The Spectacle Blog

Conservatism and Talk Radio Iowa Winners

By on 1.4.12 | 11:27AM

My conservative colleague in arms Jay Homnick has a great piece today titled "And the Winner in Iowa Is… Rush Limbaugh."

Jay is correct… and I (ahem!) pointed this out here a while back in terms of the 2010 elections.

I will confess to writing along these lines with some frequency. About Rush, who is the irreplaceable original here. And about Sean Hannity and Mark Levin.

A word about these three people that needs to be said again post-Iowa.

The other week I wrote a piece about the need to make the case for a conservative in the 2012 race. One of the points in there is that time, alas, always moves on whether we want it to or not… and there is always a generational hand-off of, well, everything.

In the case of the modern conservative movement, this moment has arrived -- and actually been here for a while. The Goldwaters and Reagans, the Buckleys and Rushers and Kemps are gone.

Who will replace them? Strictly speaking, that's impossible. They were -- as with every human being who ever walked the planet -- unique.

But that said, there is in fact a "next generation" of conservative leaders who have picked up the baton and moved forward. Without question, Rush Limbaugh is, if you will, the new William F. Buckley. The man acknowledged by his colleagues and peers in the talk radio business as the man who sets the pace, the man with The Voice, the man American conservatives look to at moments like Iowa.

And, thankfully, he isn't alone.There have always been these gritty tangles over the direction of conservatism right from the get-go. Buckley had them. Goldwater had them. Reagan had them. They are had today. The current fight has been with Ron Paul and the attempt by his followers to hijack the conservative movement and steer it leftward, labeling one and all who opposed this abandonment of conservative principle "Neo-Cons." Which is to say, under the guise of the Paul campaign these people (decided non-conservatives, perhaps we should just call them henceforth the "Non-Cons"...take a look here as but one example) were going to redefine everything and everybody they didn't agree with. Which, as it turns out, is both conservatism itself as expressed from Burke to Buckley -- not to mention a lot of prominent conservatives as well.

They can't stand Ronald Reagan. (Paul himself flounced out of the then-Reagan led GOP in 1987 saying that Reagan's Cold War policies had made America "less safe today" -- this as Reagan was in fact forcing the collapse of the Soviet Union itself, an event that by then was a mere four years distant.) They despised William F. Buckley -- and they cannot abide Rush. From Justice Scalia to William J. Bennett, on and on and through a whole list of conservative household names (yes, Rick Santorum is on their list too) these folks have been out there trying to undermine and disparage one and all.

This includes, but of course, both Sean Hannity and Mark Levin. Each of whom has had buckets of vitriol dumped over their heads for picking up the Reagan conservatism baton.

A word here about Mark Levin. This is someone who stepped out on the Ron Paul issue right from the get go. Levin is one thoroughly grounded conservative, as his friends and fans well know. He had a keen understanding of exactly what was afoot with Ron Paul and said so -- out loud and frequently. The inevitable abuse poured in, and he never relented in pointing out the intellectual and moral flaws of the Ron Paul brand -- a brand that, as noted here, is on foreign policy decidedly leftist. Straight out of the George McGovern "Come Home America" playbook, its leftist roots are deep. Which is why so many liberal kids followed him in Iowa.

Sean Hannity took his own tack -- not taking sides but providing a respectful platform for all these candidates to come and talk -- at length -- any time. As a Reagan conservative he openly, candidly and respectfully disagreed with Ron Paul on foreign policy -- while making plain his areas of agreement on other issues. Time after time, if one was paying attention, he questioned each candidate about their weaknesses or area of controversy -- Romney's health care issue, Newt's marriages, Herman Cain's sexual harassment problems… and yes… Ron Paul and his controversial newsletters. For the latter he took tons of grief, including from Ron Paul himself -- and in true Hannity style persisted anyway.

So post-Iowa? Whatever else comes down the pike this primary season, one thing is crystal clear.

The base of the Republican Party -- the conservative movement -- wants a conservative on this ticket. And they look to Rush to help them do the vetting they don't have the time or ability to do.

They look to Sean Hannity -- they listen, they watch. They pay attention.

And they have listened intently to Mark Levin on Ron Paul.

Last night, as we have noted, the combined vote for the non-Ron Paul foreign policy candidacies far out-distanced that of Mr. Paul. The Santorum and Romney vote alone was twice that of Mr. Paul.

There are doubtless several reasons for this. But make no mistake, millions of conservatives were listening to Rush. They listened to Hannity and Levin. Why? Because in fact these people are among the next generation of conservative leadership. Scratch next generation. They are the current generation.

Ron Paul's campaign will go on for a while. But his far left foreign policy ideas were a distinct no-sale.

Iowans were paying attention. So Jay Homnick has it right.

The real winner in Iowa is in fact Rush.

And Sean and Mark didn't do so badly either.

A lot of conservatives owe them all a debt of thanks. 

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