Monday, March 2, 2009

David Frum on Rush Limbaugh and the GOP

David Frum, former Bush speechwriter and author of Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again, writes on New Majority on the inverse relationship between the fortunes of Rush Limbaugh and the Republican Party.

And for the leader of the Republicans? A man who is aggressive and bombastic, cutting and sarcastic, who dismisses the concerned citizens in network news focus groups as “losers.” With his private plane and his cigars, his history of drug dependency and his personal bulk, not to mention his tangled marital history, Rush is a walking stereotype of self-indulgence – exactly the image that Barack Obama most wants to affix to our philosophy and our party. And we’re cooperating! Those images of crowds of CPACers cheering Rush’s every rancorous word – we’ll be seeing them rebroadcast for a long time.

But do the rest of us understand what we are doing to ourselves by accepting this leadership? Rush is to the Republicanism of the 2000s what Jesse Jackson was to the Democratic party in the 1980s. He plays an important role in our coalition, and of course he and his supporters have to be treated with respect. But he cannot be allowed to be the public face of the enterprise – and we have to find ways of assuring the public that he is just one Republican voice among many, and very far from the most important.

I agree with Frum that Limbaugh as their public face is a disaster for the GOP. I disagree with his assumption that Limbaugh and a Republican comeback can co-exist absent the Democratic collapse that Limbaugh is openly rooting for. Rush the Narcissist will never accept the role of "just one Republican voice among many, and very far from the most important."

--Ballard Burgher

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