Speaking of the “Rush Limbaugh brigades” David Brooks mentioned today — is it just me, or is Rush Limbaugh emerging as the loudest voice in the GOP fracas for a coherent message?

GOP Chairman Michael Steele made the mistake of calling Rush an “incendiary” entertainer (a statement which, I’m sorry, is absolutely true). Steele also said “It’s ugly,” and Rush shot back:

I'm not in charge of the Republican Party, and I don't want to be. I would be embarrassed to say that I'm in charge of the Republican Party in a sad-sack state that it's in. If I were chairman of the Republican Party, given the state that it's in, I would quit.

Steele quickly ate his words in a circuitous response:

My intent was not to go after Rush – I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh. I was maybe a little bit inarticulate. … There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership. … I went back at that tape and I realized words that I said weren’t what I was thinking. It was one of those things where I thinking I was saying one thing, and it came out differently. What I was trying to say was a lot of people … want to make Rush the scapegoat, the bogeyman, and he’s not.

Not the first time in recent memory that this has happened.  In January, GOP Rep. Phil Gingrey made the mistake of criticizing Rush:

I mean, it’s easy if you’re Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh or even sometimes Newt Gingrich to stand back and throw bricks. You don’t have to try to do what’s best for your people and your party.You know you’re just on these talk shows and you’re living well and plus you stir up a bit of controversy and gin the base and that sort of thing. But when it comes to true leadership, not that these people couldn’t be or wouldn’t be good leaders, they’re not in that position.

Also technically true. But after Rush set his listeners on Gingrey, he properly debased himself for “foot-in-mouth disease.”

Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Newt Gingrich, and other conservative giants are the voices of the conservative movement’s conscience. Everyday, millions and millions of Americans—myself included—turn on their radios and televisions to listen to what they have to say, and we are inspired by their words and by their determination.  

On Bloggingheads.tv today, Eve Fairbanks brought up the example of Phil Gingrey and Ann Althouse — speaking in Rush's defense — replied, “That guy is obviously weak. That’s pathetic. If Rush can make people dance for him, that just shows how weak they are.”

Hmm. Well, Michael Steele?

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Alisa Harris

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