Barack Obama, through his pit bull Rahm Emanuel, has started a little war on Rush Limbaugh. I guess part of the problem is that since he has decided not to fight the war on terror he has to do something to fill his time with.
I will not even bother with the fact that this little drama shows a complete and total lack of class on the part of the Obama administration. From the Chief of Staff attacking a radio personality, to his spokesman attacking a TV personality (Rick Santelli), to his Wednesday night toga parties in the White House (hat tip to Chattering Teeth), the administration has shown that there is a definite change in the White House atmosphere.
What is really behind this fight though? Part of it is a genuine disagreement and ideological differences. Part of it is the fact that Obama and his team have shown themselves to be thin skinned and unable to handle criticism. Finally, part of it is that Obama has shown himself to petty and small at times, attacking anyone he is in disagreement with.
I think it goes farther than that though. I think it is part fear and part design.
First the fear part. I think he knows that barring a decent turnaround in the economy, he is in quick danger of losing his base. He made a lot of promises coming in and it is starting to appear that they will go unfulfilled.
“Lobbyists will have no place in my administration”. That was gone in the first couple of days.
“Transparency” in government. He never even tried to do this.
“Change” in the people he will have in government and accountability. Unfortunately he has done this, just not for the better. Considering a fair percentage of the people he nominated were tax cheats, this did represent a change from the Bush administration. The fact that he chose to ignore this unlawfulness in his administration quickly took care of the accountability piece.
The incredible part is that he has only been in office for a month. Most Presidents wait months or even years to break their promises to us. If you say nothing else about Obama, he is ambitious and a quick starter.
Back to the fear. His politics are far left, he knows he will not hold on to the right forever. That is why his approach to bipartisanship (another campaign promise) has been, for wont of a better term, cynical at best. Also, Rush is a definite threat to him keeping conservatives on board.
His real risk is losing his base. This will not only diminish his political capital, an important commodity for a President, but could cost him his Democratic Congress in 2010. I realize the conventional wisdom is that this is the Dem’s time and the GOP is wandering in the wilderness. For any smug Democrats though, remember 2 years is an eternity in politics and fortunes change quickly. Especially when the economy is bad.
How does Rush help with this? He is a common enemy. He is someone that will distract the base and unite them to fight off the scourge, better known as Republicans. Obama’s hope is that Rush is the equivalent of a shiny object for his base, something to keep them busy while he destroys the country around them.
Now for the design part. It is not impossible that the Obama administration has not given up completely on the liberal dream of passing the “Fairness Doctrine”. What better way to facilitate this than to demonize right wing talk radio? Rush is the perfect person for this. The left hates him. If they can make the “Fairness Doctrine” about Rush, they may be able to keep people from realizing the truth. What the “Fairness Doctrine” really is about is limiting freedom of speech.
Or, maybe I’m reading too much into it and Obama and Emanuel are just assholes. What are your thoughts?