October 18, 2006

LIMBAUGH IS AT IT AGAIN, and once again, I missed it. Rob Sama heard it, though his account is a bit harsher than this one emailed by reader Keith Waldrop:

Sure you're aware limbaugh is mentioning Instapundit again today. I am a many times daily Instapundit Reader and a 14 year Limbaugh listener. Here's my take.

Limbaugh is not singling you out. He is merely using the term "pre-mortem" as a lightning rod or example of the things he's hearing in the blogosphere that bother him.

His points are valid, as are yours

He's hitting on the issue for a third day which is much his style.

Often topics and themes he uses last days and weeks

I believe he genuinely would like you to respond in kind. I also believe a typically reasoned Instapundit response to some of Limbaugh's comments would continue what I feel is a healthy, interesting debate.

He does not read you regularly and claims to only have a peripheral knowledge of Instapundit.

Well, that last is fair enough, as I'm obviously missing all the important bits on his show. But Limbaugh could no doubt improve his broadcasts if he read InstaPundit more often. . . .

Anyway, the point of my "premortem" wasn't to call for the Republicans to lose. Rather, after pointing out that a lot of hardcore GOP supporters expect them to lose, I wanted to note that if they do lose, it will be because of a number of dumb moves and dropped balls -- "unforced errors," as I called them -- that indicate that they've been taking their supporters for granted, ignoring their professed principles, and relying far too heavily on the old "The Democrats are worse" argument to rally the base, an argument that's clearly wearing thin. (As this guy says: "I won't be 'glad' if Republicans lose. I just think if they lose, they brought it on themselves.")

I don't think that Limbaugh would really dispute that the Republicans have made a lot of unnecessary mistakes and that this has cost them a lot with their supporters; at least I've caught his show a time or two in the past when he was making pretty much this exact point. My post was intended to be something of a wake-up call, and it appears, at least, to have gotten Limbaugh's attention. Whether the GOP will take the lesson is less clear.

It's true, of course, that the Democrats are worse, and if you had any doubt about that, the creepy sexual McCarthyism that we've seen this week would be proof enough. And the argument that losing an election will cause the Republicans to do better isn't necessarily true -- as one of my colleagues said to me yesterday, if losing elections made political parties improve, the Democrats would be in a lot better shape than they are about now . . . .

But I've been criticizing this stuff for a while, and I thought that I should raise these issues again while the GOP leadership and message machine is paying attention for a change. And, apparently, it's paying attention to my criticisms now. After attention, however, comes action. Well?

UPDATE: Reader Jack Lillywhite emails:

Traveling back to Palm Coast for Jacksonville today, I caught Rush discussing the "pre-mortem" . I don't believe he is arguing against what you have been saying. Rather what he is really fighting mad about is those conservatives who have decided to punish the Republican party by sitting this election out.

His chief rationale for taking exception to this is that punishing the GOP for their (as you call them) unforced errors is not logical and is counterproductive. His point is that whatever mistakes the GOP has made - they are still the only (of the two) party that represents the values and long term objectives (i.e. Supreme court makeover) of conservatives.

That is his main rant. Not your pre-mortem. Although I do think Rush has always had a problem with the "creeping libertarianism" of the conservative perspective.

Yeah, us libertarians are insidious that way. Mostly, I want to know where all this attention from Limbaugh was back last Spring when I had a book to promote! Maybe if I'd called it An Army of David Corns . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: More thoughts here: "I am not suggesting conservatives should sit out the election. But I do think that congressional Republicans largely squandered their majority these past few years. I'm not the only one either. Right Wing News, hardly a liberal, has made the same conclusions. Given the strength of the economy and the general success of the war on terror, congressional Republicans should be in pretty good shape. But they have made so many missteps (from the border to out of control spending) that it has taken the wind out of the sails of many conservatives. I don't like some politician thinking that I have to vote for them."

I think that last is the key. Nobody likes to feel taken for granted. Or to be taken for granted.

MORE: Reader Rosemary Bright emails:

You know, I don't either you or Rush needs assistance in speaking your own case -- you are both excellent communicators.

And yes, it wasn't a singling out -- he's talking to Republicans who are said to be fed up with their party and are sitting this election out.

My take on the whole thing?? I think it's balderdash. I don't think droves of Republicans are going to sit this out at all ... I think it's the MSM who are implying it, and thereby hoping it will happen. When it comes down to it, even if we are disgusted, we'll go vote. And when push comes to shove ... we won't vote democrat, regardless of our disgust.

That's probably right, but the GOP leadership is unwise to count on that.

Reader Mary Evans adds: "Rush credited bloggers on his show today, & made a point to say he was not criticizing you. I just went to Rob Sama's site & read what he said. He either has a grudge against Rush or did not listen to what Rush said in full."

I'm not a Rush 24/7 subscriber, but I'll see if I can get hold of a transcript or audio.

STILL MORE: Here's the transcript of Limbaugh's monologue on why people shouldn't sit out the elections. And here's another where he explains that he's not at war with bloggers.

It doesn't seem unreasonable to me, and I agree with the many readers who say it's not an attack on me personally. But I also agree with reader John Tuttle who writes that Limbaugh probably misunderstands my use of the word "deserve." When you drop balls and blow opportunities, you deserve to lose, because you've performed badly. You don't always do so -- any more than you always win when you deserve to win -- but as mentioned above, I think the GOP has been failing to exercise the kind of self-discipline that a party with a slim majority that wants to stay in the majority needs to exercise, especially if the stakes are as high as Limbaugh says they are.

Because if the future of Western civilization is at stake, you shouldn't blow your credibility on pork and pocket-stuffing.

FINALLY: And from Brad Wardell at Joe User, whose earlier post was read on the air: "You can't have it both ways. You can't say that it's a matter of life and death for the Republicans to maintain control and yet treat the actual job so casually while in office. If the free world hangs in the balance, then bloody act like that during your term and not just in the 60 days before re-election."