[Marxism] Fears of a clown

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Mar 5 11:50:07 MST 2009


http://egan.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/04/fears-of-a-clown/
March 4, 2009, 10:00 pm
Fears of a Clown

Once upon a time, you could drive to the most remote reaches of the 
United States and escape Rush Limbaugh. But from the Mogollon Mountains 
of New Mexico to the Badlands of South Dakota, where only the delicious 
twang of a country tune or the high-pitched pleadings of a lone lunatic 
came over the AM dial, there is now the Mighty El Rushbo.

As someone who spends a lot of time on the road, I used to find Limbaugh 
to be an obnoxious but entertaining companion, his eruptions more 
reliable than Old Faithful. But now that Limbaugh has become something 
else — the face of the Republican Party, by a White House that has 
played him brilliantly — he has been transformed into car-wreck-quality 
spectacle, at once scary and sad.

Behold:

The sweaty, swollen man in the black, half-buttoned shirt who ranted for 
nearly 90 minutes Saturday at the Conservative Political Action 
Conference. He reiterated his desire to see the president of his country 
fail. He misstated the Constitution’s intent while accusing President 
Obama of “bastardizing” the document. He made fun of one man’s service 
in Vietnam, to laughter.
(J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press) Rush Limbaugh.

David Letterman compared him to an Eastern European gangster. But he 
looked more like a bouncer at a strip club who spent all his tips on one 
bad outfit. And for the Republican Party, Limbaugh has become very much 
a vice.

Smarter Republicans know he is not good for them. As the conservative 
writer David Frum said recently, “If you’re a talk radio host and you 
have five million who listen and there are 50 million who hate you, you 
make a nice living. If you’re a Republican party, you’re marginalized.”

Polling has found Limbaugh, a self-described prescription-drug addict 
who sees America from a private jet, to be nearly as unpopular as Rev. 
Jeremiah Wright, who damned America in the way that Limbaugh has now 
damned the nation’s newly elected leader. But Republicans just can’t 
quit him. So even poor Michael Steele, the nominal head of the 
Republican Party who dared to criticize him, had to grovel and crawl 
back to the feet of Limbaugh.

Some expected more mettle from Steele. After all, this rare 
African-American Republican won his post after defeating a candidate who 
submitted the parody song from Limbaugh’s show: “Barack the Magic Negro.”

Race is an obsession with Limbaugh, one of the threads I noticed on 
those long drives on country roads.

When Colin Powell endorsed Obama during the campaign, Limbaugh said it 
was entirely because of race. After the election, Powell said the way 
for the party, which has been his home, to regain its footing was to say 
the Republican Party must stop “shouting at the world.”

In 2003, Limbaugh said quarterback Donovan McNabb was overrated because 
the media wanted a black to succeed. Over the next six years, McNabb 
threw for nearly 150 touchdowns and went to a Super Bowl.

And Limbaugh launched the current battle when he said of Obama: “We are 
being told that … we have to bend over, grab the ankles, bend over 
forward, backward, whichever, because his father was black, because this 
is the first black president.”

Translation: submit sexually to a black man because “someone” is telling 
us all to. Who? Which leaders of the Democratic Party have made such a 
claim? Which opinion-makers? But therein lies the main tactic of 
Limbaugh, an old demagogue technique: create a straw man, then tear it 
down. The latest example was Saturday, when Limbaugh presented himself 
as the defender of capitalism, liberty and unfettered free markets. 
Obama, he has said since, is waging a “war on capitalism.”

There is a war, all right. We are witnessing the worst debacle of 
unfettered capitalism in our lifetime brought on by — you got it, 
capitalism at its worst. It cannibalized itself. Government, sad to say, 
had nothing to do with it — except for criminal neglect of oversight.

Now that government has been forced to the rescue, just who is insisting 
on taxpayer bailouts? Who is in line for handouts? Who is saying that 
only government can save capitalism? The very leaders of unregulated 
markets who injected this poison into the economy, the very plutocrats 
that Limbaugh celebrates.

And, of course, let us never forget that the bailouts of banks and 
insurance companies were initiated by the Republican president Limbaugh 
defended for eight years.

Of late, Limbaugh has wondered why he has trouble with women. His base 
is white, male, Republican — people the party has to stop pandering to 
if it hopes to govern soon.

It’s little wonder that the thrice-married Limbaugh, who uses 
“femi-Nazi,” “info-babe” and “PMSNBC” (Get it? The network is full of 
women suffering pre-menstrual cramps, ha-ha), among his monikers for 
women, can’t get a date with that demographic.

For Democrats, this is all going to plan. It was James Carville and 
associates who first cooked up associating Limbaugh with the opposition, 
as Politico reported. Then on Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Rahm 
Emanuel said Limbaugh was the “voice and the intellectual force and 
energy behind the Republican Party.”

Limbaugh played his role, ever the fool. A brave Republican could have 
challenged him, could have had a “have you no shame” moment with him, 
giving the party some other identity, some spine. Instead, they caved — 
from Steele, to the leaders in the House, Eric Cantor and Mike Pence, to 
Gov. Bobby Jindal, who would be ridiculed by Limbaugh for his real first 
name, Piyush, were he a Democrat.

You could almost hear their teeth clattering in fear of the all-powerful 
talk radio wacko, the denier of global warming, the man who said Bill 
Clinton’s economic policies would fail just before an unprecedented run 
of prosperity.

But Limbaugh has a fear of his own. If people see him purely as an 
“entertainer,” as Steele suggested, he will be exposed for what he is: a 
clown with a very large audience.




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