Wednesday, March 04, 2009


My first instinct when I saw Politico's story about the Democrats' careful plotting of the anti-Limbaugh campaign was that it was a bad thing -- that now the story will be the Democratic campaign rather than what the Democrats are saying, and the message will be "Evil Democrats are manipulating the news cycle."

But I don't think there's really a downside because I know that Limbaugh and his people are going to read this story, and he's probably going to spend twenty minutes holding forth on it today on the radio -- and, in all likelihood, he's going to say something new that's angry and nasty, something that pushes the crazy even more, while implicitly (or explicitly) daring Republican officeholders to second him or incur his wrath.

He can't back down. He can't nimbly sidestep controversy. Doing so would be incompatible with his act. It would be helpful in the long run for his party and his movement if he did walk away from this fight, but the temporary climbdown in the interest of long-term gain just isn't in his repertoire. So I think Democrats can just keep goading him and goading him, at least until this story plays itself out or something new displaces it.


Meanwhile, I don't understand this sentence in The Washington Post's story about Limbaugh and the GOP:

The ongoing controversy over Limbaugh's statement in a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday that he wants "Barack Obama to fail" and the aggressive Democratic pushback it drew has emerged as the latest challenge for a party struggling to find its voice and lacking an obvious national leader.

In what way is the GOP "lacking an obvious national leader"? Besides Limbaugh, what's wrong with Boehner or Cantor or Steele or Jindal or Sanford or either of the two people who were on the ticket last fall? The party has plenty of potential national leaders. GOP leaders and surrogates were all over cable news during the debate on the stimulus bill, far more than Democrats. Republicans just don't have "an obvious national leader" any non-Republican likes.

And the GOP certainly didn't seem to be "struggling to find its voice" during that stimulus debate -- we heard the GOP say, with one voice, "No."


What these guys -- Limbaugh in particular -- are struggling with is the fact that there simply hasn't been a national Democrat with deep, sustained popularity since ... when? Johnson circa 1964? FDR?

Limbaugh and the Republicans think they know how to respond to a Democrat in power because knocking Bill Clinton off his pedestal early in his term was so easy for Republicans; even when Clinton regained significant public support late in his term, he had, post-Monica, high job approval and far lower personal approval. But Obama, according to the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, not only has a job approval rating of 60% but a personal favorability rating of 67%, including 47% "very favorable." So far, Limbaugh and the Republicans simply don't have an out pitch for this guy. The GOP noise machine has been making all its heretofore successful noises, and they ain't working. That'll change eventually, but for now, Obama is the Road Runner, and (to mix a metaphor) Limbaugh and his lemmings are the Coyotes.

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