Is Rush Limbaugh…

Barack Obama’s Goldstein?

There are many things that bug me about Barack Obama — the insane laundry list speeches, the silly rhetoric, the hostility to the free market — but these are all talked about. He has another habit that hasn’t been talked about so much and, of all the things he does, it makes me the most queasy.

It’s pretty subtle, but I think it’s worth keeping an eye on because, if it were to become full-blown, it has the potential to be the most socially damaging element of his presidency.

I’m talking about what I’m going to call his Goldstein-ism, his tendency to make veiled, dark allusions to a recently vanquished “other”, an evil being (he is never specific) who is, he always implies, the real cause of all our problems.

George Orwell wouldn’t have been one of the rubes.

[Mid-morning update]

Obama’s sledging tactics of intimidation.

Why does this administration keep reminding me of my trip to the museum?

[Update late afternoon]

Rush makes the president an offer he can’t accept.

They want to have it both ways. If the White House really wants to portray Rush as the leader of the Republicans, then why not have the leader of the Democrats debate him? Harry Reid already found out what happens when you pull on Rush’s tail.

38 thoughts on “Is Rush Limbaugh…

  1. DaveP.

    So the official government of the United States is coordinating with a political party to attack and harass a private citizen it feels is too prominent.

    Apologia from Democrats, basically saying “It’s okay, becasue it’s Rush” in 3, 2, 1…

  2. bbbeard

    Ann Coulter often compares herself to Emmanuel Goldstein….

    Liberals, on the other hand, have complained ever since 9/11 that the Bush administration hyped the Islamic threat in order to enact its nefarious plan to arrest political opponents without warrants and torture them at Guantanamo. It would be a tragedy if their delusional rants became the “cry-wolf” basis for average folks to filter out warnings about Obama.

    BBB

  3. Bill White

    Sean over at Nate Silver’s 538 gets it right (IMHO)

    By framing the upcoming budget battle in Congress (and health care battle) as “Obama versus Limbaugh” three GOP Senators — Snowe, Specter and Collins — will find it more difficult to stick to the party line. The House doesn’t matter (Dems control) and only the Senate matters and Obama needs 60 votes.

    Upcoming legislative fights are expected to be brutal, tougher than the stimulus bill. The votes of Specter, Snowe and Collins, critical for passage of the stimulus, are still considered the first gettable Republican votes. The spectacle of Limbaugh as Republican-in-Chief sucks all the oxygen from the room when these moderate Republican senators may want cover for any potential “no” vote – or “no” leverage in negotiations.

    Don’t think the White House doesn’t know that. Gibbs yesterday: “I think maybe the best question, though, is for you to ask individual Republicans whether they agree with what Rush Limbaugh said this weekend. Do they want to see the President’s economic agenda fail?” (emphasis added). It’s not about Limbaugh. It’s about Specter, et. al. It’s about winning the budget fight, the health care fight.

    Obama is only doing what Rove did, only he may well be doing it better.

    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/03/white-house-v-limbaugh-grand-theatre.html

    Oh, and this quote, too:

    Without any Republican willing to stand up to Limbaugh, there’s no middle ground between him and Obama, and nowhere to hide for the few moderate Senate Republicans Obama needs.

  4. Bill White

    PS — None of this will hurt Rush Limbaugh. Unlike Goldstein (who was a fictional character in novel) the real life Limbaugh will come out of this more wealthy than ever as his ratings will go up, not down.

    Note that the Obama strategy is not to tear Limbaugh down but to puff him up. Higher ratings (and more income for Rush) are part of Obama’s strategy and Rush can be counted on to play along and bask in the limelight.

  5. McGehee

    Higher ratings for Rush are only a short-term gain for Obama, and any such gains would tend to reverse as the next election gets closer.

    Does Obama’s Rovian plot have a Step 2? From watching him so far, I think he and the Underpants Gnomes have a great deal in common.

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  7. Bill White

    Limbaugh for President in 2012 is Obama’s best case scenario from all this.

    Limbaugh-Palin 2012! Invest in the url, today.

    As a second place alternative? Limbaugh using his talk radio pulpit to slap down each and any Republican politician who dare disagree with Rush, on policy, or dare challenge his status as party leader.

  8. Alan K. Henderson

    LImbaugh’s own opinion is that the ad hominems serve to distract attention from his policies. “Democrats need a demon,” he says on his show.

    He cites Saul Alinsky’s Rule #12: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)”

    (I don’t recall anything of this in Rovian strategy, if his boss is any indication – Bush went out of his way to avoid badmouthing Democrats.)

    Why Rush? He’s not the only figure out there who captures the imaginations of conservatives (there’s Jindal, Palin, and, uh, hm, zzzzzz), but he’s the only one who’s heard from on a regular basis. He says more than the entire GOP does to stick up for the freedoms of the American people.

    And perhaps Obama knows something about Rush: a some time back a then-senator (Daschle?) warned Dems not to underestimate Rush’s powers of political persuasion. Dems should be alarmed that Rush has a 43% favorable rating from blacks – a demographic that votes 90% Democrat. There’s a difference between liking someone and agreeing with him, but good PR increases the likelihood of persuasion, and Dems can’t be happy about Rush’s good relations with one of their most fanatical constituencies.

  9. Pingback: Hmm, Interesting Meme. Rush Limbaugh As Goldstein? « Tai-Chi Policy

  10. Bill White

    Rush Limbaugh in his own words:

    “The administration is enabling me,” he wrote in an e-mail to POLITICO. “They are expanding my profile, expanding my audience and expanding my influence. An ever larger number of people are now being exposed to the antidote to Obamaism: conservatism, as articulated by me. An ever larger number of people are now exposed to substantive warnings, analysis and criticism of Obama’s policies and intentions, a ‘story’ I own because the [mainstream media] is largely the Obama Press Office.”

    The bigger, the better, agreed Carville. “It’s great for us, great for him, great for the press,” he said of Limbaugh. “The only people he’s not good for are the actual Republicans in Congress.”

    “Conservatism, as articulated by me . . .”

    Okay, then. If the Republican party wishes to prostrate itself at the altar of Rushbo, I’d quote George W. Bush — “Bring ii on!”

    If not, any Republican who dare cross Limbaugh is going to get slapped down, hard. Steele and Gingrich are but two examples.

    PA governor Ed Rendell is already laying the groundwork for Arten Specter to go independent, as did Joe Lieberman if he is primary-ed by the Right.

  11. Rand Simberg Post author

    Limbaugh using his talk radio pulpit to slap down each and any Republican politician who dare disagree with Rush, on policy, or dare challenge his status as party leader.

    This is a pretty brainless comment, since Rush has never claimed to be the party leader.

  12. Jim

    When no prominent Republican can criticize Rush without quickly emerging from re-education with an abject apology, it hardly matters whether Rush claims to be the party leader — that’s what he is.

    By contrast, Dems seem to be able to criticize Obama (e.g. Barney Frank on “post-partisan depression”, Bayh’s op-ed, anti-stimulus House Dems) without much consequence. Obama could clearly learn something from Rush on how to run a proper cult of personality.

  13. Rand Simberg Post author

    it hardly matters whether Rush claims to be the party leader — that’s what he is.

    Oh, horseshit. Limbaugh speaks for conservatives, not Republicans.

  14. Steve

    And on the heels of Rand’s comment, I’ll say, Limbaugh is having more fun with it than anyone.

    He neither sought nor accepts the office of Republican Leader De Facto, except with artful tongue in ample cheek. He loves being demonized and he’s played this part before, during the reign of Der Schlickmeister he was seen this way too, but to a lesser degree.

    To prove that he’s wallowing in the foolishness, he’s called on the President to come on his radio show for a debate of issues and ideals. The debate would be the President as the current leader of the liberal cause vs Limbaugh as the current leader of the conservatives.

    Now he knows that the administration won’t do that. What WINNER of the WH would or ever has ever done a debate while still sitting? What winner ever defends himself? Limbaugh is playing it up, he’s a very articulate, very well read. ENTERTAINER. His schtick is partly playing the whipping boy and he does it all from that stand point.

  15. Jim Treacher

    “Obama is only doing what Rove did, only he may well be doing it better.”

    When did Bush ever call out Keith Olbermann or Dan Rather or any of the others by name?

    And Rush has expressly said he’s NOT the party’s leader, nor does he want to be. And apparently, most Republicans agree. Just because Rahm Emmanuel says something doesn’t mean it’s true.

  16. Horace

    As to why he’s making veiled, dark allusions to a recently vanquished “other”, an evil being (he is never specific) who is, he always implies, the real cause of all our problems, it’s because, well, he’s just being nice.

    Everyone knows who it is. Can people be dense enough not to know?

    Better than “terrorists”, which is the dark, vague identity the last administration blamed everything on.

  17. Carl Pham

    I think there’s some truth in what Bill White says, that there’s an attempt to put the squeeze on the RINOs. You’re either with us, or with The Enemy. Choose swiftly!

    But he overstates the case, because perhaps he wants to gloss over the other purpose, which is to shore up support among Democrats for the Chicago/SanFran porky community organizing axis. Fact is, I think Stimulusaurs has appalled quite a number of rank and file Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents. They voted for lean, efficient Prius-hybrid government that would do cool techno Singularity stuff like build nanotech maglev solar green…things…everywhere, bring WiFi to the beaches, let you vote by iPhone or send tweets to your Senator, whatever.

    What they’ve been seeing is their father’s Oldsmobile, a lard-ass Teamster’s union 8 MPG smog-king Ford F150 pickup of a government blatting down the highway, taking up two lanes and laying on the special horn that tootles “Dixie.” This does not make them happy.

    To distract them from this horror, it becomes useful to invoke a Great Satan. Look! Rush Limbaugh! Time for a Two Minute Hate! That might bring them back in line.

    I also think Rand is right. Obama has a strong streak of black hoodie paranoia about The Man. Someone’s keepin’ him down, damn it. Find him! It resonates with the Stalinists, of course, who have similar cognitive weaknesses. In Obama, I think the paranoia is more black than Stalinist, because I suspect his experience as a black man has more fundamental influence than his experience as a Harvard and Chicago academic.

    That probably makes me a racist, huh? Shucks.

  18. Carl Pham

    Addendum: as proof of how important Team Obama feels it is to shore up support among Team Cool Consumer Electronics, especially those who are uncomfortably aware of how close their income puts them to the magic “rich” category that is going to feel the axe, notice the most recent Democrat/MSM memes have been all about Obama’s plans for efficiency in government and reducing the deficit.

    Don’t worry, he’s saying, we’re really a Prius. Look at the mileage I’m going to squeeze out of this thing (the government)!

    It’s true he’s counting on these folks having a bit of a short attention span, not connecting the dots between what Barack says Tuesday to the UAW and Wednesday for publication in Wired. But he’s probably right about that. If Obama supporters had the attention span of their parents, the man wouldn’t have been elected in the first place.

  19. Jim

    Check out the wording on that Rasmussen poll; they asked Republicans to agree or disagree with this statement:

    “Rush Limbaugh is the leader of the Republican Party. He says jump, and they say how high.”

    In other words, 81% of Republicans don’t see themselves as Rush’s mindless puppets (and 11% do!). Big surprise.

    One thing that Rand, Rush, and Obama all seem to agree on is that moderates like Collins, Snowe and Spector shouldn’t be in the GOP. The more Rush is seen as the face of the GOP, the harder it is for them to vote with the party, and the easier it is for Obama to pass legislation.

  20. Bill White

    Carl Pham is correct about Obama’s ability to use El Rushbo to leverage squishy Democrats as well as Snowe, Collins and Specter.

    The larger question is whether we are to follow Keynes, or not.

    If Keynes, then someone, anyone, needs to spend, spend, spend to avoid an economic death spiral and with private capital “on strike” to use Michael Mealling’s comment that leaves the government.

    I am also amused by the notion that a 35% top marginal rate on income was just fine for President Bush while a 39% top marginal rate on income signifies the re-birth of Leninism.

  21. Rand Simberg Post author

    Private capital is on strike because it has no confidence that it can earn a reasonable return in the current political environment, in which the president is waging both rhetorical and real war against investment and investors.

  22. Bill White

    Private capital is on strike because it has no confidence that it can earn a reasonable return in the current political environment, in which the president is waging both rhetorical and real war against investment and investors.

    Eh, no.

    Private capital is on strike because triple A ratings were given to junk credit default swaps having notional value measured in the trillions. An unregulated Wall Street ran the largest Ponzi scheme in the history of humanity:

    http://www.portfolio.com/news-markets/national-news/portfolio/2008/11/11/The-End-of-Wall-Streets-Boom

    And! The froth-filled commercial real estate mortgage market has yet to implode. Too many overpriced assets are out there to risk investment.

    Therefore, park your money in a Treasury Note that yields maybe 2%.

  23. Rand Simberg Post author

    An unregulated Wall Street ran the largest Ponzi scheme in the history of humanity

    No, that would be Social Security.

    And I know investors. They don’t agree with your thesis.

  24. Pingback: Ed Driscoll » Rush Makes Obama An Offer He Can’t Accept

  25. Jim

    Private capital is on strike because it has no confidence that it can earn a reasonable return in the current political environment, in which the president is waging both rhetorical and real war against investment and investors.

    I’ve heard this assertion before, but where’s the evidence (besides “I know investors”)? The (proposed, and not to take effect for 2 years) Obama tax policies aren’t all that different from what we had under Clinton, when investors were only too happy to inflate a speculative bubble. And this theory does not explain why stock markets around the world are plummeting — are Japanese and German investors that concerned about the U.S. political environment?

    The alternative explanation is that it’s taking time to discover just how bad the global financial crisis is, and investors don’t want to invest until they’re sure we’ve hit bottom.

  26. Pingback: Rush’s Riveting Radio Today | The Anchoress

  27. Horace

    The Bush administration blamed everything on “terrorists”?

    Who knew?

    Well, yes, of course. That’s all he used to complain about, and he was fixated on them. So obviously in his mind terrorists were responsible for all the worlds ills.

    You’ll recall that right after September 11, his administration approved a stimulus plan to avert a deep recession triggered by the attacks. A recession? A terrorist plot!

    Ah, those were the good old days, when the bad guys we fixated on were shady characters in robes with beards. Now they’re in suits, stepping out of private jets.

  28. Carl Pham

    No one really knows why people aren’t investing, Jim, but the evidence in favor of Rand’s theory and against yours is (1) this is what investors say is the reason they’re not buying, and they’ve no obvious reason to lie, and (2) the only thing really going on right now is what Obama and the Democrats are doing. If you assume investors respond to “events,” the only “events” happening right now are Obama speeches, Geithner briefings, and Congressional hearings, plus the odd trillion dollar spending bill.

    The reason stock markets around the world are plummeting is for the obvious reason that world financial trade utterly dwarfs any other type. That is, the financial markets are far more closely wedded than any other market. There really is only one world financial market, these days.

    As for Obama’s policies “merely” reprising Clinton — the problem with this assertion, Jim, is that no one in his right mind believes it, just like no one in his right mind thinks Obama will lower the tax boom on only “the rich” making $250,000 or more. Those are complete bullshit statements for the gullible and True Believers which will be declared inoperative and subject to “adjustment” (like rendition! “Immediate” pullout from Iraq! No net spending increase! No pork!) as soon as The One thinks the time is right.

    Investors know that very well, because they can see the size of the deficits the Democrats are running, and they hear about the monstrous new entitlements Democrats want to add on top. They can add 2 and 2, and they know very well that no minor adjustment towards 1993 tax policy can even begin to come close to starting to cover the tidal wave. So they’re waiting for the other shoe to drop, for Team Obama to come clean about the hit they’re going to put on income. We know it’s a big one, and it will reach a lot further down than “the rich,” but a lot of crucial detail that would guide investment decisions is missing.

  29. Rand Simberg Post author

    Well, yes, of course. That’s all he used to complain about, and he was fixated on them. So obviously in his mind terrorists were responsible for all the worlds ills.

    Oh.

    I see.

    You lived in some alternate reality. Because in your fantasy, as opposed to the real world, he never said anything that didn’t involve “terrorists.”

    Did you sleep through the last eight years? Because I can’t come up with any other explanation for such an idiotic, blinkered view of recent history.

  30. Bill Maron

    Jim,
    An estimated 1.2 TRILLION dollar deficit would make me think twice. That’s the rose colored estimate from his
    Oneness. His tax policies are VERY different. Taxes on retail energy, reduced deductions for CHARITABLE contributions, can’t have any competition with the nanny state. PLUS increased income tax. Hell, I’m scared. He wants to do away with the new business equipment deduction for up to 250k, there goes small business development and the jobs that it produces. He has proposed rescinding the Bush cuts for 250K and above earlier than 2010. He also wants to tax cap gains as ordinary income. Who wants to invest when the President floats outlandish tax proposals and you don’t know which ones an out of control legislature will latch on to. I agree part of the reason IS investors waiting to know the bottom. The problem is, with Obama, we may not get there for years because he will keep trying to fix it and us with his nanny statism.

  31. Carl Pham

    Powerline links to some Gallup poll results which they claim are behind the White House Two Minute Hate strategy for Limbaugh. The argument goes, he’s so unpopular that raising his visibility as a Republican will redound to the Democrat’s advantage.

    I’m thinking they’ve drunk their own Kool-Aid. It’s certainly true Limbaugh is unpopular among Democrats. Duh. But look closely at the two poll results shown (1/09 and 11/03). What you see is that there are very few Democrats who say they don’t know or care who Limbaugh is, and his negative numbers among them are very stable. Similar with Republicans. They know who he is, and his numbers are stable.

    But look at Independents. 30% of them in the 2009 poll don’t know or care who he is. Those, presumably, are the ones who can be influenced by a visibility campaign from the White House. They can be told who Limbaugh is.

    Problem is, check back at those 2003 numbers. For whatever reason, he was better known among Independents, only 18% said they didn’t know or care who he was. But what is the difference in how they see him? Alas for Plan Rahm, it turns out that the better the Independents knew Limbaugh, the more positive they felt about him. The “don’t knows” that disappear from the ’09 poll results split 2:1 into “like” and “don’t like” categories.

    That would suggest the more Democrats raise the visibility of Limbaugh among Independents, the more favorable he’ll be seen by them. I would say this is an unusually risky and possibly stupidly arrogant move for an Administration, but there are so many Administration actions that compete for that title these days.

  32. McGehee

    Limbaugh for President in 2012 is Obama’s best case scenario from all this.

    And do you think Obama really believes that will happen? Are you really that stupid? Is he?

  33. Alan K. Henderson

    On many occasions Limbaugh has expressed his disinterest in public office. To use Albert Jay Nock’s terminology, Rush is turned off by making money through political means; he has a heart for commerce, not for begging.

    He’s also not pleased that he’s currently the most prominent Republican; that means GOP politicians aren’t doing their job.

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