In yet another un-teleprompted moment Barack Obama reportedly took a turn as Information Czar, telling top Republicans that "You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done".
Three thoughts and a Big Finish:
First, an unexpected defense - if his point was that Republicans cannot listen to Rush exclusively but must consider other viewpoints as well, then fine. I would certainly expect Republican leaders to be familiar with a range of arguments and positions, including those offered by the majority party and the President as well as those presented by cranks like me right-wing nut jobs important voices from the right.
Second, although he is long gone and nearly forgotten, for old times' sake let's play the "What if Bush had said that?" game. If Bush had said "You can't just read Paul Krugman..." libs would be leaping from tall buildings and wailing about free speech, a free press and a crackdown on dissent all the way down. Of course, if Bush had made the same comment about Keith Olbermann, evidently not one of the 25 Most Influential Media Liberals, no one would have noticed or cared.
Third, can Obama be foolish enough to cite Rush as Obama Enemy Number One and then try to revive the Fairness Doctrine? Dumb, de dum dum. If it is a bad idea to get in an argument with a person who buys ink by the barrel, how smart is it to get in a verbal contest with someone that sits behind a live mike three hours a day?
And the Big Finish - why shouldn't Republicans listen to Rush? Consider the latest WaP/ABC poll with this buried gem:
19. Generally speaking, would you say you favor (smaller government with fewer services), or (larger government with more services)?
The answer, it turns out, is that even in the current environment, post-Katrina and in the midst of the worst economy since the last bad economy (OK, 1982), 53% of the respondents plumped for "smaller government with fewer services", in contrast with 43% backing expanded government. Let's acknowledge a bit of momentum for the "Bigger Government" crowd: Small Government peaked at 63% in 1996, hit 62% in 2002 and has faded a bit; Ginormouser Government has swollen from 32% in 1996 all the way to 43% today. So Obama's huge government stimulus package combined with a Federal take-over of the health care industry may not fully embrace the majority opinion in this country. As Rush will no doubt point out.