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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Grab a Shovel

Ken Kerr Bio

British Labour party politician, Denis Healey, is credited with the saying, "If you're in a hole, stop digging." Apparently, that advice was not offered to the audience and speakers at last weeks' Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Quite to the contrary, they seemed to be handing out shovels at the door.

The situation has not been this bad for Republicans since Watergate. They are out-of-favor, and out-of-touch. The Democratic-controlled Congress has its best approval ratings in two years, despite GOP obstructionist politics. In fact, approval of Congress recently went up 12 points. Actually, approval of Congressional Democrats went from 18% to 43 while the Congressional Republicans dragged overall Congressional approval ratings down as they went from 23% approval to 19%.

Yet, they keep digging.

Even before CPAC, it was shaping up to be a bad week for the GOP with Gov. Bobby Jindal's embarrassing performance as the GOP's savior-in-waiting. While President Obama was looking like a cross between Reagan and Kennedy, Gov. Jindal looked like Fred Rogers. "Insane, Childish, Disaster," were a few of the kinder terms conservatives and liberals alike used to describe the televised train wreck.

Then CPAC came. What can one say about an event where Joe-the-Plumber was a draw and the party's last presidential candidate did not even attend?

They trotted out the usual line up of suspects. The loudest applause seemed to come from questioning President Obama's citizenship and patriotism. Ron Paul drew loud cheers from half the overly-young crowd while the others sat on their hands. I'm not sure what it means that about 57% CPAC attendees were between 18 and 25. These youngsters ate-it-up when Newt and Huckabee uttered the dreaded word, "Socialism." Have they no new material? Do they know what the word means? I think I just found another use for that shovel.

There was a curious moment when Former Governor Mike Huckabee insisted, "We've got to get out the word that the Republican Party is not just a haven for rich white guys who want to get richer." That will be a tough sell when at the last party convention there were only 36 black delegates out of 2261 total. Even tougher when the winner of the presidential straw poll is a rich white guy who told the police they would have to speak to his wife's jewelry consultant to figure out what exactly were the "between 15 and 20 pieces of jewelry from Mitt Romney's Park City mansion," the Romneys refer to as their "cabin."

Speaking of the Straw Poll, Romney won that last year, too. That didn't work out too well for his presidential campaign. Here are the final results to the question of: "Thinking ahead to 2012 presidential election, who [sic] would you vote for as the next Republican nominee for president?"

Mitt Romney - 20 percent

Bobby Jindal - 14 percent

Ron Paul -13 percent

Sarah Palin - 13 percent

Newt Gingrich -10 percent

Mike Huckabee - 7 percent

Mark Sanford - 4 percent

Rudy Guiliani - 3 percent

Tim Pawlenty - 2 percent

Charlie Crist - 1 percent

Undecided - 9 percent

These data need no comment as they speak for themselves. Newt!!??

The biggest, and I mean biggest, speaker of the conference was Radio-Shock-Jock, Rush Limbaugh, who, according to Rahm Emanuel, is the current leader of the Republican Party.

Curiously, Limbaugh's listener ratings are best during his commercials. Apparently, people get into their cars to go to lunch and the radio is still on the same station as when they drove into work. Once the noonday news and commercials are over, and the drone of The Pretenders, "My City was Gone" comes on, his "listeners" can't get to the dial fast enough. Yet, he is the one repentant Republicans kowtow to when they dare disagree. I guess the CPAC organizers are unaware that Limbaugh is less popular outside their bubble than the despised Jeremiah Wright. He's right down there with Republican congresspersons in the nation's esteem. Yet, they keep on digging.

Clearly playing before a home-town crowd, Limbaugh-the-sophist used his trademark logical fallacies to distort and confuse, to incite and enrage, to defame and demagogue. Obviously in love with the sound of his own voice, he took his 15-minute time slot and magically expanded it to a full 90-minute stem-winder. While saying he hopes the president fails, he counters with, ""I want the country to survive. I want the country to succeed." He called the Democrats' disagreement with George Bush as evidence they "hoped George Bush failed," and dared to draw a moral comparison between his treason and Democrats' disagreement.

He warned his followers in the Congress that cooperating with Democrats to craft legislation is tantamount to being "co-opted by liberals."

Apparently, there is no worse crime in the USA than being a liberal. Of the president, Limbaugh blustered, "It doesn't matter to me what his race is. He's liberal, and that's what matters." He went on, "The racism, the sexism, the bigotry that we are all charged with . . . doesn't exist on our side," he then added, "We want everybody to succeed."

Well, almost everyone—just not the president, or the Congress, or anyone he deems to be liberal. But everyone else.

In tortured reality what would make Orwell jealous, Limbaugh insisted, ""The racism in our culture was exclusively and fully on display in the Democrat primary last year. We didn't ask if he was authentically black." Apparently, I asked, we all asked, if our candidate was black. I must have forgotten, sorry.

But Limbaugh's real objection is the "bastardization of the Constitution that the Obama plans are." He didn't bother to elaborate. That wasn't his goal. He just likes to see the way the flames grow when he adds the gasoline.

Last Saturday, RNC Chairman, Michael Steele said,"Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. Rush Limbaugh's whole thing is entertainment," Steele continued, "Yes, it is incendiary. Yes, it is ugly." Let's see if the RNC Chair Steele now finds it necessary to apologize to the intellectual and philosophical leader of the Republican Party Limbaugh.


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