From ABC News:
As members of the Republican National Committee try to regroup from the disastrous election cycle and prepare to choose the party’s next chairman, some Republicans are left wondering whether conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh has emerged as a leader – albeit an unofficial one – of the GOP.
In the week since President Obama took the oath of office, Limbaugh’s name was dropped by the new president as someone Republicans should not listen to, spurring the radio superstar to boast that he believes Obama is “frightened” of him.
With the Republican Party still stinging from the Democratic landslide, Sydney Blumenthal, a former Clinton adviser and author of “The Strange Death of Republican America: Chronicles of a Collapsing Party,” said that Limbaugh is finding himself in a familiar position.
“I remember when The National Review ran Limbaugh on their cover in 1993 saying he’s the leader of the Republican Party,” said Blumenthal. “This is a reoccurring pattern that when the Republicans hit rock bottom, Limbaugh is proclaimed the leader of the party.”
“There are no obvious agreed national leaders of the Republican Party right now, and so the radio talk show celebrity substitutes for an actual political leader,” he said.
Republican pollster Tony Fabrizio believes that Limbaugh is just what the party needs to regain its focus.
“From the standpoint of providing a focal point I think he’s being helpful,” said Fabrizio. “After two rounds of dismal elections any of those Bush guys who are left and haven’t drowned are in life rafts looking for direction.”
“Someone who is kind of like true North – and that’s the role Limbaugh is playing,” he said.
But Richard Norton Smith, an ABC News consultant and former director of the Lincoln, Hoover, Eisenhower, Reagan and Ford libraries, isn’t so sure that Limbaugh will continue to be a strong voice within the party as Obama promotes bi-partisanship.
“The problem is that the mood of the country has changed and Limbaugh hasn’t,” said Smith. “It’s a fundamentally different political and maybe cultural climate.”
Limbaugh’s thumb-in-the-eye style of politics was on display shortly after Obama was inaugurated and Limbaugh announced that he was rooting for Obama to “fail.”
According to Smith, Limbaugh has his greatest success when people are most suspicious of Washington. Today, said Smith, there has been a fundamental shift in people’s attitudes toward the roll of government and the Republican Party is ready to put the past behind them.
“Under those circumstances there are Republicans who want the country to succeed and are perfectly willing to see the president succeed,” he said.
“In that sense, Limbaugh may be spitting into the wind.”
U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey spent today [Wednesday] apologizing to the loudest voices of the Republican right — to radio talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, and to former U.S. House speaker Newt Gingrich.
Gingrey’s crime? He declared that they earned a very good living by stirring up dust among conservatives, without having to struggle with the consequences.
This afternoon, on the nationally broadcast “Rush Limbaugh Show,” Gingrey said:
“I clearly ended up putting my foot in my mouth on some of those comments, and I just wanted to tell you, Rush — and all our conservative giants, who help us so much to maintain our base and grow it to get back this majority — that I regret those stupid comments.”
Gingrey began his day of mea culpas with a call to Neal Boortz on WSB Radio in Atlanta. Then Limbaugh at 12:30 p.m. A session with Hannity will be part of his 5 p.m. program [...].
From Gingrey’s website:
As long as I am in the Congress, I will continue to fight for and defend our sacred values. I have actively opposed every bailout, every rebate check, every so called “stimulus.” And on so many of these things, I see eye-to-eye with Rush Limbaugh. Regardless of what yesterday’s headline may have read, I never told Rush to back off. I regret and apologize for the fact that my comments have offended and upset my fellow conservatives—that was not my intent. I am also sorry to see that my comments in defense of our Republican Leadership read much harsher than they actually were intended, but I recognize it is my responsibility to clarify my own comments.
Now more than ever, we need to articulate a clear conservative message that distinguishes our values and our approach from those of liberal Democrats who are seeking to move our nation in the wrong direction. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Newt Gingrich, and other conservative giants are the voices of the conservative movement’s conscience. Everyday, millions and millions of Americans—myself included—turn on their radios and televisions to listen to what they have to say, and we are inspired by their words and by their determination.
From Think Progress:
With hate radio host Rush Limbaugh coming under increasing scrutiny for saying that he hopes President Obama fails, his conservative groupies have been rushing out to defend him. Today, for example, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) went on his show and said on-air, “I see eye-to-eye with Rush Limbaugh.”
This afternoon on MSNBC, it was Rep. Mike Pence’s (R-IN) turn. Host Norah O’Donnell asked Pence whether he agrees with Limbaugh’s statement that the country is being forced to “bend over, grab the ankles, bend over forward, backward, whichever” because Obama’s “father was black, because this is the first black president.” Pence refused to condemn Limbaugh, chastising O’Donnell for implying that Limbaugh is “racist”:
O’DONNELL: On that specific thing, that we have to bend over because this is the first black president, why don’t you feel that you could denounce something like that? Are you so beholden to someone like Rush Limbaugh that you can’t say —
PENCE: Oh gosh, Norah —
O’DONNELL: — that’s not the type of rhetoric when America is trying to come together to do something for the unemployment rate — in your state of Indiana it’s 8.2 percent — is that the rhetoric we need?
PENCE: I don’t believe Rush Limbaugh has a racist bone in his body. If you’re suggesting that his statement had a racist element in it, I commend you to a greater understanding of the positions he’s taken. He’s a man about opportunity of all Americans, regardless of race, creed, or color. That’s why he’s so admired and appreciated across America.
Maybe Pence needs a refresher on some of Limbaugh’s positions, such as his statements that minorities can get away with anything, Hillary Clinton is a “B-I-itch” who has a “testicle lockbox,” and Obama is a “little black man-child.”
This was my favorite part:
O’DONNELL: On another matter — I want to ask you about Rush Limbaugh. He said, “I hope he fails,” talking about President Obama. Rush Limbaugh also said this. He said, “We are being told that we have to hope Obama succeeds, that we have to bend over, grab the ankles, bend over forward, backward, whichever, because his father was black because this was the first black president.” Do you agree with Rush Limbaugh?
PENCE: Let me speak specifically to what Rush Limbaugh said about America. I actually heard a little bit of him this afternoon. We all hope America succeeds. In that vein, we hope our President succeeds. I think Rush Limbaugh — who I admire, and like millions of Americans, I cherish his voice in the public debate — I think that’s what he was saying.
Cherish? Cherish? I swear they’re gonna start singing love songs to the fat blithering bastard soon.
I only have Mike Pence and Phil Gingrey bowing in the poster. If I didn’t try to keep it clean around here, I would have had them both face down in their cherished conservative giant‘s lap!