "irreverent" and "politically correct" -- not nasty and poisonous.

Daou writes:

I know it's hard for Democrats to appreciate how quickly political fortunes turn -- the glow of victory, the high of electoral success gives a sense of inevitability and invincibility, of permanence. But there's nothing permanent about power. The tide will turn again, and the engine that will drive it is the fury stirred by the likes of Limbaugh.

Yes, but he has the cause and effect exactly backwards. Limbaugh and his ilk helped drive Republicans to power when nobody was listening to them but Republicans. Democrats began regaining power around the time Limbaugh et al. began to get wider exposure.

And I don't agree with this, either:

There was a moment, a brief moment, after Barack Obama was elected president, a moment long gone, where the likes of Limbaugh and Hannity could have become marginalized, bit players rather than media movers and shakers, the detritus of a sorry era.

There was never a chance of that -- I don't know why anyone ever thought so. There is a wingnut minority in this country, consisting of people who have never for one second stopped believing that they have a monopoly on truth and patriotism, and who seem incapable of self-doubt or self-examination -- of course they were going to rally around their most egocentric blowhards after the votes were counted. Did Daou think the Fox Fans and the Palinmaniacs were just going to go away?

(It's not just Daou; I have to chide Keith Olbermann, although he's done yeoman work exposing "comedian Rush Limbaugh" and the others, for this premature victory celebration just after the election.)

Daou writes:

It's easy to feel like the old era is gone, the old demons slain, that we WON, that nobody's afraid of the once-vaunted Republican attack machine.

That's not how I feel -- and I bet that's not how the White House feels. This is about reducing the power of Limbaugh and the rest. Exposing Limbaugh means exposing him to those who won't say "Ditto!" -- which means those who'll throw off his rhythm and expose him to a kind of scrutiny he's never learned how to handle. It means tempting him to double down on crazy, because that's what's always pleased his base -- except that now non-baseheads are listening. It means exposing him, as real comedians would say, to a tough crowd, the first one he's dealt with in a generation.

White House, go for it.

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