Alert The Media, And CQ Shutdown FAQ

I will join Duane Patterson on the Hugh Hewitt show tonight at 6:40 pm CT to discuss my move to Hot Air. Hugh’s on his Hugh Cruise, and Dean Barnett took suddenly ill, so Duane gets the center seat tonight.
In the meantime, I want to address a few of the most asked questions in comments and e-mails today.
Q. You’re going to change your style.
Not if Michelle and I both have our way. Michelle wants my voice at Hot Air, not for me to adopt someone else’s voice. I plan on writing in the same way that I have for the last four and a half years; I doubt I could write in any other fashion. I certainly wouldn’t want to. I wouldn’t have taken the job if I couldn’t write the way I like, and Michelle wouldn’t have offered it if I did.
The best I can do to alleviate those concerns is to tell people to keep reading me and keep me honest.
Q. What about your personal posts about the First Mate and Little Admiral?
I’ll be doing those at Hot Air as well. I’m also bringing the AOL Hot Seat Poll on those days when I write the question. I’m bringing the whole deal with me when I go to Hot Air. Well, except for the mess in my office, which the First Mate insists I jettison.
Q. Can’t we just cross-post to Captain’s Quarters?
As you might imagine, I would have loved to keep CapQ going. However, the idea here is to help build the Hot Air blog, and it makes sense to redirect the traffic from CapQ. I’ll keep the archives live permanently.
Q. I can’t read Hot Air at military facilities.
We need to ask the DoD about that one, don’t we? I’m sorry that will be a problem for some, because I know I have a lot of military readers. Hopefully it won’t always be a problem.
Q. What about BTR?
Please see this post. I’m sorry to leave; I think they’re terrific.
Q. Don’t you think blog consolidation is a problem?
Not really, no, not when it produces better results and stronger voices. If I didn’t think that would be the result of this move, I wouldn’t do it.
Q. The comment section at Hot Air is too restrictive.
As long as people don’t get personally abusive, I don’t think that anyone at HA has a problem with dissent. I’m hoping that all of CapQ’s commenters comes with me to Hot Air, so that we can continue to debate each other in a much wider pool of responders.
I’ll add more as issues come up. Many thanks to all who have sent or posted their congratulations.

Alert The Media

It’s been a long and eventful day, but nothing beats ending it with a few friends. I’ll talk with CHQR’s Rob Breakinridge for The World Tonight to discuss Mitt Romney’s withdrawal and the apparent clinching of the nomination by John McCain, and what it means for Republicans and conservatives. I’m on at 10:35 pm ET, and you can catch me on CHQR’s Internet stream.

Rush Endorses Romney

Well, well, well. This makes it nearly unanimous among the conservative talk-radio leaders, with only Michael Medved dissenting. Rush Limbaugh, who had long resisted direct involvement in primary politics, has gone one step further than the anti-endorsement for John McCain that he has been delivering for the past couple of weeks (via Hot Air):

RUSH: I think now, based on the way the campaign has shaken out, that there probably is a candidate on our side who does embody all three legs of the conservative stool, and that’s Romney. The three stools or the three legs of the stool are national security/foreign policy, the social conservatives, and the fiscal conservatives. The social conservatives are the cultural people. The fiscal conservatives are the economic crowd: low taxes, smaller government, get out of the way.
Of course, the foreign policy crowd is obviously what it is. I don’t think there’s anybody on our side who doesn’t care about national security, which is why I found it amazing that McCain gets the bulk of those, because the idea that Romney or Huckabee are going to punt national security? In Huckabee’s case, you might just say the things he’s saying about it represent an ignorance born of inexperience in the subject. I don’t think Huckabee has any deleterious intentions about the country. When it comes to the fiscal side, you cannot say — you just cannot say — that John McCain is interested. He’s even admitted he’s not interested in the social side. He’s not interested in the economic side. He said this, and when he has spoken up about it, he sides more often with liberal Democrats on fiscal issues than he does with his own side. That’s problematic.
This is why I think — and why I have said — that the Republican Party, not conservatism, but the Republican Party is in big trouble if it is empowered and gets elected by attracting people who also hold liberal Democrat views simply because they like McCain because of his character, his honor, his prisoner of war story, and they don’t like Hillary or Obama.

Interesting point on national security, and one that doesn’t get aired all that often. I don’t entirely agree with Rush on McCain’s record on fiscal conservatism — he has been both a budget hawk and an outspoken voice against pork-barrel spending — but I’d say that he’s correct about McCain’s interest in social conservatism. That’s the arena where McCain has taken some joy in poking fingers into the eyes of the Right.
The big question, of course, is the timing. Did this come one day too late, right on time — or does this just confirm the direction in which Rush has been going all along? I think it’s the latter. Rush’s opposition to McCain probably has already created whatever impact it has for today. The bigger question is whether it can turn the race if Romney can keep it relatively close after tonight.

Alert The Media

I’ll be on Hugh Hewitt tonight at 6:20 pm CT, presumably to discuss the latest in the presidential primaries. I’m now scheduled to do a regular gig with Hugh on the fourth Thursday of the month, so mark that on your schedules. Hugh has juggled the schedule tonight; usually I’d be on in the final hour.
Afterwards, I’ll be live-blogging the Florida debate tonight from 8-10 pm CT at Heading Right, and holding a live wrap-up show at BlogTalkRadio’s Debate Central from 10-10:30 pm CT. Don’t miss any of the coverage!

Did Talk Radio Lose In South Carolina?

Michael Medved has a provocative column from this weekend arguing that the biggest loser in South Carolina wasn’t Fred Thompson or Mike Huckabee. Medved, a Salem Radio talk-show host, says that the conservative endorsement of John McCain repudiated talk-show offensives against his campaign and exposed talk radio as a dying influence on the Right:

The big loser in South Carolina was, in fact, talk radio: a medium that has unmistakably collapsed in terms of impact, influence and credibility because of its hysterical and one-dimensional involvement in the GOP nomination fight.
For more than a month, the leading conservative talkers in the country have broadcast identical messages in an effort to demonize Mike Huckabee and John McCain. If you’ve tuned in at all to Rush, Sean, Savage, Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, Hugh Hewitt, Dennis Prager, and two dozen others you’ve heard a consistent drum beat of hostility toward Mac and Huck. As always, led by Rush Limbaugh (who because of talent and seniority continues to dominate the medium) the talk radio herd has ridden in precisely the same direction, insisting that McCain and Huckabee deserve no support because they’re not “real conservatives.” A month ago, the angry right launched the slogan that Mike Huckabee is a “pro-life liberal.” More recently, after McCain’s energizing victory in New Hampshire, they trotted out the mantra that the Arizona Senator (with a life-time rating for his Congressional voting record of 83% from the American Conservative Union) is a “pro-war liberal.”
Well, the two alleged “liberals,” McCain and Huckabee just swept a total of 63% of the Republican vote in deeply conservative South Carolina. Meanwhile, the two darlings of talk radio — Mitt Romney and, to a lesser extent, Fred Thompson—combined for an anemic 31% of the vote.

Medved makes a good point here, but I’d hesitate to call talk radio “damaged”. As Medved’s own support for McCain makes clear, the market has shown some diversity in opinion on this topic — and it reflects the same debate Republicans and conservatives have had for the entire debate. Fred Thompson’s departure will make it even more intriguing, and necessary.
Can one call McCain conservative? I think so, but that doesn’t make Hugh Hewitt and Rush Limbaugh somehow wrong to disagree, and to disagree strongly. It’s literally what they get paid to do. I’d also object to the notion that Rush leads a herd in this case, especially since McCain, for all his virtues (and they are many), has often alienated these conservative activists on both policy and tone.
However, in a larger sense and without the somewhat hyperbolic notion of “damage” to talk radio, Michael hits the nail on the head. In my opinion, the tone of this primary has strayed unnecessarily into negative attacks on valuable members of our own team. Instead of focusing on positive aspects of a favored candidate, too often our advocates have opted to seize on any criticism of others and make that their main message. That’s not just true in talk radio, but also in the blogosphere.
It has led to what I call Ultimatum Politics — where people start to demand that either their specific candidate gets nominated or they refuse to participate in the general election. That results from overcranked partisanship clouding mature judgment. In a general election, voters have to make a choice, and as Ronald Reagan warned, it’s better to support a candidate with whom one agrees on 70% of the issues rather than allow a 30% candidate to prevail instead. Demonizing all of the other options (which Alan Keyes literally did at the CLC in October) paralyzes a political party.
We need to rationally discuss the benefits and risks of each candidate without looking to “gotcha” people we may need to support later. I don’t think talk radio gets damaged by creating controversy, but we as a party can damage ourselves by allowing the rhetoric to get in the way of rational analysis.

Rush, Having Far Too Much Fun

I know we’ve all had our share of schadenfreude on the Right over the racial eruptions on the Left, but no one has had as much fun with it than Rush did today. He doesn’t miss any of the points raised over the last couple of weeks, and emphasized that it only started happening because Barack Obama actually began to seriously challenge Hillary for the nomination. Bryan at Hot Air gives us the video of his opening monologue, in two parts:


Rush even gets to damn with faint praise: “[Obama] can deliver a hell of a vapid speech!” Watch him laughing with delight at the end of Part II. But he didn’t stop with the monologue. He went into much more detail on Hillary’s comments, and caught this interesting nugget from Hillary’s Meet the Press interview yesterday:

HILLARY: And the point that I was responding to from Senator Obama himself in a number of speeches he was making, is his comparison of himself to President Kennedy and Dr. King. You know, Dr. King didn’t just give speeches. He marched. He organized. He protested. He was gassed. He was beaten.
RUSH: Stop the tape. Stop the tape. Stop the tape. Two things here. First thing, Mrs. Clinton is saying, “Obama, you are not down with the struggle. You are not down for the struggle. You can’t compare yourself to King; you can’t compare yourself to JFK, and you won’t be able to until you’ve marched, organized, and been gassed, and then been beaten — and we, the Clintons, might take you up on it.”
HILLARY: He was jailed. He understood that he had to move the political process and bring in those who are in political power, and he campaigned for political leaders, including Lyndon Johnson, because he wanted somebody in the White House who would act on what he had devoted his life to achieving. So I think it’s important to set the record straight. Clearly, we know from media reports that the Obama campaign is deliberately distorting this.
RUSH: Ah! There we get to the nut of it, ladies and gentlemen! This is a typical Clinton move. She is the victim of all this race stuff. Obama is deliberately distorting what she has said.

Rush has plenty more in his transcript, and all of it as excellent as it is hilarious. The Democratic primaries just got a lot more entertaining, even it is schadenfreude.

Back In The Saddle Again

Don Imus made his return to the airwaves this morning, diminished but mostly unbowed, on WABC in New York City. The radio cowboy returns to the saddle months after his termination for using racially-insensitive criticisms of the Rutgers’ women’s basketball team, after which CBS Radio and MS-NBC both dumped him. While he says he learned his lesson, Imus also promises that the show itself will not change:

Don Imus returned to the airwaves Monday eight months after he was fired for a racially charged remark about the Rutgers women’s basketball team, introducing a new cast that included two black comedians.
As he did several times in the days after his comments, Imus condemned his remarks and said he had learned his lesson. …
While Imus pledged to use his new show to talk about race relations, he added: “Other than that, not much has changed. Dick Cheney is still a war criminal, Hillary Clinton is still Satan and I’m back on the radio.”

His return had been announced several weeks ago, and thus far has produced little protest. No one wants to defend his truly offensive remarks, but at the same time, a sense has coalesced that Imus got treated somewhat unfairly in their aftermath. When radio hosts cross the line in taste, they usually get suspended, not fired. As it turns out, that’s what his contract said as well, and CBS had to eat an unspecified portion of it in a post-termination settlement.
I’ve never been a big fan of Imus, but his return to the airwaves should be seen as a return to common sense. Not every offense needs to result in a firing, especially when taken in the context of long record. The corporate impulse to avoid embarrassment makes everyone a hostage to a vocal fringe — on both sides — and that doesn’t bode well for the moderating influence of a free-speech market. One offhand, unplanned remark should certainly be criticized and disciplined, but ending a decades-long career over it seems extreme.
Let the audiences decide whether Imus should have this second chance. If people want to listen, advertisers will buy air time, and Imus will prosper. If they don’t, he’ll be off the air faster than last year’s rap single hit.

Andy McCarthy: Run That One By Me Again

Quite frankly, the entire pseudo-controversy over Rush Limbaugh’s remarks headlined the Theater of the Absurd for the past week, and apparently continues its meager run on the stage. Michelle Malkin sees the strategy for exactly what it is — a payback for the beating that MoveOn took over calling General David Petraeus a traitor on the pages of the New York Times. Andy McCarthy practically has to pick his jaw up off the floor over the target selection of the Left:

There really was a news story, generated by the mainstream media of all people, about phony soldiers — poseurs who falsely claim to have put their lives on the line in our country’s armed forces, at least some of whom engage the pretense precisely to libel real heroes as terrorists and marauders.
Rush Limbaugh, one of this nation’s single-most ardent supporters of the military, was briefed on the news story by his staff and was, unsurprisingly, offended by it.
Rush alluded to the said phony soldiers during his hugely successful daily radio broadcast, prompted by what he reasonably believed was a caller’s reference to it.
As a result, he is being castigated for dishonoring authentic troops in a trumped up controversy generated by Media Matters — a left-wing propaganda machine with pockets lined by left-wing activists. The charge is being led by top Democrats who, when not busy defending other top Democrats for smearing our troops as “reminiscent of Genghis Khan,” terrorists, murderers, and comparable to “Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime — Pol Pot or others — that had no concern for human beings,” fall mute when the vanguard of their hard-left base, MoveOn.org (abetted by the New York Times), describes the general heroically leading our forces in Iraq a traitor.
And this is a story?

Yes, this is a story. It’s a story of intellectual dishonesty, partisan gunslinging, and distraction tactics designed to protect a major Democratic Party fundraiser. That’s the real story behind this latest absurdity.
Let’s start from Square One. In order to believe that Rush Limbaugh meant to slander the troops, one would have to believe that Limbaugh has some animus against the military. Anyone who has listened to Limbaugh even occasionally would laugh aloud at such a notion. Limbaugh has been one of the most vocal supporters of the American military — much more supportive that most of the mainstream news agencies now reporting on this supposed slur issued by Limbaugh. How many defenses of the American military does one read in the New York Times or San Francisco Chronicle — or Media Matters or Daily Kos?
The transcript of the show, as I wrote last week, shows exactly what Limbaigh meant by “phony soldiers”, as Byron York points out. He meant the phonies like Jesse MacBeth, who claimed to have been in Iraq and never was, or Scott Beauchamp, who claimed to have witnessed atrocities that never occured. It has become such a phenomenon that ABC News reported on it a few days before Limbaugh discussed it. After taking a couple of calls, Limbaugh explained exactly what he meant.
This isn’t about protecting the honor of American soldiers, a mission Media Matters has not exactly adopted in its reporting on Haditha, for instance. It’s a blatant attempt to misrepresent what Limbaugh clearly meant and what he clearly said on his show in order to discredit him and dent his popularity. At the heart of it, it’s about the fear that Media Matters has for Rush and the power he holds from the work he does on behalf of conservative causes.
The Theater of the Absurd continued yesterday, with Tom Harkin lashing out at Rush for possibly being “on drugs again”. Harkin lied about his own service record when he ran for President in 1992, when he claimed to be a combat fighter pilot in Vietnam. Harkin flew jets and served honorably, but did so stateside; he never saw combat. Why he felt the need to lie about his otherwise outstanding service is anyone’s guess, but clearly he’s the last person to publicly render judgment on Rush’s honesty.
This is all a stage, directed by Media Matters and its financial backers, and all of the Democrats howling about Rush merely its players. They may strut all they want, but they produce only sound and fury, signifying nothing — and in the process, put their intellectual bankruptcy on display for all to see.