The most listened-to talk radio show host in the country, Rush Limbaugh, is often (though not often enough) critical of what he refers to as the Republican Party establishment. His friends and colleagues, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin, are no different in this respect: Each portrays himself as a voice for the rank and file of the Republican Party against the establishment with which it finds itself increasingly at odds.
Although the aforementioned figures rarely mention names, it would appear that if Limbaugh’s, Hannity’s, and Levin’s are the faces of “the conservative movement,” then those of the establishment belong to the likes of Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol, and Karl Rove.
It is during presidential primary contests moreso than at any other time that this rivalry between “conservative” Republicans and establishment Republicans comes into focus, for it is always conflict over the selection of a candidate that seems to shove it most forcefully to the forefront. On the one hand, the voice of the establishment insists upon favoring only the most “moderate” (read: liberal) of candidates. On the other hand, the voice of “the base” — as channeled through such colorful radio and television personalities as the Limbaughs and Hannitys of our world — expresses resentment toward the establishment for its continual betrayal of “conservative principles”: The objective, according to “conservatives” and Tea Partiers the country over, is to always support the most conservative of candidates.
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Jack Kerwick, Ph.D. (photo)