Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Michelle Malkin on Talk Radio

There are few voices in the politicosphere more shrill and irrational than Michelle Malkin. In some ways she, even more than Ann Coulter, represents everything that has gone wrong with American politics in general, and the Republican party in particular. Her recent screed defending talk radio is a perfect example, as it contains all the bromides of Dittohead nation:

"Outraged that conservative talk radio has succeeded in the marketplace while liberals have bombed, and unnerved that new media outlets have upended mainstream journalism's monopoly apple cart, liberals have long crusaded against the medium."

Having been a caller and guest on talk radio on several occasions, I can testify to one inexorable fact about talk radio. Brevity is king. If you can't express yourself in 10 seconds or less, you are doomed. What this does is effectively ban any idea or position that takes some time to explain. Complicated positions will lose to simple ones every time in such a forum, regardless of which is better supported logically and factually. And which side of the American political spectrum has the simpler positions? Why the conservatives of course:

Economics: Lower taxes
Science: God did it
Geopolitical conflict: War
Teen pregnancy: Just say no
Drug use: Just say no

One promoting a thoroughly modern economic program, or modern evolutionary theory, or a strategy for war leading to peace that takes into account all the societal nuances (like that whole Shiite/Sunni thang), or a program for dealing with the realities of sex and drug use, hasn't a chance on such a forum.

Conversely, those offering such simplistic nonsense as Malkin supports have no chance in the open written forums of the blogosphere, and just as surely, get their asses handed to them on a regular basis on such forums, at least where they allow comments to their posts. And not coincidentally, it is conservatives like Bill O'Reilly and the Discovery Institute that are far more likely to disallow comments than are liberal sides. I have yet to see a liberal blog that did not allow comments. The blogosphere is choking on the conservative ones that do.

So it's real simple. People like Malkin dominate talk radio because it is the only forum where reasoned, factually based refutations of their simplistic nonsense simply cannot be elucidated (that means "stated" for all you Malkin fans reading this).

Malkin then goes on to make one of those asinine comparisons over long spans of time that politicos on both sides of the political spectrum are too eager to do. I call it "The Who's a Bigger Hypocrite Game". It goes like this: Members of political group A once supported position X, yet those same A's are now supporting position Y, and I claim X and Y are contradictory (they never are), therefore the A's... Well, they never really complete the argument, because like so many comments made by the Coulter crowd, they are really only half arguments, with little logic, and fleshing them out to their full conclusion would expose this irrationality, so better to leave the point hanging. A common example is "How can you be for abortion but against the death penalty". Observe Malkin as she defends conservative talk radio's attacks on John McCain against Republicans with the courage to call attention to it:

"These trash-talking GOP politicians and pundits had no problem when conservative talk-radio hosts used their 'ego and power' to help kill Hillary Clinton's massive government health care takeover in 1994. They had no problem when conservative talk-radio hosts used their 'ego and power' to galvanize support for the Republican revolution, two Bush presidential campaigns and the war in Iraq."

They didn't Michelle? And how, pray tell, do you know this? Did you take a survey of them? Or did you just follow the lead of too many conservatives these days and simply speculate rather than gather facts? A bit of thought will show it is clearly the latter. First, 1994 was 14 years ago. 14 years! The term for a house member is two years and for a senator it is six, and we've had quite a few incumbants bite the dust over those years. Malkin is implicitly assuming that the congressional roll has been constant over that time, when we know it has not, not by a long shot. Does Malkin cite even ONE specific congressman, and quote him changing his position? No, she does not. Why bother with facts that might overturn one's position when one can make shit up and hope no one notices? Sorry Michelle, I noticed.

Second, who says one cannot have a political philosophy that opposes Hillarycare, supports the Republican revolution, President Bush, and the Iraq war, and still opposes viscious personal attacks against John McCain? By what reasoning does Malkin determine that these positions are inherently contradictory? She offers none of course. She just tosses it out there as if it were self-evident, except for one very revealing snark:

"Were they nothing more than empty-talking hairdressers then? "

Yes Michelle, I hate to burst your bubble head, but they were, and you are. You don't disseminate information, and you sure as hell don't deal with facts. You simply make shit up, sort of like this:

"The Republican talk-radio bashers did start having problems when many national hosts harnessed popular grassroots opposition to help kill last year's Bush/McCain/Kennedy illegal alien amnesty bill. GOP Rep. Lindsey Graham dismissed them as 'loud folks.' In other words: They were making a difference. Then-Sen. Trent Lott lamented that right-wing talk-radio hosts were a 'problem.' In other words: They were effective. McCain's defenders have made common cause with the likes of ethnocentric, open-borders groups like La Raza in redefining all conservative talk-radio opposition as unacceptable 'hate' beyond the bounds of reasonable discourse.

In other words: They must be shut up. Bill Clinton approves."

Indeed Michelle, and so would George O. Orwellian indeed. In the true spirit of talk radio, Malkin reduces three opinions to four, count em, four words, and procedes to claim they really mean something else. This is conservative talk radio in a nutshell. Thanks Michelle for giving such a perfect example of why it deserves the criticisms it gets.

Oh, and btw, the surest way to tell a conservative has nothing intelligent to say is when they invoke the name of Bill Clinton, a man who hasn't been in the White House for 7 years now, whose presidential record is superior to the current officeholder's in every objectively measureable way but one (being impeached over lying about a blowjob), and yet whose name seems to end all conversation among conservatives as if he were Satan.

This is what passes for thought among Republicans these days. How pathetic. My loyal Republican grandfather of the century past is rolling over in his grave at what his party's become.

1 comment:

Troublesome Frog said...

Aside from the points you made, I can't stand commercial talk radio for one major reason: It's all about the host. Usually, the host is somebody of slightly above average intelligence who has decent presence on the airwaves. Beyond that, the host has no qualifications to talk about 99% of the matters discussed, but insists on being the center of the discussion. He'll hop from economics to nuclear physics and claim to be an expert on both, taking 90% of the talk time, giving 5% to callers who stroke his ego, and then allowing the *real* expert the remaining 5%.

I spend most of my time on NPR not because it's crazy liberal talk that appeals to my views, but because when they have expert guests on, they let them talk. They usually do a halfway decent job of filtering callers (although there's still a low signal to noise ratio from them), and they let the guests answer the questions. They usually discourage conflict for its own sake.

When commercial talk radio can learn to do those things, maybe they'll get me back. Until then, I'll keep writing checks to my local public radio station. I have no interest in listening to uninformed pronouncements from somebody who would rather be the smartest guy in a room full of half-wits than actually shut up and learn something.