March 22nd, 2010
Frank talk about the interests of governance vs. conservative media in David Frum: Waterloo:
I’ve been on a soapbox for months now about the harm that our overheated talk is doing to us. Yes it mobilizes supporters – but by mobilizing them with hysterical accusations and pseudo-information, overheated talk has made it impossible for representatives to represent and elected leaders to lead. The real leaders are on TV and radio, and they have very different imperatives from people in government. Talk radio thrives on confrontation and recrimination. When Rush Limbaugh said that he wanted President Obama to fail, he was intelligently explaining his own interests. What he omitted to say – but what is equally true – is that he also wants Republicans to fail. If Republicans succeed – if they govern successfully in office and negotiate attractive compromises out of office – Rush’s listeners get less angry. And if they are less angry, they listen to the radio less, and hear fewer ads for Sleepnumber beds.
So today’s defeat for free-market economics and Republican values is a huge win for the conservative entertainment industry. Their listeners and viewers will now be even more enraged, even more frustrated, even more disappointed in everybody except the responsibility-free talkers on television and radio. For them, it’s mission accomplished. For the cause they purport to represent, it’s Waterloo all right: ours.
The article has some real smart realpolitik. It’s too bad the rest of the party couldn’t muster the will to execute on compromises to get something out of a popular idea–healthcare in the USA needs fixing. It’s time to start fixing it.
Regarding the tone and method of the conversation–the Great Republic of the United States of America is better served by better, smarter, more tolerant discourse.
It turns out extremism in the defense of liberty can be a vice, sometimes. (apologies to Barry Goldwater) (and actually, I quite like the full quote better than just the first part. The full quote from Goldwater is apparently:
I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!