Sunday, October 29, 2006

Did Rush Limbaugh just give the Senate to the Democrats?

This morning on ABC’s "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" George interviewed Michael J. Fox about his efforts to help elect candidates who support embryonic stem-cell research. Michael explained that the medication he takes for his Parkinson’s disease involves trade-offs. Larger doses allow him to move more freely and speak more normally and with more normal facial expressiveness, but also cause the involuntary motions which are so noticeable in his recent television appearances. If he took less medication there would be fewer or no involuntary motions but his face would be an expressionless mask and he would not be able to speak very easily or persuasively. He explained that he would look and act like Muhammad Ali does when he appears in public if he reduced his medication enough to avoid the involuntary movements.

Rush Limbaugh refers to Michael’s explanation of this difficult trade-off as a confession that he deliberately over-doses on his medication to cause the involuntary motions. Rush Limbaugh also seems to believe that Michael J. Fox is doing this because he hates and wants to hurt Republicans.

Later in the show during the "This Week" Roundtable the Washington Post's E.J. Dionne said that Rush Limbaugh, by asking the public to choose between him and Michael J. Fox, may have just handed control of the Senate to the Democrats.

We can certainly hope so.


Anonymous said...

Your thesis depends on the dubious supposition that a significant number of voters pay attention to the likes of Rush Limbaugh and E. J. Dionne.

Dave Barrett said...

It is not my thesis. I was just reporting on what E.J. Dionne said and hoping it was true. But I have heard an awful lot of comment about this issue. It seems to me that more people are paying attention to this than usually pay attention to political ads and political commentators. You haven't heard much discussion about this?

Anonymous said...

Eh...I doubt it. If speculation were worth as much as those who practice it thought it was, well, for one thing, Rush Limbaugh wouldn't be in the spot he's in right now. E.J. Dionne, Jr. is throwing out a hypothesis without any substantial groundwork. It smacks of intellectual laziness, and that irritates me like crazy.

Dave Barrett said...

I am not following you. Rush Limbaugh attacked the motives and sincerity of Michael J. Fox. E.J. Dionne believes that the effect of this will be to cause more people to vote for the candidates who support embryonic stem-cell research than otherwise would and that this could have the effect of tipping one or two key Senate races to the Democrats, giving the Democrats a majority. E.J. Dionne states this belief on national television. Why was this any more intellectually lazy than you stating that you doubted it?

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the burden of proof lies with the person who makes the claim, not the doubter.

And the claim is obviously absurd. Rush Limbaugh attacking Michael J. Fox is not going to make a significant number of people vote differently in "one or two key senate races". If Rush Limbaugh were running, then maybe his attacks would affect his election. But Rush Limbaugh is not running for Senate. I doubt that any candidate for Senate (especially any candidate running in a "key senate race") self-identifies with Rush Limbaugh. How does Rush Limbaugh making an ass out of himself hurt any candidate? On the other side, if Michael J. Fox were running for Senate, then Rush Limbaugh's attacks might win him some sympathy votes. But sympathy votes don't really transfer, and Fox isn't involved in any "key senate races" that I know of.

And speaking of "key senate races" are there any key senate races where embryonic stem cell research is a major issue? More important than the war in Iraq or immigration reform? Are there a significant number of people in these key states that are going to change their vote because of comments made by a pundit about a relatively minor issue? I doubt it. And don't call me lazy for doubting it.

Dave Barrett said...

So you think that simply replying "I doubt it" gives you a pass on the charge of intellectual laziness that you so freely hurl at others? Whatever.

The whole point of this issue is that Rush Limbaugh unfairly attacking Michael J. Fox has captured the public's attention and thereby made stem-cell research an important issue in the 3 Senate races where the Democratic candidate supports the research and the Republican candidate supports President Bush's ban -- the races that Michael J. Fox recorded television ads for. Since these 3 races were already dead heats a few percentage points could make the difference and E. J. Dionne was speculating that the Fox/Limbaugh episode may have tipped the balance.

You say that this speculation really irritates you. You will probably accuse me of intellectual laziness for saying this without any data to back it up but I suspect that what really irritates you is that your side in this debate has allowed itself to be associated in the public mind with the buffoon Rush Limbaugh. But that's what you get. If you live with Rush Limbaugh you also die with Rush Limbaugh.

Tacky said...

Hey Anon: Unfortunately there are many followers of Rush. I think they call them "Dittos." Most them agree with what he says and it in turn reinforces their thinking. They unfortunately also act on their thinking and so will vote the way he suggets.
David I don't think Rush knows too much about medications. He thought he did and got into trouble for it. Anon thinks Rush's mean observations will have no effect on the voters. I disagree. Negative comments and ads seem to grab the attention of certain types who then act on their conclusions, no matter who made the suggestion--they love dissing and are true believers of people like Rush. Guys like Karl Rove know that and count on it to work for the GOP candidates.