Iâ€™m no fan of Rush Limbaugh. I find him neither elucidating nor entertaining — even on occasions when I agree with him. But he is quite popular with a core group and is increasingly powerful within the Republican party. Whatâ€™s behind this expanding power? Would you believe the Democrats are?
Apparently, Democratic strategists, inside and outside the White House, have decided thereâ€™s no better way to marginalize the Republican party than by purposefully promoting Limbaugh as the heart and soul of the GOP. And Limbaugh is happy to play along.
“The Administration is enabling me,â€ he wrote in an email to POLITICO. â€œThey 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 â€˜storyâ€™ I own because the [mainstream media] is largely the Obama Press Office.â€
The bigger, the better, agreed Democrat James Carville. â€œItâ€™s great for us, great for him, great for the press,â€ he said of Limbaugh. â€œThe only people heâ€™s not good for are the actual Republicans in Congress.â€
Remember those dark days for Democrats just a few years ago when controversial characters like Michael Moore and Cindy Sheehan became symbols of the liberal movement? Certain portions of the base loved it. The rest of American turned away.
Limbaugh could very well have the same effect on the conservative movement. And hereâ€™s why — like the Michael Moore of the Bush era, Limbaugh seems to be actively rooting against America. Thatâ€™s not to say heâ€™s anti-American (or that Moore is/was either), just that heâ€™s so vituperative in his critique of the current administration that his words can easily be turned against him and the right in general.
Politically speaking, Democrats are smart to play up Limbaughâ€™s influence within the Republican party. But they donâ€™t want to overplay it. If Obamaâ€™s early economic initiatives fail or if he mishandles an unforeseen foreign crisis, Limbaugh has the rhetorical power to whip American resentment into real anger. The more prominent he is, the more damaging to the Democrats he could be.
But for now, while Democrats are safely in power and Republicans flop like fish on the shore, Limbaugh is a liability to Republicans. Conservatives need a leader with ideas, not just negativism. Of course, if that person shows up, donâ€™t look for Democrats to give him or her any free publicity.