A follow-up to yesterday’s psychotherapy session via Greg Hengler. If you’re measuring political power by the number of alumni who’ve gone on to become senators, then … yeah, I guess they are more powerful. But that dopey metric aside, the question of how much influence Rush and the gang really have over Republican voters is a good one. David Brooks went off about it a few weeks ago — “Over the past few years the talk jocks have demonstrated their real-world weakness time and again” — but Michael Medved was pointing to the electoral impotence of the medium as far back as January 2008, when Maverick was racking up primary win after primary win despite the best efforts of talk radio to paint him as the RINO to end all RINOs. In fact, I’ve always wondered if maybe the reason talk radio stars stay away from running for office is because it would open them up to a direct repudiation at the polls. One of the things that makes Beck an interesting character is that he’s less shy about political participation: Not only is he evidently “building” some sort of outfit, but he’s looking to recruit 56 “re-founders” within Congress to embrace his agenda. If they go down in flames next year — which, admittedly, seems unlikely — then his credibility as the new voice of populist America goes down with them. Pretty gutsy.
Exit question: Wouldn’t a Palin candidacy be the ultimate test of talk radio’s relevance? I can’t think of a single prominent conservative talker who doesn’t adore her. If she, the alleged ultimate “true conservative,” was crushed by Obama in 2012, where would that leave them?