David Brooks, a perennial pinata of the far-right even when he minds his own business, went looking for trouble this Friday. (See Robert Stacy McCain's enraged response here.) His column picked apart talk-radio superstars Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin, arguing that while they command mammoth audiences, they actually have little influence among the rank-and-file voters of the GOP. Limbaugh and Levin, responding via email in Politico, penned sneering retaliations.
  • Brooks:  Calling the radio hosts "media mavens who claim to represent a hidden majority but who in fact represent a mere niche," Brooks blames GOP decline on the right wingers' false sense of influence. "The Republican Party is unpopular because it's more interested in pleasing Rush's ghosts than actual people," Brooks writes. 
Over the years, I have asked many politicians what happens when Limbaugh and his colleagues attack. The story is always the same. Hundreds of calls come in. The receptionists are miserable. But the numbers back home do not move. There is no effect on the favorability rating or the re-election prospects. In the media world, he is a giant. In the real world, he’s not.
  • Limbaugh: "Can you say JEALOUS?" Politico's Michael Calderone reports Limbaugh as writing in an e-mail. "[H]ow many Americans know who David Brooks is?"
  • Levin: Calderone reports Levin broadening the attack to include the New York Times in general:
Here's a little insight into conservatives, conservatism and talk radio--we don't care what David Brooks has to say ... He is irrelevant. He is incoherent. And you guys should rely less on The New York Times. Its circulation is plummeting for a reason.