Nothing happens by accident in politics. The latest case in point is the flap over Rush Limbaugh.
It started with a seemingly offhand comment by President Obama, chiding Republicans for following the marching orders of the guy who, let’s be honest, has gotten a ton of us interested in Republican politics. In the weeks following, the White House has taken repeated jabs at Limbaugh – to Limbaugh’s delight. In a story published last week that I just stumbled across, Politico reveals that this has been a strategy months in the making. After finding high negative ratings for Rush Limbaugh in October polls, Democrats have been waiting for the right flap to arise and give them a chance to hang Limbaugh around the Republican Party’s neck.
The behind-the-curtain strategy of what seem to be spontaneous events, like this Limbaugh controversy, demonstrates a key value of Washington – that governing is campaigning by other means.
Will it keep working? The Republicans won’t get any overt help from Limbaugh, and why should they? As he has always said, his success “is not determined by who wins elections.” Without a single Republican in Congress, Limbaugh could count on a reliable daily audience – and the longer a controversy like this goes on, the more he can add to that audience. The tete-a-tete with the President also gives Limbaugh figurative weight, as if he really is a key thinker for conservative/Republican circles.
Truth be told, it’s more likely to be the other way around: Limbaugh is more likely to parrot GOP talking points than to devise his own platform for America. It’s not a matter of laziness, but of reality: he’s putting together a radio show, not a political movement.
Which raises an interesting point – as critical issues come before the federal government, why is the White House talking about a radio show blowhard? Aren’t there real issues they should be working on?