Democrats Rush to put a face on the Repub­li­can lead­er­ship

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY JOSEPH CURL

With Pres­i­dent Bush, Vice Pres­i­dent Dick Cheney and Karl Rove gone, the Democrats have lost eas­ily iden­ti­fi­able right-wing leaders to vil­ify.

But Democrats think they’ve found a re­place­ment — Rush Lim­baugh — even if most Amer­i­cans aren’t buy­ing it.

When asked if “Rush Lim­baugh is the leader of the Repub­li­can Party,” 59 per­cent of Amer­i­cans polled in a na­tional sur­vey dis­agreed, while 29 per­cent agreed, ac­cord­ing to the Ras­mussen polling firm.

“The strat­egy to use Rush Lim­baugh as the poster boy for all things Repub­li­can helps the Democrats the most right now be­cause it gal­va­nizes their sup­port of Obama and op­po­si­tion against Repub­li­cans,” said Demo­cratic strate­gist Mary Anne Marsh.

Among Democrats, it’s play- ing bet­ter. Forty-four per­cent agree Mr. Lim­baugh is the de facto head of the Repub­li­can Party.

At the same time, Op­er­a­tion Lim­baugh, which was re­port­edly hatched by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and other Demo­cratic op­er­a­tives, is risky, es­pe­cially since the pop­u­lar con­ser­va­tive ra­dio host isn’t con­fined by the typ­i­cally re­strained lan­guage of elected law­mak­ers.

“Rush Lim­baugh has fired up the base of the Repub­li­can Party there is no ques­tion, and those are the ac­tivists that will be needed to get them back on their feet,” Mrs. Marsh said.

About 81 per­cent of Repub­li­cans dis­agree that Mr. Lim­baugh leads their party, and elected Repub­li­can leaders have be­gun to push back.

Mi­nor­ity Leader Rep. John A. Boehner of Ohio blasted the White House for di­vert­ing at­ten­tion from se­ri­ous eco­nomic is­sues fac­ing the na­tion.

Mr. Lim­baugh, who has been the Repub­li­can Party’s “poster boy” at least twice be­fore, has strode hap­pily into his new role as he ex­pressed ap­pre­ci­a­tion to Pres­i­dent Obama and his top aides for putting him in the po­lit­i­cal cross-hairs.

“I want to thank you guys for el­e­vat­ing me be­yond the stature I al­ready earned and achieved, be­cause now more and more Amer­i­cans have the op­portu-

“I want to thank you guys for el­e­vat­ing me be­yond the stature I al­ready earned and achieved, be­cause now more and more Amer­i­cans have the op­por­tu­nity to learn who you re­ally are,” Mr. Lim­baugh said on his ra­dio show on March 4.

nity to learn who you re­ally are,” he said on his ra­dio show on March 4.

While Mr. Obama is clearly the leader of the Democrats, the Repub­li­can Party is suf­fer­ing from a power vacuum at the top. With Sen. John McCain’s loss and pledge not run again for presi- dent, dozens of Repub­li­cans are jock­ey­ing for power, but none is clearly in charge.

The party’s leaders in the House and Se­nate — Mr. Boehner and Sen. Mitch McCon­nell, of Ken­tucky — are not ex­actly house­hold names and are, by de­sign or not, cau­tiously non-charis­matic. Thus, the ra­dio’s right-wing mouth­piece, who has been un­abashed in his crit­i­cism of Mr. Obama, has been cast in the role in the Demo­cratic plot.

“Rush is poised to be­come the new ‘ mean, an­gry, greedy white guy’ poster boy and that’s bad news for the Repub­li­cans,” said Demo­cratic strate­gist Liz Chad­der­don.

But vot­ers also put Mr. Obama in of­fice based on his plan to change the na­tion’s po­lit­i­cal dis­course, some­thing the White House al­ready has ad­mit­ted to low­er­ing with its at­tacks on Mr. Lim­baugh and other con­ser­va­tive re­porters, com­men­ta­tors and pun­dits who have ques­tioned pol­icy de­ci­sions.

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