Both of them should stick a sock in it.
When Michael Steele, Chairman of the Republican party, so violently disrespects mega star talk show host Rush Limbaugh, one has to wonder what sh*t for brains political outfit elected this numbskull to any position higher than Front Door Greeter.
Rule #1 in politics; never hand your opponents a club with which to beat you over the head. Rule #2 is “Don’t eat your own.” Steele broke both those rules and a few others by essentially adopting his opponent’s narrative regarding Limbaugh and opening a wound in the party and among conservatives that will not be easy to heal:
“Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. Rush Limbaugh’s whole thing is entertainment,” Steele said. “Yes, it is incendiary. Yes, it is ugly.”
Last month, Steele, a former lieutenant governor of Maryland, was elected chair of the RNC. He is the first African-American to lead the Republican Party. At the time of his election, Steele said that “Rush will say what Rush has to say; we’ll do what we have to do.”
And I’m very happy to report that at least Steele knows who signs his paycheck:
Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele is taking issue with the notion that Rush Limbaugh is the de facto leader of the GOP, calling the conservative radio talk show host an entertainer whose comments can be ugly.
Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said in an interview with CNN that he, rather than Limbaugh, is “the de facto leader of the Republican Party.”
Greg Sargent, pushing the newest liberal talking point that Republicans want Obama to fail (while failing to point out that many on the left spent the last 6 years celebrating casualties and hoping for a defeat of American arms in Iraq while gleefully predicting a recession was just around the corner every month) reports that Steele isn’t apologizing:
The problem for Steele, of course, is that by hitting Rush — and provoking a response from the talk show host — he’s left himself in the unenviable position of having to answer Rush’s implicit demand that he say whether he’s With Rush Or Against Him when it comes to Rush’s desire for Obama to fail. It’s not a good position to be in: Either Steele distances himself from Rush and angers the base, or he throws in his lot with the GOP’s pro-failure brigade and makes it easier for Dems to paint the GOP as petulant, partisan obstructionists.
Amusingly, either choice would help Rush: The first gives him a potent rallying point, and the second demonstrates his power over the party. What’s more, all this underscores again the astonishing degree to which the interests of Rush and Democrats are aligned here, since both Rush and Democrats want Steele, and every other Republican, to publicly make exactly the same choice.
This is news. Limbaugh, the meglomaniacal, power hungry entertainer demanding Steele give him a Bushesque statement of being “with him, or against him.” Could that be true?
Only if you’re a liberal and have the mind of sofa. The rest of us prefer reading what Limbaugh actually said:
I hope the RNC chairman will realize he’s not a talking head pundit, that he is supposed to be working on the grassroots and rebuilding it and maybe doing something about our open primary system and fixing it so that Democrats don’t nominate our candidates,” Limbaugh said, his voice rising. “It’s time, Mr. Steele, for you to go behind the scenes and start doing the work that you were elected to do instead of trying to be some talking head media star, which you’re having a tough time pulling off.”
Steele, Limbaugh said, had “taken the bait” by the media.
Limbaugh also offered a harsh assessment on the state of the GOP.
“I’m not in charge of the Republican Party, and I don’t want to be,” he said. ” I would be embarrassed to say that I’m in charge of the Republican Party in the sad-sack state that it’s in. If I were chairman of the Republican Party, given the state that it’s in, I would quit. I might get out the hari-kari knife because I would have presided over a failure that is embarrassing to the Republicans and conservatives who have supported it and invested in it all these years.”
The talk show host also schooled the RNC chairman on political truths - when in the opposition, oppose:
When you send those fundraising requests out, Mr. Steele, make sure you say, we — we — we want Obama to succeed. So people understand your compassion. Republicans, conservatives are sick and tired of being talked down to, sick and tired of being lectured to. And until you show some understanding and respect for who they are, you’re going to have a tough time rebuilding your party.
Allah has the real politik speil on where Steele and Eric Cantor (who also dissed Limbaugh) are coming from:
My point then, and Ace’s point today, is that pandering to centrists is a political fact of life for politicians. Steele and Cantor, when forced to choose between criticizing Limbaugh and having to explain his “I hope he fails” rhetoric over and over again, will take the former every time: Right-wing partisans will turn out against Obama anyway in four years but the middle has to be wooed, and defending a sentiment about failure in the current political climate while The One’s busy framing himself as Mr. Nonpartisan does not a winning “moderate” message make. No wonder Gibbs is urging the media to keep asking Republicans whether they agree with Limbaugh. If they say yes, they’re vindictive partisans and if they say no they’ll get hammered by Rush on his show.
Fine, as far as it goes. The problem is that it isn’t a question of “pandering to centrists” by politicians but perhaps missing an opportunity for a counterattack.
One of the major complaints I heard all week at CPAC was the timidity of Republicans and conservatives in the face of Obama’s political dominance. Limbaugh’s point about “hoping Obama fails” is not that he wishes ill for the country but rather what kind of nation will emerge if he succeeds.
From the Limbaugh CPAC address:
As I say, we want the best: Happiness for everybody. Now, about my still-to-me mysteriously controversial comment that I hope President Obama fails. I was watching the Super Bowl. And as you know, I love the Pittsburgh Steelers. [Cheers and Applause] So they have this miraculous scoring drive that puts them up by four, 15 seconds left. Kurt Warner on the field for the Cardinals. And I sure as heck want you to know I hope he failed. I did not want the Cardinals to win. I wanted Warner to make the biggest fool of himself possible. I wanted a sack, I wanted anything. I wanted the Steelers to win. I wanted to win. I wanted the Cardinals to fail.
This notion that I want the President to fail, folks, this shows you a sign of the problem we’ve got. That’s nothing more than common sense and to not be able to say it, why in the world do I want what we just described, rampant government growth indebtedness, wealth that’s not even being created yet that is being spent, what is in this? What possibly is in this that anybody of us wants to succeed? Did the Democrats want the war on Iraq to fail!
RUSH: They certainly did. They not only wanted the war in Iraq to fail, they proclaimed it a failure. There’s Dingy Harry Reid waiving a white flag: [doing Harry Reid impression] “This war is lost. This war is” — [Cheers and Applause] They called General Petraeus a liar before he even testified. Mrs. Clinton — [Crowd Booing] — said she had to, willingly suspend disbelief in order to listen to Petraeus. We’re in the process of winning the war. The last thing they wanted was to win. They hoped George Bush failed. So what is so strange about being honest to say that I want Barack Obama to fail if his mission is to restructure and reform this country so that capitalism and individual liberty are not its foundation? Why would I want that to succeed? [Applause]
What’s wrong with a comeback when asked if the GOP wants Obama to fail that includes the notion that Republicans want the American people to succeed but think Obama’s policies are dead wrong? How hard is that to explain? Are these guys so inarticulate that they can’t lay down basic Republcan/conservative principles in a couple of well chosen sentences? Jesus Christ! Would someone please get some 3 X 5 note cards and write down basic talking points for these ignoramuses? Makes sure they’re in words of two syllables or less.
Now as my readers know, I am no fan of Limbaugh. His “show biz conservatism” is a mile wide, an inch deep, and takes forms that while not “ugly,” certainly move the idea of hyperpartisanship to a whole other level. And Limbaugh’s response to Steele was a tad overwrought (Allah rightfully points out that Rush should have a thicker skin by now.)
That being said, with Obama’s agenda on the march to permanently alter America, in the only way he knows how, Rush is trying to stop it. And it’s an open question as to how hard Steele is working to block these transformative, risky, adventurous, and ruinously expensive measures coming down the pike.
If Steele wants to lead the GOP, get out front and lead then. Don’t pull rank on Limbaugh because you only magnify his importance - at your expense. If you spent less time on talk shows agreeing with Democrats who are savaging the party you are supposed to be leading and more time, like, you know, actually opposing what they are trying to do, that would prove your qualities to conservatives who are feeling a little put out by being told that their party convention resembled a Nazi gathering.
The country is going to hell in a handbasket economically, the Democrats are tearing at the Founding Fabric of the nation, our grandchildren are going to be working for the federal government with every dime being taken to service an unserviceable debt, and the world’s bad guys are looking at Obama and feeling pretty damned good.
Meanwhile, Steele and Limbaugh act like two little boys in the schoolyard who unzip, whip it out, and claim their’s is bigger.
Great. Just great.