No Conservative Love Lost For Limbaugh

DannyG | September 1, 2008
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By K. Daniel Glover ST. PAUL -- You wouldn't expect Rush Limbaugh, a talk radio icon and hero to conservatives across America, to become a target of scorn during the week of the Republican convention, but that's exactly what happened here behind the scenes on the first day of the event. A Southern Baptist labeled Limbaugh a "sexist," and a panel of conservatives, with one liberal moderating, cracked jokes at his expense and said conservatives shouldn't follow his lead. The criticisms started early, at a breakfast panel discussion titled "Faith And Politics." When the conversation turned to Republican presidential candidate's choice of Sarah Palin to be his vice president, Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention chastised the media for their sexist treatment of Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary. He singled out one MSNBC commentator in particular: "I don't know what else you'd called Chris Matthews' behavior," Land said. That prompted Steven Waldman, the CEO and editor of Beliefnet, to throw Limbaugh's name into the mix, and Land agreed. "Look, it's easy to see why Rush has been divorced three times," Land cracked. He said many of Limbaugh's comments about women are for entertainment value but added that they indicate something deeper. "I think we can say, with some degree of specificity, that Rush Limbaugh is a sexist." Land never offered any of said specificity. Limbaugh's name surfaced again later in the day, at a second panel discussion hosted by the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs in Minneapolis. The subject: "Conservatism Today."Moderator E.J. Dionne Jr., a liberal columnist for The Washington Post,  read a written question from the audience that asked what role talk-radio hosts like Limbaugh and Sean Hannity have played in defining conservatism and what impact they might have on McCain's election chances because both have questioned his conservative credentials. Dionne mockingly referred to Limbaugh and Hannity as "distinguished political philosophers" and then invited the panelists to answer. Former Rep. Mickey Edwards, R-Okla., declined: "I'm disqualified from commenting on Limbaugh because he spent part of his show attacking me." Ross Douthat of The Atlantic said both he and David Frum also have been "roundly attacked" by Limbaugh over their recent books about conservatism but decided to answer the question anyway. His conclusion: Conservatives need to recognize that Limbaugh is just interested in generating ratings, and his views "shouldn't be the basis of how we define conservatism." Douthat called his own answer "wishy-washy" but defended it by adding, "I'm just afraid of Rush attacking me."