The Republican Party is embarrassing itself over Rush Limbaugh. It’s great fun for the Democrats and amusing to political independents and Limbaugh himself seems to be having a great time.
Limbaugh made a huge splash in the national political debate when he said he hoped President Obama would fail. He later elaborated that he wanted Obama’s policies, with which he vehemently disagreed, to fail but having just come off a president that did fail stuck a nerve with the public.
Since then the Democrats have been busily tying the Republicans to the full-throated voice of conservative talk radio. Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel called him "the voice and the intellectual force and energy behind the Republican Party."
When an interviewer suggested that Limbaugh was the "de facto" head of the Republican Party, the actual head, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, bristled: "Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. Rush Limbaugh — his whole thing is entertainment. He has this incendiary — yes, it’s ugly."
This is mild stuff in the world of Maryland politics that produced Steele but nonetheless the RNC chairman felt compelled to call Limbaugh to apologize and then apologize publicly, telling Politico, "I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh. I was maybe a little bit inarticulate . . . There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership."
It wasn’t quite the cringe-making level of Georgia GOP Rep. Phil Gingrey’s grovel to Limbaugh. Gingrey’s sin was to try to defend his party’s congressional leadership from a Limbaugh onslaught, saying that it was easy for Limbaugh and other critics to stand on the sidelines "and throw bricks" at legislators trying to do what’s best for their people and party.
The backlash to that gentle tut-tut was enough to make Gingrey "regret and apologize" and assure conservatives and anybody else who was paying attention that "I see eye-to-eye with Rush Limbaugh."
As for Limbaugh, he said on his show, "I’m not in charge of the Republican Party, and I don’t want to be." And, if he were chairman, given the "sad-sack state" the party is in, he would quit, that or "get out the hari-kari knife."
Entertaining? Yes. Incendiary? Yes. Ugly? Only if you’re Michael Steele or a Republican congressional leader.