August 20, 2010

Mickey Kaus tried to do a 3-hour radio talk show, but "They said I lacked intimacy, Bob."



Kaus says:
"Basically, you're talking to people who are alone in their apartments. And I knew I dropped the ball on that. I forgot that. I was proclaiming like Rush Limbaugh, you know, denouncing people, as if I was talking to talking to a crowd of 10,000 people. And I knew I screwed that up."
Now, wait a minute. Your mistake was that you were too much like Rush? But Rush is very successful on the radio. I'm not hearing your show — can we get an audio clip? — but I'm willing to bet that you tried to talk the way you imagine Rush talks — "proclaiming... denouncing... as if I was talking to talking to a crowd of 10,000 people" — but that you are wrong about him.

In fact, Rush does not lack intimacy. The show doesn't feel like an oration to a crowd. Even though Rush gets loud and rowdy, he only does that some of the time, and he pulls back and gets confidential or off on some little digression about his dogs or his Apple computers. He travels a very wide range of soft to loud and back again. There's a musical range of tone, with good pauses and changes of pace. There's a big emotional range too, from serious to funny and from angry to silly. There's a tremendous amount of artistry to the performance, and the effect is like having a very interesting, talkative, demonstrative friend watching the news on TV with you.

In fact, as Zev Chafets wrote about Rush in the NYT Magazine a few years back, Rush picked up his style from his father:
Limbaugh’s father, Rush Jr., was a lawyer... a prominent local Republican activist and the most influential figure in his sons’ lives. He served as a pilot in World War II and became vehemently anti-Communist and very much committed to the ideas and ideals of small-town Protestant America... To this day, Limbaugh calls his father “the smartest man I’ve ever met.”

Certainly he was one of the most opinionated and autocratic. “On Friday nights my friends would come over to the house just to listen to my dad rant about politics,” Limbaugh recalls. “He was doing the same thing as I do today, without the humor or the satire. He didn’t approve of making fun of presidents. He didn’t think that sort of thing was funny.”

Dick Adams, Rush’s boyhood friend and high-school debate partner, told me: “Mr. Limbaugh didn’t suffer fools lightly, let’s just put it like that. Many times I was over there when he called down Rush or David in harsh tones. There was usually a string of expletives attached.”
See? It's the feeling of being in that living room with the smartest — and funniest — man I’ve ever met. Here's this middle-aged guy that the young kids will go out of their way to hear rant — in his home. Not to a crowd of 10,000. It's home-style talking... sound you would like to fill your apartment (or car) with when you're alone. It does not lack intimacy. Don't underestimate what he does. It's something no one else has been able to achieve — including Rush, Sr., who didn't have the humor.

61 comments:

traditionalguy said...

Nice post Professor. You obviously like talking about Rush. He needs your insights to help keep him using his best potential, seriously.

ricpic said...

Guaranteed Kaus doesn't listen to Rush.

GMay said...

Mickey looks more like he's yelling at Wright to get off his yard.

Either that or he's pissed that Wright just woke him up.

AllenS said...

Kaus says:
"Basically, you're talking to people who are alone in their apartments."

Kaus doesn't get it. I'll bet most people who call Rush, live in houses, and have more life experiences than Kaus.

rhhardin said...

KFI is the big time.

A Dem who's anti-union would be a good host for their talk stable.

Rush's secret is self-deprecation, which is what his bigger-than-life confidence actually is.

Kaus is good at the self-deprecation (rare on the left), and so resembles Rush in that step; but apparently only when he talks to Wright.

Dead Julius said...

Accepting what you write, Althouse, would mean accepting that Rush is human-- an enormously entertaining intelligent person with normal emotions and a generally good spirit and some shortcomings, just like the most of the rest of us.

But no! No! It can't be! My Leftist brain rejects the notion because I have been told for so long that I am part of a superior group. Rush positions himself against the superiority of me and my friends. Part of me will die if I acknowledge that evil fat druggie bastard to be just as human as I am.

David said...

Does Rush have a script? Does he read his comments?

Nooooooo.

That's what separates him from the ordinary broadcaster, or the ordinary President.

He does not need a teleprompter, which of course is a fancy name for a script.

ricpic said...

If you want - or wanted, not sure if she's still on the air - to listen to someone talking to people in their apartments your girl is Lynn Samuels. Her Greenwich Village Trotskyite madness is unmatched.

mesquito said...

That's thing. I can't listen to an oration for more than a few minutes. Rush has a rap.

Dead Julius said...

You wanna know who is as good as Rush, but from a Gen-X instead of baby-boom perspective?

Podcaster Dan Carlin.

somefeller said...

I'll bet most people who call Rush, live in houses, and have more life experiences than Kaus.

Probably true, but that ain't saying much. There's probably no one in the world who's been able to get more out of being a former writer for the New Republic, while producing little or nothing of note thereafter, than Mickey Kaus.

mesquito said...

Kaus tanked, but he has no idea why.

He really ought to try listening to Limbaugh a time or two.

Kirstin said...

Doesn't Mickey Kaus live alone in an apartment? Maybe he thinks that others are like him. It's not a typical adult SoCal thing to live in an apartment.

I'm still not used to Dennis Miller as a talk radio host. David Horowitz is interesting as a substitute host.

edutcher said...

If I'm correct, Rush did a lot of radio before going talk. Kaus is print. He talks mostly to himself when he works.

Trooper York said...

Did they ask his goat?

kcom said...

Mickey Kaus sure has a face for radio. At least he's got that going for him.

Fen said...

Kaus: Basically, you're talking to people who are alone in their apartments.

Kaus *looks* like one of those people who are alone in their apartments.

Paul said...

I find Kaus funny in a dry sort of way on Blogging Heads. He has a nice detached, amused take on things.

Bob Wright is a party-line liberal who gets exasperated whenever Kaus deviates from the orthodoxy and reacts shrilly, his voice getting higher and higher.

I could take 3 hours of Kaus a lot easier than 3 hours of Wright.

Chris said...

I think you nailed it by describing Rush´s delivery as musical. It's not hard to imagine Kaus sustaining a single, unwavering note, which is a major turn-off that totally overwhelms the quality of an orator's ideas. You see the same thing with a lot of bloggers all over the spectrum who are nothing but one-note sustained indignation or rage or snark. Doesn't matter what they have to say and it's not about "intimacy" either.

Trooper York said...

When they do boringheads it is like the "According to Jim" guy debating Niles Crane.

Not must see TV.

Just sayn.

deborah said...

I think if he worked at it, he'd be great. He's humorous and down-to-earth. He could go national if he approached it in the right spirit; BS-ing with callers, railing against Boxer, bitching about the California economy, having Coulter, Wright, etc., on as occasional guests. Hell, it could be his next campaign launchpad.

http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/28843?in=10:56&out=12:16

deborah said...

"When they do boringheads it is like the "According to Jim" guy debating Niles Crane.

Not must see TV.

Just sayn."

You bastard.

AJ Lynch said...

The dads of a couple of my buddies were smart, informed and could say anything and did say anything but they always threw in enough humor to their exclamations. They were both hard workers and self-employed. One was a bricklayer and one had swam in the Olympics.Not highly educated but way smarter than most of today's allegedly educated liberals.

BTW I don't get the Althouse enthusiasm for either Kaus or Wright.

Ricpic- I heard Lynn Samuels on some station a week or so ago. Yes she is nasally and still nuts. I think Trooper dated her in the 1970's.

HT said...

Rush gets loud and rowdy, he only does that some of the time,

and he outright lies and elides the rest of the time.

Diane Rehm was saying today that right after the election (or right after he took office), Rush was calling Obama "Hussein Obama" all the time. Then she said that yesterday or the day before he's been denying he ever said it. I notice in his recounting the details of the latest incendiary this or that, he often leaves out key causes. Very slimey.

Trooper York said...

Getting a blowjob does not consititue dating. Just sayn'

El Pollo Real said...

Kaus *looks* like one of those people who are alone in their apartments.

In this context, "apartment" strikes me like the word "apartheid" does. Not in the South African segregational sense but rather in the original Dutch meaning of the word. linkage

"Apartment" is a real, French-sounding existential word for our times.

AJ Lynch said...

Diane Rehm is a reliable source regarding Rush? I guess neither Janeane Garolfola nor Al Franken was available.

HT said...

I believe her.

AJ Lynch said...

Hey I didn't say you actually went out in public with her.

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trooper York said...

Hey Bill Clinton is with me on this one and I for one and glad of his support.

mesquito said...

Tell you what, HT. Every word Rush has said in the last twenty years is online. Why don't you get busy and dig up the offending comments?

Oh, and Diane Rehm host the funniest show on radio, imho.

Donna B. said...

Rush grates on my nerves even when he is saying something I agree with. I could be just an auditory curmudgeon, because most other "talkers" annoy me too.

Just write it down and let me read it, OK?

Ann Althouse said...

"Diane Rehm was saying today that right after the election (or right after he took office), Rush was calling Obama "Hussein Obama" all the time. Then she said that yesterday or the day before he's been denying he ever said it. I notice in his recounting the details of the latest incendiary this or that, he often leaves out key causes. Very slimey."

Okay, Rehm is either ignorant or slimy. Rush uses "Barack Hussein Obama" in imitation of that children's rap of praise, seen here. Horrific and worthy of satire. On yesterday's show, he was denying that he said "Imam Hussein Obama." Here's the transcript of that:

"Here's Kirsten Powers, Fox News Channel's Happening Now. Kirsten Powers and the Republican strategerist Chip Saltsman are the guests, and during a discussion about this new Pew poll

"POWERS: The reason for that is that you have people like Rush Limbaugh referring to him as Imam Hussein Obama.

"RUSH: No, I have not said Imam Hussein Obama. I've never thrown Hussein in there, I just said Imam Obama. This is day three. Imam Barack Hoover Obama is the correct nomenclature, Ms. Powers, that I have been using. Imam Barack Hoover Obama...."

Good lord. Rehm is making a complete mush of it, and her listeners will probably never check her work. Contemptible. Truly contemptible.

J said...

Limbaugh may be articulate, entertaining, and/or humorous at times. So was PT Barnum. So is the best used car salesman in town, even when he's pitching some POS to a rube.

For that matter Limbaugh never wavered in his support of the BushCo Admin as they insisted on the immediate danger of WMDs in Iraq, and the policy of Bombs-away ( tho' the IWE was called a "police action" initially). And he's never wavered in his support of Reaganomics .

He's just another salesman

mesquito said...

Good on you, Ann Althouse.
****

I've heard Kaus quite a few times -- most recently on the Ricochet podcast -- and there's no reason he wouldn't be good at radio. He just needs to ease in, with one guest per hour or something. He's funny, and he's got an extremely sensitive BS detector.

mesquito said...

Thanks J!

It's been months since I've seen "BushCo."

Now hurry on back to Daily Kos. They need you.

HT said...

Dear Ann,

Yes, 'good on you.' But, sorry, I am confused. Can you help me understand this?

Go here

http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/daily/site_081810/content/01125106.guest.html

search "Imam"

And here's the Politico: "Mosque Debate Strains Tea Party, GOP." The Politico is once again running a fantasy as a news story. Remember how they all were having a conniption, having a cow out there when a candidate Obama endorsed actually won? It was historic, never before had happened, and of course it put to rest the notion that the Democrats were dead, incumbents are not dead. You know, it really is the Twilight Zone. The Tea Party is not even weighing in on the mosque. The Tea Party's worrying about other things, like jobs and the economy and Obama's single-handed destruction of it. Imam Hussein Obama mmm, mmm, mmm. I want to be fair, too. He probably is the best anti-American president the country's ever had. So I don't want to be misinterpreted here as just a knee-jerk critic. Ed Gillespie is the former RNC chairman saying that we should downplay the mosque, don't overplay it here.

Juba Doobai! said...

Ah, jeez, you said "don't underestimate what he did," and I'm hearing myself say "no, no, Althouse. It's don't 'misunderestimate' what he did." Language, it's a wonderful thing. Kaus ought to listen to the master carefully.

Leslie said...

I think Mickey Kaus is quite funny but, yes, is probably not good at being a radio talk show host. What boiled me about the conversation was almost an hour in when Wright—talk about a religious whack-o—starts basically saying that we should all be happy for a measurement to be used to decide if government-run healthcare should pay for an expensive treatment, you know, because it's so rational, and that folks like Virginia Postrel should be more thoughtful about spending several hundred dollars a day to get rid of cancer because, you know, we could do a whole bunch of good for some kids in Africa. I never did like him because he never really makes an argument, he just asserts stuff—like, I've met the mosque imam once so everyone should believe me when I tell you he's a great guy—and it's always based in his biased view of the word "we." What a prick.

mesquito said...

You got a date on that, HT?

I bet it's after Limbaugh had already convicted of it by the senile, ridiculous Diane Rehm.

But no biggee. Rehm's tiny audience of smug liberals will believe anything that come in the whispy, effeminate tones of NPR.

El Pollo Real said...

Paul Shanklin could do a spoof of Chicago Transit Authority's song I'm a Man for Rush:

I'm imam, yes I am, yes I am, and I can't help but love you so...



Anybody seen reader_imam lately?

Sixty Grit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
deborah said...

Leslie,
"saying that we should all be happy for a measurement to be used to decide if government-run healthcare should pay for an expensive treatment, you know, because it's so rational, and that folks like Virginia Postrel should be more thoughtful about spending several hundred dollars a day to get rid of cancer because, you know, we could do a whole bunch of good for some kids in Africa."


I saw that podcast. Did he specifically refer to Postrel when he said that? I love Bob, but he can be vexing at times.

deborah said...

Folks, who are some of your favorite talk show radio hosts?

Bob_R said...

Yet another in a long string of reasonably talented people who try to do radio and fail miserably and then pretend to try to understand why Rush is so much better than they. If Kaus or Franken or any of the thousands of Rush wannabees that press their lips to an RE-20 and hope for the best really knew how Rush did it ... they'd do it. Great entertainment/ great art is magic. Always is. Always will be.

Terrye said...

I don't always agree with Rush, but I always find him interesting. He is very good at what he does.

Sixty Grit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AJ Lynch said...

HT:

You first said Rehm claimed Rush was saying that "right after Obama's election" but the quote you supplied were from this week and the GZM controversy. Do you need a few minutes to get your story straight?

deborah said...

Sixty Grit (great name),
The most annoying thing an interviewer does is interrupt his guest's train of thought. You're sitting there, absorbed in the guest's point, and bingo, Charlie Rose chimes in with his thoughts or another question.

Carol said...

I love Rush and Kaus both, but it's obvious Kaus never listened to Rush, or caught him only during one of his faux-pompous shticks. I notice Silent Gen and older people seem to take offense at Rush's irony, but Kaus isn't that old. It could be sort of a professional jealousy that keeps him from studying Rush's work.

For other hosts..I used to like Laura Ingraham, but only when she was riffing on something like sound bytes. Her interviews were boring and too reverent.

I like Mark Steyn, of course, and it's not just the accent but his perspective as an outsider with knowledge of things going on abroad that listeners here often don't have any clue about - like single payer in action.

Andrea said...

Why do they both look like bums? If I knew I was going to be on video, I'd comb my hair and put on a nice shirt. If I were a guy I'd shave (a video appearance is no time to reveal you're trying to grow a beard). I guess if you stay alone in your apartment too long you forget to take care of your own appearance.

Paul said...

Andrea said...Why do they both look like bums?

I think they look like Bert and Ernie.

rcocean said...

Ah, Charlie Rose. Sometimes I hate that mofo. He's OK sometimes, usually when he's interviewing some High muckty-muck, but far too often he has ADD or thinks we want to hear what HE thinks.

I'm banned from watching him on TV. Mrs. RC has gotten tired of hearing me constantly shout "STFU Rose!" - I now only listen online - in my study.

Fen said...

Good lord. Rehm is making a complete mush of it, and her listeners will probably never check her work. Contemptible. Truly contemptible.

Yup. Maybe if the Rush-bashers stopped calling him "fatty" long enough to do some mental calisthenics, they wouldn't fall on their faces everytime they try to take him down.

Fen said...

The most annoying thing an interviewer does is interrupt his guest's train of thought. You're sitting there, absorbed in the guest's point, and bingo, Charlie Rose chimes in with his thoughts or another question

Thats what I hate about O'Reilly. Except when he interrupts, its not to ask a question but to make asinine remark. Soon as his guest gets interesting and I lean in, Blowhard cuts him off. Like clockwork.

And of course, O'Reilly will betray legitmate conservative points [Swiftboat Vets, Arizona Minute Men] jsut to make himself look "objective".

Ron said...

In the video, Kaus looks like the guy you're fearful to give spare change to because you know he'd blow it on meth. Wright must have taken the master class in How To Light Yourself So You Look Like a Concentration Camp Victim.

Kaus and Wright work because their politeness is the sweet candy shell concealing the rich peanutty taste of their mutual dislike.

HT said...

AJ Lynch said...

HT:

You first said Rehm claimed Rush was saying that "right after Obama's election" but the quote you supplied were from this week and the GZM controversy. Do you need a few minutes to get your story straight?

___

Ok, but what? You all can't do any web research?



Yes. Diane got Rush wrong. He has been using "Barack Hussein Obama" since the election I think. For a long time anyway. It's hard to know for sure since as everyone on here probably knows (but feels ok requesting me to do anyway), RL's archives are searchable for only 4 weeks or months. Correct me if I am wrong. So, it might be safe to assume that he has not been saying "Imam Hussein Obama" since the election or taking office. (This is where Rehm got confused and lazy.) But again, it's hard to know for sure.

I got it wrong for believing Diane Rehm when she said RL is denying he ever called Obama by his full name.

Rush got himself wrong. What he was denying was that he ever said "Imam Hussein Obama." But he did, at least according to his own transcripts and the recording of his show.

And I'll leave it up to Ann to say whether or not her quoting Rush Limbaugh saying that he never said "Imam Hussein Obama" before yesterday was an endorsement of the truthfulness of the statement.

Alex said...

Wow calling him Hussein when that's his MIDDLE name is just a fucking crime.

rhhardin said...

If I knew I was going to be on video, I'd comb my hair and put on a nice shirt.

That's a girl talking.

Andrew Shimmin said...

The podcast of Kaus's radio program is available here (link to the mp3 file--if it doesn't work, you can go here and scroll down to Kaus).

Doesn't start out great, but maybe it'll get better.