The Blog

The Party of Rush vs. the Party of No Rush at All

2:00 PM, Mar 4, 2009 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Charles Krauthammer sounded an ominous note on Fox last night about the direction- or lack thereof-of the administration on the banking problem:

What was hoped was that there would be a new team, new people, fresh ideas, who have a year, ‘08, in which to study and learn what went wrong and would have a plan in place. It is what Obama had said he had, they knew what to do and would do it. It looks as if they have no idea what to do, and they won't. When Obama had his first press conference, he promised it would be a detailed plan by Geithner the next morning. There was none. The market tanked. It looks as if this administration is entirely at sea on what to do on the principle element of our collapse, the banks, and they may not have any idea is what is scaring the markets. If they don't, we are all at sea.

Indeed, the Cult of Competence seems utterly at a loss for how to deal with the banking crisis, preferring to operate on the familiar grounds of taxing and spending, touting education and health care. Yesterday, the President derided a two-month 25-percent drop in the Dow as a "tracking poll" that "bobs up and down from day to day," but means nothing in the long term. Tell that to somebody whose long-term funds ain't looking so hot these days.

Today, those same people woke up to find that the White House is not only prioritizing every social program they can think of over the banking crisis, but they've got a detailed, extensive, plan for making Rush Limbaugh the face of the Republican Party. Nevermind the fact that the party has very little power in controlling either message or votes right now. Obama's poll numbers are still very high. People want to believe in him, but how long will that last once they realize the "bold, new, fresh ideas" Obama brought to a country in need consist of a recycled 1993 attack on a talk-show host devised by recycled 1993 political hacks who appear on less popular talk shows.

This is the plan being devised at the highest levels in the Obama White House. This is what they're spending time, energy, and media on:

By Sunday morning, Emanuel elevated the strategy by bringing up the conservative talker, unprompted, on CBS's "Face the Nation" and calling him the "the voice and the intellectual force and energy behind the Republican Party."

Robert Gibbs offered Republicans a gift today, lapsing into his old campaign talking points, and falling just short of admitting that the Rush talk is exactly the kind of "distraction" from important issues Obama decried daily on the trail:

The press secretary was asked about the small but growing backlash among political observers over the White House's strategy of elevating Limbaugh, Jim Cramer, Rick Santelli and others as the face of the administration's opposition. From a campaign that consistently derided the talking heads of the commentariat, was this not hypocritical?

"It may be counterproductive," Gibbs replied. "I'll give you that. Are there days when I just turn my television off, yes... Look, there are days where your head drops from listening to arguments that aren't necessarily centered on some important issue, but finding two people at completely opposite ends of the spectrum to yell the loudest for a seven minute segment before they go on to something else."

With left-leaning critics like Hillary Clinton adviser Peter Daou also taking on the all-Rush-all-the-time strategy, one wonders if the gleeful partisan trio of Emanuel, Begala, and Carville overreached in their yearning for the war room of yore.

For a guy who could sense "distraction" on the trail at every turn, Obama's awfully bold in allowing the silliest of distractions in serious times to be created in his own office. The Messiah has never looked so small.

I look forward to the time when the Obama administration can get "beyond these divisions that distract us from our common challenges and our common opportunities and move the country forward."