Friday, January 30, 2009

Limbaugh - Pig Wrestling?

Pres. Obama mentioned Rush in one sentence in a closed meeting with Republicans as a poor model for getting things done. The result was a media eruption with Rush tossing firebombs, Republican Congressmen suggesting a walk back and then having to apologize to ... Rush. Some pundits are making a case that this was a tactical mistake on the part of the President.

There seem to be a couple intertwined arguments: this elevates Rush, this devalues the Presidency, this will lose votes for the stimulus. While Rush has a very large audience for a radio show, the numbers electorally don't amount to more than two things - people who would never support Obama and who cannot win an election outside a narrow area. Considering that there is no more famous program and none more aggressively self-promoted the chance that this will drive previously uninterested radio listeners to Rush is pretty small and those did would quickly learn why they were uninterested. I have a problem understanding how a sentence is a descent into a foodfight with a blowhard.

There is political value in tying Republicans to Rush provided it is taken by the surrogates rather than the White House now that the door has been cracked open. While the House Republicans may feel Rush is real important thanks to the more narrow interests of CD voters, his type of rhetoric won't win General Elections state or nation wide. Democrats and the left really ought to be familiar with the sort of problem Rush poses for Republicans in that sense, remember the themes of godlessness and gun grabbers? This is a label the Republicans really don't want to wear nationwide. Oregonians may remember the gyrations Gordon Smith went through trying to satisfy the Rush crowd and not lose those who bought his faux moderate stance. It didn't work, for an incumbent.

If Rush becomes the face of Republicanism, its label, his rhetoric becomes the perception of Republicans in general, even to Republicans. I know a lot of Republican voters and that is not the face they want to wear and it is not where they want to go. No Democrat will have a real problem outside a narrow area running against Rush Limbaugh. I cannot think of a bigger gift than a US House Representative calling into that show to apologize for stating that the Republican leadership is better than Rush indicated. I want that as a political theme, I want to beat it like a cheap drum. I can fight with RNC Chair Steele, but Rush is an easier target with considerably more rich ground to mine for stupidity.

It is a simple political fact that the House Republicans more reflect Rush than Steele and using that to its absolute limit is gold. When the DNC, Moveon, America United and others throw up ads using Rush as the face of Republicanism it cannot lose. If you don't think so, watch how the Republicans react to it - its a disgrace, its not truthful, we lead not a radio entertainer. But the kicker is that much such reaction leads to the Gingery problem - how to not look like a Rush shill while being one. Running clips of a Republican House Representative calling Rush and Hannity lions cannot lose with the voters who aren't ideological tools of Rush. If a Republican friend says, "I'm not a Rush clone," the answer is simple, "you're in the wrong Party." You have to remember that as a shooter I get a lot of, "how can you be a member of the gun-grabbers?" as though that label covers much real ground, but it does keep people who ought to vote Democratic in that other tent.

It is worth noting that Rush Limbaugh's rise has pretty much tracked the economic policies that have driven this country into a wall. It is worth bringing to the fore the fact that even with all the help BushCo gave the crash, they were not sufficient to cause the wreck - that is the result of 30 years of Republicanism...or Limbaughism...

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