David Brooks Attacks Conservative 'Talk Jocks'

If you want to become a house "conservative" for the New York Times, the prime rule is that you must treat Rush Limbaugh as well as other talk radio conservatives with utter disdain. In fact it is pretty much a job requirement at the Times as the other house "conservative" there, the conspicuously inconspicuous Ross (Whothat?) Douthat, knows full well when he slammed Limbaugh at the Atlantic magazine a few months before enduring obscurity at the Gray Whale.

The main house "conservative" at the Times, David Brooks, took time from from his "bromantic" stares at Barack Obama's finely creased pant leg, to slam Limbaugh today:

Let us take a trip back into history. Not ancient history. Recent history. It is the winter of 2007. The presidential primaries are approaching. The talk jocks like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and the rest are over the moon about Fred Thompson. They’re weak at the knees at the thought of Mitt Romney. Meanwhile, they are hurling torrents of abuse at the unreliable deviationists: John McCain and Mike Huckabee.

Note the utter disdain by the "civilized" Brooks: "talk jocks." And who does Brooks think is intellectually worthy to pontificate on politics? Why David Brooks himself as he "humbly" explained to Gabriel Sherman of the New Republic while cooing bromantically over Obama:

“I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging,” Brooks recently told me, “but usually when I talk to senators, while they may know a policy area better than me, they generally don’t know political philosophy better than me. I got the sense he knew both better than me.”

Got that? Except for The One, Brooks believes he knows political philosophy better than anyone out there. With that attitude, it is no wonder he has a tremendous chip on his shoulder when it comes to writing about "talk jocks."Although Brooks thinks he excels at political philosophy, his knowledge of political history "flops like a fish."

Yet somehow, despite the fervor of the great microphone giants, the Thompson campaign flops like a fish. Despite the schoolgirl delight from the radio studios, the Romney campaign underperforms.

Could Thompson flopping like a fish have resulted from the fact that he started late and didn't seem to have the enthusiasm to endure a long campaign? Brooks leaves out that piece of political history in his analysis. Also note that Rush Limbaugh never endorsed any candidate, including Romney, in the primaries.

Brooks continues his attempts to rewrite history in order to slam conservative "talk jocks."

...Over the past few years the talk jocks have demonstrated their real-world weakness time and again. Back in 2006, they threatened to build a new majority on anti-immigration fervor. House Republicans like J.D. Hayworth and Randy Graf, both of Arizona, built their re-election campaigns under that banner. But these two didn’t march to glory. Both lost their seats.

Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't the Shamnesty bill fail in 2007? And weren't the conservative "talk jocks" credited for a large part of its failure?

Brooks continues his rewrite of recent history to bolster his theory that Limbaugh is somehow insignificant:

In 2008, after McCain had won his nomination, Limbaugh turned his attention to the Democratic race. He commanded his followers to vote in the Democratic primaries for Hillary Clinton because “we need Barack Obama bloodied up politically.” Todd Donovan of Western Washington University has looked at data from 38 states and could find no strong evidence that significant numbers of people actually did what Limbaugh commanded. Rush blared the trumpets, but few of his Dittoheads advanced.

No strong evidence? What about the fact that Obama was forced to battle it out with Hillary for months after he supposedly had the nomination locked up in February? Perhaps he has some explanation other than Operation Chaos for this unusual event.

Remember how ObamaCare was supposed to have been passed before the August congressional recess?  Townhall meetings and public resistance changed all that. Many have blamed conservative talk show hosts for this but not David Brooks who continues to maintain the fantasy that Limbaugh and the other "talk jocks" have no real effectiveness:

Over the years, I have asked many politicians what happens when Limbaugh and his colleagues attack. The story is always the same. Hundreds of calls come in. The receptionists are miserable. But the numbers back home do not move. There is no effect on the favorability rating or the re-election prospects. In the media world, he is a giant. In the real world, he’s not.

So why is the White House so obsessed with both Limbaugh and Glenn Beck? Perhaps Brooks should ask the object of his bromantic feelings for the answer.

Brooks concludes by trying to assure us a bit too strenuously that conservative talk show hosts are really ineffective:

But this is not merely a story of weakness. It is a story of resilience. For no matter how often their hollowness is exposed, the jocks still reweave the myth of their own power. They still ride the airwaves claiming to speak for millions. They still confuse listeners with voters. And they are aided in this endeavor by their enablers. They are enabled by cynical Democrats, who love to claim that Rush Limbaugh controls the G.O.P. They are enabled by lazy pundits who find it easier to argue with showmen than with people whose opinions are based on knowledge. They are enabled by the slightly educated snobs who believe that Glenn Beck really is the voice of Middle America.

So the myth returns. Just months after the election and the humiliation, everyone is again convinced that Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity and the rest possess real power. And the saddest thing is that even Republican politicians come to believe it. They mistake media for reality. They pre-emptively surrender to armies that don’t exist.

They pay more attention to Rush’s imaginary millions than to the real voters down the street. The Republican Party is unpopular because it’s more interested in pleasing Rush’s ghosts than actual people. The party is leaderless right now because nobody has the guts to step outside the rigid parameters enforced by the radio jocks and create a new party identity. The party is losing because it has adopted a radio entertainer’s niche-building strategy, while abandoning the politician’s coalition-building strategy.

The rise of Beck, Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and the rest has correlated almost perfectly with the decline of the G.O.P. But it’s not because the talk jocks have real power. It’s because they have illusory power, because Republicans hear the media mythology and fall for it every time. 

Of course this antagonism on the part of Brooks is not surprising from someone completely enamored with Obama. And who else does Brooks admire? We certainly know it is none of the "talk jocks" for whom Brooks is liberal with his sneers. It is none other than Obama's senior adviser, David Axelrod:

"I followed his career because he was who I wanted to be. He was a hero.”

So the next time Obama, Axelrod, or any of the other liberals whine about how the "talk jocks" are ruining their agenda, I guess we can just show them this David Brooks column to convince them that their effectiveness is merely "illusory." 

Oh, and what is Van Jones doing nowadays, David?

P.J. Gladnick
P.J. Gladnick
P.J. Gladnick is a freelance writer and creator of the DUmmie FUnnies blog.