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Obama set the tone for his new administration with a win-win affront on the First Amendment. The sheepish Republicans in Congress nearly bought into his attempt to marginalize Rush Limbaugh, but even though they didn’t (and that’s still in question), Obama has rallied the good will of his robotic constituents and thus come away unscathed.
For all the rhetoric about George W. Bush being a fascist, it seems people are too caught up in this curious Obama-philia to notice the bright red flags flying over the White House. While Bush got the good will of conservatives with his tax cuts, there was never this fervor for the man himself — but without lifting a finger, Obama has become Jesus Christ, Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr. all rolled into one, which is a scary proposition. During his first week in office, Obama has leveraged that blind subservience to set a foundation for eliminating opposition.
During this time eight years ago, evil George “The Fascist” Bush was talking about compassionate conservatism and handing education to the Democrats; this time around, Obama says “I won” to the Republicans. Who was really bipartisan? Not that Obama should care about letting the minority party dictate policy – Bush shouldn’t have either – but what’s most troublesome is Obama’s intervention into the private sector.
From telling Citigroup they shouldn’t buy a corporate jet to signing more legislation that allows the government to determine “fair” pay, and finally, the two-pronged assault on Rush Limbaugh, Obama is clearly testing the limits of his ability to curtail free markets of all varieties. However, if Obama is successful with more “fairness doctrine” legislation, he might not have to worry about limits to his power, as he will have effectively shut down the only vocal opposition to his schemes in the media (the Republicans in Congress certainly aren’t going to stand in the way).
The Democrats first harried Limbaugh in a meeting with congressional Republicans. In what was clearly a publicity stunt, Obama told Republican leaders, “You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done.” Another affront came a few days later when a petition showed up on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Web site urging signers to “stand strong against Rush Limbaugh’s Attacks — sign our petition, telling Rush what you think of his attacks on President Obama.”
Clearly following Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” – “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it and polarize it” – Obama was almost successful as the desultory congressional Republicans sought direction and nearly fell in with the liberals. Representative Phil Gingrey of Georgia even came out against Limbaugh, saying, “It’s easy if you’re Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or even sometimes Newt Gingrich to stand back and throw bricks.” Smarter minds apparently got through to Gingrey, since he called into Limbaugh’s show to apologize for the comments.
It seems that Obama is testing the waters for a new fairness doctrine. During the campaign trail, he took bizarre shots at opposition in the media, calling out Sean Hannity, of all people, numerous times; it would have been just as laughable if John McCain had declared Joy Behar a looming threat to his campaign. Obama apparently had multiple confrontations with New York Times Columnist Maureen Dowd, hardly a right-wing bomb-thrower. Recently, he grabbed a Politico reporter by the shoulder, staring him down as he ignored his question and instructed him to save it for an upcoming press conference.
The most concerted effort has been unsurprisingly directed at Limbaugh, since he is the biggest voice on the radio and the only one blunt enough to declare that he hopes Obama fails. I agree wholeheartedly — I simply do not want liberalism to succeed, and therefore hope Obama fails at implementing his policies. More government intervention is going to exacerbate the existing problems, but congressional Republicans are apparently too afraid of being called racist or cold-hearted to stand on their principles and oppose Obama.
The latest round of attacks on Limbaugh comes from liberal activist group MoveOn.org, working with several unions. They have launched commercials urging Democrat voters to write their representatives, expressing criticism of Limbaugh.
The whole thing reeks of dictatorship. For all the claims that Bush stepped on people’s rights with the Patriot Act, this effort to silence opposition seems hypocritical and potentially dangerous given the utterly unquestioning support of Obama in far too many sectors. I strongly suspect that the last week of attacks on Limbaugh is intended to motivate a groundswell of support for other types of censorship. If they can take down El Rushbo, all the other pawns might fall in line; lately, conservatives are all too susceptible to the pull of popular sentiment. After all, they nominated McCain. I hope liberals come off their Obama high soon enough to start noticing the abject hypocrisy, because censorship is just as bad for them as it is for conservatives.

Patrick Ross is a fifth-year English and history double-major. He can be reached at pross@uci.edu.

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