President Obama the other day threw a sharp elbow back at the man who has been proclaiming loudly his desire to see Democrats fail in their efforts to get the economy back on its feet:
“You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done,” he told top GOP leaders, whom he had invited to the White House to discuss his nearly $1 trillion stimulus package.
In other words, you can play ideological hardball (as Limbaugh urges) and lose, or play real bipartisan ball with Obama and get something done. Sort of that "my way or the highway" approach Limbaugh recommended Bush take back in 2004, but with a gentler touch.
Of course, a dose of their own medicine is exactly what we needed to send these nutcases into a paranoiac frenzy that would make an oxycodone addict blush. See, for instance, Hannity's discussion with his ace panel on Fox last night:
Hannity: Obama says Republicans should stop listening to Rush. I don't know what this obsession is. He said this in this meeting the other day --
Karen Hanretty: He's obsessed with you too.
Hannity: He's mentioned me 10 times by name. [Ed: Keeping count? I guess Hannity does rhyme with vanity.] By the way, keep it coming, more promos.
But I have a theory on this character. And you're the Republican here. He wants to divide and marginalize the Republicans and sort of isolate Conservatives that are the heart of the party. And I think the other thing is, I think they're paving the way, probably not for the Censorship Doctrine, which is what it is, but some backdoor effort to silence people, opposition voices.
Hanretty: Yeah, I think -- look, they call it the Fairness Doctrine, it's not the Fairness Doctrine.
Hannity: It's the Censorship Doctrine.
Hanretty: It is, absolute censorship. I think that is part of what Obama's doing. And it's kind of bizarre that he gives so much credence to -- look, Limbaugh himself says, I'm not a journalist, I'm an entertainer -- and it's almost as if Obama thinks all Republicans are sitting at home with their little tinfoil hats, with their ham radios, waiting, you know, in the middle of the night for Rush to beam his, you know --
Hannity: But he has been the defining voice of conservatism in this country.
Why, yes, according to you the other night, he has: "You are the leading voice of opposition -- conservative. And have defined conservatives for over two decades." When you are the face of the Conservative movement, then you're much more than an entertainer, and it tells us everything we need to know about Karen Hanretty that she tried out that particular nugget. Nice try, but -- whiff!
Meanwhile, did any of these loons happen to notice that no one in Congress, no one in the Obama administration, no identifiable Democrat, not even any of those dirty hippie bloggers -- no one is seriously talking about resurrecting the Fairness Doctrine? The only people talking about it are the folks on the paranoid Right.
In any event, Hannity was just getting his Twilight Zone theme music warmed up. The following rant probably should have been accompanied by a Theremin:
Hannity: Look, there are people that did shut them down, want to shut them down, they wanna go after Imus, they wanna go after Rush, they want me dead. It's like you can't tolerate another viewpoint -- whatever happened to free-speech liberals?
Hmmm, well, they may have gotten tired of their liberality being abused by the likes of Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, who write books about them with titles equating them with despots and terrorists. But no one is impinging on their free-speech rights, because should Hannity and Limbaugh be unemployed tomorrow because of the insane crap they spew regularly (if only), they would still enjoy the very same free-speech rights of every other American citizen -- the right to stand on a street corner, stand up at public meetings, write letters to the editor, author a blog, or do whatever it takes to have your say. The right of free speech doesn't guarantee anyone the right to hold the public megaphone; that's a privilege determined usually by market forces, or more precisely, ownership decisions.
Hannity tops it all off with a classic Socialist Hail Mary:
Hannity: I've supported Obama. I think to keep Gates was a good idea. General Jones was a good idea. But I don't support socialism.
When Conservative ideologues like Limbaugh and Hannity proclaim their hope that Obama fails, they're basing their "loyal opposition" on their belief that conservative governance works best and that Obama's "socialism" is doomed to failure. But what do they mean by "socialism"? So far, their definition seems to include such normative ideas as progressive taxation; so they need to present more persuasive evidence, perhaps, that their definition of "socialism" is something other than "anything that deviates from Conservative dogma."
They seem to have trouble wrapping their heads around the fact that they're trying to convince Americans that anything other than continuing their narrow economic prescription -- a program that simply continues the failed policies of the past eight years -- is "socialism". And if there was any clear signal in the 2008 election, it was that staying the Conservative course was no longer an option.
Liberals don't need to marginalize right-wing ideologues like Limbaugh and Hannity. They've done that job all by themselves.