Michael Medved Speaks Truth to Republican Power

This is another entry in my Elephant Dung series, tracking the GOP civil war. For an explanation of the series, see here. For previous entries, see here.

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Michael Medved, the former (highly mediocre, if not worse) movie critic turned conservative talk-radio host spends much of his op-ed in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal criticizing the right’s anti-Obama nonsense, essentially speaking truth to Republican power.

He actually defends the president against “some of the current charges” against him, charges he finds “especially distasteful” and “destructive to the conservative cause.” He criticizes Sarah Palin for saying that Obama is “purposefully weakening America,” and he even goes so far as to challenge Dear Leader Rush’s ridiculous claim that Obama is “presiding over the decline of the United States of America,” seeking “payback,” as a black man, for America’s ugly past:

Regardless of the questionable pop psychology of this analysis, as a political strategy it qualifies as almost perfectly imbecilic. Republicans already face a formidable challenge in convincing a closely divided electorate that the president pursues wrong-headed policies. They will never succeed in arguing that those initiatives have been cunningly and purposefully designed to wound the republic. In Mr. Obama’s case, it’s particularly unhelpful to focus on alleged bad intentions and rotten character when every survey shows more favorable views of his personality than his policies.

It takes guts to call anything Limbaugh says or does “imbecilic,” I’ll give Medved that.

Now of course, you’ll notice that Medved’s argument rests largely on respecting the office of the presidency and its history, not Obama himself, and that he is counseling Republicans to take public opinion into account:

Americans may not see a given president as their advocate, but they’re hardly disposed to view him as their enemy — and a furtive, determined enemy at that. For 2012, Republicans face a daunting challenge in running against the president. That challenge becomes impossible if they’re also perceived as running against the presidency.

Medved certainly seems to object to the substance of the crazy right-wing attacks on Obama, but he is more concerned that Republicans are simply going too far and thereby endangering their 2012 electoral prospects.

So let’s give him some credit, but not too much.

And let’s note, too, that his casual assessment of presidents past is littered with partisan judgment: Kennedy may have had a “sex addiction” and Carter was one of the worst, but Harding didn’t really benefit personally from all that corruption and is now more favorably appreciated by historians, while Nixon “almost certainly lied about Watergate.” Er, almost certainly? And who was it exactly who brought Egypt and Israel together?

Oh, never mind.

(Cross-posted from The Reaction .)

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