Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Delicate Balance

The Republicans are trying to figure out how to become the majority party again when they’re led by a bombastic ideologue who brooks no dissent, sneers at compromise, and never admits to making a mistake.

“The influence Rush has is 20 million listeners,” said Ron Bonjean, who was spokesman for former House speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), referring to what Limbaugh says is his weekly audience. “But to get back to the majority, we need to also connect to independents who may not be listeners of his show.” Democrats continued to mock Steele for buckling to Limbaugh yesterday, maintained their insistence that Limbaugh is the GOP’s de facto leader, and said they planned no letup in their attacks. The White House and the Democratic National Committee have been coordinating their response, and liberal interest groups are planning to expand their television ads highlighting Limbaugh’s comments in the days ahead.

Not to mention the fact that there are twenty-plus years of audio clips of Mr. Limbaugh attacking everyone from immigrants, blacks, Hispanics, gays, women, the disabled, the addicted (ironic since Mr. Limbaugh is both disabled and an addict), and just about everyone else. So it will be supremely interesting to see how the Republicans woo back immigrants, blacks, Hispanics, gays, women, the disabled, the addicted, and get them to vote for Republican candidates who appeal to them and doesn’t distance themselves from Mr. Limbaugh.

It seems that the Republicans can’t decide what to do about Rush Limbaugh. His allies in the House agree with his desire to see President Obama fail — or at least they say so publicly — while others are worried about getting bogged down in their own internecine warfare that they can’t come up with a coherent or viable alternative to the president’s agenda. It proves what a lot of people have suspected all along; the Republicans have never really been serious about governing; all they care about is winning elections. But if they think the way to do that is to appeal to the narrow base of the people who listen to and take to heart the rants of a talk-radio host who has never run for office and who has never allowed himself to engage in a debate with anyone other than those who suck up to him, they’re going to keep losing. But if that’s what they want, then far be it from me to stop them.