The "leader of the Republican Party" question has been thoroughly analyzed and debated. And after many days and many cable news roundelays, I think we can all agree that, yes, the GOP has been inextricably grasped within the meaty, sweaty mitts of that familiar planetoid of addiction, racism and self-indulgence known as Rush Limbaugh.
And that's just fine and dandy.
But contrary to what Drudge and Politico are reporting today, this isn't some sort of wicked conspiracy cooked up by Rahm Emanuel and Robert Gibbs from within the same underground war room where they keep the president's madrassa diploma and his secret Kenyan birth certificate.
This Limbaugh situation is entirely the fault of the Republican Party. The White House is merely exploiting it -- and rightly so.
Throughout the last several decades, the Republican Party has been careening willingly towards this destiny. Year after year, the Republicans have been magnetically drawn ever closer to the simplistic worldview espoused by far-right talk radio: a segment of American society that's perhaps a little too comfy with laughing at a racial or sexist joke, or repeating nearsighted bumper sticker slogans like, "Your mortgage is not my problem."
The Republican Party has become the purview of The Dittohead: the thoughtless undead automaton who lazily yet proudly announces on the radio that he or she doesn't simply "ditto" but, in fact, "mega-dittos" everything spoken by Rush Limbaugh. "Mega" as in millions of times over.
Michael Steele has proved himself to be a Dittohead. Mike Pence and Rick Santorum and Tom DeLay? All dittoheads. You'd be hard pressed to find a Republican politician who hasn't in some way expressed his or her Dittohead status while also genuflecting at the bloated cankles of their radio warlord.
So it should come as no surprise that the leader of the dittoheads has become the leader of the Republicans.
The Republicans have positioned themselves in such a way that publicly renouncing their Dittohead status will provoke the furious anger of their leader who has so often retaliated against disloyal subjects with a Mr. Creosote caliber geyser of acidic hell, effectively emasculating any attempt at escape. Limbaugh has indeed broken the Republicans and I'm pretty sure they know it. Yet they're powerless to do anything about it.
We can only assume that they understand the hazards involved with being absorbed into Limbaugh's universe -- and they especially have to know that the Democrats know. And that leads to the big question: Why is it supremely awesome that the Republicans have become the Dittohead Party?
So far, the establishment press and cable news hasn't fully examined this all-important "why" factor. Sure, there's been plenty of talk about Limbaugh's famous "wanting President Obama to fail" remarks and how wishing for failure makes the Republicans seem like they're okay with the American economy failing, just as long as they can start winning elections again.
That's pretty bad. But the problems inherent in becoming trapped inside the Limbaugh tractor beam go much deeper and, as Chairman Steele's gut instinct spilled out, uglier.
It's easy to temporarily forget Limbaugh's record of awfulness because the latest controversy tends to obliterate memories of past controversies -- controversies to which the Republicans have, by proxy, tethered themselves. If Limbaugh is the leader of the Republicans and the Republicans are, indeed, willing to embrace Limbaugh as such a leader, then the Republicans are embracing the whole nasty package.
To fall under the rule of Limbaugh means that the Republicans have sealed their status as the party of race-baiting. In Limbaugh's world, Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama simply because Obama is black -- excuse me, Halfrican American. In Limbaugh's world, all blacks say "axe" instead of "ask." In Limbaugh's world, it's hilarious to pronounce Mayor Ray Nagin's name as Mayor Nay-ger. In Limbaugh's world, black contestants on Survivor are at a disadvantage because "blacks can't swim."
To fall under the rule of Limbaugh means that the Republicans have become the party of sexism. In Limbaugh's world, women who seek equal rights are making up for the fact that they're "ugly." In Limbaugh's world, it's hilarious to compare pubescent teenage girls to "the family dog." In Limbaugh's world, women live longer because their lives are somehow "easier." I can't imagine that would apply to Limbaugh's three ex-wives, but okay.
To fall under the rule of Limbaugh means that the Republicans have become the party of comparing torture to fraternity pranks. They've become the party of multiple divorces. The party of Oxycontin addiction. The party of "phony soldiers." The party of mysterious all-male excursions to foreign nations while in possession of erectile dysfunction medication prescribed under a false name. They've become the party of wild conspiracy theories like the one Limbaugh was repeating in October -- maybe you've heard this one. Did you know that Barack Obama traveled to Hawaii, not to visit his then-gravely ill grandmother, but instead to participate in the cover-up of his secret birth certificate?
To fall under the rule of Limbaugh means that the Republicans have become the party of this:
The Republicans are bowing to the leadership of a man who physically mocked the involuntary tremors of a Parkinson's disease victim. I can't underscore this enough. Rush Limbaugh, the leader of the Republican Party, actually imitated and exaggerated Michael J. Fox's Parkison's tremors.
Governor Jindal: "I think Rush is a great leader for conservatives."
Chairman Michael Steele: "I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh."
Congressman Mike Pence: "I think Rush Limbaugh -- who I admire, and like millions of Americans, I cherish his voice in the public debate."
And so the Republicans expect to be taken seriously now?
No wonder the White House is gleefully winking and nudging everyone in the direction of this Republican clown car of awfulness -- if not for the political advantage, for the sheer spectacle of watching the once mighty Republican Party effectively screwing itself. The Democrats, on one hand, appear to be busily going about the business of cleaning up the mess left behind by three decades of Reaganomics while, on the other the hand, the Republicans are duct-taping themselves to the ample bosom of the most self-satirical political sideshow geek in American media history, while also expecting this will help their electoral chances.