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Posted by on Mar 3, 2009 in At TMV | 6 comments

Rush Limbaugh, Michael Steele and the Republican Party: The Sequel

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Analysis continues over The Gunfight At The Big Mouth Corral between conservative talk show host Rush “I speak for the Republican party” Limbaugh and RNC Chairman Michael “I speak for the Republican party” Steele — which ended in Steele in effect apologizing and saying he did not mean to diss Limbaugh’s “leadership” role.

The consensus on all sides is that Limbaugh’s power within the Republican party, particularly among the Republicans’ talk radio political culture conservative base, is growing faster than than Limbaugh’s waist size (well, almost as fast). But the verbal circus that has provided such great material for the media and bloggers of all political persuasions has a serious side: in the post-2008-election Obama Presidency era, how will the GOP start to define itself as the White House reportedly works to define the Republican party as The Party Of Rush (which leaves out a lot of people who Limbaugh alienates and demonizes)?

Here are some more links for those interested in seeing how this battle for the soul and mouth of the Republican party plays out:

So if Rush runs the GOP, does Michael Moore head the Dems? This legitimate question is asked by L.A. Times’ blogger, veteran journalist Andrew Malcomb, in this MUST READ HERE.

Not all Republicans love Rush. And (as we’ve noted) it is particularly interesting that younger people aren’t as turned on by his style. For proof: another MUST READ comes from Travis Johnson of Progressive Republicans HERE in a long post with lots of videos that MUST be read and viewed in full. Here is just a small part of what he writes:

Why are our elected officials, the people we, the American People, have elected to represent us in Congress or have elected to lead one of our two Major political parties “bending over” (to use his words) for a talk show host? Here’s why:

They’re scared.

It’s as simple as that. Rush has a big audience, and wields a considerable amount of influence of them. The Party leaders are terrified that he’ll turn on them and convince his listeners to vote against them, or, to stay at home, or, just to show how much of a joker he is convince them to vote for Hillary Clinton!

If you read his angry rant against Michael Steele, you’ll see something disturbing. Attacks on Limbaugh have somehow become attacks on all conservatives. He reminds me of a Renaissance Pope, treating any criticism of himself as an attack on Christendom as a whole. Is that what we want, my friends? Do we want RUSH LIMBAUGH to be the “de facto head of the Republican Party?” Do we want the men and women who choose to become public servants and represent us and lead us to be forced to kiss the ring of a man like Limbaugh?

And there’s more:

If we ever want to return to the majority, the answer to that must be an emphatic “NO!” Our Congressman must no longer try to make his divisive rhetoric more palatable. They must not apologize when they express an opinion about his role in the legislative process. Our Party leader can not apologize to him when all he’s doing is truthfully describing the man. This is Not the Way, my friends.

Rush is yesterday’s Republican Party. He’s so popular because he speaks to the anger in all of us. He speaks to our baser natures. If we’re going to return to lead this country, we must find leaders who appeal to our better natures. We need to embrace a BETTER WAY.

Be sure to go to the link and read Johnson’s post in full.

See RealClearPolitics take on it in its daily briefing post.

MSNBC’s First Read says this:

Rush Limbaugh might not be the “voice and intellectual force” behind the Republican Party, as Rahm Emanuel asserted on Sunday. But this has become increasingly true: When Limbaugh says jump, Republican officials quickly respond, “How high?” First, Georgia Rep. Phil Gingrey (R) criticized Limbaugh back in January, but then immediately called into to apologize after receiving a slew of complaints from Rush listeners. “I regret and apologize for the fact that my comments have offended and upset my fellow conservatives,” Gingrey told Limbaugh. Now, after RNC chair Michael Steele told CNN over the weekend that Limbaugh is an entertainer who can be “ugly” and “incendiary” — and after Limbaugh gladly returned the fire — the chairman called Limbaugh to smooth things over. “My intent was not to go after Rush,” Steele told Politico. “I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh. I was maybe a little bit inarticulate… There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership.” Of course, there is now an open invitation for some ambitious Republican to become the first to have the guts to stand up to Rush.

First Read says Steele is off to a shaky start due to this and other pronouncements that got him into trouble. From a talk show political culture conservative’s standpoint, Steele put his foot in his mouth and Rush then put his foot up Steele’s……

The DNC is having fun with Steele’s climbdown, reports USA Today’s blog.

–From The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe in Q&As with readers:

Minneapolis, Minn.: Hi Ed —

Thanks for taking questions today. By way of full disclosure, I’m an Obama supporter, but there’s something just too delicious about Steele apologizing to Limbaugh after initially having the backbone to stand up to him. This seems to play into the Dem’s strategy to make Limbaugh the voice of the Republican Party almost too perfectly to be believed. What’s your take?

Ed O’Keefe:
It does play into their strategy, and as The Eye’s friend The Fix reports in his blog today, all of this becomes party of a national Democratic Party effort to further tie Republicans to Rush Limbaugh, who polling suggests has a loyal fan base, but remains unpopular with many (most?) Americans.

Marc Ambinder gives us yet (another) one of his MUST READ IN FULL blog posts and here is part of it:

It wasn’t that long ago that Democrats were the ones seen as having a unity problem; now, disagreements between Limbaugh and more mainstream Republicans over the “fail” remark (Rep. Eric Cantor, one of the most prominent Republicans in Congress, distanced himself from Limbaugh over the weekend) have given Democrats an opportunity to spread some “disunity” messaging of their own.

By suggesting Limbaugh is the leader of the GOP, Democrats are seizing on a moment of rebuilding for the Republican Party. Since John McCain lost the 2008 election, Republicans don’t have a single, widely recognized leader the way Democrats do in Obama. And, in the midst of that rebuilding moment, Democrats are granting a national megaphone to (debatably) the most polarizing voice in the GOP’s ranks.

The notion of “Steele vs. Rush” became widespread after Steele’s original comment on CNN and Limbaugh’s subsequent tirade against the RNC chairman. But it is a “Democrats vs. Rush” dichotomy that Democrats are establishing by promoting Rush as the GOP’s de facto leader–a dichotomy that seeks to marginalize Steele and other mainstream Republicans and offer moderates an easier choice between Republicans and Democrats (after all, how many non-conservatives are likely to follow Rush?). That and, as the strategist told me, it offers Republicans a tough choice on where they stand.

Nowadays (meaning Tuesday morning), everyone’s a deconstructionist: Democrats are seeking to deconstruct the GOP, and Michael Steele must seek to deconstruct both the “Steele vs. Rush” media narrative and the “Democrats vs. Rush” choice being offered to voters by Democratic messengers.

PREDICTION: Republicans will have problems expanding their numbers while Limbaugh is perceived as being the primary, highest profile, most authoritative voice for its conservative base, and insisting that the base IS the whole party.

As Cagle Cartoon’s Mike Lane illustrates in the cartoon above, there are MANY swing voters (and some Republicans) who will have a hard time voting for a party that correctly or not has Rush Limbaugh as its brand name because they don’t want to get fleas. And why should they?

Limbaugh ridicules, demonizes and belittles all Democrats, the segment of the independent voter chunk that favors Democrats, moderates and anyRepublicans who don’t agree with him. He has gone from being a funny, witty conservative broadcaster in the 80s to being an acid-tongued powerhouse force in the GOP who takes himself very very VERY seriously.

The GOP will find that some voters will sit on their hands rather than vote for Republican or a Democrat, or some may vote for Democrats. No matter, it comes out the same: the GOP will lose some votes if it is The Party Of Rush. So why shouldn’t the White House and the Demmies do all they can to help Rush solidify his standing as the highest profile, most quotable, most You Tubed Republican?

Increasingly, in terms of what the Republican party apparatus has created in Limbaugh, Limbaugh seemingly resembles this:

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Only, a tad heavier.

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Copyright 2009 The Moderate Voice
  • superdestroyer

    The Repubican Party would be irrelevant with or without Limbaugh. Look at how the Republicans in the Senate deicded to lard up the budget with earmarks and pork inside of trying to regain some sembalance of the fiscal conservative party.

    Instead of worrying about Limbaugh and Steele, why not worry about what happens when the Repubican party completes its death spiral.

    The Democrats have the advantage that upper middle class white progressives never listen to want is said on urban talk radio and are never forced to defend it. Also, urban black politicains are never forced to defend the militant homosexual stands of elite white progressives. Yet, every Repubican candidate, activist, or pundit is forced to answer for everything said or done by a Republican. The talk about Limbaugh demonstrates how uneven the treatment of the two polticial parties are and how only one of them is still relevant.

    Image what Limbaugh will do once the Repubican Party completes its collapse and he starts trying to affect Democratic primaries.

  • Lawnguylander

    So if Rush runs the GOP, does Michael Moore head the Dems?

    I don’t see that as a legitimate question at all. Does Michael Moore have the same kind of sway with the Democrats as Limbaugh does with the Republicans? When was the last time you saw a Democratic politician groveling at the feet of Michael Moore? Limbaugh suggested to his listeners yesterday that there was no point in donating to the RNC due to Steele’s posture. That would be a big problem for them going forward and Moore can do no such thing to the Democrats.

  • NordicAngst

    The Rush = Moore bit is the same stale argument that gets made anytime the subject of far right radio windbags come up in political discourse. It’s this weird idea that there must be some cosmic balance that creates identical figures in both parties. Moore really isn’t much like Rush though, and wields very little of Rush’s clout.

    What is Moore even doing these days? Making documentaries doesn’t quite grab headlines like grabbing at party leadership.

  • skylights

    Rush is the undeniable figurehead of the conservative movement and most of the Republican Party, and he has been for a long time. Michael Moore, on the other hand, is only one (popular) voice among the left wing of the Democratic Party — Forbes didn’t even put him in their recent list of the 25 most influential liberals (http://www.forbes.com/2009/01/22/influential-media-obama-oped-cx_tv_ee_hra_0122liberal.html).

    Democrats and liberals don’t have a figurehead like Limbaugh, and we never have in my lifetime. We have a bunch of different voices who are influential, but no Democratic politician is scared of criticizing any of them if necessary. Really, our only figurehead right now is Obama. And thankfully, no one could mistake him for the liberal version of Limbaugh.

  • richardphx

    The Michael Moore analogy doesn’t work, though the GOP loves to draw the comparison. Rush is ubiquitous, speaking at GOP events, drawing millions of listeners a day, always in the news and always spouting off. Moore is a film maker who hasn’t been seen at a prominent Democratic event since the 2004 convention. He is rarely heard from and most Democrats will tell you he annoys them. He has no cult following and nothing in any way that approaches leadership status. Most Dems are embarrassed by him and have been disassociating themselves from him for years, as they should. This is a bogus analogy, a sham, based on zero facts. Forbes put him on their list of 25 influencers? So what? Where is his influence, what is he saying from day to day, who constitutes his audience? So annoying, to see a red herring like this being discussed seriously. If you say Moore is a Democratic Party leader, show us – i.e., where’s the beef? What are the positions he’s advocating, who is rallying to his call and how is he spreading his message? We can chart these things with Limbaugh. We cannot do so with Moore. A waste of time.

  • Jim_Satterfield

    Well, it looks like others beat me to the punch pointing out that the Rush=Moore argument is not in fact anything resembling a legitimate question, it is a BS question that is just one more example of a crappy excuse for trying to be “fair” when in fact there is no resemblance between their influence in the opposing parties.

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