Taking on Limbaugh in a time of national crisis?
Man, I got out just in time. Two weeks ago I gave up doing the Radio Factor after seven years because I needed to get some sleep. Working 65 hours a week is fine when you’re 30, but as Clint Eastwood once opined: A man must know his limitations.
My radio program competed against Rush Limbaugh’s show in some markets, and now, in an amazing bit of political gamesmanship, the Obama administration has elevated Mr. Limbaugh to Alp-like heights. By publicly attacking the broadcaster, the Obama crew has not only galvanized his loyal audience, but also sent curiosity seekers into his domain. What a ratings bonanza for Mr. Limbaugh! Who would want to compete against that?
According to the website Politico, Democratic strategists Stanley Greenberg and James Carville polled Mr. Limbaugh’s popularity and found it lacking among voters younger than age 40. The website contends they convinced White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to go after Mr. Limbaugh and define him as the behind-thescenes leader of the Republican Party. The strategy was to paint the GOP as a leaderless outfit fearful of a high-profile radio guy. Mr. Emanuel dropped the propaganda bomb on a morning TV show last Sunday.
In conjunction, Mr. Obama’s former campaign manager David Plouffe wrote a sarcastic op-ed in The Washington Post claiming the Republican Party is “paralyzed with fear of crossing (Mr. Limbaugh).”
Presto, the liberal mainstream media pounced on the new leader of the Republican National Com- mittee, Michael Steele, mocking him for playing second fiddle to Mr. Limbaugh. Mr. Steele did not like that and told CNN the broadcaster is an entertainer who often pops off. Mr. Limbaugh did not like that and lambasted Mr. Steele. Under pressure, the RNC chief apologized.
Meanwhile, the Democrats are “lol” as they say on the Net.
But there may be an unintended consequence in this for the White House. By empower- ing Mr. Limbaugh, who already commands an enormous audience, the Obama administration is supplying weaponry to the enemy. Sure, the Democratic home team is yukking this stuff up, but most Americans are steaming mad about the economy and in no mood for shallow political games. If the president cannot get Wall Street to believe in him, demonizing Mr. Limbaugh will begin to look like a diversionary tactic, which it might well be.
It is certainly true that the Republican Party is currently taking some lumps, especially among the pro-Obama media. But in politics things can turn fast. If the GOP can develop some strong leadership and a populist vision, it will compete in the 2010 election.
We are living in dangerous times and the folks know it. Fighting with a radio talk-show host may be entertaining, but it is certainly not presidential.
Bill O’Reilly is a nationally syndicated columnist.