Rush Limbaugh and the Two Minute Hate

I am ashamed that Republicans are so simple. Like Lucy in Peanuts, Obama has once again offered the Republican Party a football to kick, and, like gullible old Charlie Brown, Republicans tried to kick it and ended up flat on their faces.

Obama's purpose should have been obvious. For the past eight years, the Democrats have made intense and persistent use of the Two Minute Hate technique that George Orwell described in Nineteen Eighty-Four:

The Hate had started. As usual, the face of Emmanuel Goldstein, the Enemy of the People, had flashed on to the screen...The programmes of the Two Minutes Hate varied from day to day, but there were none in which Goldstein was not the principal figure...Goldstein was delivering his usual venomous attack upon the doctrines of the Party--an attack so exaggerated and perverse that a child should have been able to see through it, and yet just plausible enough to fill one with an alarmed feeling... Before the Hate had proceeded for thirty seconds, uncontrollable exclamations of rage were breaking out from half the people in the room ...In its second minute, the Hate rose to a frenzy. People were leaping up and down in their places and shouting at the tops of their voices in an effort to drown the maddening bleating voice that came from the screen ...The Hate rose to its climax. The voice of Goldstein had become an actual sheep's bleat, and for an instant the face changed into that of a sheep...

Using this technique, Democrats so successfully conditioned the public to hate George Bush that even Republicans avoided being associated with him. Irrational Anti-Bush hatred was a major factor in Obama's campaign strategy.

Apparently, Obama intends to use the same technique to undermine any future Republican opposition to his plans. As Karl Rove has pointed out, Obama is already attributing false viewpoints and statements to nameless "straw men" whom he identifies as his opponents. This straw man attack may be an attempt to divert attention from the embarrassment of his numerous discredited nominees such as Richardson, Daschle, and Ron Kirk. It may also serve distract the public from noticing that the golden idol of O is beginning to turn green in places.

But this is a rather transparent trick that can't be used for long. With Bush retired from public life, Obama needs a new scapegoat. Evidently, Rush Limbaugh has been chosen. Calling him "the voice and the intellectual force and energy behind the Republican Party," White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is obviously trying to set up Limbaugh as the next hate icon for the minions of Big Other. Simultaneously, vicious attacks on Limbaugh were launched from several Democratic sources. It has been claimed that Obama's strategists are making an explicit effort to "turn the [image of the] Republican Party into a Limbaughesque caricature."

I have considerable respect for Mr. Limbaugh. He has consistently and incisively attacked Democrats and liberalism with a perception, wit, and showmanship that has earned him 20 million listeners. Moreover, in incidents like the e-mail episode, he has displayed a generosity and sense of humor that contrasts sharply with Obama's meanness and priggish humorlessness.  But his caricaturable physical appearance and past drug and marital issues have made him vulnerable to jeering, while his popularity and humor have aroused envy and hysterical hatred in liberal journalists and intellectuals. Thus, he would be an excellent hate-icon replacement for Bush. 

Notice that this attempt to iconize Limbaugh puts conservatives in a Morton's fork. If they defend Limbaugh, they will seem to acknowledge that he is the Republicans' leader and make him a hate icon for good. On the other hand, if they deny his importance, they will tend to weaken his valuable influence and cause intra-Republican bickering---which is what seems to have happened.

Rather than fight among ourselves, let's toss back a hot potato of our own. Since the White House brought the matter up, how about demanding that they shed some light on the mystery of who is really the "intellectual force and energy" of the present Democratic regime. Many think that, since George Soros bought the election for Obama, he is now in the driver's seat. Having paid the piper, he's probably calling the tunes.

Another point: If Rush Limbaugh is supposed to be the "voice" of the Republican Party, then who is his Democratic counterpart? Michael Moore? He's the only liberal to make money on the Limbaugh scale.

The truth is that conservatives generally don't have a single leader. They are united by their devotion to the rights of individual citizens, their adherence to traditional morality and the principles of republican government, and their opposition to socialistic meddling with individual freedom. But within that framework of belief, they tolerate and even encourage a diversity of views about specific issues and approaches.

Therefore, no one person can be called the "voice" of Republicans, because they tolerate a broad range of opinions about many issues. No one person can be called "the intellectual force and energy behind the Republican Party" because that role belongs to the conservative-moderate majority of the American people.

Even the most charismatic conservative leaders, like Ronald Reagan, considered themselves first among equals and were open to criticism and debate about policies. We must remember that we did not have a single Founding Father but a group of more than a dozen who, with much public discussion and compromise, collectively hammered out our Constitution and laws.

Nowadays, Mr. Limbaugh is one of several leaders whom many Republicans respect and listen to. Others are partial to McCain, Romney, Huckabee or to someone else. But no Republican leader claims to be infallible or expects absolute obedience from his followers as does Big Other.

This leaves Republicans at a psychological disadvantage.  The public, as evidenced by their most popular television shows and rock concerts, has a taste for idols. Blindly following a leader is easier and more comfortable than thinking for oneself. Debating about alternative views, which is what being a true republican entails, is too much of an effort for most people and is detested by liberal leaders -- who at heart are elitists and sycophantic monarchists who have just crowned their king.