Top Democrats believe they have struck political gold by depicting Rush Limbaugh as the new face of the Republican Party, a full-scale effort first hatched by some of the most familiar names in politics and now being guided in part from inside the White House.
The bigger, the better, agreed [Democratic strategist James] Carville. “It’s great for us, great for him, great for the press,” he said of Limbaugh. “The only people he’s not good for are the actual Republicans in Congress.”
This may be a politically canny move – Limbaugh has a pretty small following of supporters and most Americans really don’t like him, so linking him to the
Republican party itself will probably turn more people away from the GOP than towards it – but I don’t think it is necessary or worthwhile. Bill Arkansas told me it was “Rove-ian,” and I agree that this whole thing seems pretty nasty. I know Rush himself makes big bucks off the ad-hominem, but I wish the Democratic leadership would back off kind of petty and mostly useless discourse. Obama still has a 61% approval rating, and will continue to earn returns off his political capital with smart policy and use of the media, so I don’t think this sort of stuff is necessary.
That said, I do think that the whole situation is a good example of what’s wrong with the GOP. Their leaders are so devoid of charisma and, well, leadership, that anyone who criticizes Rush immediately needs to kowtow in front of him and beg for forgiveness. Ta-Nehisi has a pretty funny post about how Michael Steele, the RNC chairman who wants to bring the Republican party to the hip-hop world, needs to learn a little about dissing if he’s going to get any street cred.
Rush Limbaugh represents the worst stripe of conservatism: me-first selfishness and
knee-jerk hatred to anything outside of his narrow view. He really doesn’t deserve such a spot in the national discourse (yeah, 14.25 million people listen to his show daily, but what’s the number 2 most-listened to show? If you guessed NPR’s Morning Edition, close on Rush’s heels at at 13.5 million, you win a prize.) and I wish the Democrats would focus on confining him to his well-worn insults and hot air, rather than raising his profile in order to make hay.