Until a leader steps up, Limbaugh is the head of the GOP
Make no mistake. Right now, Rush Limbaugh is the leader of the Republican party.
No other Republican is getting any attention, and you can credit whomever you want.
Maybe it is the vacuum of Republican leadership due to any number of factors including:
A) Bobby Jindal's dismal performance delivering the Republican response to Obama's address to Congress.
B) Sarah Palin's decision to lie low.
C) Michael Steele's inexplicable strategy of taking on Limbaugh.
D) The inexplicable and unbelievable strategy of putting Joe the Plumber on a pedestal.
E) House Minority Leader John Boehner apparently auditioning for and winning the part of The Invisible Man.
F) The media. Of course you have to blame the media.
G) Rush Limbaugh himself.
It probably is a combination of all of these points.
And until someone else steps up – like an elected official that can articulate what the GOP stands for -- it's going to stay that way.
Limbaugh doesn't mind it. He's having fun. He's totally in his element.
Today, he took it all a step further. On his radio show, he did the equivalent of saying "meet me in the church parking lot down by the dumpsters at 3 pm." He called the president out.
"If these guys are so impressed with themselves," he said of Emanuel and his team. "And if they are so sure of their correctness, why doesn't President Obama come on my show? We will do a one-on-one debate of ideas and policies," he said.
"Just come on this program," Limbaugh taunted. "Let's have a little debate. You tell me how wrong I am and you can convince the rest of the Americans that don't agree with you how wrong we all are. You're a smart guy, Mr. President. You don't need these hacks to front for you."
No ballet, please
Calling Obama one of the "most gifted speakers of our age," Limbaugh said he wasn't interested in debating Begala or Carville or Emanuel (calling him "the ballerina").
"These people, compared to you, Mr. President, are rhetorical chum," he said.
No news from the White House yet.
Although it may seem like this is playing into the hands of the Democrats, not everyone on the left is seeing it that way.
Take Susan Estrich, for example. She's citing history. You can't beat Rush, she says.
"He talks for hours every day. He gets paid to talk. Just talk. Doing it well is no small thing; witness the number of people who have tried to be him, or be the NOT-him, and failed," Estrich writes.
"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."
But don't tell that to Paul Begala. He's pretty proud of himself.
“I want to send Rush a bottle of vitamins,” said Begala in Politico. “We need him to stay healthy and loud and proud.”
Regardless of who's winning and who's losing, this isn't going away anytime soon. Limbaugh will continue to talk about it. MSNBC and Fox will play this to the hilt. And Robert Gibbs isn't going to be able to fend this off. He seems to like it so far. Let's see how it wears on him.