Conor Friedersdorf, one of the smartest conservatives (real conservative, not just an anti-liberal) around, accurately blames the current budget and debt ceiling showdown largely on the right wing echo chamber that values conflict with liberals (and fellow conservatives) over intelligent policymaking.
“Republicans can pretty much say whatever they want, no matter what the bizarre logic and no matter what connection it has to what they were saying five minutes ago, and Fox News will totally accept it and blast it for hours or days,” Jonathan Bernstein observes. “The result? Republicans have become incredibly lazy. After all, why bother constructing a coherent argument if you don’t need one.”
It’s true. In order to get good press from the conservative media, Republican politicians need not craft a brilliant political strategy or impress with policy substance or excel at persuading the public that conservative ideas are the way forward. They need only find themselves in conflict with President Obama and Democrats…
Watch Sean Hannity. Listen to Rush Limbaugh. With few exceptions, the focus is winning whatever fight happens to be dominating the current news cycle. Each one is treated as if it is as maximally significant as any other, and that is no coincidence. If you’re driven by partisan tribalism more than ideology, if getting in rhetorical digs at liberals thrills you more than persuading adversaries or achieving policy victories, it makes sense that you would fight substantively inconsequential battles with no more or less vigor than any other…The amount of conservative hackery broadcast and published every day remains staggering. In private, that fact is widely acknowledged even among movement conservative pundits, who can hardly deny something so glaringly obvious. But I have long been in a tiny minority of observers who regard conservative media as something that must be reformed if the right is to recover. How can an ideological movement succeed if its leaders and its rank and file daily rely on bad information from sources that constantly peddle fiction as fact?
As long as the right wing values belligerence and invective over intelligence and thoughtfulness, this is going to continue. All of the rewards — electoral, financial and in terms of status and standing — go to those who scream the loudest, declare themselves the purest and attack anyone who speaks intelligently about anything. With those incentives in place, Ted Cruz becomes inevitable.