Rush Limbaugh Launches Full Attack On Michael Steele Over Who REALLY Speaks For GOP (UPDATE: Steele Apologizes)
NOTE: We wrote this earlier and as predicted here RNC Chairman Michael Steele has profusely apologized to talk show host Rush Limbaugh. We have added an update and an appropriate graphic.
Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh has just launched the same attack against RNC chairman Michael Steele, who dared to say that Steele considered himself the head of the Republican party rather than Limbaugh and that Limbaugh’s mega-partisan rhetoric was at times “ugly” — with the same kind of language, tactics and accuracy that he has used against Democrats, moderate Republicans, independents and moderates for years.
Yes, said Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, I’m incendiary, and yes, it’s ugly. Michael Steele, you are head of the RNC. You are not head of the Republican Party. Tens of millions of conservatives and Republicans have nothing to do with the RNC and right now they want nothing to do with it, and when you call them, asking them for money, they hang up on you. I hope that changes. I hope the RNC will get its act together…
It seems to me that it’s Michael Steele who is off to a shaky start….
Now, Mr. Steele, if it is your position as the chairman of the Republican National Committee that you want a left wing Democrat president and a left wing Democrat Congress to succeed in advancing their agenda, if it’s your position that you want President Obama and Speaker Pelosi and Senate leader Harry Reid to succeed with their massive spending and taxing and nationalization plans, I think you have some explaining to do.
Why are you running the Republican Party? Why do you claim you lead the Republican Party when you seem obsessed with seeing to it that President Obama succeeds? I frankly am stunned that the chairman of the Republican National Committee endorses such an agenda…
I don’t understand why you’re asking Republicans to donate to the Republican National Committee if their money is going to be spent furthering the agenda of Barack Obama?
Read it in full. It’s quite remarkable. And if you be to scroll down and read the many earlier posts on Limbaugh versus Steele and Limbaugh’s new role in the GOP (there are lots so see previous posts).
[UPDATE: The Politico reports that Steele has not just apologized but praised Limbaugh — and effectively declared him a (or the?) party leader:
“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.”
The dust-up comes at a time when top Democrats are trying to make Limbaugh the face of the Republican Party, in part by using ads funded by labor. Americans United for Change sent a fund-raising e-mail Monday that begins: “The Republican Party has turned into the Rush Limbaugh Party.”
What’s really happening here? THIS:
Before you could say Rush was figuratively setting himself up as the de factor leader of the GOP. But this tosses it now into another realm.
Now he is (a) questioning the legitimacy of the RNC chairman (b) suggesting (brace yourself) that Steele wants to see the President of the United States (get ready to shudder) actually succeed in measures that Limbaugh may detest ideologically but might benefit millions of Americans who could lose their homes, have problems feeding their kids and who don’t have private jets, smoke expensive cigars, eat a fine restaurants and get millions of dollars to demonize not JUST Democrat and independents but now REPUBLICANS in charge of the party apparatus who don’t toe his line…and (c) saying quite bluntly that it is HE who speaks for Republicans and NOT the party’s official party apparatus.
This is unusual in one sense: there have been few instances where a high-profile member of a major political party has in-effect called into question the legitimacy of the person who is the party chair and also whether the party machinery is itself of any use or relevance to the party rank and file. Some party chairs have been at war with factions of their party because they were covertly or overtly favoring one candidate — but nothing QUITE like this.
In effect, Limbaugh is now pushing it into a realm where Republicans and conservatives have to decide who they are and what their values are.
A big tent? Or a smaller tent? Dialogue? Or attack?
Is it best to take a deep breath and see what Obama what can do even if Republicans don’t agree with it ideologically and lose some important ideological votes, or digging in ideological heels and cooperating as little as possible because not just belonging to a specific political party but holding a specific ideology or political belief system is what America itself is?
Many Democrats and independent voters (as polls show) “voted” on Limbaugh long ago, if you look at polls. Now Republicans must choose between the big-and-getting-bigger guy from the radio or the less flashy guy from the RNC.
Now Republicans decide.
UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan points us to a Republican voice — one David Frum — who is not pleased with Limbaugh and what the host who has now declared verbal war on the RNC chair could be doing to his party.
But what about the rest of the party? Here’s the duel that Obama and Limbaugh are jointly arranging:
On the one side, the president of the United States: soft-spoken and conciliatory, never angry, always invoking the recession and its victims. This president invokes the language of “responsibility,” and in his own life seems to epitomize that ideal: He is physically honed and disciplined, his worst vice an occasional cigarette. He is at the same time an apparently devoted husband and father. Unsurprisingly, women voters trust and admire him.
And for the leader of the Republicans? A man who is aggressive and bombastic, cutting and sarcastic, who dismisses the concerned citizens in network news focus groups as “losers.” With his private plane and his cigars, his history of drug dependency and his personal bulk, not to mention his tangled marital history, Rush is a walking stereotype of self-indulgence – exactly the image that Barack Obama most wants to affix to our philosophy and our party. And we’re cooperating! Those images of crowds of CPACers cheering Rush’s every rancorous word – we’ll be seeing them rebroadcast for a long time.
Rush knows what he is doing. The worse conservatives do, the more important Rush becomes as leader of the ardent remnant. The better conservatives succeed, the more we become a broad national governing coalition, the more Rush will be sidelined.
But do the rest of us understand what we are doing to ourselves by accepting this leadership?
He says Limbaugh is to the GOP what Jesse Jackson was to the Democrats in the 1980s: he can play an important part in the Republican coalition but can’t be the party’s whole face.
UPDATE II: Sullivan has a round-up from right (one adult word is used).
PREDICTION: Steele will apologize or eventually quit.
(SEE UPDATE ABOVE. In the end, Steele did apologize…and the power struggle was over. With a winner..)