As I said in my update yesterday, Daschle’s reaction to Rush Limbaugh’s ranting was a big mistake. Howard Kurtz demonstrates why, and not because he’s giving examples; Kurtz is the example. Here’s the normally reasonable Kurtz completely ignoring what Limbaugh said, as if his rant were entirely reasonable.
Political attacks in general work because, too often, the news media and pundits ignore the substance of the attack and go immediately looking for a response. And, too often, politicians don’t know how to properly time and measure a response (kairos). Ironically, this is partially an effect of the fairness bias. What should happen first? Analyze the attack. Does it have merit?
Those who are attacked must respond–with intelligence. Aristotle gives some excellent advice in this regard in his famous treatise “On Rhetoric.” In Daschle’s case, I think he should have played it more nonchalantly in contrast to Limbaugh’s desk-pounding vehemence, e.g. “Who is Rush Limbaugh? An entertainer. Why should a U.S. Senator take him seriously? Next question.”