March 5th, 2009
10:40 AM ET

The audacity of hype

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Amy Holmes | Bio
AC360° Contributor

So, now we know. President Obama's mentions of Rush Limbaugh are no accident. Democratic strategists have discovered that Rush has low approval ratings with the general public. So they have devised a strategy to paint Republicans with the Rush brush in order to marginalize conservatism and the Republican Party. In the nineties, they demonized Newt. Now, they're after Rush. And the media is happily going along, as it so often does.

Back in December, while the Republican Party had not one, but two, highly qualified and widely respected African-Americans running for its chairmanship, the media chose instead to focus on the juvenile antics of Chip Saltsman and his Christmas CD. Show after show featured outraged democratic strategists attacking the Republican Party because of one man's lapse of judgment. And conservative after conservative was called on to defend or attack the hapless politician. When Republicans then elected former lieutenant governor Michael Steele to lead the party, it was treated as a non-event. Michael Steele's election as the first African-American RNC chairman received a fraction of the airtime that was devoted to the CD circus, and none of the reverence that has greeted Pres. Barack Obama at every turn of his political career. The media slid right by without a reflective pause, let alone gushing profiles and heroic magazine covers.

And, once again, the media is back to the old storyline as typified by a cynical op-ed in the Washington Post by Pres. Obama’s former campaign manager David Plouffe titled, "The Minority Leader Limbaugh (link below)." In it, Plouffe calls Eric Cantor, the popularly elected and highly talented Virginia congressman, a Limbaugh ventriloquist. Why? Well, a lot of statistics are thrown around in the piece, but the real reason is because the young, handsome, Jewish American politician is a threat. He undermines the Democratic caricature of conservatives as "angry, middle aged, white males" with "angry, middle aged ideas." Indeed, young voters might look up and see a new and diverse generation of Republican leaders who, to use a popular liberal phrase, "look like us." Can't have that! So, Cantor has to be marginalized and Limbaugh touted as the true leader of the Republican party.

Imagine, for a moment, if George W. Bush and his chief of staff had made coordinated and concerted attacks on Michael Moore, and suggested that the colorful left wing fulminator - not Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid - was the "true intellectual force" behind the Democratic party. Imagine the howls of protest. And, undoubtedly, the media would have focused on the propriety of a Commander-in-Chief and his advisers wasting time and political breath on an entertainer. And yet we have President Obama and his hammer, Rahm Emanuel, doing just that in a time of war and economic crisis, and the story is about... Republicans!

Was there a scuffle between Michael Steele and Rush Limbaugh? Sure. Does it make for great TV? Yes. There's a reason Rush has 20 million or so listeners. But does it really deserve hours of air time? And can it really be true that the only entertaining intramural disputes are on the right?

Democrats have found their foil. And Rush is happy to play along. But should the media be quite so pliant and willing to play along, too? I'm still waiting for those gushing profiles and magazine covers on the "The New Republican Party!" I don't recommend anyone hold their breath.

Filed under: Amy Holmes • Raw Politics • Republicans • Rush Limbaugh
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Susan (Anaheim, CA)

    I couldn't agree with you more. There is no way that Rush speaks for me, or anyone else I know. For the most part we accept him for what he is, an entertainer who speaks for the ultra-conservatives, but not for the majority of conservatives. I find him as extreme in his views as I do Michael Moore, who I do not believe speaks for most democrats. I firmly believe that most Americans are somewhere in the middle of these extreme views. Keep up your voice of sanity in this crazy new version of politics we have these days.

    March 5, 2009 at 11:57 am |
  2. Diane N.

    Rush has been doing this for years, he's really only out to satisfy his own agenda NOT what the republicans want as a whole. I'm irritated by Rush, despite that, Begala has to convince me by some other means to become a Dem. lol.

    March 5, 2009 at 11:52 am |
  3. Paul Buckalowe

    Last nights show with the CNN Political Contributor shows the collusion between the Democrats and the national media . I used to be concerned about the government being corrupt but now wonder about the news media. There does not seem to be any real 'fair and balanced" reporting. Each network has an agenda. That scares me.

    March 5, 2009 at 11:34 am |
  4. Heather,ca

    Great title Amy!
    I am a Democrat but even I think its pathetic to go after Rush. Yes I dont like him or agree with most of what he says, this is America and he has the right to free speech. I defend that. I think Obama needs to focus on his job. I dont recall Bush doing this. Doesnt Obama and his people have better and more important things to do than to go after anyone who publicly speaks out against them? I didnt vote for Obama to do this. Stick to the issues not defending yourself and attacking people like Rush.

    March 5, 2009 at 10:59 am |