Richard Viguerie Attacks the "Rushification" of the Republican Party
Animal Spirits: How Psychology Drives the Economy

David Frum Puts Himself in Harm's Way

He certainly chooses the right targets! Frum writes:

The Limbaugh schism: For conservatives, the news of the week was Rush Limbaugh's speech to the annual CPAC conference in Washington DC. The speech achieved all and more that Rush could have hoped: It was rapturously received by the more than 8,000 conference attendees and broadcast live on Fox News. Better still, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel... Face the Nation... acclaimed Rush as the "voice, energy, and intellect" of the Republican Party. So everybody's happy, right? Well, everybody except Republicans who care about their party's future electoral chances.... [Limbaugh] polls especially poorly among two groups whom Republicans must attract in the future: independent voters and women. Independents take a negative view of Limbaugh by a 45-22 margin. As for women -- well Rush himself has acknowledged the problem. "Thirty-one point gender gaps don't come along that often," he mused on his Feb. 24 program. Rahm Emanuel knows what he is doing: The more hermetically he and his team can affix Rush's image to our Republican behinds, the more difficulty we shall have climbing out of the hole we have dug for ourselves.

In a blog post Monday, I pointed out this (not exactly secret) problem. Then I engaged in a rare act of conservative lese-majeste: I actually explained it.

Here's the duel that Obama and Limbaugh are jointly arranging: On the one side, the president of the United States: soft-spoken and conciliatory, never angry, always invoking the recession and its victims. This president invokes the language of "responsibility," and in his own life seems to epitomize that ideal: He is physically honed and disciplined, his worst vice an occasional cigarette. He is at the same time an apparently devoted husband and father. Unsurprisingly, women voters trust and admire him. And for the leader of the Republicans? A man who is aggressive and bombastic, cutting and sarcastic, who dismisses the concerned citizens in network news focus groups as "losers." With his private plane and his cigars, his history of drug dependency and his personal bulk, not to mention his tangled marital history, Rush is a walking stereotype of self-indulgence--exactly the image that Barack Obama most wants to affix to our philosophy and our party. And we're cooperating!... Rush knows what he is doing. The worse conservatives do, the more important Rush becomes as leader of the ardent remnant. The better conservatives succeed, the more we become a broad national governing coalition, the more Rush will be sidelined. But do the rest of us understand what we are doing to ourselves by accepting this leadership?... [Limbaugh] cannot be allowed to be the public face of the enterprise--and we have to find ways of assuring the public that he is just one Republican voice among many, and very far from the most important.

Well, that put the cat among the pigeons! The reaction from my conservative friends has been ferocious.... What we are arguing about is the kind of party the GOP will be. Over just the past couple of weeks, Limbaugh has compelled apologies first from a Republican congressman, then from the chairman of the Republican National Committee, for criticizing him. He has extracted tributes praising him as a "if not 'the'" leader of the party from the RNC chairman and the governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal. Not since the Republican wilderness years of 1993-1994 has Rush held such uncontested sway. But back then, Rush was content to play a supporting part. Now he has assumed--or been conceded--the starring role....

[O]ur last experience of government was a disappointing one to say the least, and the whole problem of government seems to interest us less and less.... We are gradually shrinking from our former ambition--to govern--and taking our pleasure instead in alienation and complaint. Those journalists who cover the conservative world are surprised by how relieved and happy conservatives seem to be about having lost the 2008 election. No more irritating compromises, no more boring policy debates!... [I]f Rush has his way... the American right retreat from politics into the airwaves in the 2000s...