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March 02, 2009

Steele Criticizes Limbaugh as an "Incendiary Entertainer"
Vid Added

Some seem to be up in arms about this.

In an interview on CNN with D.L. Hughley, Steele assured that he, not Limbaugh, was in charge of the party before saying that he wanted to put the right-wing talker “into context.”

“Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer,” Steele said. “Rush Limbaugh, his whole thing is entertainment. Yes it’s incendiary, yes it’s ugly.”

Steele’s comments, first noticed by NBC producer Chris Donovan, are sure to rankle Limbaugh in part because they validate the liberal critique of the conservative force: that he’s merely an “entertainer.”

That’s one of the phrases often used by Democrats who seek to diminish Limbaugh. MSNBC’s liberal talk-show host Keith Olbermann, for example, frequently mocks his broadcast adversary as “comedian Rush Limbaugh.”

Several points:

1) The American public does not share the zeal for partisan attacks that most partisans, such as myself and most of you, do. Politicians are political animals who savor such fights, mostly, but have to pretend they're above it and really would rather just make nice and work out compromises and give handjobs to unicorns. Steele shouldn't be slammed too much for a lie forced upon him by his job description.

1) a. This is especially true now, given we're in the minority and will suffer politically if we're perceived as opposing Obama just to oppose him. Hence, Steele's posturing as someone who'd really, really, really like to work things out with Mr. Obama, if only he had the chance.

1) b. Distancing oneself from bomb-throwers is part of that posturing.

2) Limbaugh is an entertainer. Not just an entertainer, of course, but he's appealing largely because he's so entertaining. And being entertaining often means making impolitic statements -- and not being gray, boring, bland, and inoffensive. Which is what most politicians and "serious" public intellectuals strive for. Again, I don't see the big deal on this. Part of what makes Rush listenable is that he's allowed to say things others in the public realm can't.

3) As great as Limbaugh may be, we're in serious danger if any criticism of any public figure on our side becomes forbidden.

Example: Most "moderates" are politically stupid. There are some well-informed moderates who simply do not fit well with either party and hence are moderates by choice.

However, most moderates are moderates by apathy and ignorance. They simply don't know much about politics at all. So "moderate" becomes the default choice. (Actually, a false moderation which is actually a media-promoted soft-liberalism calling itself "centrism" is the default choice, but whatever.)

Now, I can say that most moderates and centrists are really politically stupid and, in many ways, politically childish. They might be quite smart in other ways, but in this area, whether through lack of interest or lack of brainpower, they're dumb.

I can say that because I'm talking to a group of partisans who are informed and interested in politics.

Limbaugh can say that -- and indeed has said it -- for the same reason.

Michael Steele cannot say that.

He knows it, same as you. But he cannot say it. And if Limbaugh says something along those lines, of course he'll immediately have to say how silly that is and that Rush is just trying to be provocative and that he's incendiary and so forth.

Hypothetical: Suppose during the campaign it had come out that I was in communication with McCain's internet guys, and it became a two-day story that McCain was in communication with a homophobic, "eliminationist" Islamophobe and all that.

Now many of you like me and wish me well, and of course I'm deeply appreciative of that. It's a great feeling.

But, if, hypothetically, McCain had to denounce me, how much could you hold that against McCain? I mean, what's more important, getting a Republican president or my hurt feelings?

I feel the same thing with this whole Rush deal.

Vid: Courtesy of Darling.

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