Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh sure talk loudly, said David Brooks in The New York Times, but the "great microphone giants" are as powerless as the Wizard of Oz. Sure, they can scare politicians by getting their listeners to make angry phone calls, but when it comes to getting actual Republican voters to the polls, "the talk jocks have demonstrated their real-world weakness time and again." That's why the GOP is in trouble—it falls for the myth of the talk jocks' power every time.
Brooks is right to say that "there is no Beck or Limbaugh 'majority,'" said Marc Ambinder in The Atlantic, but that doesn't mean their power is an illusion. The GOP of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck isn't the party Brooks embraces, "but it's the GOP distilled to its essence. And it's one reason why, midterm gains next year notwithstanding, Republicans must incorporate these elements into whatever coalition it builds for the future."
It's too bad the ranters are getting so much attention, said Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal. It's dangerous and destructive when a left-wing radio jock says Republicans "want to see you dead," and a right-wing radio talker says "the republic is failing." That's one reason it's so painful to be losing so many of the "Elders of journalism"—William Safire, Walter Cronkite, Bob Novak, Don Hewitt, Irving Kristol. "They were tough guys who got in big fights," but they knew where the line was, and they put country first.