Our political Quote of the Day is from Nate Silver, who adds some perspective on rumblings within the conservative movement (which seemingly has already been split between the descendents of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan and the talk radio political culture conservatives) about talk show host mega-star Glenn Beck:
Buried in the cross-tabs of the new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll is a question that takes a temperature reading of Glenn Beck. Beck actually makes out pretty well. While just 24 percent of Americans have a favorable view of him (13 percent strongly so), only 19 percent have an unfavorable one (14 percent strongly). That leaves 57 percent who either don’t know Beck or are indifferent toward him.
This compares quite favorably to, for example, Rush Limbaugh, who was the subject of a similar question in the NBC/WSJ poll in June. Limbaugh was regarded favorably by 23 percent of Americans, but unfavorably by 50 percent — including 37 percent who held a strongly negative view. This is not a new problem for Limbaugh, incidentally, who has been roughly this unpopular since at least 1995.
The difference between Beck and Limbaugh is that Beck is much more of an anti-establishment figure. I have posited before that running perpendicular to the traditional liberal-conservative spectrum is an establishment/anti-establishment spectrum; Beck is conservative but anti-establishment. And that may be working out pretty well for him, since the country seems to be becoming more anti-establishment too.
Further on, he writes this:
Beck is a PoMoCon — a post-modern conservative. And his philosophy is not all that difficult to articulate.
He explains some of the things Beck’s philosophy has in common with traditional conservatism, and where it breaks from it. He concludes:
The PoMoCons are not so much less self-consistent as they are less concerned with consistency, as compared with traditional conservatives. Theirs is a bric-a-brac, skeptical (sometimes to the point of paranoid), play-it-by-ear, relatively spontaneous reaction to the here-and-now — not something cooked up by a K Street thinktank. There is no future, no past — there is only today. And today is a pretty good day to be Glenn Beck.
Indeed: traditional conservatism seems frayed around the edges: some conservatives feel George W. Bush betrayed conservatism by being too much like Democrats; some conservatives who liked George HW Bush feel George W. Bush took their party in directions that were too far right; some Barry Goldwater conservatives feel conservatives who are part of the talk radio political culture have gone in for emotionalism and hot-button polemics instead of sticking to serious issues, political philsophy debates, and a consistent world view that doesn’t open them up to the charge of political expediency or hypocrisy.
The case could be made that among talkers Beck is filling in a gap that had been open to Michael Savage. Savage has long marched to his own drummer — and a key beat on his show is that both political parties and the establishment can’t be trusted (although the Democrats should be trusted less). Savage sandbagged his MSNBC show in an incident that can be viewed here on You Tube so he will be limited to talk radio and his popular Internet site. He still is a hugely popular conservative national radio talk show host (even though Savage was recently axed from his longtime home station but that apparently was NOT due to bad ratings) but Beck has a popular radio show and has survived and thrived on TV. Once Beck moved from CNN — where his show was a different ballgame and a “bad fit” (just like Lou Dobbs is a bad fit) — to Fox, he has taken off. He also has a highly popular website.
Putting aside whether you like Beck or not — or whether the kinds of things he is saying are responsible, or totally lucid, and could unleash forces that could have serious consquences — Beck has tapped into a different area than Limbaugh.
Limbaugh has become the EPITOME of two establishments: the talk radio political establishment and the RNC, even when Limbaugh breaks from the RNC. Limbaugh’s less talented and even more political talking points pseudo-clone, Sean Hannity, also comes across as someone who is trying to elect people from one party and talking for a political establishment. More than any other talker, Hannity comes across as a rip ‘n read RNC talking points conservative talker.
Silver has a lot more in his piece that will provide food for debate — including in comments here at TMV.
For more blog reaction GO HERE.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.