Former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan, a thoughtful and elegant writer, today takes on the notion — voiced mainly by wishful, self-deluding Democrats — that Rush Limbaugh is the voice of the Republican party.
The Democrats have a leader. He’s the president. When a party has a president, he’s the leader.
Parties out of power, almost by definition, are in search of one. When parties do not hold the White House and Congress they are, of necessity, retooling and reshaping themselves. Leaders of various party factions, being humans in politics and therefore bearing within themselves unsleeping little engines of ambition (that’s what Billy Herndon said lay inside his friend, unassuming prairie lawyer Abe Lincoln) will jostle each other for place.
Ultimately a leader will emerge for the Republican party, and it won’t be Rush Limbaugh or any other flame-thrower. The flame-throwers are not going away, but their role is to provide a challenge to the party, not leadership.
Both conservative media and liberal media are alike in that they have to keep the ratings up, or the numbers up, or the hits. If they lose audience, they can lose everything from clout to ad revenue. Because they have to keep the numbers up, they have to keep it hot, which actually has some affect on the national conversation. The mainstream media is only too happy to headline it when a radio talker says Sonia Sotomayer is a dope. The radio talker may be doing it to play to his base, but the mainstream media does it to show that Republicans are mean, thick and angry.