Nashville talk radio stations once offered listeners a handful of conservative radio talk show hosts. Local types like Phil Valentine and Steve Gill shared the airwaves with national powerhouses like G. Gordon Liddy and Rush Limbaugh and that about rounded it out. For many people, the appeal of these shows was simple: They were refreshing alternatives to the usual fare offered by other media outlets.
That's all changed. Looking at the daily schedule of two of the three major talk radio stations in townWTN 99.7 FM and WLAC 1510 AMit's clear that right-wing talk radio is the usual fare these days. If Nashville listeners are so inclined, they can tune in to conservative radio talk shows pretty much any hour of the day. The offerings range from local conservative Republican Steve Gill to the syndicated, odious right-wing fanatic Michael Savage to the self-styled blue-collar conservative Bill O'Reilly. In between, of course, are the familiar Limbaugh, the eager Limbaugh wannabe Sean Hannity and libertarian-conservative Neil Boortz, among several others.
Is there really that much conservative stuff to talk about? Not really, and it's becoming apparent in the declining quality of the programs, many of which have degenerated into pep rallies for the already converted. The always incisive P.J. O'Rourke, in-house libertarian-conservative writer for Rolling Stone and The Atlantic Monthly, recently declared, in effect, that right-wing talk radio has jumped the shark.
O'Rourke writes: "I'm so conservative that I approve of San Francisco City Hall marriages, adoption by same-sex couples and New Hampshire's recently ordained Episcopal bishop. Gays want to get married, have children and go to church. Next they'll be advocating school vouchers, boycotting HBO and voting Republican. I suppose I should be arguing with my fellow right-wingers about that, and drugs, and many other things. But I won't be. Arguing, in the sense of attempting to convince others, has gone out of fashion with conservatives. The formats of their radio and television programs allow for little measured debate, and to the extent that evidence is marshaled to support conservative ideas, the tone is less trial of Socrates than Johnnie Cochran's summation to the O.J. jury."
All too true. It's what happens when an ideology so thoroughly consumes an institution that reasonable dissent is barely acknowledged, much less engaged. Liberals, it should be said, are certainly not immune to this phenomenon either. There are many lefties who cannot abide the presence of conservative David Brooks on the op-ed page of The New York Times, never mind that Brooks is by no means a rabid right-winger or that for years the Times' idea of an opposing conservative voice was a guy (William Safire) who voted for Bill Clinton in 1992.
Supporters of stalwart Republican Karen Bennett's bid against state House District 52 Rep. Rob Briley say that her campaign is well organized and capable of launching a genuine challenge to Briley this fall. Time will tell about that, but Bennett's response to an inquiry as to what issues most concern voters in her district this year leaves some room for improvement. Bennett says her would-be constituents are most concerned with "high gas prices," the implication being that she would be able somehow to affect this particular problem if elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives. (Never mind that George W. Bush, himself a former oil man and current commander-in-chief of a vast military force presently controlling over 112 billion barrels of oil reserves in Iraq, has been unable to bring down gas prices.) We anxiously await the outcome of Rep. Bennett's summit meeting with OPEC ministers after her election. Maybe she knows something the president doesn't.
If you really want somebody to know something, you could just tell them.
I doubt she'd choke on yours.
The story on "the Lutheran," ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson, was from January. I was…
Bill, I agree. But you're messing with Betsy's MO.