Sunday, March 08, 2009

Pinning a Face on the Elephant: A Week of Rush and the Democrats

I noted a while back the Obama White House targeting Limbaugh. I think we saw the results of this as Rush bounced up and down at CPAC. Then we had a week of media frenzy questioning the wisdom of the targeting of Rush. I think targeting a bit extreme - does not that verb imply a bit of involuntariness on the part of Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh lives on ratings, this will help ratings, but he can play the victim card quickly enough albeit with a heavy dose of hypocrisy.

The following from Howard Kurtz's Washington Post column No Man of Steele shows me that Rush likes his role even if he is delusional about Obama debating him:
"As for Rush--who yesterday invited the president on his show in the name of bipartisanship, insisting it was not a 'cheap trick'--he tells Politico:

'The administration is enabling me. They are expanding my profile, expanding my audience and expanding my influence. An ever larger number of people are now being exposed to the antidote to Obamaism: conservatism, as articulated by me. An ever larger number of people are now exposed to substantive warnings, analysis and criticism of Obama's policies and intentions, a 'story' I own because the [mainstream media] is largely the Obama Press Office.'"
Timothy Egan Blog had Fears of a Clown :
"Smarter Republicans know he is not good for them. As the conservative writer David Frum said recently, “If you’re a talk radio host and you have five million who listen and there are 50 million who hate you, you make a nice living. If you’re a Republican party, you’re marginalized.”"

But the Rovian mantra of working the base is their only strategy, and their only economic strategy is cut taxes. That the core base now looks like a reborn Know Nothing party with an overlay of economic extremists and a leadership beholden to the frauds of Wall Street indicates that smarter Republicans probably are an insignificant few.

The Washington Post's The Fix gave us Plouffe on Rush: 'Fingernails on a Chalkboard':
"Plouffe's broader point is that the Republican strategy of courting its own base (represented by Limbaugh) with its opposition to Obama's economic stimulus plan is a recipe for electoral disaster as it serves to further alienate moderates who are keen on seeing the two political parties work together.

Limbaugh's loud (and repeated) call that he hoped Obama's economic policies would fail is the equivalent of 'fingernails on a chalkboard' to these moderates, writes Plouffe, adding: 'Independent voters, those who find the ways of Washington particularly toxic, could be forgiven for wondering whether the Republican minority has any clue what is happening in our country.'"

Which I think is the point of the White House's move on Rush. The Republicans have never taken responsibility for utter nastiness that they have instilled in our political system. None condemned Willie Horton. None condemned Bush's use of Osama bin Laden in his 2004 campaign ads. None condemned Delay's pushing the Democratic minority out of the legislative process. Time has come for a change. Time for the Republicans to decide how they want to do politics in the future.

As the conservatives remind everyone, they are not necessarily Republicans. Maybe this is a wake up call for them. I still do not understand why the economic conservatives do not move over to the Libertarians where they would find a more compatible home. Oh, worried about electoral success. Success may be judged differently when the whole story comes out - see the past Bush Administration for an example.

This might be the time for the country to look at a change in our electoral process, too. Anyone for proportional representation? It also comes to mind that Obama has never quite defined his view of a new, cooperative politics but only notice that he talks of working with the Republicans. Certainly he has paid more attention to the minority than did Bush, Rove, Delay and Lott. Does Obama have something more subtle in mind?

MSNBC's First Thoughts blog Return to partisanship :
"*** The return of partisanship: The biggest lesson to draw from the White House-Limbaugh fight: Partisan politics and divided Washington are back. The methodical effort by the white house to raise Limbaugh's profile is obvious now. And now the GOP is making a concerted effort to demonize Rahm. On one level, it's a reminder of just how hard it is for any president to change the tone in Washington. On the other, we do wonder what the GOP is going to get out of this decision to demonize Rahm while defending Obama. Oddly, they may end up helping Obama look above the fray. You've heard of the expression punching down; the GOP is punching down, not up. And the White House, while deserving of some of the blame for participating in the renewed negative tone affecting DC, is still smiling as, politically, they do look like they are winning."
For us Democrats, we need to think about what this from The Toronto Star. Why Democrats love Rush Limbaugh:
"In the aftermath of the frenzy, a bellyache is settling everywhere. The Republicans look especially bad, and the Democrats, not much better. As for the media – which turned its collective back on some of the most important stories of this lifetime to gorge at Limbaugh's easy-to-tell feast – perhaps it was the worst of the bunch.

'As a radio journalist, this is fantastic for Rush Limbaugh and therefore fantastic for the radio industry. But as an honest man, it's terrible for America and terrible for the world,' said Michael Harris, editor of Talkers magazine, America's talk radio industry bible.

'How is it that we would allow ourselves to divert this much attention from the issues facing not just the U.S. but the entire family of nations? It is a shame we cannot afford. And even if this is good for the Obama administration in the short term, it could backfire on them, too. People deserve better.'

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