Rush Limbaugh and his fellow talk-radio troll dolls didn’t “pervert” conservatism–he didn’t lay siege to some maiden fair and debauch her virtue. Rush Limbaugh didn’t inject an “ideology of hate” into conservatism, he extracted the contemptuous, divisive animosity inherent in the Gingrich doctrine and sugared it up with comedy and his own personal saga for popular consumption. He, like Clarence Thomas, was just what the Republican overseers ordered. Rush Limbaugh is modern mainstream conservatism in all its bullying bluster, hypocrisy, jolly ignorance (global warming etc), slavish submission to military, corporate, and executive power, and slimeballing of political opponents. To believe otherwise is like putting your faith in those few remaining Republican moderates who always manage not to come through in the clutch, who put up a brief show of conscience or faint dissent before the inevitable capitulation. It’s a little late to suddenly look around and realize what sleazebags you’ve got on your team, especially since those sleazebags were there before you arrived. The only difference between Limbaugh and the orc pit of the right blogosphere is one of degree, or perhaps I should say radius.
Quite right. Rush and Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin aren’t aberrations that the Right can explain away; they are, to borrow Glenn Reynolds phrase, the authentic face of the American Right. They determine the terms of debate, decide on the points of emphasis, and unleash the bloodthirsty mobs. They are the literal manifestation of American reactionary ressentiment. As such, it makes a certain kind of sense that Rush and Malkin and Coulter can never do or say anything that will get them excluded from the mainstream media platform; they, and not Mitt Romney and his ilk, represent the core of American conservatism. Unlike the “Hollywood liberal”, bugbear of the movement conservatism, Rush and Malkin and Coulter owe their fame and position only to the political vitriol that they spew. Any decent political movement would have discarded them long ago, but in the same sense that conservatism can’t shed itself of the absurdity of supply-side economics, it can’t do without the Malkins; they’re part of the DNA of the movement.