'Limbaughism Sounds A Lot Like Leninism'?

March 3rd, 2009 2:04 PM

The religion site Beliefnet – now owned by Fox Entertainment Group – has a variety of bloggers, including a few conservatives. Rod Dreher drew some network attention last year for attacking Sarah Palin as an unserious choice for vice president. On Sunday, Dreher started lobbing bombs at Rush Limbaugh and his fans. He titled his article "CPAC: White kids on dope," with the subheadline "Ah, to be an anthropologist at CPAC, where the kids was smokin' th' political crack." Dreher was very unhappy that a boisterous crowd cheered Limbaugh’s message to the conference, and saw some kind of creepy censorship emerging when Limbaugh warned: "beware of those different factions who seek as part of their attempt to redefine conservatism, as making sure the liberals like us, making sure that the media likes us. They never will, as long as we remain conservatives." Out of that, Dreher wildly swung at Limbaugh’s head:

Anybody who challenges Limbavian orthodoxy is, ipso facto, the Enemy. If you suggest reform, even from the Right, you are a useful idiot for the Media, which are the Enemy, and can never be anything but the Enemy. Limbaughism sounds a lot like Leninism.

The transcript of Rush's speech is here. Dreher concluded with the same thought:

I should say that there's something to like in the Limbaugh speech; I share a degree of his skepticism over the expanding role of the state in American life under Obama, and his confidence that the greater responsibility for our own condition lies in individual and private-sector initiative. But good grief, is this what constitutes popular conservatism in 2009? This ideologically-driven right-wing Rousseauism, with Leninist overtones about the Enemies of the People? If so, then count me as an Enemy, because I want nothing to do with it, as I recognize it as simply a crudely politicized form of philosophical liberalism.

For a reply, consider Jonah Goldberg's withering critique of Dreher's "crunchy conservatism," even calling it "Rousseau in a Russell Kirk mask."

On Beliefnet, Rod could tut-tut at Limbaugh for making jokes about how Larry King went to Heaven and was disturbed to find a large room with a neon sign of Rush Limbaugh, with the punchline, "This is God's room. He just thinks he's Rush Limbaugh." But he seems more defensive about the liberal media elite than he is about the Almighty. (Beliefnet's founder is Steven Waldman, a liberal Newsweek and Clinton White House vet.)

The article began with disgust that Tucker Carlson was booed at CPAC for suggesting The New York Times was careful about fact-finding (ahem, Jayson Blair? The Vicki Iseman story?):

Verily, that's the way to bring the party back: blame the media. I talked to a conservative the other day who assured me that Obama’s success is entirely a creation of the lying biased media, which tricked people into voting for him. The unpopularity of Republican policies has nothing to do with it. [Emphasis by the author.]

This straw man – that conservatives who decry The New York Times believe that Obama’s success is entirely a media creation – was the lead-in to his attack on Limbaugh. He can’t abide the idea that the media certainly "tricked" voters if they suggested Obama would be a cultural moderate or a fiscal conservative. Dreher also missed the point that by nominating John McCain, Republicans tried to please the media by picking someone they thought the media wouldn’t malign, and they found out that strategy certainly did not work.

Another Limbaugh-bashing conservative – on a lesser scale – was David Frum, whose offense was merely suggesting that Limbaugh was ruining the country and the conservative movement for his own narrow self-interest:

With his private plane and his cigars, his history of drug dependency and his personal bulk, not to mention his tangled marital history, Rush is a walking stereotype of self-indulgence – exactly the image that Barack Obama most wants to affix to our philosophy and our party. And we’re cooperating! Those images of crowds of CPACers cheering Rush’s every rancorous word – we’ll be seeing them rebroadcast for a long time.

Rush knows what he is doing. The worse conservatives do, the more important Rush becomes as leader of the ardent remnant. The better conservatives succeed, the more we become a broad national governing coalition, the more Rush will be sidelined.