Mar 3, 2009

Manna from heaven

The latest hour-long Rush Limbaugh extravaganza is pure bliss. Not since Sarah Palin popped her head into our airspace has political theatre acquired such bouyancy — as light as farce. As with all the best farces, the engine of this one is powered along by a neat conundrum: someone who believes himself to be the solution to the problem is in fact its source.

For non-American readers, a quick update: four days before the inuageration, radio host Rush Limbaugh said, of Obama, “I hope he fails." The DNC used the statement to raise cash. Then, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, clad in a slinky black satin shirt, Rush re-stated his view. "What is wrong with saying I hope he fails?"

This time, things kicked up a gear. On Face the Nation Rahm Emanuel bigged up the conservative talk show host, calling him the “the voice and the intellectual force and energy behind the Republican Party,” in turn angering Republican National Chairman Michael Steele who dismissed Limbaugh as a mere “entertainer,” whose rhetoric was “ugly” and “incendiary.” Steele was then forced into calling Limbaugh to apologize Monday. Rep. Phil Gingrey took a shot at Limbaugh only to appear on his program the next day and plead “foot-in-mouth disease.”

The whole thing is genius: Democrats have barely had to lift a finger and suddenly the new face of the GOP is a corpulent, hateful white male in slinky black satin whom the Republicans cannot be seen to either endorse or reject. "The administration is enabling me,” Limbaugh wrote in an e-mail to Politico. “They are expanding my profile, expanding my audience and expanding my influence. An ever larger number of people are now being exposed to the antidote to Obamaism: conservatism, as articulated by me.”

The language of addiction is revealing. Limbaugh's opinions are cocaine to the GOP. He has no idea how toxic he is to them, or rather he does but he just doesn't care. He is indifferent to their fate. He is not an elected official. He does not have their interests at heart. Everyone gains from this — Rush Limbaugh, Talk Radio, Obama, the Democrats — everyone but the poor Republicans.

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