Apparently the rush to crown Rush Limbaugh as the de facto head of the Republican party and stick with the plan of canonizing Reaganomics is getting to be too much for some Republicans. David Brooks on ABC’s This Week labeled the Republicans in the House as “insane” for trying do just that.
The problem with them and the problem with Limbaugh in terms of intellectual philosophy is they are stuck with Reagan. They are stuck with the idea that government is always the problem. A lot of Republicans up in Capitol Hill right now are calling for a spending freeze in a middle of a recession/depression. That is insane. But they are thinking the way they thought in 1982, if we can only think that way again, that is just insane.
As Steve Benen points out, even then, the Republicans who are venerating Mr. Reagan aren’t remembering that he raised taxes several times during his administration. But when you’re blinded by the rosy visions of that mythical shining city on the hill, you forget little things like that.
Some other Republicans such as Newt Gingrich were also backing off the Rush-inflamed rhetoric, telling David Gregory on Meet the Press that “you’re irrational if you don’t want the president to succeed.”
A couple of things are at play here. First, the GOP is realizing that they have been played like a Stradivarius by the White House on this whole Rush Limbaugh thing. Second, whether or not the pompous ass of the radio waves has 20 million people listening to him, he’s still just a big mouth in a glass box in a mansion in West Palm Beach shouting into a microphone like the Wizard of Oz, and the party will go South — literally and figuratively — if they don’t alter course. As Leonard Pitts, Jr. wrote, “the GOP faces a real possibility of being reduced to a regional party of limited national relevance unless it broadens its appeal beyond angry white men living primarily in the states of the old Confederacy.”
As much as a lot of people, including myself, are enjoying watching the Republicans tear themselves apart — something I thought the Democrats had cornered the market on — in truth I’d rather have the discussion and debate in this country be a fair match rather than giving into one-party rule. We’ve already seen what that’s like, and it’s not pretty. Even those with the best intentions, be they Democrats or Republicans, can get out of control if there’s nothing more than toothless and token opposition to policies and ideas.
It will be interesting to see how long this rational opposition to the intemperance of Mr. Limbaugh lasts. Mr. Brooks is, in all likelihood, immune to the artillery from the right since he’s viewed with suspicion already; he writes for the New York Times, fer chrissake, and contributes to NPR. If that doesn’t make him a wussified traitor to all things Rush, nothing does. Mr. Gingrich, though, is actively planning a run for the White House in 2012 — no, seriously — and he knows he has to get past the reach of the AM radio spectrum to have a chance to compete with Joe the Plumber and whatshername, the moose-hunter from Alaska…. Oh, yeah, Sarah Palin. (She is so 2008.) But it’s easy for Mr. Gingrich to be all magnanimous and rational on Sunday morning; the real test comes around noon Eastern Time on Monday when Rush hits the air and he holds forth on the state of his kingdom. We’ll see if the grown-ups are, indeed, capable of taking back the argument. If not, it will be entertaining for a little while to watch as Newt and Rush, two behemoths of bombast, square off in the sumo ring.