Newsweek Cover Story: Conservative Frum's 'Why Rush is Wrong'

The media attack on Rush Limbaugh will take an interesting turn Monday when the March 16 issue of Newsweek hits newstands around the country for the cover story is an astoundingly negative article about the conservative talk radio host written by former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum.

With "Why Rush is Wrong" getting published at Newsweek's website Saturday evening, it is also sure to be fodder for discussion on all of the Sunday political talk shows, as well as Monday's morning programs thereby guaranteeing the article's contents maximum exposure.

To give you an idea of just how much the liberal media are going to devour Frum's words as if the finest champagne and caviar, here's a taste:

Here's the duel that Obama and Limbaugh are jointly arranging:

On the one side, the president of the United States: soft-spoken and conciliatory, never angry, always invoking the recession and its victims. This president invokes the language of "responsibility," and in his own life seems to epitomize that ideal: He is physically honed and disciplined, his worst vice an occasional cigarette. He is at the same time an apparently devoted husband and father. Unsurprisingly, women voters trust and admire him.

And for the leader of the Republicans? A man who is aggressive and bombastic, cutting and sarcastic, who dismisses the concerned citizens in network news focus groups as "losers." 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.

But do the rest of us understand what we are doing to ourselves by accepting this leadership? Rush is to the Republicanism of the 2000s what Jesse Jackson was to the Democratic party in the 1980s. He plays an important role in our coalition, and of course he and his supporters have to be treated with respect. But he cannot be allowed to be the public face of the enterprise—and we have to find ways of assuring the public that he is just one Republican voice among many, and very far from the most important.

See what I mean?

We've entered the predictable phase of the media attack on Limbaugh: mainstream news outlets paying well-known conservatives to bash the talk show host.

Who's next?

Post facto thoughts: One thing that strikes me as astoundingly naive in Frum's piece is how much his depiction of Limbaugh -- "his private plane and his cigars, his history of drug dependency and his personal bulk, not to mention his tangled marital history" -- is right in line with the media meme, and that he believes this is a problem for Rush and conservatives.

Yet, when the GOP offered as its vice presidential candidate an attractive, in shape, professional and unassuming married mother of five, media and the left tore her apart like she was the devil incarnate.

Doesn't that mean whatever the physical, personal, and marital characteristics of a conservative, he or she once determined as a viable foe will be eviscerated as Limbaugh is now and Palin was after McCain's surprising announcement last August?

Isn't this also the way George W. Bush and every member of his Administration were treated in the past eight years as well as Newt Gingrich in the '90s?

Exit question for Mr. Frum: who was the last real conservative save those in retirement the left and their media minions didn't treat with scorn and contempt?

*****Update: More post facto thoughts. Frum wrote:

Government is implicated in many of today's top domestic concerns as well … But the connection between big government and today's most pressing problems is not as close or as pressing as it was 27 years ago. So, unsurprisingly, the anti-big-government message does not mobilize the public the way it once did.

Of course, we can keep repeating our old lines all the same, just the way Tip O'Neill kept exhorting the American middle class to show more gratitude to the New Deal. But politicians who talk that way soon sound old, tired, and cranky. I wish somebody at the … GOP presidential debate at the Reagan Library had said: "Ronald Reagan was a great leader and a great president because he addressed the problems of his time. But we have very different problems—and we need very different answers. Here are mine."

I wrote that in spring 2007. But you can hear similar words from bright young conservative writers like Reihan Salam and Ross Douthat, and from veteran Republican politicians like Newt Gingrich. Gingrich told George Stephanopoulos on Jan. 13, 2008: "We are at the end of the Reagan era. We're at a point in time when we're about to start redefining … the nature of the Republican Party, in response to what the country needs."

Well, if Reagan's ideas are outdated, and Republicans need to adapt to a new era, why aren't Franklin D. Roosevelt's Depression-era ideas similarly so? 

If solutions that worked quite well 28 years ago can't work today, how can those implemented 76 years ago?

Isn't this especially crucial given how Reagan's ideas ushered in almost three decades of unparalleled wealth creation and prosperity in this nation while FDR's did virtually nothing until World War II bailed out the economy?

*****Update II: Another post facto thought is that Newsweek and its editors don't believe for a second that Frum is right about Rush being bad for the GOP or they never would have published this piece.

Think about it: they hate Rush AND Republicans. If he really was hurting the GOP, why would they publish an article about it which would end up just bringing him more listeners thereby making him more money? Wouldn't they just let him continue harming the Party they hate whilst not doing anything that might pad his wallet?

That they gave Frum's article cover status suggests that this is them hoping to create a self-fulfilling prophecy for they want him to BE right, and are willing to risk giving Rush more publicity if it ends up hurting Republicans.

In fact, that's what this whole Emanuel-Carville-Begala-Stephanopoulos cabal is all about. These folks are scared to death that Limbaugh is going to revive conservatives within the GOP, and they want to do everything and anything to stop it before the midterms in 2010 so as not to allow a repeat of their disappointment in 1994.

Newsweek David Frum
Noel Sheppard's picture