Liberal and conservative bloggers were asked to name the "columnists, bloggers and television or radio commentators [who] most helped to shape their opinion or worldview."
The liberals answered (in order) Paul Krugman, Rachel Maddow, Frank Rich, Bill Moyers, and Digby. A Nobel Prize winner, a Rhodes Scholar, a former top government official, a New York Times columnist, and a blogger who I admit I don't read and know little about.
The conservative list was (again, in order) Charles Krauthammer, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Steyn, Jonah Goldberg, and Eugene Volokh. A Washington Post columnist, a UCLA law professor, and three utter morons.
UPDATE: Geez, I leave to pick up a prescription for Grandma, and the entire house comes down! Alas, while Krauthammer is fine enough for a conservative pundit, and Prof. Volokh is without a doubt extraordinarily intelligent (and someone I have plenty of respect for), any movement which lets their opinions be "shaped" by Rush Limbaugh or Jonah "I don't need to read Herbert Spencer if I can just ask experts to tell me about him and then ignore what they say" Goldberg (or Jonah "Black political movements are just one big blur to me" Goldberg) is in truly sorry shape. It might be slightly unfair to group in Steyn with these anti-luminaries -- but only slightly, as Steyn is pretty far from what you would call a distinguished intellect. The point being, I'm tired of the soft bigotry of low expectations that surrounds the American right. It's not like there have never been high caliber conservative public intellectuals before. Is this really all you want out of your movement? Raise your game!
Look -- I recognize my elitist fantasies wherein liberals are primarily influenced by Martha Nussbaum, Iris Marion Young, John Dewey, Richard Rorty, and (sure, why not) Paul Krugman, and conservatives take their cues from Friedrich Hayak, Robert Nozick, Richard Posner, Michael Oakeshott, and Leo Strauss, are never going to come true. But we could elevate the discourse a little bit, no? Judge Posner is a whip-smart conservative public intellectual. Antonin Scalia certainly is never far from the public eye. I have (liberal that I am) objections to the vast majority of the conservative commentariat, but that doesn't mean I can't draw a qualitative distinction between a George Will or Reihan Salam and a Rush Limbaugh or Jonah Goldberg.
This, of course, doesn't address the point made by some that intelligence isn't what we should be looking for from our influences, but something else (apparently raw demagogic popularity). To the extent that is the real objection -- conceding that a Limbaugh doesn't have the book larnin' that a Krugman does but possesses that ever-nebulous quality of "common sense" -- then I default back to my original conclusion, that I like our list better. I'm perfectly willing to stake my claim upon the terrain of ideas, and leave conservatives to the field of snickering bon mots and rabble-rousing. It may be unsporting to engage in intellectual combat with an opponent so clearly unarmed, but such is the world we apparently live in. I'd rather it weren't, but it is.