The rise of Beck, Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and the rest has correlated almost perfectly with the decline of the G.O.P. But it’s not because the talk jocks have real power. It’s because they have illusory power, because Republicans hear the media mythology and fall for it every time.Speaking of mythology, Brooks' history of the 2008 primary campaign is spectacularly wrong. John McCain got just 33% of the South Carolina GOP primary vote. In that winner-take-all primary, McCain barely beat the evangelical populist Huckabee (30%). And that was only because:
- McCain had name ID and had been organizing non-stop in the state since 2001;
- The "Anybody But McCain" vote was badly divided;
- Southerners respect military service;
- Romney was hurt by his Mormonism and "flipflopper" reputation; and
- Republican primary voters tend to be older, and McCain owned the Clueless GOP Geezer Vote.
While the Democratic struggle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton captured all the headlines during the primary season, few pundits noticed the massive Republican resistance to McCain's nomination.Nov. 4, 2008, was Crazy Cousin John's personal defeat, as well as a decisive repudiation of the Republican Party's leaders, who had utterly abandoned the legacy of Ronald Reagan in favor of the "compassionate conservative" agenda of Bushism, which was nothing but Brooksian "National Greatness" in evangelical drag with a Texas drawl.
For example, on Super Tuesday, Feb. 5, McCain got 33 percent of the primary vote in Missouri, 32 percent in Tennessee and Georgia; in caucuses that day, he got 22 percent in Minnesota and 19 percent in Colorado. McCain's share of the total Republican primary vote through Super Tuesday was only 39 percent.
Nor did the resistance end after McCain's most formidable rival, Mitt Romney, called it quits Feb. 7. As late as May 20 -- by which time McCain had been the de facto nominee for more than two months -- 28 percent of voters in the Kentucky GOP primary cast their ballots for other candidates or voted "uncommitted."
If I weren't working on a long article about my Kentucky trip, I could write 5,000 words about this perverse classic of Brooksian myth-making:
For no matter how often their hollowness is exposed, the jocks still reweave the myth of their own power. They still ride the airwaves claiming to speak for millions. They still confuse listeners with voters. And they are aided in this endeavor by their enablers. They are enabled by cynical Democrats, who love to claim that Rush Limbaugh controls the G.O.P. They are enabled by lazy pundits who find it easier to argue with showmen than with people whose opinions are based on knowledge. They are enabled by the slightly educated snobs who believe that Glenn Beck really is the voice of Middle America."Slightly educated snobs" -- exactly which graduate of Jacksonville (Ala.) State University do you have in mind there, Mr. Brooks?
This endless anti-"populist" crusade for Big Government Republicanism has been a constant of Brooksianism since the neurasthenic geek first started pushing his disastrously influential "National Greatness" idiocy in 1997. That blunderheaded misconception of misinformed thumbsucking earned Brooks membership in The Republicans Who Really Matter, and he's been toiling diligently to destroy the Party of Reagan ever since.
Read my lips: David Brooks is not a conservative! He never has been and never will be. His entire career has been devoted to using his influence over the Republican Party elite to prevent conservatives from exercising influence over the party's direction.
Meanwhile, speaking of Republicans who have never been conservative, Politico reports that "Sen. John McCain is working behind-the-scenes to reshape the Republican Party in his own center-right image." And it ain't going to happen.
If the GOP moves leftward -- which is what the phrase "center-right" means -- it will implode or become irrelevant as an electoral force, because a majority of Americans still want what Phyllis Schlafly described so eloquently in 1964: A Choice, Not an Echo.