Saturday, March 7, 2009

OMG! Frum and I Have a Similar View On Limbaugh Flap

For the past few days I've been writing about the Rush Limbaugh as leader of the Republican Party flap. Here are some of the links:
The last piece on keeping score was in response to a conservative woman who thinks Rush Limbaugh does the conservative movement a real service.

A little while ago I was reading "The Weekend Opinionator" at The New York Times, specifically "Tobin Harshaw's "The Party of Limbaugh? A Conservative Debate," when I saw the following quote from a blog post by David Frum. David Frum was "special assistant" for economic speechwriting to former President George W. Bush and is also an contributor at The National Review, a conservative publication that embraces Rush Limbaugh as a friend and financial underwriter. It appears Frum sees what I see--Limbaugh is an opportunist who wants to hold his position as an influential voice in Republican politics. The following Frum quote is from The New Majority website:

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.

But do the rest of us understand what we are doing to ourselves by accepting this leadership? Rush is to the Republicanism of the 2000s what Jesse Jackson was to the Democratic party in the 1980s. He plays an important role in our coalition, and of course he and his supporters have to be treated with respect. But he cannot be allowed to be the public face of the enterprise – and we have to find ways of assuring the public that he is just one Republican voice among many, and very far from the most important. (David Frum @ New Majority)

Frum may be writing at the New Majority, but I suspect he's in the minority when it comes to conservatives seeing through Rush Limbaugh.

Harshaw at NYT ends his post on a cautionary note for the Obama administration:
Will Limbaugh reshape the G.O.P. in his image, or will his supporters in the party eventually move “up” and leave him behind? The more pressing matter is whether he can move beyond his base of listeners, which has reportedly doubled since the current controversy exploded. One thing’s for sure, though: if Limbaugh ever truly gains the Winchellesque power to move popular opinion, he’ll have the Obama White House to thank for giving him the chance.
You'll need to read his column at NYT if you don't get the Winchell reference.

Yes, the Obama administration is taking a bit of a risk in spotlighting Limbaugh, but I think President Barack Obama, his White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, and the rest of the Hill Dems wouldn't take this chance if they genuinely believed the majority of Americans think like Rush Limbaugh. Also, I think they aren't giving Limbaugh any opportunity that wasn't already there.

I hope Obama's optimism about the American people wanting harmony is well placed. Sometimes I don't have that kind of faith at all.

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