Blowing Concerned Conservatives Clear of Rush
Whether they agree or disagree with President Obama’s direction for the nation, Americans are quickly forming the opinion that his team doesn’t miss much.
For example, someone on the team last fall jotted some notes on the success of “Sarah’s Base Hardener” in continuing the work of the late icon of conservatism, William F. Buckley. Buckley’s work: “I’ve spent my entire lifetime separating the right from the kooks.”
“Sarah” was, of course, Sarah Palin. Quickly, she established an identity among many Americans as Billy Mays (the screeching TV pitchman) in lipstick. John McCain put her to work hardening the GOP base, and her success exceeded the lifelong hopes of William F. Buckley. Throughout the late summer and fall, “Sarah’s Base Hardener” was separating the right from the kooks in boatload numbers. It featured a secret ingredient that, when dumped into a party-full of conservatives, acted to eliminate choice. At the molecular level, it removed any molecule that didn’t look like and act like the molecule next to it. Those molecules (including David Brooks and Christopher Buckley, William’s son) rose to the top in a confused, multi-colored froth, while the base molecules, all exactly identical, sank to the bottom, so enraptured by their liberation from choice that they cried out against any agent of choice, including but not limited to Barack Obama, intoning, “Treason!” “Terrorist!” “Liar!” “Kill him!”
Rush Limbaugh was beside himself with envy. When Sarah visited his radio show, he told her, “I’ll tell you, I’m in a quandary here this morning. I admire you so much. I really don’t even know what to ask.”
The Obama strategists watched this, and took notes. Their particular interest was the colorful, confused froth at the top of the GOP, and the November votes that might be extracted from it. But the ultimate national value of this froth, and how to capitalize on it, may not have occurred to them until last weekend. Or they may have just been waiting for the right opportunity, the right conditions to experiment on the froth.
Then, last Saturday, Limbaugh delivered an 85-minute speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference that was textbook hard-base Limbaugh, so textbook that it rattled the Republican National Chairman, Michael Steele, who called it “incendiary” and “ugly.” The next morning on national television, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel threw the switch. Of Limbaugh, Emanuel said: “He is the voice and the intellectual force and energy behind the Republican Party.”
Imagine those words passing through David Brooks’ body, and you see the colorful, confused GOP froth, separated from the hardened base, but still in the party pot with no place to go, nowhere to turn, converted instantly to live steam on being touched with the voltage of an intellectual association to Rush Limbaugh. There they are this week, a huge conservative cloud blown into the atmosphere, looking for a place to precipitate out. Buckley’s work is at last completed. And by Democrats! With a huge assist, when he selected Sarah Palin, by John McCain. Talk about reaching back and forth across the aisle.
It will be interesting to see how the cloud precipitates out. Wherever it is, there are some good people up there, important to the near, the intermediate, and the distant future of the country. I will bet you $7.50 that Obama knew that.