"Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. Rush Limbaugh’s whole thing is entertainment. Yes, it is incendiary. Yes, it is ugly." This could be a typical quote came from any number of prominent Democrats who are used to being in Limbaugh rhetorical crosshairs, but it wasn’t. It’s from RNC Chairman Michael Steele.
Limbaugh brought down the house at the Conservative Political Action Conference, saying his constituents are only a correct candidate pick away from regaining the White House in 2012. The issue swirling around Limbaugh is his comment that he hoped for President Barack Obama’s “failure,” an issue he also addressed, saying, “"What is so strange about being honest and saying I want Barack Obama to fail if his mission is to restructure and re-form this country so that capitalism and individual liberty are not its foundation?"
If Steele has a problem with Limbaugh being considered the head of the Republican Party, Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was more than happy to grant him that honor, calling Limbaugh "the intellectual force and energy behind the Republican Party." Discussing the failure remarks, Emanuel commented, "He said it, and I compliment him on his honesty. But that’s their philosophy that’s enunciated by Rush Limbaugh and I think that’s the wrong philosophy for America." Democrats and democrat-supporting groups are actively using Limbaugh in advertising and fund-raising campaigns.
But House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) found himself in the same boat as Steele, trying to find some separation from Limbaugh. He said, “I don’t think anyone wants anything to fail right now. We have such challenges. What we need to do is we need to put forth solutions to the problems that real families are facing today. And our common-sense, conservative principles of limited government, and the belief in free markets, and the belief that really opportunity can only be created by the private sector are going to undergird our proposals going forward.”
RBR/TVBR observation: You just can’t buy the kind of publicity that Limbaugh has gotten since Election Day. But the fact that he’s getting counterintuitive reactions from many politicians, with Democrats seemingly glad he’s where he is and saying what he’s saying, while Republicans are often leery of getting too close, is an ample demonstration of the massive differences between the jobs of a politician and a talk show host.
According to some observers, despite the nervousness Limbaugh is causing among some Republicans, there is a coincident fear of losing his loyal audience and their contributions to their political coffers. Meanwhile, for Democrats, the situation argues against doing anything to detract from Limbaugh’s popularity, including damaging his program with some sort of back door Fairness proxy – they seem to like Limbaugh just where he is.
We suspect that in the end, a lot of this will fade away – the real battles in 2010 and 2012 will not hinge on Rush Limbaugh. They’ll hinge on how the economy is doing, and who the public credits and/or blames.