I first became acquainted with right-wing media in 1992 whilst living south of the Mason Dixon line. The nascent Rush Limbaugh was my drug of choice and, man, was he a hoot. His show on Election Day was particularly Hootacular because, as you may suspect, caller after caller reported they had voted for one-termer Bush.
There was a poignant moment when one caller suggested that maybe -- just maybe -- Bush might win because everybody he heard calling claimed they voted for Bush. Rush gently suggested to the listener (not in these words) that, no, you're listening to a self-selected group not representative of the whole.
Now, of course, that listener would blame Republican defeat on the machinations of ACORN.
Losing NY-23 candidate Doug Hoffman became the latest in an increasingly long line of conservative politicians to blame his problems on ACORN yesterday despite the complete lack of evidence the organization played any role in his defeat.
The Republican base is with him though. PPP's newest national survey finds that a 52% majority of GOP voters nationally think that ACORN stole the Presidential election for Barack Obama last year, with only 27% granting that he won it legitimately. Clearly the ACORN card really is an effective one to play with the voters who will decide whether Hoffman gets to be the Republican nominee in a possible repeat bid in 2010.
I think it's safe to say that, back in 1992, half the Republican electorate wasn't so whacked that they thought Clinton had stolen the election.
Well, I can't peer into the soul of Republicans or gauge the malleability of their brains but I would wager that the willingness of the right-wing media to scream "voter fraud!" "ACORN!" -- and the willingness of the Republican Party and supposed serious Republican voices -- has had something to do with it.
I mean, the Republican base has been instructed since Nixon not to believe anything the mainstream media says ... and certainly callers in to the Sykes show like to boast they no longer get the Journal Sentinel or watch the news (or presumably read the New York Times) ... if they listen to a right-wing media that's willing to say absolutely anything, what are they going to believe? And it's documented that watching Fox News makes you stupid.
I don't know for sure, but I'd wager Wisconsin Republicans beat the national average in believing Obama stole the election. Why? Because inept RPW chairman Reince Priebus says he's tired of losing elections because of voter fraud. Charlie Sykes told his listeners he was deeply concerned that ACORN could throw the election. Patrick McIlheran seems to believe the absence of proof of voter fraud demonstrates it exists (Patrick McIlheran's concerns about registration fraud leading to voter fraud could be eased by findings in Washington State, but he can't let facts jar his curious faith). And Shark and Shepherd, while not willing to make an idiot of himself as is Sykes, hints that it's possible that a massive voter fraud conspiracy could exist -- we just don't know.
This crazy level of stupidity, ignorance or paranoia -- or a heady brew of all three -- is exactly what Sykes feeds into and it's of a piece with the popularity of Sarah Palin and the belief among her flock, against all evidence, that she is somehow representative of America (Dude, she quit her elected position mid-term!) or popular with most folks.
It's not a good place for a political party to be ... one wonders whether any conservative voice will attempt to lead his or her ideological confreres back to reality ... not that there's much reward in that in Republicanland these days.