May 7, 2009

Colin Powell's recent remarks thumping on Republicans for wandering off into the wilderness under the guidance of people like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter -- not to mention Karl Rove and Sean Hannity -- really seem to have upset at least Limbaugh and Hannity.

Limbaugh shot back by telling Powell to go join the Democrats. (And you wouldn't blame Powell if he took the defacto head of the conservative movement up on the invitation.)

Now, just for the record, here's what Powell actually said:

Powell said the GOP is "getting smaller and smaller" and "that's not good for the nation." He also said he hopes that emerging GOP leaders, such as House Minority Whip Cantor, will not keep repeating mantras of the far right.

"The Republican Party is in deep trouble," Powell told corporate security executives at a conference in Washington sponsored by Fortify Software Inc. The party must realize that the country has changed, he said. "Americans do want to pay taxes for services," he said. "Americans are looking for more government in their life, not less."

...He blasted radio commentator Rush Limbaugh, saying he does not believe that Limbaugh or conservative icon Ann Coulter serve the party well. He said the party lacks a "positive" spokesperson. "I think what Rush does as an entertainer diminishes the party and intrudes or inserts into our public life a kind of nastiness that we would be better to do without," Powell said.

He also said that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, McCain's running mate last year, is "a very accomplished person" but became "a very polarizing figure." He said the polarization was created by Palin's advisers.

Powell said he does not want Republicans to turn into Democrats but rather to build a vibrant party.

Hannity responded by devoting the better part of his Fox News show last night to the subject. First he had on Karl Rove to talk about it, which of course meant we got a Rove Moment: When he informed us that Powell's remarks about the toxic value of Limbaugh's hatemongering amounted to trying to silence Limbaugh. Because exercising your free-speech rights actually becomes censorship and suppression if you happen to say anything unpleasant about Republicans, no matter how truthful.

This, coming from the guy who never hesitated to suggest that Democrats were treasonous for criticizing George W. Bush's handling of the Iraq war. Or anything else.

Then Hannity brought on famous non-American Mark Steyn to further agree with him that the problem with Republicans is that they aren't conservative enough. (We like this advice, because it is a sure loser for the GOP.)

In any event, these exchanges produced two classic moments from Hannity of the pure, distilled Planet Wingnuttia worldview. (It's always fascinating, because it's such an alien world from the one the rest of us live in, and it has a certain amusement value as well.)

Hannity [to Rove]: He attacks Rush Limbaugh, and we'll get into that in just a second here. And I'm sitting back and he talked about the nastiness of Rush on the radio, which I don't hear, ever.


Hannity [to Steyn]: Can you name one area now where Republicans are more conservative than they were when Reagan was president? Because I can't.

Um, the hard part is figuring out where to start. There are so many to choose from.

Let's try just a few:

-- Torture.

-- Immigration.

-- Indulging in 'nation-building' wars.

-- And most of all, civility. Say what you will about Reagan, he was always a civil man. You can't say that about the American Right of 2009 -- and particularly not its leader, Rush Limbaugh.

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