Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Laura Ingraham, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, and countless other talk-radio personalities fill our public airwaves with hours of political advice, political analysis, and political prescriptions for the nation's future. Their certitude on all subjects is awe-inspiring and like George W. Bush they "don't do nuance." They're rich enough to finance their own campaigns, and they have a perfect platform for getting their message out. They have open invitations to speak at political events and rallies. And they have a vast army of dedicated followers who would gladly volunteer to knock on doors, pass out leaflets, and make phone calls. Like President Barack Obama most of them are best-selling authors.
So with the Republican Party flailing about looking for new leaders why don't any of these high-powered conservative radio talkers run for public office?
Sean Hannity, for example, (although he never finished college) got his start in radio as a volunteer at the UC-Santa Barbara station, KCSB, so why doesn't he claim California as his home state and challenge his nemesis Senator Barbara Boxer? Michael Savage, who is originally from the Bronx, could likewise claim New York and make a bid for Hillary Clinton's former Senate seat (maybe then England would allow Mr. Weiner in for a visit). Glenn Beck has roots in both Florida and Pennsylvania so he could be a "double threat." Given Beck's ties to the Tea Bagger movement he would be a superb candidate for the Republicans to win back either Mel Martinez's seat in Florida or Rick Santorum's seat in Pennsylvania. After seeing their talk-show brethren run for office perhaps Bill Bennett, Michael Reagan, Neal Boortz, Hugh Hewitt, Lars Larson, Mike Gallagher, Tucker Carlson, Michael Medved, and Dennis Prager would throw their hats into the ring. These conservative superstars gained eight years of valuable experience carrying water for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and then honed their political skills by repeating every smear, lie, and innuendo about Obama during the 2008 campaign.
And if a "big tent" is what the Republicans are looking for there are a number of influential women from the talk-show ranks who could step up and save the party. Laura Ingraham, for example, being from Connecticut, could try to unseat Joe Lieberman. Ann Coulter, also of Connecticut stock, could go after Christopher Dodd. From her perch in Seattle, Michelle Malkin might be able to replace either Senator Maria Cantwell or Senator Patty Murray. In Virginia, Janet Parshall could run for office without even leaving her radio studio. With Ingraham, Coulter, and Malkin running for the U.S Senate (assisted by possible congressional runs by Peggy Noonan, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and Monica Crowley) we could someday see a "Year of the Republican Woman."
Which brings me to the de facto leader of the Republican Party: Rush Limbaugh. Of course a man of Limbaugh's stature could not waste his time on the U.S. Senate. No, the only office worthy of this man's talents is President of the United States. He brings to the table a unique set of skills: astute political analysis, charisma, speaking chops, and a huge following (he really knocked 'em dead at the Conservative Political Action Committee). And if Limbaugh teamed up with FOX's Bill O'Reilly the Republican Party would have a political "Dream Team." O'Reilly would bring experience, level-headedness, and common sense to the ticket. Rush can recruit throngs of "dittoheads" while O'Reilly sparks enthusiasm among people in a slightly older demographic. Given both men's talents for demagoguery and huge followings the only problem might be determining whose name should appear at the top of the ballot.
Then again, maybe none of these Republican media stars have chosen to run for office because: 1). They'd have to take a huge pay cut; 2). They'd have to engage voters in serious discussions about real problems instead of just hurling partisan invective; and 3). Although they know audiences find them "entertaining" voters would humiliate them at the polls.