First thing first, here’s an interview that Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming did with David Shuster on MSNBC.
When I first saw this video, I posted as a comment “That was some class A weaseling!”
But later that day, I got a note via Facebook from an old college buddy, Kelly Cooper.
“What’s totally weird about this video is that Barrasso is a senator from Wyoming – the second most Republican state next to Utah. Wyoming is hardcore and Barrasso has nothing to lose from his constituents by sucking up to Rush. But he’s not doing it. I think it’s because he’s smart. Obama singled Rush out as his debating partner for a reason. We’re seeing hardliners tear each other apart over this. Any savvy politician on the right knows that they need to distance themselves from Rush. In the short term, most will not. This is what Obama and Rahm Emanuel are counting on. It’s working. Again, the weird thing is that Barrasso isn’t playing the part of hardliner. My explanation: his constituency is so in-the-bag that he can afford to hedge his bets against the Limbaugh tide and wait it out until Obama-mania has run its course. Sure, he needs to pay lip-service to Limbaugh now… but Wyoming will be Republican for the next three generations. It costs him nothing to be a Republican who dithered for an election cycle or two.
Fact: Wyoming Republicans (like many Western conservatives) sent their representatives to Washington to do nothing. They hate government in all its forms. They want their men/women in Washington to do NOTHING. That’s what they prize. That’s what they elect. That’s what they expect.”
(FYI: His blog is Midnight on the Forecastle. He hasn’t updated since December but maybe this will get him back on the beam.)
So Barrasso is weaseling but not for the reasons I thought. To put it in Geek terms, he’s running down the streets of Tokyo trying not to get smushed while Godzilla and Mothra slug it out. (I’ll leave you to decide who is who in that analogy.)
This is still good news for our side because there will be plenty of pols on the other side that will happily will gladly get themselves smushed.
Now, that’s not to say that there’s a danger in this strategy which Peter Daou points out on the Huffington Post…
There’s precious little benefit in making Limbaugh more of a central player, in engaging him directly from the White House podium, in raising his stature, in stamping, sealing and approving the years he’s spent bashing his political opponents. There was a moment, a brief moment, after Barack Obama was elected president, a moment long gone, where the likes of Limbaugh and Hannity could have become marginalized, bit players rather than media movers and shakers, the detritus of a sorry era. But instead, they have been granted more power — out of some contrived political calculus. This, at a time when we don’t need political calculus, we need single-minded determination to get us out of this economic calamity and to restore sanity to our government.
I know it’s hard for Democrats to appreciate how quickly political fortunes turn — the glow of victory, the high of electoral success gives a sense of inevitability and invincibility, of permanence. But there’s nothing permanent about power. The tide will turn again, and the engine that will drive it is the fury stirred by the likes of Limbaugh. Feeding that machine, expanding and enhancing it is a mistake. A serious one.
Empowering Limbaugh in the hopes of a bank-shot against Republicans will yield the opposite result: Limbaugh will become more powerful, Republicans will relish his increased influence and allow him to do their dirty work.
I understand where Daou is coming from but I disagree with him. The fact is that as long as Rush has his radio show and can get air time on Fox, he is empowered. That genie can’t be put back in the bottle.
There is however another tactic and it’s based on one fact that people keep forgetting about Rush.
HE IS LOST IN AN UNCONTROLLED ENVIRONMENT!
Case in point, this video is taken the March 30th, 1990 episode of “The Pat Sajak Show”.
Now granted, the audience that night may have been overly hostile. (Members of the activist group ACT UP were there according to Limbaugh’s wikipedia page.) But when you get to the 6:30 mark, there’s a full minute where he just sits there frozen, unable or unwilling to engage the audience.
In short, for a man “celebrated” for his broadcasting skills, he lacks the audience management skills of a third rate stand up comic!
Since then, on his Radio and TV show, he always worked with hand picked audiences and pre-screened callers. He has never done well when confronted.
And that’s the opening.
We need to confront Rush Limbaugh during any and all public appearances. And make him defend his statements about wanting Obama to fail. Obviously, we can’t be anywhere as confrontational as the Sajak audience. But we need to be forceful and direct. Ask him why he thinks Obama should fail. Ask him to define what he means by socialism. Ask him how he can say that the Republican party be for individual freedoms when it looked like Bush was ready to turn us into a Police State. Be prepared to go into wonkish detail.
And then watch him sputter like a ’58 Studebaker.
And then go back to your senators and ask, “You really want this guy running your party?”
We ceed nothing to the man! He wants a war of ideas? Let’s throw him every one we got!