Two stories have dominated American news coverage in recent days: the first involved a public condemnation of the excessive rhetoric of Rush Limbaugh by a prominent and respected GOP operative; the second featured Jon Stewart’s frustration with the quality of reporting on a popular business news TV show. The spat between Limbaugh and David Frum speaks to a theme this blog has touched upon in recent weeks—namely, that the Republican party must come to grips with a new reality and start work on becoming a viable alternative to Obama and the Democrats. This is essential for a sound democracy. The showdown between Stewart and Jim Cramer, on the other hand, put a spotlight on news shows that try to justify the erroneous and contradictory information they reported regarding investment choices. What both media events have in common is that they are likely to become defining moments for both the future of the GOP and the coverage of the economic crisis hitting America and beyond. I believe it was about time both conflicts occurred, and I would like to add another ongoing source of frustration that needs to be addressed: the public resurfacing of Dick Cheney. But first, let us deal with the Republican infighting over Rush Limbaugh.
The cover of last week’s issue of Newsweek magazine featured a photo of radio host Rush Limbaugh with the caption ‘ENOUGH.’ Inside was an article by noted conservative commentator and former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum, who called upon Republicans to distance themselves from the boisterous Limbaugh and develop a new discourse aimed at making conservatism more appealing to new voters. His argument is that Limbaugh is playing into the hands of Obama strategists by becoming the face of the GOP. A narrow and unattractive Republican party will emerge as a result. Frum says this can only benefit the Democrats and the Obama administration who, according to the author, are bringing back the type of big government liberalism not seen since FDR’s New Deal. But Frum believes the America of Rush Limbaugh is no longer in touch with today’s realities. For the first time in over 30 years, Frum notes, college graduates voted in greater numbers for the Democrats. The electorate is changing and Rush is speaking only to his radio audience; in doing so, he is doing a disservice to the conservative cause. Frum concludes it is time to say ‘Enough!’ to Limbaugh. Right on, David.
Later in the week, Jon Stewart openly criticized CNBC Mad Money host Jim Cramer for his hyped-up financial show and the ”misleading” financial advice Stewart believes it pushed. He pointed to the contradictions and the Wall Street-generated spin Cramer used to argue for policy and investment choices. Stewart, armed with video evidence, was able to illustrate that Cramer was wrong on Bear Stearns last year when he endorsed the purchase of the ill-fated stock just a few days before its demise. Stewart then showed how Cramer went on to completely contradict his earlier advice to his audience of potential investors. Clearly, Stewart hit a nerve and Cramer went on the Comedy Central show to defend himself. But Cramer mounted a feeble defence and Stewart held his own and said, ‘Enough!’ Way to go, Jon.
This weekend, on CNN‘s State of the Union, former vice president Dick Cheney was interviewed by John King about the Obama administration and whether America was as safe under Obama as it was under Bush. To no one’s surprise, Cheney claimed that Obama’s policy changes on torture, Gitmo, the use of the term enemy combatants, and the linkage between liberty and security were making America unsafe. Never mind that there is evidence that Cheney used his authority to fudge information to justify the eventual decision to go to war with Saddam Hussein ‘s Iraq instead of finishing the job in Afghanistan. Never mind that Cheney encouraged torture and rendition. Never mind that people’s civil rights were violated with Cheney’s approval. Never mind that Bush’s defence secretary, Robert Gates, is in the Obama administration, or that the national security advisor is Maj.-Gen. Jim Jones, a Republican who served under Bush. Instead, Cheney wants people to join the Bush surrogate campaign that is claiming victory in Iraq and acts as if the Bush years succeeded in its war on terror because no other attacks have taken place on US soil since 9/11. There has been an increase in pro-Bush propaganda in recent days, even though Obama has inherited the worst economy since the Great Depression, two wars are still active, and Bin Laden is still doing audio tapes eight years after 9-11. So, just like Frum and Stewart did to Limbaugh and Cramer, I too want to say ‘Enough!’ to Cheney