Reams have already been written about former Bush speechwriter David Frum’s dissertation on where the GOP went wrong in the healthcare debate, but one passage can’t be repeated often enough in the context of Fox News Channel and conservative talkradio:
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.