The Other McCain

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Conor Friedersdorf: Now Turning the Atlantic into Media Matters Lite?

Posted on | April 4, 2011 | 21 Comments

When Andrew Sullivan jumped ship to The Daily Beast, Conor Friedersdorf stayed behind at the Atlantic, where today he devotes some 1,800 words to Why Rush Limbaugh Is Wrong About Libya. A few sample Conorisms:

His commentary has misled his audience, his prejudices have helped to distract the conservative movement from the stance it ought to be taking, and even his defenders will have a difficult time explaining away his latest buffoonery. . . .
Limbaugh is a man confident that his mistakes will drift off into the ether unnoticed. . . .
[T]he talk radio host isn’t guided in his commentary by any consistent principle, nor does he acknowledge obvious errors in analysis. Instead he blithely misinforms his audience about reality daily.

Well, Conor: Change the station, OK? Nobody is forcing you to listen to Limbaugh. Without attempting a detailed analysis of Rush Limbaugh’s various comments, I’ll say this: The greatest difficulty in criticizing Obama’s policy on Libya is in figuring out exactly what the policy is.

On the one hand, Obama tells us Qaddafi must go. On the other hand, Obama seems unwilling to commit sufficient military resources to drive Qaddafi out. So we are non-fighting a non-war under a U.N. “humanitarian” mandate, with the French leading a NATO coalition of air support for the half-assed Libyan rebels.

There’s something for everybody to hate: The neocon hawks think the policy is too weak. The constitutionalists are angry that Obama committed the U.S. to military action without even bothering to ask Congress. The peaceniks are angry that we’ve taken any military action at all. My main beef — borrowing an insight from Ace of Spades — is that America could “lose” a war we’re not even fighting.

In short, Obama’s policy is a huge joke, and trying to comment on it with a straight face is an enormous challenge. (Sully’s Libya headline today: “Stalemate Watch.”) If Limbaugh’s daily commentary on Libya has been somewhat contradictory — or perhaps just plain wrong at times — so what?

Like I said: If you don’t like it, change the station.

UPDATE: Via Twitter, Conor says: “‘Change the station’  could be a response to any criticism of any commentator.” Indeed, it could. But Rush Limbaugh built the world’s largest radio audience (think about that) as an independent syndicated host. He isn’t employed by a behemoth like NBC or the New York Times. There is no management who can fire him. His continued success depends solely upon his continued “Excellence in Broadcasting.”

An important point: I do not assume that the Limbaugh listener gets all his information from Limbaugh. If Limbaugh is wrong, therefore, his listeners are likely to figure that out for themselves. But Conor obviously thinks that Dittoheads are a bunch of morons who can’t think for themselves — “mind-numbed robots,” t0 borrow Rush’s phrase — and so frets about Limbaugh’s influence.

Linked by That Mr. G. Guy — thanks! — and welcome, Instapundit readers!


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