Opinion: Once upon a time there was a crisis is America. A certain entertainer made a strong statement about the President of the United States to an audience. Within days that entertainer was chastised, was called unpatriotic, received death threats, and watched a career crumble. The entertainer's voice, a onetime fixture on radio, was banned in dozens of stations across the nation. The entertainer became a pariah in the community in which she was once a queen.
That entertainer was Natalie Maines of The Dixie Chicks. We all remember the incident; the group was in London at the beginning of the Iraq War, in 2003. Ms. Maines probably never listened to the wisdom of Sir Winston Churchill.
"While abroad I make it a habit never to criticize our government. However, I make up for lost time upon my return".
Natalie Maines, who opposed the invasion of Iraq, told her audience that she was ashamed that the President of the United States was from (her home state of) Texas. And then all hell broke lose.
We'll fast forward to 2009. The American economy is in a shambles. President Barack Obama inherited a domestic mess that effects every man, woman and child in this country. Obama set a course for America's economic recovery.
Here is what radio host Rush Limbaugh said about then President elect Obama, days before his inauguration
On January 16, 2009 Limbaugh read a letter on his radio show that he had received a request from a national print outlet:... "If you could send us 400 words on your hope for the Obama presidency, we need it by Monday night, that would be ideal." He responded, "I don't need 400 words, I need four: I hope he fails." He explained that he didn't want "absorption of as much of the private sector by the US government as possible, from the banking business, to the mortgage industry, the automobile business, to health care. I do not want the government in charge of all of these things. I don't want this to work." He continued, "what is unfair about my saying I hope liberalism fails? Liberalism is our problem. Liberalism is what's gotten us dangerously close to the precipice here."
He also remarked that Obama's status as the first black U.S. President was part of the reason why there was pressure to accept his policies
Indeed. Limbaugh, who had a parody of Mr. Obama on his show, Barack The Magic Negro, seems to have a need to sell himself as an agent of tolerance who is constantly destroyed by the "drive by media".
So I'll let Mr. Limbaugh speak for himself. Below, two segments of Limbaugh's speech to the Conservative Political Action Committee. I'll annotate as needed.
In this video Limbaugh quotes "the preamble to the Constitution". In reality, it is from The Declaration of Independence
Here Limbaugh talks about the bigotry that exists in the Democratic Party, and and Obama's inability to inspire America...mmmm has he seen Obama's latest poll numbers? Or listened to any speech since the economic crisis began? Or would he rather hear false hopes and down right lies?
And here he gets on to wanting President Obama to fail. Note to Rush about his team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Owner Dan Rooney was an ardent Obama supporter.
OK....lets break this down to very basic and logical terms....so simple even a third grader will understand.
The American economy is on the ropes. People are defaulting on their mortgages. AIG needs billions of dollars more to stay afloat. The auto industry in this country is close to collapse. This country has elected a new president, hired, if you will, to straighten out a mess that for the most part he inherited. President Obama set up an agenda to hopefully turn the tide, and bring prosperity back to an ailing nation.
But talk show host Rush Limbaugh wants the President to fail. That being the case....logically...doesn't that mean that the country would fail as well? And those delegates at CPAC who cheered the man who wants HIS president to fail are many of the same people who ostracized Natalie Maines for her public comments of being ashamed of former President Bush.
Hypocrisy. Plain and simple. Cheerleading the failure of the man elected by a majority of our citizens, therefore making things worse for those citizens...isn't that worse than a country singer saying she was ashamed of the previous president?
In his brilliant book The Invasion of the Party Snatchers Republican strategist and speech writer Victor Gold bemoans what has become of his beloved GOP. His contention is that the Republican Party has become the party of Neocons and Theocons (religious conservatives who's principles are a litmus test for most Republican candidates). The party of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan doesn't exist anymore. Victor Gold, speech writer for both Goldwater and President George H. W. Bush, even wrote an epitaph for the GOP in the forward to his book. The libertarian wing of the party, dead as a doornail.
And with the failure of the Bush administration and the wresting of both houses of Congress from the GOP by the Dems, there isn't any clear cut leader of the Republican Party. Michael Steele was elected as its chairman. When he criticized Rush Limbaugh over some of his most bombastic statements, he was forced to back down, and offer an on air apology to Limbaugh.
Limbaugh may not be the official leader of the Republican Party, but he is indeed its boss. To criticize Limbaugh would result in an on the air thrashing to an estimated audience of up to 20,000,000. No radio personality has wielded this much clout since the 1950's, when Walter Winchell went looking for commies for the likes of Roy Cohn and Joe McCarthy.
One thing cannot be disputed. Limbaugh has become the de facto leader of America's conservatives. And it seems there is no member of the Republican Party at any level who dares challenge the man CNN's Wolf Blitzer called "The Wizard of Oz"- the man behind the curtain, pulling all of the strings.