Rush Limbaugh has become, next to Barack Obama, the Republican Party’s biggest problem.
It’s Limbaugh who has been making the case, even more forcefully than the Democratic president, that the Republican Party has no message, has no direction, has no reason for being; that, in fact, it is as much in awe of Barack Obama as everybody else.
The new president, declared Limbaugh, is “obviously more frightened of me than he is Mitch McConnell. He’s more frightened of me than he is of, say, John Boehner, which doesn’t say much about our party.”
Phil Gingrey, a Republican congressman from Georgia, promptly defended his colleagues and their obviously tricky status—a minority party trying to figure out how to respond to an enormously popular president in a time of near national emergency.
But attacking Rush has scary consequences. At the beginning of the war, Limbaugh roughed me up on the radio for some skeptical remarks I had made at a televised Pentagon briefing in the Persian Gulf—the Centcom follies—and, in a torrent of tens of thousand of vile screeds, my email server collapsed.
Congressman Gingrey was, after manfully standing up to Rush, almost immediately begging his forgiveness. “I regret and apologize for the fact that my comments have offended and upset my fellow
conservatives,” said Gingrey, on his belly. "I see eye-to-eye with Rush Limbaugh."
The Rush end-run around his own not-inconsiderable problem—a president with the seeming ability to float above ideological contentiousness—is to attack the Republicans.
It’s deft triage. You ought always to attack the weakest prey. What you need, especially in a media attack, is to be noticed, for your attack to have effect.
There was a moment, in this first week of the new presidency, when Rush clearly thought he could draw some blood by pushing some racial buttons and making murky suggestions of Obama radicalism. But this only seemed to make the president more cheerful. He made Rush his foil, instead of visa versa. A media reversal, which must have made Rush reach for a painkiller.
But Rush instantly regrouped and went after the Republicans. Gingrey’s apology was a big score for Rush. He demonstrated his power and got his fealty.
What are the Republicans to do? Before they can deal with their Obama issue they have to deal with their Limbaugh one.
Republican media thrived on the success of the Republican Party. But the media doesn’t have the luxury of spending time in the political wilderness—it needs red-hot conflict any way it can get it, internecine or otherwise.
This is going to be great fun to watch.
Source: Rush Launches Republican Follies by Michael Wolff