A liberal group, United for Change, has decided to run radio ads attacking Congressional Republicans upon the theme of, “Are you with Obama or are you with Rush?” Rush Limbaugh must be pinching himself.
The ad says, in part, “Every Republican member of the House chose to take Rush Limbaugh’s advice…Every Republican voted with Limbaugh – and against creating 4 million new American jobs. We can understand why a extreme partisan like Rush Limbaugh wants President Obama’s Jobs program to fail – but the members of Congress elected to represent the citizens in their districts? That’s another matter. Now the Obama plan goes to the Senate, and the question is: Will our Senator side with Rush Limbaugh too?”
Rush Limbaugh must be sitting back in his mansion, pulling on a cigar, sipping an adult beverage, stroking his kitty cat Pumpkin in his lap, and absolutely reveling in the attention. Rush Limbaugh once branded himself, “The most dangerous man in America.” That seems to have come true again.
At first glance, it would seem folly for the left to directly take on one of the most popular media figures of our time. But Rush Limbaugh himself noted the underlying strategy behind the assault. “Senate Republicans need to understand this is not about me,” he wrote in an email. “It is about them, about intimidating them, especially after the show of unity in House. It is about the 2010 and 2012 elections. This is an opportunity for Republicans to redefine themselves after a few years of wandering aimlessly looking for a ‘brand’ and identity.”
The Democrats, by making Rush Limbaugh the enemy of the people, are making a huge mistake. First, they are showing fear and of a radio talk show host too. Second, they are drawing attention to Rush Limbaugh’s criticisms of the Obama stimulus package, which is filled with pork, transfer payments, and left wing goodies that have little if anything to do with stimulating the economy. The most people listen to Rush Limbaugh, the more people will turn against the Obama stimulus package, and the more Democrats will suffer politically, win or lose. A new Rasmussen poll suggests that is starting to happen.
It is not that Rush Limbaugh is being totally obstructionist. Rush Limbaugh has offered his own stimulus package that is elegant in its simplicity. The Rush Limbaugh stimulus place would divide nine hundred billion dollars according to the election returns. 54 percent, or four hundred eighty six billion, would go for spending. 46 percent or four hundred fourteen billion would go for tax cuts. Rush Limbaugh had offered to meet with President Barack Obama to explain his stimulus plan.
This offer may have been made more of public relations that in earnest. But Rush Limbaugh’s offer provides Barack Obama an opportunity. He should accept Rush Limbaugh’s offer, invite him up for a private meeting in the White House, and hash out a new stimulus package based on Rush Limbaugh’s ideas
Barack Obama wins big for two reasons. First, he burnishes his bi-partisan, unity credentials that have become somewhat tarnished in recent days with the “I won” crack. Second, President Obama asserts his independence from Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, who after all really wrote the stimulus package and larded it up with pork and liberal give aways.
Barack Obama can ram the point home by proposing spending that eschews the pork and gets back to the ideas he first articulated of infrastructure building and repair, technological and science research, and promoting alternative energy and energy efficiency. These things will not have the immediate stimulus that tax cuts will have, but at least will have the virtue of being spending on useful things. Rush Limbaugh had some good ideas on taxes, but has left the spending portion of his package alone as he had no interest in it. Barack Obama can fill in the details as he sees fit.
Barack Obama can only win by co-opting Rush Limbaugh and taking on Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. Rush Limbaugh and Barack Obama are very popular with their constituencies. . Congressional Democrats are just a few points higher in popularity than Al Qaeda. Bill Clinton had a name for it: triangulation. Clinton only hit upon the idea after the Congressional Democrats were massacred in the 1994 elections. Barack Obama should get a head start in advance of the 2010 elections, which may prove to be a repeat of 1994 the way things are going.
Sources: Are you with Obama or Rush?, Jonathan Martin, Politico, January 30th, 2009
Obama Stimulus Package Passed by House, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, January 29th, 2009
My Bipartisan Stimulus, Rush Limbaugh, Wall Street Journal, January 29th, 2009
Public Support for Economic Recovery Plan Slips to 42%, Rassmussen Reports, January 29th, 2009