The Collective
Sunday, March 8, 2024
By Dr. Steven Taylor

One the one hand, it would be a fair statement to note that Rush Limbaugh shouldn’t be as much of a focus of conversation as he had been of late, whether on this blog or in the national discourse. However, since he has been a focus of the national discourse in some significant manner of late (indeed, was mentioned on MTP this morning), and because this blog is at least in part about my thoughts on the political news cycle, Limbaugh has been on my mind.

It strikes me the current Limbaugh focus has three key players: Limbaugh himself, the Obama administration and the o Republican Party. Two of these actors are winner and one is a loser. One suspects that it isn’t too hard to figure out which is which.

The Winners: Limbaugh and the Obama administration.

Limbaugh is the biggest winner, without any doubt whatsoever. He has received more attention in the last several weeks (almost two months, in fact) than he has in some time. He has been discussed in magazines, on blogs, on the television and in newspaper columns probably as much, if not more, than he was during the Republican Revolution back in 1994/1995, the Clinton impeachment or during his divorce with ESPN. And all of this attention will lead to more listeners, at least for a while, if anything because people will want to tune in to hear what the big deal is.

BTW–I am not saying that Limbaugh would be off the air if McCain had won–not at all. Limbaugh has a very successful radio show, and would have continued to have been successful regardless of the winner in 2024 election. However, he would hardly be getting this level of press if McCain was the current occupant of the White House.

The Obama administration also wins, as if Limbaugh is perceived, even in part, as the leader of the GOP. Limbaugh is ultimately a harmless foil for the White House, as the only people who take him truly seriously are already opposed to the White House’s policies. There are, however, any number of persuadable persons out there who are likely to find Limbaugh an obnoxious bombast, and when given the choice between Obama and Limbaugh, are more likely to be persuaded by Obama. I am not talking about those already in Obama’s camp, but again, those who may be persuadable.

The Loser: the GOP.

I know that fans of Rush like to think of him as a figure who gives voice to the thoughts and frustrations of many in the Republican Party/conservative movement. And while that may be true, it is also true that the problem is that Rush represents, on balance, those people talking to themselves.

Where is the new leadership in the GOP? Is it Palin or Jindal? Is it Boehner and McConnell? Is it some blast from the past like Newt? The answer to this question is wholly unclear to me. And I don’t think that Limbaugh is causing this problem, but I do think that the fact that Limbaugh is getting the attention he is getting is a symptom of the GOP’s leadership vacuum. In other words, Limbaugh wouldn’t be an prominent as he is if the Republicans actually had real leadership.

Further, since Limbaugh has come out in favor of failure for Obama, many will perceive that as wishing for failure for the economy, as most people tend to link the success of a president with success of the country. It is not a good image for the party to have at the moment (or, really, for any party to have at any time).

I think David Frum well summarized my point when he writes in Newsweek:

Limbaugh gets an audience, Obama gets a target and Republicans get the blame.

More than anything else, I think that the attention that Limbaugh has been getting of late is a serious symptom of the aimlessness of the Republican Party at this juncture in time. Frum’s piece, by the way, does a really good job of outlining why.

A side note on the whole thing bears noting, only because I found assuming and because I think it fits my broader argument from above. Earlier in the week, Ed Morrissey, writing at Hot Air stated:

If the first six weeks of the Barack Obama administration can be summed up in one sentence, it would be this: Obama fiddled with Rush Limbaugh while Wall Street burned.

(The emphasis is in the original).

This is amusing to me because as best as I can tell, rightward pundits would be thrilled if all Obama did was attack Limbaugh and otherwise did nothing. However, seems like I can turn around without hearing someone state that the Obama administration is piloting us towards socialism (indeed, Richard Viguerie was on the Dianne Rehm Show earlier this week and stated that Obama was leading us to “socialism, if not Marxism.”) As such, it seems like one can’t have it both ways: Obama can’t possibly be simply wasting his time attacking Limbaugh whilst simultaneously revolutionizing the economy. (Indeed, Morrisssey himself clearly doesn’t think that Obama has done nothing).

Of course, the truth of the matter is that the admin has actually spent very little time and effort dealing with Limbaugh and we aren’t heading for socialism, but why let facts get in the way of commentary?

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Filed under: Talk Radio, The Economy, US Politics | |
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