Rush Is Right

Currently, the lead story on Huffington Post's main page is entitled "Boss Battle." It links to an interesting, pot-stirring story by the HuffPo's own Arthur Delaney about Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele saying that he is the de facto leader of the Republican Party, not "entertainer" Rush Limbaugh. That's followed by Limbaugh's own words explicating that Steele is not, in fact, the party leader.

But with just a bit of thought, one can only come to the undeniable conclusion that the whole question of "who is the Republican Party leader, Steele or Limbaugh?" is a ridiculous one on its face. Let me rephrase this, relying only on descriptors instead of names, and you'll see what I mean.

Who is the de facto leader of the Republican Party -- a black man, or a fat, white, hypocritical liar with mountains upon mountains of cash and a penchant for hillbilly heroin? The answer's pretty obvious, no?

Rush Limbaugh is certainly the de facto leader of the uber-conservative base -- those same people who screamed at McCain rallies that Obama was a terrorist and transformed Sarah Palin into some weird, dumbed-down, latter-day version of Mrs. Robinson. Rush Limbaugh is the leader of this sizable portion of Republican voters because he is of them in a way that Michael Steele, with his tin-eared calls to hip-hop the GOP, will never understand.

HuffPo blogger Aemilia Scott offers a pretty good description of this breed of Republican voter in her latest post. Take that person in Scott's article, give him a few hundred million dollars, and you have Rush Limbaugh. That's why Limbaugh has always had such cachet among this conservative archetype. He represents the confirmation of their warped version of the American Dream, their belief that millions of dollars are sure to be theirs, if only they can stop the liberals and illegal immigrants from taking it all away.

And so I reject totally the argument that, even armed with his official title, Michael Steele is the de facto leader of the Republican Party. For while he may run the RNC, Rush Limbaugh has the mob. Having just lived through the last eight years, I know what it's like to be torches-and-pitchforks angry at the government. That rage is what dittoheads are going through right now, and it's Rush that goads them on, not Steele. It's Rush's tune to which they dance.

Which is not to say that the angry liberals of the Bush years are just the flip side of the coin to today's foam-mouthed conservatives. We were angry over a war based on lies that resulted in the deaths of thousands of Americans and countless more Iraqis. We were angry over torture and illegal wiretaps. They're angry over ... what exactly? The fact that they haven't become overnight millionaires the way they were supposed to? The blitheringly idiotic notions that Obama will take away their guns, or enforce mandatory abortions upon their dainty women folk?

I honestly can't say. But that's always been one of the big differences between liberal and conservative angst -- protesting what has actually occurred on one hand, versus protesting what people tell you might occur in the future on the other.