March 4, 2009

Descent Into Dissent on Operation Rushbo

Hatched by Dafydd

"Operation Rushbo" (I think the term belongs to Jonathan Martin at Politico) is the concerted campaign, begun by embedded Clintonistas and now run straight out of the White House, to paint Rush Limbaugh as "the head of the Republican Party,” as White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs put it. It has two goals:

  • To drive a wedge between conservative and moderate Republicans, as they choose up sides on Limbaugh;
  • To make Limbaugh the face of the GOP, hoping this will turn off voters (who are supposed to hate the man, according to the Clintonista cabal).

It's the top story everywhere today, it seems. It was the subject of a lengthy article on Politico, articles on AP and other major news feeds, and it has been discussed throughout the blogosphere, including "dextrosphere" phenoms Power Line, Hot Air, Michelle Malkin, and Patterico's Pontifications. (And now on Big Lizards, though we're not as phenomenal as the luminaries above. And we're really not part of the dextrosphere.)

Everybody appears to accept the unexamined conclusion of James Carville, Paul Begala, and Rahm Emanuel that this helps Rush Limbaugh, helps the Democratic Party -- and hurts the GOP. From the Politico piece:

The bigger, the better, agreed [James] Carville. “It’s great for us, great for him, great for the press,” he said of Limbaugh. “The only people he’s not good for are the actual Republicans in Congress.”

But let's take a deep breath and rethink this. Who says Operation Rushbo is good for Democrats and bad for the GOP? I believe it's the other way around: The longer Democrats obsess on radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, the more they will cement their reputation as the unserious party; and the more opportunities will come for Republicans to make up for their shocking, early failure to take advantage of the Democratic miscue. Let me explain via three points.

1 Picking an argument with a guy who argues for a living

The president and all the president's men decided it was a great idea to attack a man with one of the world's biggest megaphones, a man with 20 million weekly listeners -- and who is one of the most articulate political debaters in America today... and who has been winning such political fights since before anybody ever even heard of Barack H. Obama (or Carville, Begala, and Emanuel, for that matter). Is this wise?

The more the Democrats focus on Limbaugh, the more exposure he gets; which means the more intelligent arguments against "Obamism" will be aired, the more people (including, increasingly, journalists) will demand that the president and Congress respond, and the more absurd it will seem as the incredibly shrinking president, Mr. "Spread the Wealth Around," debates a talk-show host -- and loses badly, just as he did against Wurzelbacher.

Any controversy that jerks Obama off the magic teleprompter into a real-time exchange is catastrophic for Obama, thus good for the GOP. This is why Limbaugh relishes this argument... and why he just challenged the president to a nationally televised debate (it'll never happen).

2 Asking "one question too many"

There is a famous but probably apocryphal story about Abraham Lincoln. During a trial where he was defending a man accused of biting off another man's ear in a bar room brawl, Lincoln got his chance to cross-examine the chief witness against his client.

"Did you actually see the defendant bite the ear off?" asked the young Mr. Lincoln.

"No sir, not directly."

"Did you see him bite the other feller at all?"

"Not as such, no."

"Did you even see the fight?"

"No, sir."

Lincoln pauses, then dramatically demands, "Then how do you know he did bite off the man's ear?"

"Because I saw him spit it out afterwards," says the witness -- and Lincoln realized immediately that he had asked "one question too many."

Democrats seem most exercised about Limbaugh's statement that he hoped that Barack Obama would "fail" -- which Limbaugh said at a time when the lion's share of the country, even including many who had voted for John S. McCain, wanted Obama to succeed in ending the recession.

The implication was that Limbaugh wanted America to fail, so that Republicans would be elected; but that dog won't fly. That sort of bull in the manger thinking is much more the Democrats' line than ours... remember Rahm Emanuel's comment about "Never allow[ing] a crisis to go to waste?"

If liberals could have let well enough alone, it would certainly have damaged Rush Limbaugh's image, thus the image of Republicans in general. But they cannot help themselves; by blowing this up into a huge national controversy, demanding to know just what Limbaugh meant, they ask one question too many; they let Limbaugh have another crack at making his point.

And of course, it turns out he really does have a good one: All Rush or any elected Republican leader has to say is, "Obama's radical schemes will destroy the America we know and turn us into Sweden or France... and I certainly do hope Obama fails in his radical agenda, so that the great American experiment will win; and our country will return once more to being that shining city on a hill that Ronald Reagan evoked so beautifully."

3 A challenge, not a crisis

One of the original intents of Operation Rushbo, according to Hot Air, was to instigate internecine warfare between conservative and moderate Republicans. To the extent that top GOP officials have been running around like chickens with their legs cut off, alternately attacking Limbaugh then groveling to him, it has succeeded. Certainly, RNC Chairman Michael Steele (whom I very much support -- for the moment) did not cover himself with glory by trashing Limbaugh on a cheesy television talk show.

That aspect certainly helps Democrats and hurts Republicans. But the problem is not the operation itself but the stupid Republican reaction to it. The challenge is simply to respond better. Operation Rushbo is a two-edged sword that can be used to slice and dice its creators with a solid response.

The GOP should begin by ignoring it (that is, if nobody brings it up, don't let us do it!) When frustrated journalists directly ask a Republican elected official, he should say, "Rush Limbaugh has a great radio talk show; he practically invented the whole industry. He articulates conservative ideas very well, and we love to hear from Rush and every other host or pundit or sage who has the best interests of the country at heart. But let's get real: The leaders of the Republican Party are the top elected officials plus the Chairman of the Republican National Conference."

And then the GOP responder should look the journalist right in the eye, smile, and ask, "What I think Americans really want to know is, why do Democrats always go after ordinary people, like Rush Limbaugh or Joe 'the Plumber' Wurzelbacher, whenever taxpayers start asking the president and his liberal allies in Congress some tough questions? And why are you guys in the elite media always so anxious to become human shields, throwing yourselves between President Obama and the army of ordinary Joes and Rushes, who don't like the frankly Socialist schemes coming out of the White House? Why are you guys carrying water for James Carville and Rahm Emanuel?"

That would, I think, flip the consequences around to hurt Democrats and help Republicans.

Rush on a nutshell

So if we're stupid and respond stupidly, then Operation Rushbo will be a success, and the Republican brand will be damaged. But if we're even halfway intelligent and respond accordingly (as half-wits, not lack-wits), it will be the Democrats who end up stammering like Robert Gibbs on a bad-tongue day -- and Republicans will gain significantly against the majority party.

A strategy that depends upon the enemy being utter fools is a foolish strategy. Once again, the Clintonista cabal has outsmarted itself; and it has also outsmarted Obama, Squeaker Pelosi, and Majority Leaner Reid in the process. But it's still up to Republican leaders -- I don't mean Rush Limbaugh -- to take advantage of the opening.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 4, 2009, at the time of 6:27 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this hissing:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Descent Into Dissent on Operation Rushbo:

» オバマ陣営、人気トークショーホストへの攻撃は逆効果かも、、 from In the Strawberry Field
いつものことながら、カカシは今出張中でサンディエゴに居る。それで昨日ラッシュ・リンボーについて書いたことをミスター苺に電話で話したら、「俺も書いたよ。読んでないのかよ。」と言われた。やっぱ離れていても夫婦だなあ。考えることはおんなじだ。ミスター苺はホワイトハウスによるリンボーへの攻撃は逆噴射する可能性があると言う。それで今日は読者の皆さんにもミスター苺の分析を読んでもらおうと思う。以下はミスター苺著 ラッシュ・リンボーを「共和党の頭」と決め付ける「ラッシュボー作戦」("Operation Rushb... [Read More]

Tracked on March 5, 2009 7:07 PM


The following hissed in response by: scrapiron

I see the democrat playing a gotya game on the level of pre-school students who ride the short bus.

Are they really so stupid they don't know that Rush has millions of dedicated listeners? All he has to do is put out the call for dirt on the democrats and truck loads will flow in from all over the country. Since democrats are disloyal to everyone, and their country, even they will spill the beans on fellow democrats.

I think the democrats have a tiger by the tail that they will want to let loose soon.

The above hissed in response by: scrapiron [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 4, 2009 8:41 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


I think the democrats have a tiger by the tail that they will want to let loose soon.

Just because you let go of the tiger, what makes you think the tiger will let go of you?


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 5, 2009 12:31 AM

The following hissed in response by: snochasr

A strategy that depends upon the enemy being utter fools is a foolish strategy.

That's very good. But when your opponent consistently does something foolish, you need to call attention to it. The number of opportunities soon becomes tiring, but the GOP needs to keep at it.

The above hissed in response by: snochasr [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 5, 2009 7:18 AM

The following hissed in response by: Karmi

I’m afraid that “Operation Rushbo” is working…big-time and fast. My parents have never been political at all, just christianity and more christianity; however, during a visit with them yesterday, my dad mentioned how he likes Obama, because he is going after the rich who hide their money overseas. A few minutes later, my mother says that she can’t stand people who run America down, followed by – a few more minutes later – her saying that she hopes Rush gets ran out of the country.

?!?I didn’t know what to say?!? I was totally surprised at what they were saying…caught off guard and shocked might be a better description. They are over 85 years old, and have never voted in their life, but here they were touting Democratic Party ‘Talking Points’ as if they were facts. They attend church regularly – along with a bunch of other retirees - and I now suspect that such political talk is probably being discussed a lot there.

On the way home yesterday, it dawned on me that my mother was believing what she was hearing about Rush 'hoping America would fail'. I called her this morning, saying that I had put two-and-two together and wanted to give her another side of the story. She responded – almost indignantly - by saying that she heard “Rush yesterday trying to wiggle out of what he said.”


The above hissed in response by: Karmi [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 5, 2009 7:27 AM

The following hissed in response by: Geoman

I was waiting for you to use the quote: "Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel" by Mark Twain.

Obama has convinced me of one thing, I am never re-electing Rush to office again! What's that?...He's not elected to anything? ....
oh....well then....never mind....

The above hissed in response by: Geoman [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 5, 2009 10:56 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman

I think the democrats have a tiger by the tail that they will want to let loose soon.

If you are going to kick a Tiger in the Tail, best have plans for his Teeth ;-)

The above hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 5, 2009 5:00 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman

I think the democrats have a tiger by the tail that they will want to let loose soon.

If you are going to kick a Tiger in the Tail, best have plans for his Teeth ;-)

The above hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 5, 2009 5:00 PM

Post a comment

Thanks for hissing in, . Now you can slither in with a comment, o wise. (sign out)

(If you haven't hissed a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Hang loose; don't shed your skin!)

Remember me unto the end of days?

© 2005-2009 by Dafydd ab Hugh - All Rights Reserved