WAR WITH LIMBAUGH? RISKY, BUT IT MIGHT WORK
Kathleen Parker, in concern-troll mode, argues today that President Obama is running a risk by making Rush Limbaugh his debating partner:
...Excuse me, Mr. President, but you've been baited by none other than the Master Fisherman. Limbaugh tossed you a lure and you chomped.
Never start a land war with Asia. Never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel (or who owns the patent on the microchip). Never let rabble-rousers get under your skin -- especially those whose popularity in some circles compares favorably with your own and whose earnings make bailed-out bank presidents envious.
While we're at it, tread very carefully around the implication that conservatives cling to their talk-show hosts out of anger and frustration.
That may be true, but the backfire Obama felt in West Virginia was a gentle zephyr compared to the blowback that can be bellowed by El Rushbo....
She might be right -- I'm not sure -- but I think for now I'm going to go with Ben Smith and Mark Blumenthal's theory that the White House is quite aware of how the public at large sees Limbaugh, and thinks this is a safe bet:
The risk is still that the mainstream press, accustomed as it is to treating outrageous Republican pronouncements as reasonable (and reasonable Democratic pronouncements as outrageous), will make Limbaugh look like a moderate, rational, sympathetic figure, a plucky underdog speaking truth to power.
On the other hand -- and this is what I'm betting on -- Limbaugh has never had to tone down his act, having mostly been treated by the mainstream media as if he doesn't exist. Therefore, he may not be shrewd enough to dial it down now that he's getting a lot more mainstream exposure. His Wall Street Journal op-ed may have delighted the wingnuts, but it was arrogant. And every time he's in front of a microphone complaining about someone, he runs the risk of saying something boorish about, say, feeling forced to "bend over, grab the ankles" -- a metaphor he's used three times in the past seven months in various contexts.
So, yeah, this will work for the White House -- I think.
The Chicago Tribune's Swamp blog says Limbaugh was "lampooning the buy-American brand of Kobe beef served up at the White House's attempts at a bipartisan happy hour" on the radio yesterday:
"Well, I would be willing to explain my plan to him. I am prepared to go up to the White House and have an adult beverage and some wagyu beef appetizers, which he served last night. That's American Kobe.
"I'm willing to go up there and share an adult beverage and some Wagyu beef to persuade him of the wisdom of my plan. I am prepared, ladies and gentlemen, to reach out to President Obama -- to explain the bipartisan Obama-Limbaugh plan to him, to help bring the nation together, under a true stimulus plan.''
Is he waging, um, class warfare on Obama? I know a number of righties are, led by Michelle Malkin:
Yeah, "wagyu steak." $100 per serving delicacy. I had to look it up, too.
Wagyu? Domestic kobe? Well, it's $30 a pound here and $14.99 a pound here -- not cheap, but not budget-busting if you're a prominent person and you have guests you want to impress. It may be snooty, but good ol' brush-clearin' W. served it at the White House himself once. Oh, and Kobe? Rush is an aficionado:
RADIO host Rush Limbaugh is far from conservative when it comes to his big appetite. The Post's Braden Keil reports that Limbaugh and a female companion lived large at Kobe Club last Thursday night, devouring bacon with truffles, Japanese strip steak, Kobe beef cheek ravioli, a large seafood platter, a combo of American, Australian and Japanese wagyu steaks and several "side" dishes....
In fact, Rush's regular patronage at the Kobe Club has been reported. Just sayin'.