Dada is the sun, Dada is the egg. Dada is the Police of the Police.

10/05/2005

Platitudes

Billmon has a good post on Rush Limbaugh's attempts to be a good Bush administration apologist without coming off as a total lackey - or, as Billmon himself puts it, Rush is trying "to figure out how far he can go in shilling for Shrub without looking like a total tool."
 
Of course, Rush has been a total tool since he's been old enough to talk, but I know what Billmon means.
 
Speaking of Rush, I was listening to him the other day (oppo research; whatcha gonna do?), and he was going on about the Supreme Court.  At some point, he informed his audience that some of the justices on the Court are of the opinion that they are bound to consider the laws of foreign countries as precedent.
 
This is, of course, complete bullshit. But you know what?  There are 20 million people out there who heard him say it, and few if any of them know that it's bullshit.  And it's not just that they are all "dittoheads"; the thing is, Rush reported this as fact, not as his own opinion.  It was presented in a very fact-of-the-matter tone: "There are some justices who would say, 'Well, if Belgium passed a law, we have to consider it,' and there are other justices who would say 'No, we only have to consider the words of the Founders" (paraphrasing here). So there are now 20 million people who believe that there are justices on the Supreme Court who won't make a decision without consulting the laws of other nations, which is simply untrue.
 
This is a highly unoriginal observation, I realize, but as I was listening to this, it really hit home just how harmful someone like Rush Limbaugh is (as well as his peers: Hannity, O'Reilly, etc.).  You've got someone preaching to twenty million people for hours every day, and the guy is telling lie after lie after lie after lie.  Misinformation is being reported as fact to large swaths of people, and there's really no one to tell them any different. This has hurt the country immeasurably, as millions of people go to the voting booth every couple years and cast their votes for a Republican candidate, convinced that the GOP is the only thing protecting them from a cabal of liberal elites who want to rape the baby Jesus and install Osama bin Laden as dictator-for-life.
 
It's worth keeping in mind that what Limbaugh is selling is a form of populism.  A dishonest and twisted form, but a form nonetheless.  Remember this when some DLC or Blue Dog Democrat tells you that populism doesn't win elections.  The truth is, populism is probably the only thing that wins elections.  The GOP is a party of elites, but a lot of people don't see them that way.  They think of the Republicans as the populists (because of the lies of people like Rush), and that's why they vote for them.  It's a phony populism, but it shows the appeal of populism, as does the extraordinary success of Ross Perot's 1992 run, where he received somewhere around 20% of the vote despite having dropped out of the race and being a total weirdo.  These things show that people will vote for a candidate that they perceive as running a populist campaign.  With the help of Limbaugh et al., the GOP has been able to position themselves this way in the minds of a great number of people, and untold suffering in the US and around the world has been the result.

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