During the past sorry six years, right-wing radio has taken upon itself two primary missions: 1) define, usually by demonization, Democrats or anyone (like John McCain) with the temerity to question any aspect of Junior Bush’s administration, and 2) make excuses for Junior’s many failures. The amazingly monolithic way that national and local wing-nuts have been willing to march to Karl Rove’s talking-point orders is the only thing that stood in the way of Kerry’s election in ‘04, a serious impeachment move last year and an even sounder thumping of Republicans in the elections this year.
Given the complete shellacking applied to Republican behinds last month, the wing-nuts have been at a loss to explain what happened, perhaps even more so than the White House. I mean, there they were for years, ranting to their passive listeners 24/7 about how Democrats could not be trusted with the reigns of power; how taxes would go up; how liberal Nancy Pelosi was; how corrupt Harry Reid and Jim Doyle and whoever. What went wrong, they surely wondered. It had all worked so well before.
You’d think, after being led around the nose by the Bushies all these years, at least some of them would get off the plantation and find their own voice. But a radio wing-nut without a script is like a DJ without a turntable (or its modern equivalent). Even if they are true believers and think they might like to give original thought a try, they just are not interesting enough. Their entire careers are built on being GOP conduits. Pull that rug from under, and most of them have nothing to talk about.
Sure, some of them like Sean Hannity might have permission to go after Bush on a red-meat issue like immigration and border security. This has the benefit – in the World of Rove – of driving up angry-white-man lather and making Bush look reasonable to everyone else when he does something short of rounding up brown-skinned people in Arizona for background checks.
For the most part, the wing-nuts have stayed away from their usual blather on substantive issues since the election. But they have maintained a completely united front on the defining issue of the election and our current times: the civil war in Iraq. At a time when everyone with any sense is looking for a way out, the wing-nuts are apparently looking to spend more years in the quagmire, to spill the blood of still more brave American soldiers. They are pulling out all the stops – name-calling, treason-claiming and, like Bush himself, lying about the obvious facts to get to their insupportable conclusions.
All this would be par for the course, except that the situation in Iraq is grim and the opportunity to have a legitimate discussion about it is upon us for the first time since the invasion. This is an important time that calls for sober reflection and real-world solutions. Remarkably absent, you might notice, is squawking and I-told-you-so’s from those who were right since the beginning – the anti-war left and middle. Neo-con slugs like Ken Adelman and Richard Perle are given full berth to fuss about how they would have done it right, doggone it, and they show no hesitation to engage in intramural squabbling. But the Left That Was Right politely stands aside, hoping that establishment lackeys like Jim Baker might find a way to end the pointless deaths of Americans in a war-of-choice gone terribly wrong.
But, once again, as they did with 9/11, Katrina and various other national tragedies, the GOP wing-nuts are willing to dance on the graves of the dead to make political points. While every serious person looks for a solution, the wing-nuts talk about the Democrats and others looking for a way out "wanting the U.S. to lose" because we all just "hate Bush so much".
Listen to wing-nut radio for five minutes and you’ve got the drill. Those who want to get out are weak. We should go in and wipe them all out (the code words for nuking, say, Iran get less subtle on late night radio, where it is scarily explicit). This is why we lost Vietnam. Three thousand dead and ten of thousands wounded are peanuts; why, 600,000 died in World War II. We have lost our will to win, to do the job right.
My god, it’s pathetic. But, in a time when no thinking person would back Bush on anything, much less on what he did and is doing in Iraq, the radio wing-nuts form the Last Line. Why? What do they gain? Everyone is so damn done with the sick Bush regime, even the wing-nuttiest listeners don’t want to hear it any more.