A little over a month ago, Rep. Phil Gingrey, a Republican from northwest Georgia, said that talk-radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh were just "stand[ing] back and throw[ing] bricks" while Republicans in Congress had to try and get real work done; within 24 hours, he was on Limbaugh's show expressing "very sincere regret" for those harsh words. Last week, Republican National Committee chairman and former Maryland lieutenant governor Michael Steele referred to Limbaugh as an "entertainer" and admitted that Limbaugh's rhetoric about "want[ing] Obama to fail" was "incendiary" and "ugly"; two days later, he, too, went groveling for Limbaugh's forgiveness. Yesterday, Limbaugh implied that House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), despite statements seemingly to the contrary, agreed with him about wanting Obama to fail, and Cantor's office is remaining conspicuously silent about any clarifications.
So my honest, sincere question to the Republicans and small-c conservatives who stop by this site from time to time is: Is Rush Limbaugh really the guy you want as the spokesman for your party and/or ideology?
Yes, Limbaugh's show is, relatively speaking, extremely popular. Yes, he's a household name even amongst those who aren't fans. But let's not pretend that his 14,250,000 weekly listeners represent anything close to a majority of the American public. Even if I give him major benefit of the doubt and give him credit for having 14 million regular listeners -- ignoring the fact that some people might listen to his show more than once a week, or every single day -- that number is barely a fifth of the nearly 70 million people who voted for Obama in last year's election. You really want to make the American public choose between these two guys?
I'm not saying that Obama is pure as the driven snow, nor that there aren't legitimate criticisms with the way he and the Democrats are going about trying to turn the economy around. I'm not 100-percent comfortable with the idea of spending $800 billion on anything, whether it's a stimulus package, a space-based missile defense, a war in Iraq, or anything else. But I give Obama credit for sitting down with a very intelligent group of people, deciding on what they thought needed to be done to jump-start the economy, and then presenting it to the American public, controversy and all. For all their caterwauling about big spending and supposedly being cut out of the loop, have the Republicans -- whose approval ratings are currently as bad as Obama's are good -- bothered to pitch anything even resembling a tangible alternative? Not that I can see, and here again they appear to be taking their cues from El Rusbo, who at last week's CPAC convention openly mocked the idea that actually coming up with better policy proposals was a winning strategy for taking power back from the Dems.
I worked my ass off for more than a year leading up to the 2004 election, and I remember very vividly how few Democrats had any winning strategy that year other than complaining about how horrible George W. Bush was. Well, you saw how that worked out. Now you have a talk-radio shouter whose strategy is to do nothing more than that same kind of complaining -- and nobody in your party is willing to cross him. This is how you propose to get the American people to vote for you again? I think it's hilarious that these are the same folks who just a few years ago were boasting about how tough they were in being willing to take on Osama and Saddam and whoever else, but they apparently don't even have the balls to stand up to a talk-radio host.
Say what you want about Barack Obama, but you have to admit the guy's a pretty shrewd politician, and nearly every time someone's underestimated him in the past it's been to their own detriment. So if the Obama camp is trying to make Rush Limbaugh the face of the opposition -- which they are, pretty openly, in fact -- they've probably got a pretty good reason for it.
So I gotta ask, is that really the fight you want to pick? All those legitimate criticisms and concerns you supposedly have about Obama's policies, and you're just going to allow them to be routed through Limbaugh's sit-back-and-complain filter? You go do that if you want, but that's a briar patch the Democrats will play in all day long.