During his CPAC speech, Rush Limbaugh said conservatives "believe that the preamble to the Constitution contains an inarguable truth that we are all endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life, Liberty, Freedom. And the pursuit of happiness."
Conservatives may believe that, but it just isn't so. The language Limbaugh was referring to actually appears (more or less; he made some changes) in the Declaration of Independence.
I don't mean that in a partisan sense. But rather I ask the question in terms of journalism and newsworthiness.
Reading the New York Times Magazine's star treatment of Newt Gingrich this weekend, I kept waiting for the massive 8,000-word article to answer the very simple question, who cares what Newt Gingrich thinks? He hasn't been in office for more than a decade. I can't think of a single Bush era initiative that had Gingrich's fingerprints on it. He didn't run for president. And even the Times article details how House Republicans completely ignored Newt's advice on how to deal with the new president Obama in terms of his stimulus package. And yet....
And yet there Newt is on the cover of the Times magazine with the headline, "The Anti-Obama," which clearly tried to elevate the failed Speaker of the House to the level of the new president. We're supposed to believe that Newt's now calling the shots inside Washington, D.C. among Republicans. But again, where's the proof? Newt obviously has no control whatsoever over the legislative process and he's not running for office.
But he emails colleagues lots of ideas! Okay.....
From the Times profile:
There's not really any unified, easily distillable argument in these and other proposals, no ideology that might be charted on a continuum and labeled accordingly...Gingrich told me he has identified about 100 ideas and positions that command anywhere from 62 percent to 93 percent support among such a cross-section of voters: giving out tax credits for installing alternative heating sources in your home (90 percent); awarding cash prizes to anyone who invents a car that gets 100 miles to the gallon (77 percent); keeping God in the Pledge of Allegiance (88 percent).
Gingrich has been doing the deep thinker/ideas shtick for nearly 15 years, and the press loves it. Gingrich's ideas don't ever really go anywhere. But for the Beltway press corps, he's a big deal. He's serious and he's important and of course the out-of-power wannabe pol should be the subject of a massive Times profile, right?
Plus, the state of the the GOP is just a hugely important topic, and how could readers survive without fresh quotes from Frank Luntz about how stupendous Gingrich is, and quotes from Grover Norquist about what a liar Obama a liar, right?
BTW: If you'd like a little context, which was missing from the Times piece, when Republican voters were polled in September 2007 and asked who they'd support to be the party's nominee, Grinch, in this WSJ poll, came in last place.
But of course in 2009, Gingrich is a very important person. Or put another way, when should we expect to see the Times' 8,000-word feature on Democratic idea man Dennis Kucinich?
Back at the time of the inauguration, Breitbart, the conservative, Hollywood-based writer, declared [emphasis added]:
The conservatives, Republicans and sundry non-lefties I know in show business have had nothing to say but positive and helpful things about the coming Obama presidency.
"We wish him well." "He is our president now and he needs our help."
These are the types of things I keep hearing. And this is exactly the right attitude and exactly the right message.God bless, President Obama. You have my best wishes and all of my best efforts. Even though I didn't vote for you, and disagree with much of your agenda.
But that was before Rush Limbaugh announced that he wanted Obama to fail. So what does Breitbart do? He flip-flops and sides with Limbaugh of course, and now claims that the AM talker speaks the unvarnished truth.
It was an address that could have altered the election had it been delivered early last fall by any Republican presidential candidate.
About midway through Mr. Limbaugh's clear-headed, timely and sometimes rambunctious call to ideological arms, my BlackBerry began buzzing with elated text messages from across the Omni and across the nation.
A friend in Los Angeles e-mailed a one-liner: "Best speech I have ever seen."
My urbane father-in-law, the first person I knew who copped to listening to Mr. Limbaugh and who has been witness to most of the big events of the modern age, called it the "most thrilling thing [he's] seen on TV."
Hugh Hewitt simply titled his post-speech blog post "The Speech, 2009" and wrote: "Rush gave a speech ... that will be talked about for years and even decades."
Spokespeople for CPAC said it was the best-received speech in the conference's 36 years. And that included Ronald Reagan, who, by the way, was no rhetorical slouch.
By any measure, Mr. Limbaugh hit the ball out of the park. He may have done so for the team that, these days, many people are rooting against. But the ball did land over the fence.
On the other hand, the "drive-by media" - as Mr. Limbaugh aptly refers to his business competition and ideological foes - portrayed a completely different event.
Clearly taking their cues from Mr. Obama - as well as Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid - the Fourth Estate, without the benefit of a Frank Luntz focus group or an instant poll, immediately labeled the speech as "angry" and alienating to "moderate voters."
The netroots, the mainstream media's devious protector from its left flank (e.g., the Huffington Post, Media Matters and the Daily Kos) also opined as if they had witnessed a hate crime.
Anonymous liberal commentators, the rabid pests of the new media, sought out the most popular conservative blogs to flood the zone with familiar Rush Limbaugh slanders. Their goal: To demoralize the right with layer upon layer of media domination. Only talk radio with its emphasis on Socratic debate over raw emotionalism and with Mr. Limbaugh in the driver's seat has escaped the left's clutches of pure media dominance.
The biz blog The Big Picture highlights this new report from Playboy [emphasis added]:
What we discovered is that [Rick] Santelli's "rant" was not at all spontaneous as his alleged fans claim, but rather it was a carefully-planned trigger for the anti-Obama campaign. In PR terms, his February 19th call for a "Chicago Tea Party" was the launch event of a carefully organized and sophisticated PR campaign, on in which Santelli served a Chicago frontman, using the CNBC airwaves for publicity, for some of the craziest and sleaziest rightwing oligarch clans this country has ever produced. Namely, the Koch family, the multibilllionaire owners of the largest private corporation in America, and funders of scores of rightwing thinktanks and advocacy groups, from the Cato Institute and Reason Magazine to FreedomWorks. The scion of the Koch family, Fred Koch, was a co-founder of the notorious extremist-rightwing John Birch Society."
The Big Picture concludes correctly, "This is now a very serious charge...if any of it is true, well then, Santelli may have to fall on his sword, and CNBC may owe the public an apology."
UPDATE: John Amato has more at Crooks and Liars.
Remember when it was represented a pinnacle position for Beltway journalists? Today, we're not so sure. Not when we read Time articles like this:
"The Obama Team's Drink of Choice? Coke, Not Pepsi"
The unfortunate news piece looked at the recent Pepsi ad campaign which seemed to mimic the Obama 2008 campaign by adopted cola slogans such as "Yes You Can," "Optimismmmm" and "Hope."
Reported Time [emphasis added]:
That said, the marketing campaign, which includes TV and print ads as well, does raise a question: Is Pepsi actually the choice of the Obama Administration? My reporting at the White House suggests the answer is a resounding no. Several senior Administration officials are committed cola drinkers, and without fail they spend their days sipping from a can of Diet Coke, a product of Pepsi's chief competitor, Coca-Cola.
Somewhere Henry Luce is rolling over in his grave.
In her weekend WSJ column:
We're in the middle of an emergency. In times like this, Americans want their president to succeed. Politically the crisis works for Mr. Obama. Third is an unspoken public sense that we cannot afford another failed presidency, that we just got through one and a second would be terrible. Americans know how much good a successful presidency does for us in the world, in the public mind. The last unalloyed, inarguable success was Reagan. We need another. Liberal? Conservative? That, to the great middle of America, would, at the moment, be secondary. They want successful.
The blog post headline reads: "CPAC: Is This the Image Republicans Want to Project?"