Thursday, February 28, 2008

Changing the Style

I am happy to see McCain disavowing a shock jock. I am sad to hear of William F. Buckley, jr's passing.

Buckley's generation of conservative was a contemplative group that had some depth to their arguments. For that matter, I contend that civility had been a Hallmark of Republican discourse prior to the Rush Limbaugh era.

It has been horrible to watch the real thinkers of the Republican party pushed aside by the blowhards.

Conservatives are left with the task of pointing out the large number of holes in the grand theories of the Marxist tradition. There is a place for humor in that job. However, these games where shock jocks think they are going to move the country simply through personal attacks is stupid. BTW, there are good people and bad people who have the name "Hussein". For example, the royal Hussein family of Jordan is often a moderating force on Islam.

Speaking of blowhards, apparently some of the blowhards (Coulter and this Cunningham whacko) sound as if are in the Hillary camp at the moment. Which is funny, because many of the right wing shock jocks built their empires by attacking Bill.

The really interesting question, of course, is why there are conservative shock jocks who've been able to build such massive broadcast empires.

It is really strange. Traditionally, civility is a cornerstone of conservatism. Voltaire style attacks on tradition are a hallmark of the left. The number of people who start out to make a living as a left-wing satirist way out numbers those on the right ... however, there is a group of right wing satirists who've achieved phenomenal fame.

Unfortunately, it would take a thesis size post for me to state why this is so.

Both parties have a challenge to figure out how to keep the loud mouth reactionary elements of the party from dominating the message.

1 comment:

Scott Hinrichs said...

Conservative talk radio is an interesting phenomenon. Despite many studies approached from a variety of angles, nobody is quite sure why conservative talk radio thrives while other forms of talk radio don't.

Right-wing radio hosts regularly congratulate themselves on killing last year's comprehensive immigration bill. They hold this up as a testament of their power. But when it comes to getting a GOP candidate of whom they can approve, they have come up woefully short. A lot of them are seriously ticked off about this because it demonstrates that they are far less powerful than they like to think they are.

Most of conservative talk radio's audience is middle aged, while NPR's audience is on average 10 years younger. Interestingly, this seems to hold steady. That is, as people in the radio audience age, they shift from listening to the likes of NPR to listening to conservative talk radio. But there's always a new crop of younger listeners entering the market, so NPR doesn't lose market share.

But there are a lot of registered voters out there that don't listen much to radio shows. There are a lot of GOP voters that don't listen to conservative talk radio. These voters didn't follow the script written for them by talk show hosts. Will the talk radio crowd be able to reconcile itself to the reality of its limited power base in the GOP? It will be interesting to see how it pans out.