Politico started this conservative family feud and I found out about it through both listening to Rush’s show today and from Richard Falknor at Blue Ridge Forum. And while it sounds like Steele has done a little bit of a mea culpa since the radio show aired, this was a concern I had with his election to the RNC Chairman post in the first place. While Michael Steele is conservative in many of his views, politically he’s trying to align himself squarely in the center of the tension in the GOP between the Beltway establishment and the conservative grassroots. And we know what happens to those who inhabit the middle of the road.
Those conservative grassroots are the ones who hailed Limbaugh as a hero when he spoke to CPAC on Saturday. Whether you attempt to dismiss him as an entertainer or feel he’s the soul of the conservative movement, there’s little doubt that Rush Limbaugh has placed himself into a position of political influence. Basically he appeals to a significant voting bloc of 15 to 20 million people who regularly tune into his afternoon radio show.
Even though Michael Steele has made himself into a more noteworthy figure with frequent appearances on the Fox News Channel and other media outlets, in terms of recognition he pales in comparison to Rush Limbaugh. Obviously we in Maryland know him well but someone who subscribes to a conservative way of thinking down Texas way may not know Steele from a hole in the ground.
And while Steele may get praise from the Beltway Republicans who despise Limbaugh nearly as much as the party’s legacy left by Ronald Reagan, the split in the party is what will draw the attention of pundits everywhere (obviously including me.) But I don’t really see a schism unless Steele also wishes to split from party principles, which by and large embody what’s known as the conservative movement.
The biggest trap Michael Steele could fall into would be separating himself from the grassroots who will help rebuild the party for future elections. He won election by pledging to reignite them into a volunteer force, and it wasn’t Michael’s fault at all that some GOP members of the Senate forsook principle to score political points with the punditocracy. Those three RINO’s will have to face an angry electorate, although Steele could find himself in more hot water should he overtly support them over a primary opponent (as George W. Bush supported Arlen Specter over Pat Toomey in 2004).
Much of the criticism of Limbaugh stems from the oft-quoted statement Rush made that he “hopes Obama fails.” Well, you folks can criticize me too because I agree. The election of Barack Obama was a colossal blunder.
Are you kidding me? The best I can hope for is that the country’s not in some sort of internal armed insurrection come 2013. I hold out exactly zero confidence that anything Barack Obama is doing will improve the economy in and of itself. Now we may bounce back to some extent simply based on the fact that pent-up demand can only be suppressed for so long but it’s my contention that doing what Obama is doing will only lengthen the suffering. This stimulus was a bad idea under Bush and even worse under Obama because he’s throwing more money at the problem!
The lack of confidence is signified by the utter collapse of the Dow Jones and NASDAQ markets, which have seen their overall value eroded by about 1/3 just since Obama was elected. That’s billions or maybe even trillions in aggregate personal net worth, vanished in the proverbial blink of an eye. And while it’s true that huge mistakes were made in the financial sector – mistakes which helped bring about the recession we now suffer from – I’m arguing that the steps government has taken to “solve” the problem will only make things worse down the road. Even our nation is not too big to fail.
Rush Limbaugh takes to the airwaves five days a week because he clearly and cleverly articulates a worldview that most of his listeners nod their heads and agree with. For the most part, it’s a worldview which reflects one our Founders intended our nation to follow and it’s one that unfortunately didn’t get much of a chance to be heard from in the last election. When you consider that the more popular draw on the Republican ticket seemed to be the Vice-Presidential nominee – one who articulated a more conservative stance on issues, or at least stayed truer to them – there’s no question that a number of Americans aren’t going to be satisfied if the Republican Party apparatus continues to ply a moderate course.
If Steele is truly attuned to what the grassroots of the GOP have to say he will begin to adopt the pitbull attitude that Limbaugh has exhibited since last November (and actually prior to that, since he wasn’t a great supporter of John McCain as the Republican nominee.)
We can respect our political opponents as people, but to me they’re still wrong and my job here is to help them see the light. It’s nice to have a great communicator like Limbaugh in my corner though.
Speaking of GOP nominees, the CPAC attendees preferred Mitt Romney in a straw poll of likely 2012 nominees. While 20 percent supported Mitt, 14 percent saw Bobby Jindal as the best choice, followed by Ron Paul and Sarah Palin with 13 percent each and Newt Gingrich with 10 percent. A host of other hopefuls ended up under the 9% who were undecided. (h/t Bob McCarty).