Monday, March 2, 2009

Michael Steele and Rush Limbaugh: Feuding and "taking the bait"?

There has been an attempt by liberal pundits and Democratic strategists in recent months to marginalise the minority Republicans by associating them with popular but divisive figures like Conservative talker Rush Limbaugh.

There has been considerable success with this strategy. Some Republican congressmen have publicly denounced Rush, only to grovel for his forgiveness once they receive the backlash that comes with crossing him. Rush with his audience of 20 million listeners is a useful and necessary ally for Conservative Politicians. The brilliance of this Democratic strategy is that it paints Conservatives in a corner.

The latest to face the test was Michael Steele, Chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), Michael Steele.

VIDEO: RNC's Michael Steele calls Limbaugh's Comments "Incendiary and Ugly"
Michael Steele appearing on DL Hughley's show on CNN's
HUGHLEY: Rush Limbaugh, who is the de facto leader of the Republican Party --
STEELE: No, he's not.

HUGHLEY: Well, I'll tell you what, I've never --
STEELE: I'm the de facto leader of the Republican Party.

HUGHLEY: Then you know what? Then I can appreciate that, but no -- no one will -- will actually pry down some of the things he says, like when he comes out and says that he wants the president to fail, I understand he wants liberalism to fail.

STEELE: How is that any different than what was said about George Bush during his presidency? Let's put it into context here. Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. Rush Limbaugh, the whole thing is entertainment. Yes, it's incendiary, yes, it's ugly --
Rush explains that Michael Steel has taken the bait by accepting the media's false premise.

The irony is that Rush has taken the bait also. By calling attention to the trap Michael Steele stepped on, Rush activated a trap of his own by starting a feud that the media can report on as a "Conservative civil war".
A Few Words for Michael Steele
RUSH: Okay, so I am an entertainer, and I have 20 million listeners, 22 million listeners because of my great song-and-dance routines here. Yes, said Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, I'm incendiary, and yes, it's ugly. Michael Steele, you are head of the RNC. You are not head of the Republican Party. Tens of millions of conservatives and Republicans have nothing to do with the RNC and right now they want nothing to do with it...

My parents taught me when I was growing up that you always stood behind people who defended you, you never abandoned people who stood up for you and who defended you against assault...
One of them was Michael Steele, who thanked me very much for coming to his defense. Something's happened. Now I'm just an entertainer and now I am ugly and my program is incendiary.
Rush is astute enough to know that he is stepping on this trap. On his website, Rush sarcastically labeled his response to Michael Steele "Drive-Bys, click here for a response to the RNC chair" knowing the media would be trolling to find information on it.

Lest you think it is Rush's narcissism that leads him to "take the bait", but as he explained in a very early interview it's all part of his media strategy:
Rush Limbaugh explaining 'How Talk Radio Works'
I want people to call because they are reacting to what's happening on my program. Not what happened yesterday on somebody else's. Not what happened on the guy before me. If I'm not stirring them up and that doesn't mean being negative and pounding them. if I'm not making them compelled to call, I'm not doing my job that's the way I look at it.

I set myself up as the expert. I want to be the reason people listen in to my program. They way I react to the guests, the way things might happen on my program. The things I might say and the things I might do.
As quickly as it began, Michael Steele has already apologized to Rush. APF pundits Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter have already begun knocking Michael Steele.
HotAir (with Politico) has more:
Steele to Rush: I’m sorry; Update: Beck, Coulter knock Steele
"My intent was not to go after Rush – I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh," Steele said in a telephone interview. "I was maybe a little bit inarticulate.
There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership."...

"I went back at that tape and I realized words that I said weren’t what I was thinking," Steele said...

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