Joe Biden is not Donald Trump. It’s likely one of the main reasons he was elected president in the first place, and it’s definitely a major factor in his early approval rating hovering in the mid-50s. There are many things Biden is that Trump isn’t, but one in particular has conservative radio host Dan Bongino on edge: how boring the new president is.
In an interview with Business Insider’s Sinéad Baker, Bongino—who will soon fill Rush Limbaugh’s radio slot—discussed how difficult his job will be with Biden in the White House. He disagrees with the president’s politics and policies, sure, but Biden’s boringness is his greatest sin from a content standpoint. Bongino fully gives up the game, laying bare the conservative takemaker’s nightmare. Without a central figure to villainize, no one’s really going to care about anything he says.
We’ve already seen what conservative media has turned to in Trump’s absence. The culture war’s been cranked up to 11 and cancel is the verb du jour, but none of it seems to matter. Biden’s approval rating continues creeping upward, and as the second round of stimulus checks hit bank accounts and more Americans are vaccinated it’s bound to climb even higher. There are substantive points on which to knock Biden, but as the interview implies, none of them are particularly capturing.
Bongino says he plans to follow in Limbaugh’s footsteps by talking about things like “economic freedom, school choice, healthcare, freedom” and other right wing buzzwords. But they’re all non-starters without a person to nail to the center of the dartboard. Limbaugh had Obama, and propelled himself to popularity in part through virulent, unapologetic racism and cruelty. Bongino lacks Limbaugh’s grotesque showmanship and doesn’t even have a proper boogeyman to work with.
Perhaps Bongino will lean into the same hackery that made Limbaugh a conservative media icon (and if he won’t take up the racist mantle, Steven Crowder seems happy to step in). Either way, we probably should’ve seen this coming from a conservative media apparatus that ran almost entirely on Trump steam for the past several years. Their Biden attack lines during the election were absurdly weak, including feigned queasiness about the president kissing his son. Nothing really stuck because Biden was and continues to be well-positioned to take the hits. He’s far too moderate to credibly paint as radical and talks too much about unity and healing to be deemed divisive, especially in Trump’s wake.
What does that mean for the future of conservative outrage content and hot take shillers? Probably more ranting about things like Dr. Seuss and Mr. Potato Head in the short term, peppered with pro-police narratives and endless examples of Biden’s boringness. Chuds like Bongino will no doubt adapt, puddle jumping from one non-news story to the next until they find a politician or policy or piece of legislation that actually sticks with their audience. Maybe some contrived scandal will pop up and give them new life or they’ll think up a brand new way to trigger the libs. It’s an extremely boring game, even more boring than Biden himself, but Bongino & co. will continue playing it forever.