Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Limbaugh Dethrones Bush as Democrats' Best Recruiter

There's a great dialogue going on at Dem Bones surrounding the exchange between Rush Limbaugh and new RNC Chair Michael Steele over the past few days. It started when Steele made what I thought was a pretty innocuous comment on D.L. Hughley's show about Rush being an entertainer who sometimes makes "incendiary" statements. Here's a video clip:

Then Don Rushbo called in the heavy artillery, accusing Steele of betraying conservatism, being complicit with Obama, and essentially being a mere figurehead with a title as opposed to the rightful heir, Rush Limbaugh with his mafiosi-like grip on the Right. So what does Steele do? He apologizes to the guy who just undermined his authority in the public square.

I blogged recently about Steele's ring-kissing in the talk radio circuit and why it will end up hurting his party. Here's the basic civics lesson that parties seem to forget once they're out of power: most of this country is moderate. The moderates are the ones who decide elections--those of us who operate partisan political blogs and work on campaigns are the freakish exceptions, and if we're the only ones who stay on board with our party, that party has some serious issues. So when your spokesman is an abrasive jackass from the fringe of your party, you will lose elections. I think the Republicans won in 2002 & 2004 in spite of Rush--he kept the base riled up, but there were other compelling symbols of the party brand. Let's not forget that back then, Dubya still had decent approval ratings and a strong enough campaign to focus his party's message in a way that appealed to centrists. By contrast, John Kerry was a fairly weak candidate with a weak campaign who seemed to be overshadowed by Michael Moore. Sorry Moore fans, but it's hard to see how Fahrenheit 9/11 did the party any favors with the broad middle of the spectrum.

If Michael Steele doesn't grow a backbone--and soon--Limbaugh (the wine and cheese of crazy) and Glenn Beck (the bootleg absinthe of crazy) will continue to dominate the conservative message in a way that turns off moderate voters. The right would do well to learn from Virginia's own Too Conservative--I don't often agree with their views, but they're reasoned, principled and well-spoken. Then again, I guess that's not what gets listeners on the EIB Network

No comments: