You may remember the White House’s strategy of purposefully engaging and provoking Rush Limbaugh in order to make him the public face if not the actual head of the Republican Party. This has sparked a rather involved and nasty exchange between, on the one hand, David Frum, Conor Friedersdorf, and Rod Dreher, and, on the other hand, Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin. To get a sense of how involved this has become, see Friedersdorf’s summary of the latest round:
It began when I criticized Mark Levin, prompting David Frum and Rod Dreher to pile on. Enter Dan Reihl, who defended Mr. Levin. Incredulous, I challenged Mr. Riehl to a debate, offering an opening salvo here, and welcoming his rebuttal.
That’s when things got interesting . . .
If the goal of Conor and others who have attacked talk radio is to save the Republican Party, I’m at a loss as to how this helps. By going after these talk radio personas, they are merely raising their profiles as the embattled defenders of “authentic” conservatism. Having Rush’s face on the cover of Newsweek, especially for a very negative article, only increases his reputation among his supporters and his legend among media types. It does much, much less to help the Republican Party, conservatism, or anyone else other than David Frum, who can build a reputation as the anti-Rush. If Frum and Friedersdorf do want a conservatism that can win again, I think they would be well-advised to find enemies who do not have everything to gain by being attacked.