“I think that our leadership, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, are taking the right approach,” Gingrey said. “I mean, it’s easy if you’re Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or even sometimes Newt Gingrich to stand back and throw bricks. You don’t have to try to do what’s best for your people and your party. You know you’re just on these talk shows and you’re living well and plus you stir up a bit of controversy and gin the base and that sort of that thing. But when it comes to true leadership, not that these people couldn’t be or wouldn’t be good leaders, they’re not in that position of John Boehner or Mitch McConnell."Gingrey thought that Boehner and McConnell were in the "leadership position" because of their official positions as "Republican leaders." But Gingrey found out that it was Limbaugh who was in the "true leadership" position. After getting thousands of e-mails and telephone calls, the Georgia congressman felt that it was necessary to go on Limbaugh's radio show, apologize for his "foot-in-mouth disease" and praise Limbaugh to the skies as a "conservative giant." Even more important, Gingrey also had to accept Limbaugh's delusional claim that President Obama is only interested in bi-partisanship because Obama assumes his stimulus package will fail and wants "bi-partisan" cover.
Actually, it shouldn't be much of a surprise that Gingrey had to kiss Limbaugh's ring. Timothy Noah of Slate observed years ago that lobbyists had higher status in Washington than most members of the House. The same was surely the case with Limbaugh and Hannity. What's changed is that Rush Limbaugh now has more clout than "leading Republicans" like Gingrey. Gingrey might have status within the House Republican Caucus but his lack of a national media profile meant that Gingrey is a nobody compared to Limbaugh.
Now, Phil Gingrey and other prominent House conservatives are going to be taking their cues from Rush Limbaugh rather than the other way around. George Bush might be gone, but right-wing delusions are going to dominate the Congressional Republicans more than ever.
By the way, Limbaugh was so nervous and had so many ticks as he was talking with Gingrey that it was hard not to think that he was still having some addiction issues.
The Stimulus Package--The Obama stimulus package passed the House of Representatives yesterday on a 244 to 189 vote without a single Republican voting in support. There's been two kinds of stories about the vote, the story of Obama's bi-partisanship "failing" in the mainstream media and the liberal blogs seeing the Republicans refusing compromise even though the Democratics bent over backwards to accommodate them. This is the Lucy and the Football story in which Obama and the House Dems did many of the things the Republicans wanted and they still pulled the football away and voted "no."
My own view is that the whole thing has a big win for President Obama so far. Obama fulfilled his No. 1 campaign promise of bringing a new kind of politics to Washington, met with the Republicans in all kinds of forums, and adjusted his plans. Obama more than met his obligation to meet the Republicans half-way, but the Republicans remained mired in the "tired partisanship of the past" and that hurt them. Even worse for the Republicans, House Republicans showed that they could be easily pushed around by right-wing talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh who are reviled by the American public at large. When Phil Gingrey kissed Limbaugh's ring, he lost moderate votes for Republican candidates all over the country and made the Republican Party an even narrower ideological group than it was before.
Getting no Republican votes might have been bad for bi-partisanship, but it's a big political plus for Obama.