In 1994, early in the Clinton years, a Purdue professor named Charles Kelly wrote a book called “The Great Limbaugh Con,” in which he suggested that there was only one political reason that Rush Limbaugh was on the radio.

Limbaugh’s sole mission, Kelly wrote, was to build a consensus to keep taxes on the wealthy as low as possible.

He could talk about Reaganomics, or supply-side, or trickle-down, or inveigh against “class envy,” but what it was all about was making sure rich people could hold onto as much of their wealth as possible.

We’ve certainly seen that with his recent remarks that he hopes Obama fails, and his repetition on Friday that he “hopes the stimulus plan fails.”

Now I’m certain many people have missed the point on this. They’ve said either that it’s awful that he isn’t supporting the president or it’s logical that he wouldn’t want a president he doesn’t support to be successful.

He wants Obama to fail, they say, so that Republicans can make gains in Congress in 2010 and possibly regain the White House in 2012.

It’s all about politics.

Just more of the usual Washington struggle for power and glory.

Only it isn’t. When you look at the state of the world economy, indeed in how much we have lost in just four months, the fact is we can’t afford to wait four years to fix things. If the Obama stimulus fails, if the economy keeps slipping, millions of Americans who are teetering now will fall off the economic cliff.

If we don’t get it right this time, we have to keep trying and trying. We can’t wait till 2013 for a Republican to ride into town touting tax cuts — what else? — as the solution.

So whether he realizes it or not, when Limbaugh says he hopes Obama fails, he is hoping for an economic disaster of near-apocalyptic proportions.

In my book, that makes him a traitor to the American people, at least those who aren’t in the top 1 percent.

Now if he had said he didn’t believe the stimulus would work, and he disagreed with it philosophically, but he hoped it would work because things are so dire, I could respect that.

But the simple fact is he would rather see millions of American families suffer to make a political point and to gain political power.

I hope people start calling him on that.

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