Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Who is in charge?

The Republican Party ballyhooed the selection of an African-American as head of the GOP, as well as the governorship of Bobby Jindal (Louisiana). Jindal bombed delivering his speech after the President addressed a joint session of Congress. And the right wing, the extreme right wing, is asserting itself as the voice of the Party.

March 2, 2009, 8:36 pm

R.N.C. Chairman Apologizes to Limbaugh in Flap Over His Role

by Adam Nagourney

The new chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele, apologized to Rush Limbaugh on Monday after describing him in a television interview over the weekend as an “entertainer” who made incendiary and sometimes ugly remarks, party officials said. Mr. Steele called Mr. Limbaugh after the radio host belittled Mr. Steele on his show, questioning his authority and saying the new Republican leader was off “to a shaky start.”

The head of the party apologized to a radio-show host for his comments. Limbaugh not only has said that there is nothing wrong with his wishing that President Obama's programs fail, but that he bases his opinions on the facts (as he defines them) that the President's programs undermine capityalism and individual initiative. In other words, that they are socialist.

“It’s time, Mr. Steele, for you to go behind the scenes and start doing the work that you were elected to do instead of trying to be some talking head media star, which you’re having a tough time pulling off,” Mr. Limbaugh said, in a transcript of his remarks he posted on his Web site.

A radio-show host lectures the head of the GOP? O, yes, he does.

“Mr. Steele: You are head of the R.N.C.,” Mr. Limbaugh said. “You are not head of the Republican Party. Tens of millions of conservatives and Republicans have nothing to do with the R.N.C. and right now they want nothing to do with it.”

O, we stand corrected: Steele is head of the Republican National Committee only.

The fight broke out at a time when Democrats have sought to portray Mr. Limbaugh as the new face of the Republican Party, a line that has been pushed in television advertisements financed by labor, as well as by the White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. Mr. Steele bristled after a questioner on CNN referred to Mr. Limbaugh as the de facto leader of the Republican Party on Saturday.

“No he’s not – I’m the de facto leader of the Republican Party,” Mr. Steele responded.

I'd agree that the head of the RNC is the defacto leader of the party when there is no other figure in the party that is obviously the titular leader.

“Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer,” he said. “Rush Limbaugh, the whole thing is entertainment. Yes, it’s incendiary, yes, it’s ugly.”

Challenged, Steele bristled.

Mr. Steele told Politico on Monday that he had called Mr. Limbaugh to apologize.

On further reflection, his bristles went down, and his tail went between his legs, cowering.

“My intent was not to go after Rush – I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh,” Mr. Steele told The Politico. “I was maybe a little bit inarticulate. There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership.”

I was maybe a little bit inarticulate.

Democrats reacted with glee to the exchange. “Michael Steele has denounced himself for renouncing Rush,” said Paul Begala, an ally of Mr. Emanuel and one of the Democrats presenting Mr. Limbaugh as the face of the G.O.P. “Can anyone seriously argue now that Rush is not the unchallenged leader of the Republican Party?”

Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia, Mr. Steele’s counterpart at the Democratic National Committee, said: “Chairman Steele’s reversal this evening and his apology to Limbaugh proves the unfortunate point that Limbaugh is the leading force behind the Republican Party, its politics and its obstruction of President Obama’s agenda in Washington.”

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