Skip to comments.P.J. O'Rourke: I Agree with Me – When was the last time a conservative talk show changed a mind?
Posted on 06/07/2004 5:50:22 PM PDT by quidnunc
Last year, on a long car trip, I was listening to Rush Limbaugh shout. I usually agree with Rush Limbaugh; therefore I usually don't listen to him. I listen to NPR: "World to end poor and minorities hardest hit." I like to argue with the radio. Of course, if I had kept listening to Limbaugh, whose OxyContin addiction was about to be revealed, I could have argued with him about drugs. I don't think drugs are bad. I used to be a hippie. I think drugs are fun. Now I'm a conservative. I think fun is bad. I would agree all the more with Limbaugh if, after he returned from rehab, he'd shouted (as most Americans ought to), "I'm sorry I had fun! I promise not to have any more!"
Anyway, I couldn't get NPR on the car radio, so I was listening to Rush Limbaugh shout about Wesley Clark, who had just entered the Democratic presidential-primary race. Was Clark a stalking horse for Hillary Clinton?! Was Clark a DNC-sponsored Howard Dean spoiler?! "He's somebody's sock puppet!" Limbaugh bellowed. I agreed; but a thought began to form. Limbaugh wasn't shouting at Clark, who I doubt tunes in to AM talk radio the way I tune in to NPR. And "Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop!" was not a call calculated to lure Democratic voters to the Bush camp. Rush Limbaugh was shouting at me.
Me. I am a little to the right of Why is the Attila comparison used? Fifth-century Hunnish depredations on the Roman Empire were the work of an overpowerful executive pursuing a policy of economic redistribution in an atmosphere of permissive social mores. I am a little to the right of Rush Limbaugh. I'm so conservative that I approve of San Francisco City Hall marriages, adoption by same-sex couples, and New Hampshire's recently ordained Episcopal bishop. Gays want to get married, have children, and go to church. Next they'll be advocating school vouchers, boycotting HBO, and voting Republican.
I suppose I should be arguing with my fellow right-wingers about that, and drugs, and many other things. But I won't be. Arguing, in the sense of attempting to convince others, has gone out of fashion with conservatives. The formats of their radio and television programs allow for little measured debate, and to the extent that evidence is marshaled to support conservative ideas, the tone is less trial of Socrates than Johnnie Cochran summation to the O.J. jury. Except the jury with a clever marketing strategy has been rigged. I wonder, when was the last time a conservative talk show changed a mind?
This is an argument I have with my father-in-law, an avid fan of such programs. Although again, I don't actually argue, because I usually agree with my father-in-law. Also, he's a retired FBI agent, and at seventy-eight is still a licensed private investigator with a concealed-weapon permit. But I say to him, "What do you get out of these shows? You already agree with everything they say."
"They bring up some good points," he says.
"That you're going to use on whom? Do some of your retired-FBI-agent golf buddies feel shocked by the absence of WMDs in Iraq and want to give Saddam Hussein a mulligan and let him take his tee shot over?"
(Excerpt) Read more at theatlantic.com ...
Plus, I do't listen to talk radio for arguing. I look for different takes and tidbits about the news, plus some humor.
I was a young skull of mush. You can credit Rush for changing my political outlook fresh out of college.
On the serious side, after 9/11 I've heard many callers to talk radio shows in the NYC area say they used to be FM vegheads, but discovered talk radio on that terrible day, since that was the best place to get news.
These callers invariably tell the conservative hosts they've been converted -- usually from vaguely liberal apathy to conservativism. How statistically significant this phenomenon is, I don't know.
Rush is the only really good conservative radio host IMO, and the fact is the mainstream media is so liberal, that for for me, turning to Rush is a comfort, because he articulates how I feel and think about events, much better and with deeper insight that I can muster. It's not about agreeing, per se, it's about framing the issues and putting them in perspective in the unique and entertaining way that he does.
"That you're going to use on whom?..."
A co-worker was going on a few months ago about how the rich don't "pay their fair share". I went to Rush's website and found a link to the IRS website that has a breakdown of just how much everyone pays. I showed my co-worker that, for starters, his government considers him to be "rich" and that he and a lot of people like him pay the majority of taxes.
He was stunned. At first he questioned the validity of the data, but I pointed out that it was compiled by the IRS.
About a month later I overheard him ranting about how he and everyone like him pay all the taxes. It's Reaganomics (trickle-down theory) and it works.
My favorite (apochryphal, and severely edited) PJ quote:
"When they put FDR on postage stamps, my mother and her frinds said they didn't know which side to spit on."
He's right. Not only are they shouting, they've already said whatever they're about to say. I can't handle them anymore. No mas..., no mas!!!!
And, as Rush often says, we turn to him BECAUSE he confirms the conclusions we come to, and since so much of the rest of the world is swallowing the NY Times BS, we are like a special club. We see the truth the liberal BS tries to obscure.
There are many great talk show hosts. I love Dennis Prager, Larry Elder and Hugh Hewitt. I also listen to John & Ken on a regular basis. I do not usually listen to Rush because I can only take him in small doses.
rush changed my life...still does. he is bright, funny and incisive. and he gave me the courage to speak my mind, unafraid.
Let's see, pubbies have control of the House, Senate and Presidency, plus the majority of governorships. Obviously, something is happening. I think the point O'Rourke misses (although I admittedly didn't read the whole article) is that in addition to conservatives moderates and people new to politics tune in to Rush and are influenced by his ideas.
Have you heard Laura Ingraham? I like her show a lot.
This is the best answer anyone could ever come up with about the Rush revolution.
I just showed this to my wife who is always asking me: "WHY DO YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO THAT SHOW EVERY DAY"?
"OH" she said. But WHO is Veronica?
This is a cheapshot of a title. Later in the article, PJ asks the same of lefty hacks such as Michael Moore and Al Franken. A fairer title would be: When was the last time a screaming face changed a mind?
In 97 and 98 I worked out of the home and started listening to talk radio.
I am a conservative today because of listening to Dennis Prager, Mike Reagan and David Gold.
If Jesus Christ returns to Earth and runs for President, he better run as a Republican because I'll vote against him if he runs as a Dem.
Intelligent radio, like an astute author, can crystallize the thought process: perhaps you have a feeling about something that you can't name and suddenly some talk show host verbalizes that very thought you've struggled with - and then all the little pieces fit together in your mind.
You'll take that knowledge into the world: even if you don't ever verbalize the thought in an argument, it will make you a stronger, and hopefully better, person.
I haven't read this author before. Is he always this stupid?
Well said. I, like PJ, was once a left wing hippie who thought drugs were fun. But, of course, I think life is fun, and I've seen some of my former compatriots in hippiedom become major space cadets.
A devoted Dittohead. :) I drive to work during the first half-hour of his show. It's my favorite part, like that first cup of coffee in the morning. Today as he was talking about the Gipper, I was saying, "exactly" over and over, out loud.
My favorite is:
"letting lawyers make laws is like giving whiskey and the car keys to teenage boys".
I'll never forget Clinton raising taxes to 85% on the rich Social Security recipients, ie couples making more than $32,000 yearly.
Hmmmm, I have lots of friends who disagree with me politically, and have good-natured discussions with them. Maybe it's just the way I was raised. Nonetheless, I agree with O'Rourke that civil debate is sadly out of fashion.
No kidding. I always love the way the Left say that Rush "yells," "spews," etc. etc. Rush speaks conversationally, and uses massive doses of very genteel humor to make his points
More importantly, he offers up FACTS and points out incosistencies and downright lies. I assemble these and use them to fry my few Liberal family (I have NO liberal friends) members.
P.S. Dumped boyfriend, kept the dial on Rush.
The P.J. line I use regularly is from his trip to the hideous slums in the Philippines, or some such place: "I could throw up, but how would that help?"
It's flip, but there's a serious conservative point. Feeling sickened by squalor isn't a virtue; it's just natural. It's a whole lot harder, if not impossible, to find real solutions for misery. Liberals think that just feeling bad about it is enough ... plus throwing tax money into a "program."
I suggest you read some of his other works. Start with Holidays in Hell.
PJ was once funny. Sad, this is not his finest work. In fact he may as well be a dem.
They do? Then, why is Big Stupid Government so much bigger, dumber and more expensive? Why is the deficit at record levels? What about "limited government" - whatever happened to that?
Conservative radio talk shows - specifically Rush Limbaugh - woke me up and turned me from a mindless parrot liberal into an informed activist conservative. Yes - Rush Limbaugh changed my mind despite what the big-nosed, bitter guy with the lampshade on his head has to say.
When I first listened to Rush I was angry. "How could someone say crap like that and get away with it!?" was my initial reaction. I set out to prove him wrong - he had to be wrong - because if he was right that would mean that I'd been lied to for years and that I'd been a fool - a useful idiot.
I started reading - actually reading something more than just bumper stickers and liberal-dominated media trash (Time, Newsweek, etc.) I found that Rush was right about a number of things - a large number of things. And that would mean...yes, I'd been lied to.
I used Rush Limbaugh as a crutch for a couple of years. There was so much catching up to do and he was very helpful in pointing me in the right direction. Thank you, Rush. I know I'm not the only one that you've awakened to the awful truth around them. Now I can find my own sources of information and I rarely listen to Rush anymore. He set me in the right direction - he changed my mind as he changed so many others.
For all his wit and biting humor, I really wonder how many minds P.J. O'Rourke has changed. Sure, he's a side-splitting read. But, truthfully, he's more of an entertainer than Limbaugh. He offers far less substance than Rush. Maybe he's jealous. Or just drunk. But, for whatever reason, he's just plain wrong on this one.
I've often wondered what one would get if he did a mind-meld between O'Rourke and Hitchens.
P.J. is right. I don't think Rush is effective overall in changing minds. Well, maybe I should revise and extend that remark. Rush might make conservatives out of the apolitical.
One of those super brains that can function after years of chemical abuse.
Miss Marple wrote, "I do't listen to talk radio for arguing. I look for different takes and tidbits about the news, plus some humor."
I do't either. This series. Real series and I do my own thimking.
(p.s. do't take this personal.)
To my mind Michael Medved is significantly more interesting, and more intelligent and knowledgable to boot.
Favorite: "My family were all rock-ribbed Republicans; my mother couldn't bring herself to say 'democrats' if there were children in the room, she'd say 'bast@rds' instead"
P.J. is a hoot. I thought the same thing when I saw it.
...more of a Libertarian, I think
PJ has written some brilliant pieces for Rolling Stone mag, as well as a number of books that you might enjoy, including "Parliament of Whores", "Eat the Rich", "Holidays in Hell", "Modern Manners", etc. He is late to the conservative side and considers himself to be mroe of a Libertarian. That being said, his assaults on liberal viewpoints and commentators are devastatingly accurate, and quite, funny to boot. To whit, from an essay about a "Volga peace cruise" written before the demise of the USSR: "Peaceniks love to talk about the glories of the new Soviet man and the wonders of the Soviet economy, but they still bring their own toilet paper when visiting the USSR" (or words to that effect)
I was a Nixon-hating democrat, mad at Ford, for pardoning Nixon, became a Reagan democrat after comparing Carter's misery and incompetence with Reagan's leadership, and became a conservative from listening to Rush.
I can't get Medved here. But Laura Ingraham, Gordon Liddy, and Sean Hannity are all good Conservative hosts. I like them all better than Rush.
But Rush did pioneer the genre, so I have to give him credit.
I like Rush, Medved, Ingraham, and a little of Savage (A little is all I can take of him sometimes. He get's on a free association rant and will work some magic and other times he's just ranting.)
This is exactly what happened to my parents and then my mom fussed at me to listen. We've converted quite a few apoliticals in our time. Got to take what we can get!
The Excerptor strikes again, posting a partial of an article that was not excerpt-obligatory, and where the link didn't work for a half-hour. Thanks for nothing!