And for the leader of the Republicans? A man who is aggressive and bombastic, cutting and sarcastic, who dismisses the concerned citizens in network news focus groups as “losers.” With his private plane and his cigars, his history of drug dependency and his personal bulk, not to mention his tangled marital history, Rush is a walking stereotype of self-indulgence – exactly the image that Barack Obama most wants to affix to our philosophy and our party. And we’re cooperating! Those images of crowds of CPACers cheering Rush’s every rancorous word – we’ll be seeing them rebroadcast for a long time.
Rush knows what he is doing. The worse conservatives do, the more important Rush becomes as leader of the ardent remnant. The better conservatives succeed, the more we become a broad national governing coalition, the more Rush will be sidelined.
Daniel Larison on the Battlestar tip:
To use a pop culture analogy, Limbaugh and most conservatives believe he is something like the conservative movement’s Laura Roslin, but he is, in fact, their Baltar. As the plot of that story suggests, however, even if he were Roslin the destination to which he is leading conservatives may be a barren wasteland rather than the far green country they expect to find.
There was a difference with Reagan and it is one, critical aspect of Reagan that is sorely missing today in the GOP: civility. The man was tough and ideological at times - though pragmatic enough to raise taxes, withdraw from Lebanon, do a deal with Communists, and invade Grenada rather than Iraq. But he was always civil. He would never have spent half his speech lambasting, ridiculing, demonizing, hating and riling half the country he knew he needed to persuade. He was interested in promoting ideas to address the problems of his time - not regularly naming and smearing anyone who disagreed with him. He had class.
I think it's pretty clear that the Democratic comeback since then has had next-to-nothing to with developing "new ideas" and almost everything to do with Republican failure, the state of the economy, and a really effective presidential nominee. yes, Democratic ideas proved more popular, but they really were the same basic ideas the party had advocated for years.
Limbaugh, then, is narrowly right. The GOP's fortunes are essentially an inverse function of the Obama administration's fortunes, which is turn depends almost entirely on the state of the world economy.
Where Limbaugh is wrong is that he thinks Americans inherently approve of the conservative agenda, and that Republican defeats can only be explained by deviation from the true faith.
I'm glad [Michael Steele] apologized. I think the chairman is a breath of fresh air for the party. As I said before, I think Rush is a leader for many conservatives and says things that people are concerned about.
(White House Press Secretary) Robert Gibbs:
I think maybe the best question, though, is for you to ask individual Republicans whether they agree with what Rush Limbaugh said this weekend. Do they want to see the President’s economic agenda fail? You know, I bet there are a number of guests on television throughout the day and maybe into tomorrow who could let America know whether they agree with what Rush Limbaugh said this weekend.
These propagandists are not going away just yet. They have yet to complete their destruction, which is why I still fear them, and why it is difficult to marginalize them. Limbaugh is still a source of horror, despite attempts over the last two decades to caricature him (including one on The Simpsons!), because he will still be doing damage in the years to come. The real acute pain and shame I felt over these last eight years was primarily watching my fellow countrymen and women, and in some cases friends and family of mine, fall prey to the propaganda of these evil people
As much as it may make me sound like a typical alarmist liberal ("I'm not a liberal!", I shout.), I do think that Limbaugh is pretty evil, if you define evil as one who chooses to further ones own interest with little or no interest in the well-being of others. I tend to agree with David Frum in this, a deep-red Republican I actually enjoy reading, it is in Rush's interest for the right to stay weak. His success lies in his ideals - if indeed they could be called ideals, and not merely theater - remaining peripheral and purely oppositional.