In Defense of Talk Radio
By Phil Perkins
February 11, 2008
The knives are out lately for Rush Limbaugh and other conservative radio talkers because they dare to criticize presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain as a phony conservative. Funny that less than two years ago, Limbaugh was being pilloried for carrying the water for less than conservative Republican Congressional candidates. Sorry critics, but you can't have it both ways.
I don't always agree with Rush, but he is spot-on in his analysis of McCain. And why should he be anything less than honest about it? What he's pointing out is based on fact, not some nasty personal issue or vendetta as the media seem to indicate. The facts about McCain are clear: throughout his Senate career, especially in the last few years, he's been more concerned with burnishing his image as a "maverick" than in supporting traditional conservative positions. Whether it's campaign finance "reform," illegal immigration, or votes on judicial appointments, McCain has jumped into the fray on the wrong (i.e., Democrat) side. In so doing, he's proven time and again that his desire to be a glory-hound with his buddies in the "mainstream" media outweighs any sense of party loyalty.
As Limbaugh points out, it is conservatives who are being told to fall in line and support McCain regardless of his ongoing contempt for true conservatives, evangelicals in particular. It's just assumed that McCain need not worry about accommodating conservatives in any significant way, even though we form the base of his party. The critics' claim that Limbaugh's continuing criticisms of McCain will hurt McCain and enable a Clinton or Obama presidency is bogus on its face. The fact is, McCain continues, for whatever reasons, to garner primary victories regardless of what talk radio says about him. I'll let others tackle the whys of that one.
Conservative talk radio is not about being shills for the Republican Party. At its best, it's a truth-seeking missile about public figures from both major parties, and lets the chips fall where they may. Arguably, a real faux pas by a conservative talker was made when Sean Hannity buddied up with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Hannity justified overlooking Giuliani's liberal views on social issues by pointing out his tough-on-crime and terrorism stands. And he pointed out that despite Giuliani's pro-choice and pro-gay rights positions, he promised to choose strict Constitutionalists for the federal and Supreme courts. However, any way you slice it, there was a certain degree of denial in Hannity's support of Rudy. Now, the same media who criticized Hannity for supporting Giuliani, warts and all, are condemning Limbaugh and others for not getting behind McCain, warts and all.
If there's anything that draws people like me to Rush Limbaugh, it's that he articulates the conservative movement and others' reaction to it better than anyone these days. And he hits the nail on the head when he says that it is we conservatives who are always expected to "lighten up" and change. When is the last time a liberal pundit was told to "lighten up" and not be so stridently liberal? Can you imagine how Chris Mathews would respond to that? The whole notion that liberals would ever be pressured this way in today's PC environment is laughable.
Ironically enough, the same media who are now lambasting Limbaugh and other conservative talkers for criticizing McCain, will within a few months be doing the same thing. Once the Democrats have their candidate and the true race for the presidency is on, all the media fawning over McCain will dry up like dew on a hot July day. After all, in their eyes McCain is just another useful idiot who serves their purposes by being such an effective impediment to true conservatism.
As Rush Limbaugh will tell anyone who will listen, it's neither his job to tell his listeners how to vote nor to anoint a particular candidate, as his critics accuse him of doing. However, I think it is his job to tell us truths that the drive-by media simply will not. Those who are buying the lie that McCain is a real conservative are living in an Orwellian world and need to be told about the Senator's true record. To the extent that conservative talkers like Limbaugh can enlighten people with the truth about McCain, they exemplify talk radio's value to the nation.