The GOP: Limbaugh’s Minions

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As a great, wise man once said, “The first step to getting yourself out of a hole is to stop digging.” I’m not quite sure who first said this, but I know it wasn’t a Republican. The Republican Party is suffering from a major image crisis that makes Chris Brown’s problems seem like a walk in the park. Deficits, an unnecessary war, corruption and, most importantly, just general incompetency have led the Republican Party into the cave they now dwell.
So who is going to lead them out? Preferably, no one, as the spectacle of Republicans wandering around aimlessly with no real message has allowed President Barack Obama to save some of his political capital for bigger fights, such as health care reform. Unfortunately, there are contenders for the leadership role of the GOP and they include Gov. Bobby Jindal, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and Rush Limbaugh, the clown.
Bobby Jindal was supposed to be the conservative Republican and Indian version of Obama. There was only one problem: he’s not. While young and definitely of a different makeup than your standard sugar cookie Republican, his performance in the Republican response to Obama’s quasi-State of the Union budget address was shockingly bad. So much so that even before Gov. Jindal said anything, political commentator Chris Matthews gulped, “Oh my God.”
The real showdown comes between Steele and Limbaugh. While trying to better the image of the GOP, Steele called Limbaugh’s act “ugly” and “incendiary.” Limbaugh was having none of that and went on to rant about how Steele is ungrateful and doing a lousy job selling the Republican brand. Steele quickly asked for forgiveness from Rush the clown.
Now some might say, “Wow, a politician asked for forgiveness from an entertainer? When does that happen?” Well, if you are a GOP-er, that’s quite the norm. Other Republicans, like Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia, have also apologized to Limbaugh after some negative comments.
Of course, there are those who say that having an entertainer as head of the Republican Party is a good thing, people like Bill Sammon, Washington Managing Editor of Fox News.
Bill O’Reilly says that Obama is just trying to create a culture war so people can forget about the economy and focus on trivial matters. Glenn Beck wasn’t able to give his opinion because he was too busy foaming at the mouth while coming up with new situations in his “War Room,” a place where he gives the worst possible scenarios so people can be ready for when socialism happens.
The best line of defense (and by best I mean worst) for Limbaugh probably came from Hugh Hewitt who called Limbaugh Oprah-esque. Remember, Limbaugh is the same man who once said, “Feminism was established so that unattractive women could have easier access to the mainstream of society.” I’m not quite sure Oprah ever said anything like that, but I’ll have to check.
The problem for the Republican Party is that they are turning to Limbaugh because he is speaking with conviction and assuring them that they have all the right answers. Unfortunately, this doesn’t really address the image problem that the GOP faces. As a matter of fact, it actually hurts them. The Republicans were thrown out of office because the American people decided that they didn’t have any viable answers, much less all of them. Thus, Limbaugh is cultivating a party of “pure” conservatives and “true believers,” but at the same time ensuring that the party remains a minority. The Republican Party already has a shrinking base, but it’s about to get smaller for the sake of “purity.”
The real benefactors of the Republican meltdown are the Democrats and President Obama. They can continue to work on grown-up stuff, like fixing the economy and allowing federal funding for stem-cell research, knowing that the other side is just having in-house fighting. While the Democrats have been adding effective fuel to the fire, there is a shelf life to this story. Eventually, Democrats have to just sit back and let a Republican leader rise through the ranks. If they continue to agitate the situation, then they run the risk of lowering themselves to the GOP level. According to the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, the elephant party has 20 percent approval ratings compared to about 50 percent for the Democrats in regard to the ability to get us out of a recession. With this in mind it’s a long way down before the Democrats reach the GOP’s depths.

Jaye Estrada is a third-year biological sciences major. He can be reached at estradaj@uci.edu.

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