Brooks, On Rush & Co.

David Brooks is the oft right-leaning, and sometimes actually conservative, journalistic sore thumb which sticks out at the decidedly leftist rag The New York Times.

In his October 2 article, “The Wizard of Beck,” he reaches some of the same conclusions this web log did in a recent post called “Civil Service.” Chief among them: loud-mouthed, red faced “radio jocks” like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Bill O’Reilly are prolific fonts of sound and fury but, ultimately, signify nothing. They push reactionary positions which are neither realistic nor productive, and which often are hardly conservative at all. In general, they’re long on noise and short on ideas. Perhaps it’s telling that none of these radio pundits has ever held, or even run for, public office. They prefer the comfort of criticism removed from responsibility. As Mr. Brooks puts it:

“It is a story of remarkable volume and utter weakness. It is the story of media mavens who claim to represent a hidden majority but who in fact represent a mere niche — even in the Republican Party. It is a story as old as “The Wizard of Oz,” of grand illusions and small men behind the curtain.”

Which begs two questions. The first is, how long will rational, conservative voters abide these men? The second: has The New York Times been scouring this web log for inspiration?

Sound and (chubby) fury.

Sound and (chubby) fury.

Addendum:

Mr. Limbaugh has responded to the criticism in an e-mail to web log Politico, asking, “How many Americans know who David Brooks is?” Which is a shame, and an insult: Limbaugh’s answer to Brooks’ article isn’t a response to the critical points at all, or even a logical defense. It’s misleading rhetoric, and it implies that not many Americans are literate enough to stay abreast of one of our country’s oldest and most respected, albeit decidedly liberal, news publications.

Limbaugh, in one sentence, managed to illustrate perfectly the potentially fatal schism the GOP faces: the split between David Brooks, Bill Buckley, and the educated, intelligent conservative… and the hateful, obtuse, and ignorant wretch who trusts in Rush. In short, the split between The Wall Street Journal and the Klan’s monthly mailer.

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2 Responses to Brooks, On Rush & Co.

  1. Erick says:

    I wouldn’t pat yourself on the back so hard for being an “educated, intelligent, conservative[sic] . . . ” There actually might be quite a few of those in Limbaugh’s audience – it’s what, 16 million or so?

    The silly ad hominems (“chubby” – relevant how?) and vitriol against those with whom you disagree (e.g., “hateful, obtuse, and ignorant wretch”) probably make you sound just as dyspeptic, hateful, and irrational.

    Finally, your statement that Limbaugh’s response to Brooks makes some implication about the literacy level of Americans is more than a stretch on your part.

    I have several graduate degrees, read quite a bit, seem to be somewhat above average intelligence, but seldom read the NY Times or Brooks. You are correct – Limbaugh’s comment did not address the gravamen of Brook’s assertions, but it did not imply anything other than the fact that most Americans – even most literate Americans – have never heard of the guy.

    You need to calm down, gain some composure (a little humility wouldn’t hurt either), and stop analogizing a portion of Limbaugh’s listeners to Klan members – it’s not productive or smart.

    P.S. Since when has it been a requirement that one run for political office to be a pundit or social/political commentator? Buckley spent a lifetime criticizing government/society/culture and only ran for office once as an admitted lark.

  2. Andrew Eastman says:

    Erick:

    Thanks for your time and comments.

    Rush’s audience may well be about 16 million.

    Right now, the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 57.7 million Americans suffer from a mental disorder.

    Putting a lot of people into a statistical group doesn’t always mean it’s a good group to be part of.

    As for political office being a requisite to punditry, it’s not… but it lends authority. I wouldn’t claim authority on behalf of Buckley either, but it’s less of an issue because he didn’t insist on having exclusive dominion over it as loudly as Rush does.

    I’ll give you an example: There are three men talking about football. One is a professional coach with a Super Bowl ring. The other isn’t a player or coach, but he watches every game and he adds his opinion as an amateur politely. The third has also never played or coached, but he speaks as loudly and rudely as if he, too, wore a Super Bowl ring. I’ll listen to the first two; not the third.

    As for Rush’s comments on Brooks, I disagree that they didn’t imply anything beyond their own words. They implied Brooks is less important than Rush because he’s less well-known. It’s an ad hominem attack which goes to Brooks’ character (he also called Brooks “jealous”), not any point he made, and completely skirts the issues raised. And it robs either audience of a chance for real debate about a real issue: whether such sound and fury as conservative radio hosts promote is productive, or whether it’s dividing Republicans into two sub-parties. As another old Republican said, “A house divided against itself…”

    As for your several graduate degrees, congratulations. Buckley himself graduated Yale but never did any post-grad work. He was a CIA officer, though.

    Of course, education isn’t everything. Rush dropped out of Southeast Missouri State University after one year.

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