Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 2, 2009

LIMBAUGH VS STEELE, ROUND II.... Yesterday Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele told a national television audience that Rush Limbaugh's schtick is both "incendiary" and "ugly." Today, Limbaugh responded. Greg Sargent reports:

"I'm not in charge of the Republican Party, and I don't want to be," Rush said. "I would be embarrassed to say that I'm in charge of the Republican Party in a sad-sack state that it's in. If I were chairman of the Republican Party, given the state that it's in, I would quit." [...]

"So send those fundraising requests out," Rush said in a sneering tone, in an apparent reference to Steele, adding: "Make sure you say, 'We want Obama to succeed.' So people understand your compassion."

"Republicans and conservatives are sick and tired of being talked down to, they're sick and tired of being lectured to," Rush continued. "And until you show some understanding and respect for who they are, you're gonna have a tough time rebuilding your party."

In case there were any doubts about the target of his ire, Limbaugh used his platform to start chiding Steele directly: "Why are you running the Republican Party? Why do you claim you lead the Republican Party when you seem obsessed with seeing to it that President Obama succeeds? I frankly am stunned that the chairman of the Republican National Committee endorses such an agenda.... If we don't want Obama and Reid and Pelosi to fail, then why does the RNC exist, Mr. Steele? Why are you even raising money?"

Democrats would, under normal circumstances, work very hard to drive a wedge between the Republican Party's leadership and its activist base. Over the last couple of weeks, that's happening anyway, without Dems having to lift a finger.

The one person rank-and-file Republicans follow with the most enthusiasm is using his show to bash the Republican Party, insult the RNC chairman, and undermine the party's fundraising efforts. What's more, with his comments yesterday, Steele effectively baited Limbaugh into launching today's tirade, which only keeps the right-wing blowhard front and center for another day.

If the DNC were writing the script, it would look quite a bit like this.

The next step will be the RNC's efforts to mend fences and make Limbaugh (and his audience) happy again. We'll see how that goes.

Steve Benen 3:50 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (52)

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Why does this remind me of the Monday night Wrestling show where they grab the mike and profound statements on the lack of manliness of the opponent... on and on like a soap opera they go until they jump in the ring for the rehearsed fight.

Posted by: Micky Rourke on March 2, 2009 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Let the blowjobs begin!

Hope you like to swallow, Mr. Steele.

Posted by: MsJoanne on March 2, 2009 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Every now and then, when I try to make a phone call, this horrendous, high-pitched beep screams out of my phone to tell me there was an error in connection. It's very painful.

Listening to Limbaugh is the mental equivalent of that sound.

Posted by: Personal Failure on March 2, 2009 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

So Rush now admits that the entire purpose of the Republican Party is to obstruct Democrats. Nice to know. I remember being told once that they had ideas of some sort. I guess that idea was to win political office so Democrats couldn't pass a liberal agenda.

Sure, I always knew that, but I also knew that Republicans weren't supposed to say it.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on March 2, 2009 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know what to feel, to be honest.

On the one hand, I'm rather enjoying the slow-motion implosion. The GOP either cling to Limbaugh like a drowning man to a life line, even though he will be just an anchor dragging them down; or they brush him off, which might possibly spark a civil war between "republicans" and ditto-heads. Either way, big entertainment and major win for us.

On the other hand, Limbaugh, that disgusting hypocritical ass, does not deserve this kind of prominence. And America really does need a viable opposition party, since a lengthy one-party rule tends to be a disaster.

So do I root for the GOP to regain a measure of sanity? Or do I root for Limbaugh to keep craziness front and center?

Posted by: Shade Tail on March 2, 2009 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

let the schism begin...http://briefingroom.thehill.com/2009/03/02/pretty-sad-limbaughs-the-lead-gop-voice-ron-paul/

Posted by: northzax on March 2, 2009 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Keep watching, folks. It's not often in the history of America that a political party dies, but that's what happening right now.

Hopefully in 10 years time, the Democratic party will be the most conservative party in the country and a viable progressive party will rise.

Posted by: doubtful on March 2, 2009 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

I guess Limbaugh's ego has gotten the best of his memory. He spent years safe in his radio show, and that short-lived TV show. The rest of the public knew of him, and recognized his voice and such, but most people weren't actually listening to him.

When he was finally exposed to a more general audience on ESPN, he made a complete jackass of himself, and had to crawl back into his hole. But it was the same crap he was saying before, and still says now.

This hasn't just been a case of bad publicity, or the media having it out for him. Most people simply don't like Limbaugh, once they see and hear him.

I guess five more years of listening to his fans talk about how super awesome he is has washed those memories away.

Posted by: drew42 on March 2, 2009 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Pigboy is correct: he's not in charge of the Republican party. What he is, tho, is the right's loudest vanguard for movement conservatism--post-fail edition.

The next step will be the RNC's efforts to mend fences and make Limbaugh (and his audience) happy again. We'll see how that goes.

Steele (not exactly a great political thinker) will buckle like a belt, and Republicans will continue to be marginalized.

Posted by: Monty on March 2, 2009 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

My prediction is republicans start turning on Rush then he announces his addiction to pain killers and exits stage right.

This can not last. He might have a huge audience, but not enough to win elections. Rush blew the primary(Democratic), he blew the election, and now he is hell bent on derailing any assemblence of thought in his own party. It might sell ad space, but it doesn't get people elected and if they can't win elections, there is no future.

This is really something to behold, republicans eating their own and not holding back. For Steele to think he is in where near the league of Rush is just plain childish. He will be eaten alive.

Posted by: ScottW on March 2, 2009 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

I smell a PARTY! A THIRD Party!

So the Grate One (sic) has pissed off all Democrat/Liberal voters and offended the remaining 6 Republicans! Beauty!

I guess that leaves as potential voters--when he inevitably throws his conical hat into the ring--only the Supreme Court (once they kill off Ginsburg) and 20M slavering idiots that couldn't find a voting booth jammed up their ass if you let them use both hands and Joe-the-Plumber's-Friend.

When the Rushlimpican Party really gets rolling, I'd like to suggest they make their mascot the Right Whale. Big, blubbery, and blows!

Posted by: bushwahd on March 2, 2009 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't Steele watch the other Republican leaders challenge Rush, then end up bowing and groveling to him?

Posted by: Chris S. on March 2, 2009 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

And America really does need a viable opposition party, since a lengthy one-party rule tends to be a disaster. - Shade Tail

I'd be more concerned if the Dems had the kind of unity that the Reps do. But right now the Dems are largely a party of independents. Long term one party rule is a problem, but right now I'd rather see the Republican party go up in a ball of flames. They're a toxic coctail.

Posted by: Danp on March 2, 2009 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

... a crocktale

Posted by: Neil B ☺ on March 2, 2009 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Steele's in a tough spot -- if he backs down to Rush then he deserves a dissing from NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb.

Remember -- Rush denigrated Donovan's ability in racially charged remarks in 2003. Rush was forced to resign from ESPN as a result of those bigoted remarks.

What national political leader wants to be called a wimp by one of the NFL's star African American players?

Posted by: pj in jesusland on March 2, 2009 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone else hear that dog-whistle? Sounds like Rush (the only thing about with the illusion of speed is his name) came very VERY close to implying that Steele doesn't want Obama to fail...because of...something...they both have in common...can't put my finger on it...it's right on the tip of my tongue, which by the way resides in the mouth of a white person...don't know why I brought that up...anyway why would Rush imply that Steele would not want Obama to fail?

Posted by: slappy magoo on March 2, 2009 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Given the performance by Steele, I expect Limbaugh to come out on top of this little tiff.

The follow up question, does the party manufacture a coup and jettison any appearance of minority outreach? How do they toss him so quickly after handing him the reins? If they don't, does he continue to bumble along and how long do they allow it?

Is the RNC chair reduced to a figurehead position to contain the damage and is this sham exposed as tokenism?

Too soon to tell. Steele may find his legs. I don't see a way that the process will be dull, though.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on March 2, 2009 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Americans are stunned and suspicious of the $5 trillion dollars of pork coming out of the Pelosi congress. The more Dem PR pros try to discredit Limbaugh, the more corrupt Dems like Dick Durbin try to do a Vladimir Putin type of media muzzling on talk radio, then the more suspicious Americans will get on what the Dems are trying to cover up and why they are so afraid of Rush Limbaugh.

Rush's rating will climb through the roof.

Posted by: Luther on March 2, 2009 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

If we don't want Obama and Reid and Pelosi to fail, then why does the RNC exist, Mr. Steele?

Uhhh, because you have a vision that you believe will lead to a better American future? I guess that's not terribly important to Limbaugh.


Republicans and conservatives are sick and tired of being talked down to, they're sick and tired of being lectured to.

Republicans dont want to be lectured to? Isnt that Limbaugh's *job*? I mean, he goes on the radio every day for several hours and lectures to conservatives. Yet he says they dont want that.

It's amazing to me that so many conservatives are incapable of seeing how bad it makes them look when they say they want Obama to fail. It's totally fine if they want to prevent him from enacting his policies, but given that the policies *will* be enacted (in some form), why would you hope for their failure?

I'm sure most of the people who are saying this dont perceive of themselves as people who would put party or ideology in front of country. So why arent they capable of being more clear about their wishes? Why do they stick to a rhetorical device which makes them look so bad?

Posted by: TG Chicago on March 2, 2009 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

doubtful - this party isn't just dying it is killing itself. One side saner though still a bit crazy v bat shit crazy. Frankly, I think the bat shit crazy is gonna win - it has all the passion (or the only passion) on the Republican side of the aisle.

I would say I feel sorry for them but I don't. They made a bargain with Limbaugh years ago. The results of that bargain are coming to fruition. Pandora's box can't be closed and all the ills that were released can't be put back in.

Republicans like to talk about people being responsible, living with the consequences of their bad decisions, well here is their time to practice what they like to preach.

Posted by: ET on March 2, 2009 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

I really don't understand Rush and the Republicans.

What Rush should be saying is not that he hopes Obama fails. What he should be saying is "I know Obama will fail. I want to do everything I can to stop his policies because only my CONSERVATIVE policies will work."

Rush should keep preaching that if we reduce the tax rate to 0% that we will raise so much money that we will balance the budget. We should stop teaching evolution and sex education because ....

Of course, I think the Republicans will spend even more time in the wilderness if they keep listening to Rush.

Posted by: neil wilson on March 2, 2009 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Over at CNN, a Republican Party spokesman denies there's a feud between Steele and Limbaugh, but says there is one between Rushie and Rahm Emanuel:

'"Rahm Emanuel and the Democrats know they lose an argument with the Republican Party on substance, so they are building straw men to attack and distract," he said. "The feud between radio host Rush and Rahm makes great political theater, but it is a sideshow to the important work going on in Washington."'

Huh? Once again, reality is a foreign country to the Repubs. All of them.

Posted by: ericfree on March 2, 2009 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

If the DNC were writing the script, it would look quite a bit like this. -- Steve Benen

Doubt it; I don't think DNC has anyone clever enough, with enough of bizarre sense of humour to pull it off.

Slappy, @ 16:19,

Agree. This comment:
"And until you show some understanding and respect for who they [Republicans] are, you're gonna have a tough time rebuilding your party."
is quite telling in making a division between "your party" and "Republicans" (in general).

Very nice, this battle of two giant egos. They ought to hire Burris to moderate/judge.

Posted by: exlibra on March 2, 2009 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

Thank god for luther for bringing me back to earth. In typical Rush(anti-christ)style he (luther)(Joe the Plumber's personal ball washer) just pulls monkeys out of his ass ,holds them up in the air and says looky here.

Posted by: Gandalf on March 2, 2009 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

I will listen to Rush in the car when I am trying to stay awake. Its either him or Country music when I am really tired. My guess is everyone has a Rush in their family. They come in both lefty and righty flavors. They are keen on assertion, weak on analysis, and they get more entertaining the more impaired they become. Entertaining yes, but, Rush isn't your favorite uncle in one significant respect. He's a true believer. If democracy gets in the way of principle, democracy be damned. He does not consider Libruls, or their enablers to be human, or worthy of consideration. I think it is only a matter of time before the right begins to advocate violence resistence. If the economy begins to improve (a big if), they have nowhere else to go but there.

Posted by: Scott F. on March 2, 2009 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats would, under normal circumstances, work very hard to drive a wedge between the Republican Party's leadership and its activist base. Over the last couple of weeks, that's happening anyway, without Dems having to lift a finger.

This really is the story of Obama's life, isn't it? I still can't figure out how the guy manages to throw one little rock into the pond (his paraphrased remark about Limbaugh a couple of months ago) and then sit back and watch his opponents tear themselves apart. He's done it over and over again throughout his career.

Remind me never to make the president mad at me.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on March 2, 2009 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

The RepubliKKKan party presents CPAC

Not to be confused with 2PAC.

Starring:

Richard Steele as Clayton Bigsby

Rush Limbaugh as Headly LaMar

Sam Wurhzelbacjer as Forrest Gump

Michelle Bachmann as Herself

Posted by: Winkandanod on March 2, 2009 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Why do you claim you lead the Republican Party when you seem obsessed with seeing to it that President Obama succeeds?

What gets me about the "I Want Obama To Fail" crowd is that if Obama fails then the whole bloody country fails. Don't these idiots realize that?

Posted by: e. nonee moose on March 2, 2009 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Don't tell Rush, but perhaps the repubs problems are due to the bile and venom that routinely spew from the AM radio. Maybe it's the hypocracy that becomes unmistakable after a week's worth of listening - when 3 suddenly equals 4, blue equals chocolate, up is down, and whatever it was he said last week wasn't whatever it was he said last week.

Rush has every right to claim the party's leadership. It's membership has been reduced to the morons and loonies of his listening audience.

Posted by: JoeW on March 2, 2009 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Limbaugh is a dick.

However, I must say I'm happy to see his dickishness directed toward Steele.

Posted by: David Bailey on March 2, 2009 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

If the economy begins to improve (a big if), they have nowhere else to go but there.

Not likely to get substantial momentum if the economy improves. Having a paying job has a way of distracting you from Molotov cocktail mixing.

Much more likely and dangerous if economy gets much worse. If the world seems grossly unfair and too complex to understand why, a human enemy is what the morally and mentally weak look to for comfort. Rush will be only too happy to oblige.

Posted by: lobbygow on March 2, 2009 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

I still can't figure out how the guy manages to throw one little rock into the pond (his paraphrased remark about Limbaugh a couple of months ago) and then sit back and watch his opponents tear themselves apart.

Yeah, and remember what a mistake the Villagers thought that was?

Posted by: Gregory on March 2, 2009 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

"If we don't want Obama and Reid and Pelosi to fail, then why does the RNC exist, Mr. Steele?"

That is so the money quote. They would rather rule in hell than serve in heaven.

Never an idea that other people might succeed, and they might succeed too. Or that other people might succeed, but they might succeed more.

The whole point of places like Silicon Valley isn't so much that some succeed and others fail; the best outcome for entrepeneurs is that everybody makes money, and some just make more money than others.

Posted by: paul on March 2, 2009 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

"So do I root for the GOP to regain a measure of sanity? Or do I root for Limbaugh to keep craziness front and center?"

Well, Shade, it behooves us to remember that we are all one nation, and that schadenfreude is beneath us and...oh, fuck it.

CRIPPLE FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!!!

This rules.

Posted by: Cazart on March 2, 2009 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Limbaugh and Steele are both completely and curelessly insane sociopaths, enough said. Oh, wait till you hear my "broad brush" statement!

Posted by: The Galloping Trollop on March 2, 2009 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Why do people assume that Rushs purpose is to promote the welfare of republicans and conservatism.
Rush like Coulter is the typical publicity whore whose only purpose is to promote themselves and sell books thus increasing their wealth and well being.
Both actually prefer to see the repubs remain in the minority thus increasing their ability to spread their poison and increase their wealth.

Posted by: grandpajohn on March 2, 2009 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

I am shocked, shocked, Limbaugh must be un american, at CPAC he was not wearing his lapel pin.

Posted by: JS on March 2, 2009 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

In Matthew, Chapter 6, Jesus said: "You cannot serve God and Mammon."

This is what the Republican Party has been doing for the past 28 years. Using Christianity as a tool to lure frightened believers to the altar of the Corporate Money-God. Now that all Americans, Christian and non-Christian, are becoming aware that they've been deceived, and have been sacrificed upon that altar - they're no longer listening to the Republicans.

Only a very few would be foolish enough to keep listening to the liars who have done nothing but scam them for the last 30 years

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on March 2, 2009 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Would everyone please give Rush some slack?

We should be cognizant of the fact that his brain craves opiates, synthetic or otherwise.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on March 2, 2009 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

I want to see Steele ramp this thing up, suggesting that Limbaugh's physicians need to up his Prozac dosage. I want to see someone from the RNC suggest that the ditto-heads need to be institutionalized. I want to see someone from the far Right label Limbaugh's EiB Network as "a terrorist organization."

This has the potential to become a most excellent adventure....

Posted by: Steve W. on March 2, 2009 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

This really is the story of Obama's life, isn't it? I still can't figure out how the guy manages to throw one little rock into the pond (his paraphrased remark about Limbaugh a couple of months ago) and then sit back and watch his opponents tear themselves apart.

I thought for a while Obama was really lucky with his enemies self-destructing. But it's been too many times: it's not luck. It's like sparring with an expert, where you think you're holding your own and all of a sudden you're helpless flat on your back with no idea how you got there.

I don't plan to pick a fight with Obama anytime soon.

Posted by: ericblair on March 2, 2009 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

Steele and the Republicans care about winning elections, and they have to concern themselves with doing that. And trying to win elections is hard work -- and it's even harder when your actual agenda is to enrich and empower the rich and powerful few at the expense of everyone else.

Rush Limbaugh doesn't care about winning elections. All he cares about is sitting on his fat ass and collecting an even fatter paycheck. And he can do that just as easily whether Republicans or Democrats are winning elections.

If anything, Limbaugh probably will do better at enriching himself with a Democrat in the White House. Hatred of Obama will be much "sexier" to the ditto-heads than hero-worship of Bush, since it plays into their deep desire, cultivated by Limbaugh's propaganda, to see themselves as the poor-pitiful "conservative" victims of "powerful liberal elites".

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 2, 2009 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

Steele eats crow LOL.

Weak tea.

The repubs are DOOMED.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0309/19517.html

Posted by: dpnntcallmefrancis on March 2, 2009 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

ha! steele backs off:

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0309/19517.html


Posted by: benjoya on March 2, 2009 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

Attention K-mart shoppers...we have a cripple fight on Aisle six...

Posted by: Cazart on March 2, 2009 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

From the Politico link: "I’m not going to engage these guys and sit back and provide them the popcorn for a fight between me and Rush Limbaugh,” Steele added. “No such thing is going to happen. … I wasn’t trying to slam him or anything." - Steele

Popcorn, anyone?

Posted by: Markozilla on March 2, 2009 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

I can't wait for the 2010 GOP primaries, myself. Should be even more fun than listening to Rush on the radio!

Posted by: dr sardonicus on March 2, 2009 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it. Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.

Rule 12: Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky.

After 40 years of fucking lies and a Democratic Party that was alternately too weak, too timid or too complicit to oppose the lies, it feels VERY good to know that the Republicans are completely overmatched by Obama.

He might not always do the right thing -- and I really hope his Executive Power fetish is brought to heel by Congress (I may as well wish for the moon) -- but he and the party are, right now, looking aggressively smart for the first time in my life.

Posted by: Jay B. on March 2, 2009 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans: the disloyal opposition.

Posted by: J. Frank Parnell on March 2, 2009 at 11:33 PM | PERMALINK

Normally I don't like to sink to the level of commenting on a person's appearance, but watching the clips of Limbaugh's speech before CPAC was almost nauseating. Watching that fat, bloated clammy pig huffing and heaving and sweating and shaking was the perfect visual for his over-ripe, festering rhetoric. He's the perfect visual symbol for the bloated rotting corpse that is the conservative movement. Beyond his hard-core devotees I think most people just thought he was amusing. Now that he's all but officially been lifted up to the head of the Republican Party (thank you, Mr. President) he seems much more of a menace. I just checked my 401k. I've lost half of it and I'm still making my normal contributions. I have a feeling there is a huge swath of everyday Americans who are looking at their 401k's, wondering when the next round of layoffs will come, dreading the need to replace their car or some major appliance, wondering how long they'll have their employee based healthcare...I can't imagine any of them are hoping for the President to fail.

The Republicans are being crushed under a ponderous Jacob Marley chain composed of a hatefull, bitter, irrational, bigotted base. That they don't see the fatal danger in bowing down to them and their high priest, Limbaugh, is amazing. I say before the 2012 elections we'll see more than a couple prominent moderate Republicans bolt and become independants.

Posted by: Saint Zak on March 3, 2009 at 6:42 AM | PERMALINK

One small problem with having this person rant and rave. The rest of the world is watching and to a large degree, they control our future more than we know. They have watched us invade a country unprovoked and occupy it for only financial reasons. Our President and his staff broke laws and re-wrote our constitution and the best we could do is wave our little flags and sing our little song. Do they have any reason not to take away everything we have because we are viewed as stupid and lazy because we did nothing about it. Now, because our MSM is owned by these same folks, this person is all they will hear.

Posted by: SteveA on March 3, 2009 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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