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March 02, 2009

Limbaugh v. Steele, an alternate viewpoint

UPDATE: I started writing this post before the "Steele Apologizes" post went up, and had to step away from the computer for over an hour to attend to some real life issues. I hit "save" before I realized that the circle was closed, but I still think that my observations need to be made.

Far be it for me to criticize The Boss, but I'd just like to get my $0.02 in on the whole Limbaugh/Steele kerfluffle. Yes, Michael Steele needs to maintain contact with the moderates on issues, because his job is to see to the success of the Republican Party, not just conservatism. I agree that he's in an unenviable position, mainly because of the uncorrected criticism of Rush being laid out there by all the Olbermanns of the world.

With all that said, what Michael Steele DOES NOT need to do here is cede the high ground to his opponents. He's the one who used phrases like "incendiary" and "ugly" in his description of Rush's rhetoric. In my opinion, this isn't a case of Rush starting a fight; it's just Rush jumping into a fight that Mr. Steele started himself. Mr. Steele could have distanced himself from Rush without going as far as he did in that interview. Hell, I probably would have supported him doing that, for all the reasons that Ace already laid out; but what I cannot do here is support Steele when he's so obviously, stupidly and politically wrong.

These pissing matches have two sides. Yes, Rush might have laid into Mr. Steele just a little too much in today's show, but Mr. Steele set the tone by treating Rush as a clown. Think about how that plays with a significant portion of the Republican Party base. The base that works the phone banks leading up to elections. The base that knocks on doors. The base that gives money to the Party. Yeah, pissing all over that base really seems like a good idea, doesn't it? And Rush had a good point about loyalty. Rush Limbaugh went to the mat for Michael Steele when he was running for the Senate in Maryland. He was nothing but supportive of Mr. Steele's candidacy, and this is how Mr. Steele repays that debt? If this is how Michael Steele treats the man who spoke up for him to a weekly audience of millions of people, how do you think he'll treat Joe Conservative, the ham & egger who can't do any favors for him? Yeah, that worries me too. Lord knows that Michael Steele already has a couple strikes against him with the "God Squad", he really didn't need to fight this battle.

Michael Steele has an unenviable job. He's got to placate the true believers in the party while simultaneously convincing enough moderates to swing towards the GOP to win elections. After all, all the principles in the world don't add up to a cup of warm piss if you don't win enough seats to have a say in the legislation. But he's ignoring one undeniable fact of life: "Me Too" Republicanism and squishy moderation don't attract enough voters to the booths to make up for losing the base. Besides, it's my impression that moderates will respond to principled partisanship, just so long as you sell it with conviction and explain it with logical arguments. Reagan didn't beat Carter and Mondale because he didn't have any core principles, and the Republican Revolution of 1994 didn't happen because Newt Gingrich said "Whatever the Democrats are giving you, we'll give you 10% more!" No, these wins happened because the Republicans made their case and sold their principles to the majority of the voters.

You think that Reagan & the '94 Congressional class are relics of the past? Shit, military historians still study the campaigns of Julius Ceasar and Alexander the Great. Philosophers still read Plato and Socrates. These two old relics happened during MY LIFETIME. Besides, do you really want our politicians to emulate the strategies of 2006 and 2008? Reaganism is only dead if WE finish it off.

This isn't a social con/fiscal con issue. Ever read the Powerline blog? You know, the guys who thought that Pawlenty would have been a better choice for McCain's VP than Palin? Not exactly conservative bombthrowers, right? Well, they're calling out Michael Steele for his stupidity.

And while I'm here, let's talk about the "Nazi Rally" comment in Steele's interview. Yes, I know that he didn't say it. What pisses me off is that he didn't go full on hissy fit in an attempt to defend HIS OWN PEOPLE from a goddamn low-blow Nazi comparison. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the vast majority of CPAC attendees are Republicans, right? While I may think that Ron Paul and his strongest supporters are a little too friendly with the Stormfront crowd for my comfort, I sure as HELL wouldn't let some assclown comedian tar the whole crowd at CPAC as one big Nuremberg rally. Michael Steele is the chairman of the Republican Party. When he sits there nodding while some moron is comparing conservatives to The Vilest Political Movement of the mid-20th Century, he's legitimizing the comparison.

When your political opponents unjustly call members of your party Nazis, you get in their goddamn faces and let them have it. It's not too much to ask. Unless you're Michael Steele, I guess.

Summary: Ace is right, in that Michael Steele should somewhat distance himself from some of Rush Limbaugh's more strident remarks in order to preserve his influence with the middle of the roaders. What needs to be said is that Michael Steele seems to have that familiar Republican disease: He's more willing to attack conservatives than he is to go after liberals. I thought that Candidate Maverick taught us all that attacking conservatives is a loser strategy, but apparently we need to have another vicious beating administered to our party before the lesson sinks in with the Beltway Crowd.

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posted by Russ from Winterset at 07:43 PM

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