My post yesterday about why the Obama-ites are going after Limbaugh and Hannity prompted this from Jonathan Chait at The New Republic (thoughts subsequently echoed by Steve Benen over at The Washington Monthly):
Cato Institute Senior Fellow Jerry Taylor has a post on the Corner that’s another great window into the style of conservative movement thought:
There’s nothing strange or mysterious, Victor, about President Obama’s political assaults on Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and other radio voices on the Right. The administration hopes that it can convince the public that these guys are the leaders of the GOP at the moment. Since these guys are thought to be relatively unpopular with non-movement Americans, this holds all sorts of political promise.
I love the delicate formulation of the last sentence: Guys like Limbaugh are thought to be relatively unpopular with non-movement Americans. In fact, they’re known to be extremely unpopular with Americans as a whole. Limbaugh has a 19 percent favorable rating (versus 40 percent unfavorable), including 14 percent favorability among independents and 7 percent among Democrats. That doesn’t make Limbaugh bad, but it does make him unpopular. This sort of casual abuse of language can tell you a lot about the state of a movement.
Chait and Benen really ought to cut back on the coffee. While I suspected that Limbaugh’s popularity rating was as low as CBS reports it to be, I did not know that for a fact and didn’t care enough to dig into it. Reading denial of that CBS-reported reality into my post is to read too much into my thoughts on Limbaugh and Hannity.
But since they brought it up . . . I am no fan of either. While I will admit to not listening to their shows, the snippets that I have caught over the years have irritated. One can agree with a majority of their vision regarding what constitutes good public policy and who is worthy of my vote while being annoyed by the manner in which their arguments are being made and chagrined by the dubious logic and dodgy evidence being forwarded to buttress their arguments. One can also be driven to frustration by the seemingly endless parade of political red herrings and conspiracy-minded nonsense that I have heard both of them traffic in.
I am certain that charges of “elitist!” will flood my inbox over this. But do either of these guys actually convince anyone (elitist or not) outside of the choir? Limbaugh’s popularity numbers suggest not (are any available for Hannity?). I think P. J. O’Rourke gets it right on this matter.