There’s no punishment for failure

THERE’S NO PUNISHMENT FOR FAILURE…. We talked earlier about the problems associated with Frank Gaffney continuously appearing on national television as a credible political voice, despite being consistently wrong about practically everything. Steve Kornacki has a very good item this week highlighting the same problem on a much broader scale.

Mid-way through the Bush years, when Karl Rove somehow convinced people that a “permanent Republican majority” had taken root, major news outlets were stacked with conservative thinkers and activists. The thinking was that conservatism was dominant, so it deserved more media prominence.

Now, however, with Republicans having failed at governing and having been rejected by voters, news outlets are slow to shake up their complement of conservative voices.

If you missed [“Meet the Press” over the weekend], you’ll be happy to know that [Michael Gerson, the former Bush speechwriter], who regularly provides “conservative” perspective for the Washington Post’s op-ed page, is still at it. His most significant contribution to the panel came when he complained about the new administration’s decision to stop using the “war on terror” phraseology in which Mr. Gerson so eagerly trafficked. […]

Turn on CNN and chances are you won’t have to wait long to see the face of Stephen Hayes, who distinguished himself earlier this decade for his insistence, long after it was clear that the opposite was true, that “there can no longer be any serious argument about whether Saddam Hussein’s Iraq worked with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda to plot against Americans.” He also penned a fawning biography of Dick Cheney.

Or pick up the Washington Post, the same paper that gave Mr. Gerson his post-Bush home, and you’ll find a regular op-ed column from William Kristol, the tireless Iraq war champion whose offerings, worse than being wrong, are usually unreadable; Or there’s Ron Christie, a little-known Bush and Cheney aide who has somehow become one of the cable networks’ go-to guys for the conservative viewpoint — which he unfailingly expresses with the language his old bosses favored when they were in power.

All of these people, of course, are entitled to their views. But, besides outdated and discredited bluster, they add nothing to the current discussion.

Quite right. There are, alas, no consequences for conservative media personalities who fail. As Atrios noted last year, “It is really an accountability-free profession.”

As such, conservative commentary is in abysmal shape. On the one hand, we have former loyal Bushies who’ve been given prominent media roles despite their failures and their transparent partisan axe to grind. On the other hand, we have deranged figures like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.

Kornacki’s right that there are reasonable center-right figures who have no incentive to defend Bush/Cheney, and don’t see the need to regurgitate whatever talking points the RNC sent over in the morning. Apparently, though, they’re struggling to break through. The result is a conservative movement that remains stuck in reverse.

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