What did Huckabee know about planted call from Cumulus VP that attacked Rush Limbaugh?
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As was observed in my column last week, John and Lew Dickey may well have considerable business chops. But the conservative talk radio business that was essentially invented by Rush Limbaugh has for reasons familiar to conservatives across the land become very much a cherished conservative medium.
After decades of being shut out by a liberal mainstream media, conservatives finally had a way to break the stranglehold of that mainstream media. As the years have gone by, with Rush always at the top of the pyramid, other stars have blossomed. From Sean Hannity to Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, and local hosts everywhere, these people have become, Rush Limbaugh first and foremost, not just a voice on the radio but the very embodiment of conservatism itself.
And there has been no shortage of liberals trying to unhorse Rush, from Air America’s Al Franken to ex-New York Governor Mario Cuomo, Texas populist Jim Hightower and more. All have failed miserably.
Challenging Rush is seen by many conservatives as an attack on conservatism itself.
This is a real problem for the Dickeys and Huckabee. And this botched business with a phony questioner could instantly cause a very predictable problem.
Mike Huckabee, again as noted last week, is one of the nicest people on the planet today. But in their heydays so were the late Gerald R. Ford and then President George H.W. Bush. Both took the kind of “kinder, gentler” conservative politics (to use a phrase of Bush’s) as their signature — and both wound up losing the White House. With conservatives across the country simply dropping both Ford and Bush — and “RINO” Republicans altogether.
Why? Because all were seen as trying to game conservatives. Case in point again, President Bush 41. A genuine war hero, a good man… the story of his “read my lips, no new taxes” pledge is infamous in conservative circles still even though it happened way back in 1990. Bush came to embody the idea that “RINO’s” were simply untrustworthy when it came to dealing with conservatives.
For better or worse, the bet by the Dickeys is that Mike Huckabee, accused in 2007 by the conservative now-Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Pat Toomey of wanting to steer the GOP leftward, can unseat Rush. And by implication, replace, as it were, Reagan Radio with Ford or Bush Radio.
All of which means in turn: the messenger has to have more credibility than might otherwise be the case.
And right off the bat, Governor Huckabee’s credibility as a conservative radio host has been jeopardized with a planted question from a Cumulus executive. A question that deliberately took a shot at Rush and the conservative movement… and by all appearances was pre-arranged.
There is doubtless a ways to go here in all this.
But the entire venture has taken onto itself the image that it is about far more than just a talk radio show.
It is about replacing Reagan conservatism — represented here by Rush Limbaugh — with RINO Radio.
Did Mike Huckabee know he was getting a planted question — and deliberately refuse to tell his audience? Mr. Dickey says no.