Monday, March 2, 2009

Republicans Kowtow To Party Boss Rush Limbaugh

"I want the country to survive as we have known it, as you and I were raised in it," Rush Limbaugh told the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC 2009) in Washington, D.C. He then complained, "I mean, there's some people you can't say you want the President to fail."

Can there be a more reactionary message to a country that elected a candidate who espoused change than to state that everything should remain "as we have known it"? Further, what can be less patriotic than to hope for the failure of a president who is trying to reverse financially catastrophic conditions? 

The crowd at CPAC 2009 didn't make these connections–not when they presented Limbaugh with a "Defender of the Constitution" award. The presenter stated, "The only way we will be successful is if we listen to Rush Limbaugh!"

It's not only conservatives who are listening to Limbaugh, it's also the Republican party in particular. In the party's case, however, the members are both attentive and fearful. Consider the recent apology of Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele (shown above with Limbaugh). In an interview that aired Saturday night, Steele told CNN's D.L. Hughley, "Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. Rush Limbaugh — his whole thing is entertainment. He has this incendiary — yes, it's ugly.”

Limbaugh lambasted Steele: “So I am an entertainer and I have 20 million listeners because of my great song and dance routine. Michael Steele, you are head of the Republican National Committee. You are not head of the Republican party. Tens of millions of conservatives and Republicans have nothing to do with the Republican National Committee…and when you call them asking for money, they hang up on you."

Steele then backed down: "“My intent was not to go after Rush – 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.”

This isn't the first time that a Republican realized that he dare not offend the right-wing talk-show host. In February, Governor Mark Sanford clearly referred to Limbaugh when he said, “Anybody who wants [Obama] to fail is an idiot.” Later, Sanford's communications director, Joel Sawyer, contended that the governor was speaking "generically," not about anyone in particular.

One month before, Representative Phil Gingrey said about Limbaugh, "“I mean, it’s easy if you’re Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or even sometimes Newt Gingrich to stand back and throw bricks." It wasn't long before Gingrey, after receiving critical calls and letters, called Limbaugh's show and said, "I clearly ended up putting my foot in my mouth on some of those comments. …I regret those stupid comments."

Rahm Emanuel, White House chief of staff, speaking on "Face The Nation" this past Sunday, correctly characterized the relationship between the Republicans and Limbaugh: "...whenever a Republican criticizes him, they have to run back and apologize to him, and say they were misunderstood. He is the voice and the intellectual force and energy behind the Republican Party. And he has been upfront about what he views, and hasn't stepped back from that, which is he hopes for failure."

Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, made a similar, accurate point"...Chairman Steele's reversal this evening and his apology to Limbaugh proves the unfortunate point that Limbaugh is the leading force behind the Republican Party, its politics and its obstruction of President Obama's agenda in Washington."

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