vendredi, mars 13, 2009

A Gadarene Rush?

I clipped this from a front page story in a liberal magazine--written by a prominent conservative who has been a sharp critic of Limbaugh. The conservative, David Frum, is already being reviled as a turncoat, and, hmm...words I can't print on a family blog.

Forty-one percent of independents have an unfavorable opinion of him, according to the new NEWSWEEK Poll. Limbaugh is especially off-putting to women: his audience is 72 percent male, according to Pew Research. Limbaugh himself acknowledges his unpopularity among women. On his Feb. 24 broadcast, he said with a chuckle: "Thirty-one-point gender gaps don't come along all that often … Given this massive gender gap in my personal approval numbers … it seems reasonable for me to convene a summit."

Let me state up front that I'm one of that 72 percent of women who doesn't have time for Rush. But I don't have time for Bill Maher, or Rachel Maddow. Who needs the rants? How are they helping us get out of the mess we are in? We don't need anyone else to foment hate or division, or self-righteousness.

If the Republicans were in better shape as a party, the attempt to pin Rush to their masthead would be seen as the cheap trick is it--not that the Republicans haven't done pretty much the same thing in the past.

That being said, I get a certain amount of comfort from reflecting that egotists like Limbaught and Maher fit in a long American tradition of idiosyncratic figures with an eye to the camera and a flair for populist rhetoric. Remember the names of Huey Long and Fr. Charles Coughlin? I didn't until I ran across them in the DQ's social studies textbook. As in the 1930's, we are in a moment when appeals to populism and to angry white men will find eager audiences.

But to give the Mahers and the Limbaughs more importance than that of spokesmen for pissed off liberals and rightwingers is to dignify the tactics of division.

In other times, when we are not teetering on the edge, the blowhard posturing might seem laughable. After all these guys are clowns.

Yet in a world where we are all linked in one way or another, for better and for worse, their provoking word rile up a base which never really needs much excuse to get angry.

As for the rest of us...perhaps laughter is our only hope.

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