Limbaugh in the Lead: A Gift for Obama
Looking for all the world like the sweating floor manager on the late afternoon shift at Larry Flynt's Hustler Club in an unbuttoned shiny black shirt and undersized sport coat, Rush Limbaugh leaned his meaty hands on the lectern at the CPAC conference and slipped a greasy dollar bill into the G-string of the writhing conservative dead-enders packed into the garishly lit Omni Shoreham in Washington DC.
If there's any doubt that the GOP's own Paulie Walnuts is now firmly in command of the Party of Lincoln, the "breaking news" style coverage of Limbaugh's bellow-cose rant dispelled the notion. CNN, for one, went wide - with the kind of uninterrupted live footage usually reserved for Presidents and Popes, followed by a panel of analysts to weigh and consider the import of the speech to this republic of ours. There were other dancers on the stage, to be sure - including Ward Connerly, Ann Coulter, Phyllis Schlafly and Karl Rove - but only Limbaugh's hour-long ramble (he went over by 30 minutes) garnered opposition leader status. "As the movement searches for a front-and-center spokesman to provide inspiration and direction, Limbaugh's refusal to tilt toward the center may place him out front in a Republican Party already suffering from a disappearing moderate wing," wrote Tom Schaller in Salon.
Leading gullible Republicans into the hills of guerrilla ideological resistance during the nation's toughest economic crisis in 80 years constitutes a gift of incredible political proportions for the Obama Administration. Instead of principled point-by-point opposition by a chastened party of experienced professionals ready for tough dealings at the bargaining table, President Obama is blessed with clownish truculence and pure rejectionism - embodied in the Republican response to the President's forceful Congressional address by Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, a moment of excruciatingly tone-deaf ideology rescued only by the attention lavished on its shockingly poor delivery.
President Obama, of course, is aware of this lumbering and clumsy gift from the right - so much so that he sent chief of staff Rahm Emanuel to Bob Schieffer's CBS studio this morning to declare Limbaugh "the voice and the intellectual force and energy behind the Republican Party."