Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Limbaugh vs. Steele; Letterman vs. Limbaugh

The new head of the RNC, Michael Steele, appeared with D.L. Hughley and said that Limbaugh's comments are, "ugly and incendiary":

Needless to say, Steele could be referring to a long, long list of past comments by Limbaugh. Or Steele could just be referring to the general tone of Limbaugh's radio show. Here's an example of Limbaugh's comments from CPAC, a conservative conference at which he spoke recently:

here's a transcript of Limbaugh's whole speech
complete speech

Steele was just giving his opinion. But of course Steele felt compelled to apologize to Limbaugh just as Rep. Gingrey felt he had to apologize when he criticized the talk show host.

Steele, Gingrey and the rest of the GOP seem to believe that they're accountable to Limbaugh. But, it's not a two way street. Not only is Limbaugh not accountable to the GOP but he's accountable to no one at all, save his devoted radio listeners (more on them below).

Apparently no one in the GOP has the guts to stand up to Rush Limbaugh or stand by their stated opinion. Why? In conservative districts and states Limbaugh is presumed to be able to sway votes to and away from candidates. If Limbaugh is so powerful and is the leader of the Republican party what happened in the past election cycle? Where was the "Limbaugh effect" when Republican senators and representatives were losing to Democrats? Why didn't Limbaugh rally the electorate to defeat Obama? Granted, the "Limbaugh effect", if it exists at all, may come to bear more so in Republican primaries. But, even Limbaugh's impact on Republican primaries is questionable given Limbaugh's outspoken opposition to McCain in this last Republican presidential primary season. So whatever "Limbaugh effect" there is it didn't seem to have much or any impact during the last election cycle.

But, besides Limbaugh's supposed power, what is intriguing is that no one in the GOP feels confidant enough in their position within the party to stand up to Limbaugh. And Limbaugh can do and say what he wishes without repercussions because he is essentially accountable to no one. He doesn't have to do interviews with other media. He doesn't have to run for any election. All he has to do is spout the same largely divisive, angry mantra he's been offering up for the last 15+ years and his acolytes, the self proclaimed "dittoheads" (that's what fans of Limbaugh call themselves because they blindly say 'ditto' to anything and everything he says) will eat it all up. If a GOP'er or anyone else wants to engage Limbaugh it has to be on his own show by his rules with his drones listening and agreeing with Limbaugh.

If Limbaugh is so powerful and popular wouldn't a certain conservative cable news network be jumping at the chance to sign him up? Remember, Limbaugh did have a syndicated tv show early on during the Clinton years. Maybe FOX isn't rushing to sign up Limbaugh because he is too angry, too divisive, too over the top even for them. My thoughts are that Limbaugh has an appeal to a very narrow part of the electorate - one estimate is that 21 million people listen per week to Limbaugh and about 5 million at any one time. That is a large number of listeners but compare it to the approximately 130 million people that voted in the last presidential election. The GOP, especially now, cannot afford to lose anyone much less Limbaugh's devoted "dittohead" drones that apparently will do anything Limbaugh commands. So you have Republicans having to apologize to Limbaugh for stating their opinion about him so that the GOP won't lose any more of its dwindling voter base.

The fact is that Limbaugh's comments are many times "ugly and incendiary" and he is an "entertainer". And Limbaugh knows it. Limbaugh would not have listeners if he didn't make some ugly and incendiary comments. As for him being an entertainer, he does get paid for speaking on the radio doesn't he? What if Limbaugh were to run for public office? Then, the "Limbaugh effect" would truly be measured. He could bring those 21 million weekly listeners to the polls to vote for him.

If Limbaugh wants to attempt to cross over and run for public office that would be:
a) fascinating and
b) a train wreck.

Why? Because then Limbaugh would be accountable for all his inane comments. He'd have to do interviews with the media. His contradictory and inflammatory positions and comments over the years would be held out for all to see. His past would be brought up. Plus, those 21 million weekly listeners/potential voters are spread out all over the nation, they're not in one state or one voting district. But, do I seriously believe Limbaugh would ever run for any office? Of course he wouldn't run for anything. He likes it just the way it is, being accountable to no one except his drones that agree with everything he says.

Side note: What would be interesting would be a GOP candidate that would espouse anti-Limbaugh views, one that would openly disagree with Limbaugh, a candidate that would essentially use Limbaugh as a straw man. I would guess that if there are that many Limbaugh listening drones there are at least that many, if not far more, moderate Republicans and independents who are looking for an amicable, conservative candidate. Criticizing Limbaugh would equal free press. Remember, McCain won his party's nomination despite Limbaugh's outspoken opposition to his candidacy.

Side side note: By the way, speaking of someone with the guts to take on Limbaugh: