Today Rush Limbaugh took a call from Trudy in Bloomington, Illinois, which illuminated the contrasts between George W. Bush and past presidents - and between Rush and other radio talk show hosts (ahem) prominently involved in the Harriet Miers debate. Trudy supported Bush's reelection and likewise supports Miers' nomination due to her own deep commitment to issues of faith, including abortion, which she believes they share. Consequently, the criticism of Bush and his nomination made her feel alienated and used.
With his customary patience and respect toward callers, especially dissenting callers, Rush sought to define his disagreement over Miers without being disagreeable. He enumerated the moral and constitutional arguments against Roe v. Wade, describing why the latter is more relevant to the Supreme Court. He distinguished the ideology of conservatism from GOP politics and from judges perceived as conservative who drifted leftward on the bench.
Then Rush quoted an excerpt from Ronald Reagan's 1980 GOP convention speech to accept the nomination for president. "Back in 1976 Mr. Carter said, 'Trust me,' and a lot of people did. Trust-me government asked that we concentrate our hopes and dreams on one man, that we trust him to do what's best for us. My view of government places trust not in one person or one party, but in those values that transcend persons and parties. The trust is where it belongs, in the people. The responsibility to live up to that trust is where it belongs, in their elected leaders." Thus Reagan articulated one of the founding principles of conservatism, which advocates a healthy, necessary skepticism of authority even when exercised by conservatives.
This week Theresa Kiihn reported why she does not automatically accept the evangelical exhortation to trust in this or any other context. Taken together, these anti-trust cases explain why so many moral and constitutional conservatives reject President Bush's "trust me" defense of his selection - and conclude, regretfully, that he failed to live up to our trust.
In Thursday's edition of the Opinion Journal, Peggy Noonan summarizes the scope of Bush's blunder. "If the administration had a compelling rationale for Harriet Miers's nomination, they would have made it. Simply going at their critics was not only destructive, it signaled an emptiness in their arsenal. If they had a case they'd have made it. 'You're a sexist snob' isn't a case; it's an insult, one that manages in this case to be both startling and boring." The same could be said of some media-based supporters of Miers.
Until October 3, 2005, the worst insult Hugh Hewitt could hurl at a caller was that he was a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Ah, those were the good old days. Now he confronts dissenters on the phone and in the blogosphere with the obsessive focus of an interrogator and the righteous zeal of a missionary. His interviews posted at Radio Blogger read like courtroom transcripts of a prosecutor trying to trip up a witness. Hugh is an attorney, after all, although he seems to have forgotten that sometimes he is a talk show host in conservative radio land where nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. His audience includes many whom he now castigates as knuckleheads and elitists. I think there is a joke in there somewhere, but your inner voice is going to have to finish it for me.
Peggy Noonan offers a constructive resolution to to the Miers dilemma, which I hope President Bush - and Hugh Hewitt - will consider.
My advice to Hugh is simply this: Rush Limbaugh is the beacon of truth and Excellence in Broadcasting. Hugh, swim toward the light.
P. S. Rush has a tribute page, The Greatness of Ronaldus Magnus, featuring Reagan media clips, documents and photos.
You can vote to make Theresa's awesome post the Crosley Solo Blog of the Week.