Monday, March 2, 2009

GOP: Limbaugh or Bipartisanship III

Let's discuss today's developments.

Newly elected RNC Chair Michael Steele tried to assert his leadership over the Republican Party, over and against the perceived headship of Rush Limbaugh, and like two rams jockeying for alpha-male status, rhetorical head-butting ensued. Last night on DL Hughley's show, Steele was asked about Rush Limbaugh, and Steele responded by saying that Limbaugh was an "entertainer" whose radio show is "incendiary" and "ugly." Limbaugh today fired back charging that Steele is "obsessed" with helping Obama succeed, and like Rep. Gingrey (R-GA) before him, Steele backpedaled, apologized, and supplicated to Limbaugh:
“My intent was not to go after Rush – I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh,” Steele said in a telephone interview. “I was maybe a little bit inarticulate. … There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership.”
Limbaugh is now the de facto Republican leader.

With the elevation of Limbaugh as party leader, Democrats now can force congressional Republicans into the corner. If Republicans aren't willing to come work with Obama in a bipartisan fashion, then the Democrats will unceasingly associate Republicans with the extreme viewpoints of Limbaugh. DNC Chair Tim Kaine had this response to the Limbaugh-Steele dust-up:
Chairman Steele’s reversal this evening and his apology to Limbaugh proves the unfortunate point that Limbaugh is the leading force behind the Republican Party, its politics and its obstruction of President Obama’s agenda in Washington. Just this weekend, Rush Limbaugh repeated his claim that he is rooting for the President to fail.
To prove my point further, look at this video of Press Secretary Gibbs today about Limbaugh, bipartisanship, and solving the nation's economic problems. Oh yeah, I almost forgot this AFSCME ad with the same messaging scheme: Republicans say 'no' to Obama because they are taking their cues from Limbaugh, who wants Obama to fail.

And, finally conservative columnist David Frum gets it:
President Obama and Rush Limbaugh do not agree on much, but they share at least one thing: Both wish to see Rush anointed as the leader of the Republican party.
Well yes and no. Obama wants to get work done, but if Republicans don't want to help, then it's all Limbaugh all the time. Frum seemingly understands this and wants to minimize the effect of Limbaugh's microphone:
He plays an important role in our coalition, and of course he and his supporters have to be treated with respect. But he cannot be allowed to be the public face of the enterprise – and we have to find ways of assuring the public that he is just one Republican voice among many, and very far from the most important.


Mandy said...

I completely agree with Drew thus far. Clearly Obama is playing the right off of Limbaugh, forcing them to either go with their base and support Limbaugh or go with the rest of the country and distance themselves from him. He is clearly a figure beloved by the base and reviled by most of the rest of the electorate.
I would, however, throw in another reason why this is brilliant politics. It isn't that Rush is Rush, it is that Rush is Bush. For his entire campaign, Obama had a foil who the electorate hated. Liberals hated Bush, independents hated Bush, and enough conservatives hated Bush that he was an easy target. The dilemna that Mccain found himself in was supporting Bush while somehow distancing himself. He had to get independents believing that he rejected Bush's policies while getting the die hard right wing to believe that he was one of them. He had to do this while also beating one of the best politicians we have seen in some time. He obviously failed.
Now Bush is out of office and not saying anything. So Obama picks a new polarizing voice, someone who will enrage liberals, turn off moderates, and make the Republican base seem like either reasonable to most people or traitors to the die hards. Just like with Mccain, win the country and lose your base or win your base and lose the country. I'm not saying that the Obama administration thought it out in these terms, but it wouldn't suprise me if they did. They needed a new Bush, and they got a fatter, dumber one.

Matt F. said...

Quick edit: that last comment was by me, not my wife Mandy. I wrote the whole thing before I realized I was logged in under her name. She would have used much more profanity.

Darren Staley said...

The GOP is in civil war bordering on full meltdown. Obama should just hang back, keep going with his agenda, and let the Republicans eat their own.

As a Democrat, I love it. As an American, I am saddened by it.

Kent H said...

While not a Limbaugh-ite, I am a conservative and I'm wondering why questioning and debating a (now) multi-trillion dollar bail out plan is equated with "obstruction." I keep waiting for someone (conservative or liberal) to pull out a flipping calculator and do some math. After all, it is square-root day. The weaknesses of a massive government take over of basically everything should scare the socks off of everyone and yet somehow we think that the government will do this right after doing everything else wrong. I think we've finally reached Oz and I guess Limbaugh is the wizard?