It's a tad muddled whether Ruffini is implying that Limbaugh is in any way a "heartland conservative" (which, you know, would be even more ludicrous than these folks usually are) or that such a political unicorn would be an adequate substitute for Limbaugh. It's the end of that weird sentence that is truly the most puzzling. Why is "defended Palin" a criterion for the gig, why would such a thing be a qual to flash, seriously? She is well on her way to her rightful place as a footnote, a distant memory of a demagogic sideshow. This betrays a whole host of obvious issues -- lack of actual seriousness and intellectual honesty among them -- but usually these guys tend to be a little more circumspect about overloading the clown car when they are constructing Serious Proposals.
Of course, Ruffini finishes up with the obvious -- that they really just want someone who will piss libruls off, give 'em a weekly titty-twister whilst throwing red meat to the goobers. The thing is, I know my share of Limbaugh listeners (at least in the past; strangely, most of them don't seem to be bothering with him much lately), and none of them read, and they sure as hell don't read the New York Times, not even when it's Twittered and RSS'ed. I don't think the angry codger market that Limbaugh caters to from his beach mansion is up for all these nifty tech gadgets.
Nor would Limbaugh even want the gig if it were offered. Why would he? He's a shill, a carny, an obscenely well-paid lackey. His schtick is passing out affirmations to the easily fooled, not engaging in open debate. He's not a writer; he's in his comfort zone with a handful of notes and press clippings, practicing his basso profundo, riffing on whatever he pulls out of his ass. He famously works without a script, so why would he suddenly want to start writing them, so the fanboyz can feel better about their incoherence and epic failures?
Their selling point is that they think that Limpballs is on Obama's shit list, not recognizing Obama's use of Fatboy's name simply as a signifier, a shorthand to indicate that Obama rightly wasn't going to have patience with dealing with that mess right now. If the opposition has a legitimate counter-argument or proposal, they could present it without the effusive lies and loaded rhetoric Limbaugh and his ilk truck in. Simple enough.
And Limbaugh has already back-waddled from his earlier assertions that he wanted Obama to fail, lamely demurring that since the country's fortunes are tied to Obama's, of course he wants Obama to succeed, but simply believes that the policies are doomed to fail. This is a difference without much of a distinction, especially since none of these talk-show bloviators nor their minority-party counterparts in Congress have produced anything besides the usual ankle-biting routine.
What they seem blissfully ignorant of is how consistently all of the Times' columnists are regularly slapped around by liberals and centrists. Friedman and Dowd get as much abuse from us as Kristol or Bobo get. Krugman, Rich, and Bob Herbert are relatively unscathed, but that's because they manage to avoid the pundit trap of not knowing what the hell they're talking about.
Some of the commenters' suggestions are equally
There hasn't been anything conservative about these people in a long time. They're reactionaries, antidisestablishmentarians, counter-reformationists, whatever. But there is no longer any internal logic to their laundry list of imaginary grievances, pud-pulling jeremiads for the most unqualified candidate for higher office since Dan Quayle. I honestly can't think of anybody that would please these meatheads and not turn the op-ed page into an even bigger joke. But as far as an actual not-liberal writer who can present ideas coherently, they could do worse than Niall Ferguson. Or they could just even it up with addition by subtraction and send MoDo on permanent assignment.