[Posted by Karl]
At Hot Air, Ed Morrissey and Allahpundit think they have a disagreement over the point of the anti-Rush Limbaugh campaign being waged by Obama Administration, labor unions and the establishment media. Morrissey calls it a deliberate strategy to cover up the Democrats’ economic incompetence and massively ineffective spending programs. Allahpundit that “the Democrats are really trying to do is rebrand the GOP.” Morrissey thinks any rebranding is “secondary.”
The reality is that the focus on Limbaugh is all of those things. The GOP is a minority party with no single titular leader at the moment. Obama’s Alinskyite politics require that the Left “pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” The folks running this effort thus go to the influential – yet polarizing — figure of Rush Limbaugh. Doing so necessarily promotes him, with the hope of forcing Republicans to either downplay Limbaugh (driving a wedge between them and their conservative base) or defend him (thereby making a polarizing figure more the face of the GOP). It is no surprise to learn that James Carville and Paul Begala are part of this effort, as it is a variation of the Clinton Administration’s effort to make Newt Gingrich Bob Dole’s running mate in 1996. The people behind this campaign do not see it as an “either-or” proposition; they see it as a “win-win” proposition.
Morrissey is also correct in asserting that it keeps the GOP on defense, though this is largely because GOP functionaries are only now figuring out that the attack on Limbaugh can be used to paint the Democrats as not keeping their eye on the economy, or trying to distract from the poor reception the Democrats’ agenda is getting in the financial markets. The GOP might eventually figure out that they could have used the media’s uncritical parroting of the Left’s campaign against the media, which would quickly stop them from pursuing GOP functionaries about it.
Incidentally, the anti-Limbaugh campaign serves other political purposes neither Morrissey nor Allahpundit mention. Rahm Emmanuel, Carvile, Begala and their ilk are certainly aware of Limbaugh’s effectiveness in helping drive campaigns against particular pieces of legislation, e.g., Clinton’s healthcare program, the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill, etc. They undoubtedly want to marginalize Limbaugh as the Obama Administration moves forward on its insanely ambitious agenda. Reminding the apolitical middle of how polarizing Limbaugh is and trying to force GOP officeholders into embracing or rejecting him also serves that function.
Update: It appears that the Obama Administration may be seeing the downside of their campaign, now that even the establishment media has figured out how out of step it is with Obama’s normal disdain of “distractions.” Accordingly, I would expect that this particular issue will be left to the union-backed special interests. Whether the Obama White House has learned that Clintonite smashmouth politics is a bad fit for them is another matter.
Update II: Though the issue is subsiding, Allahpundit still wonders:
Why the fixation on Rush as a “private citizen”? The idea, I take it, is that Obama’s bringing the enormous power of the presidency to bear on a poor, defenseless Joe Public, but Limbaugh’s anything but defenseless (as today’s debate challenge proves) and considerably more powerful, I think we’d all agree, than the average congressman who would be considered fair game as a public official.
I thought the answer was in Morrissey’s original post:
It’s reminiscent of Nixon’s enemies list, and it comes from the supposed messiah of Hope and Change.
Indeed, I would suggest that one reason the usually Obama-friendly establishment media started questioning the White House on the Limbaugh attacks is the subconscious memory of the last Administration that obsessed over specific members of the media. The media may love Obama, but they really love the media. They might have given Obama a pass on Limbaugh, but the White House has also gone after Santelli, Cramer (even on the Today show), and CNBC in general.