Dark and Light
The National Review is pondering the nature of the Harriet Meirs battle.
I actually think this is a profoundly significant signal in the ongoing -- and at times somewhat lamentable -- transformation of the GOP into a populist party. For example, I've written many times about how liberals don't understand that Fox News' popularity has had less to do with conservatism and more to do with populism than they are prepared to see. Liberals think they're the party of the people, so they tend not to understand populism when it comes from non-liberal quarters. But it is Fox's anti-elitism which pulls in the ratings more than its conservatism. This has been hard to see in the past because Fox's anti-elitism has generally been aimed at liberal institutions -- the New York Times, the ACLU, Harvard, etc. But anti-elitism and conservatism are not and never have been the same thing. And I do think this will be more obvious in the months and years to come. I think this new "elites" versus "heartlanders" trend is only going to grow within the ranks of the GOP. I can't say it's all bad or all good. But it is a major sociological change if the arguments within conservatism are now going to be about "loyalty" to our people (trans: our Party) instead of loyalty to our ideas.
I’m glad my analysis of the party transformations going on is agreed with by observers on the other side of the aisle. I really don’t get though why he says “somewhat lamentable” and “I can't say it's all bad or all good”. If I believed deeply in an ideology, which was supposedly the ideology of the ruling party, and in fact that party had a different ideology than they had professed to me and it looked like it would only get worse, I’d be upset. Especially if those ideologies had such profound contradictions as conservatism and populism do. I’d be doing everything I can to stop it, and not sitting idly by making snarky comments about an ineffectual opposition party.
(Of course, if you find "heartland" vs "elites" arguments to be disturbing ways to ignore real discussions then perhaps I would ask you, National Review, to stop making them.)
On the lighter side.
So with the Colbert Report premiering (and do check out that website, hilarious stuff there), many are happy that the Daily Show is basically twice as long. Except really, it’s that the first ten minutes of the Daily Show are four times as long. Now the first ten minutes are my favorite part, and Colbert was always my favorite correspondent, but… man the irony is thick. In fact, I think it makes it worth watching 15 minutes of Fox News every night just so you can appreciate the irony more.
Already things are being re-jiggered. They had Bill O’Reilly on TDS, and instead of the relatively friendly and “see look what we have in common” interview like a year ago, O’Reilly was fierce and TDS provided no corner. The audience booed, O’Reilly took cheap shots at Stewart (“all these guys do is laugh at the events! The world could end tomorrow, and he’d just sit there and giggle") and Stewart was just as harsh in his replies (“I do admit, we add insult to injury. But you sir, add injury.") in lots of ways that was uncharacteristic for the nice guy show. Do check it out.
Update: Ezra and Slate have some interesting criticisms. Something I would really love to see is a method of getting interviews for this show to be promising policy-advocates something they'd never get anywhere else: the most offensive, straw-man opponent to argue against on national TV to make themselves look correct, Colbert's persona.