I want to be clear on something before I start this: I listen to talk radio. A lot. I listen to Charlie Sykes, Vicki McKenna and Rush Limbaugh. I find the first two intelligent and informative on local and state issues, as well as entertaining. This is not an endictment of talk radio, I'm just tired of Rush trying to dictate what a Republican or a conservative is.
I listen to Rush because he is above all else, entertaining. That's right: Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. An influential one, but an entertainer none the less.
Which is what Michael Steele said. He added that Rush's show can also get incendiary and ugly - which it can. That sparked a harsh response from Limbaugh and sadly Steele caved. I will never understand why.
The future of the Republican Party cannot - I repeat - cannot be made be media personalities like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. The future of the Party necessarily lies in elected officials. The American people right now do not trust Republicans and that cannot be fixed by a radio or television host, that trust can only be repaired by those actually in the party.
I don't know how many times I've heard Rush and Hannity say that they are conservatives, not Republicans. That's fine. I have no problem with that. But if that's how you feel, then sit down and shut up. Let those of us in the party fight it out and determine our own future.
There is a real danger for a political party that turns solely to media personalities for leadership. Rush Limbaugh answers to no one. Period. He is unaccountable to anyone for anything he says. If we continue to turn to him for leadership we make ourselves liable for every stupid thing he says, every bad joke or outrageous statement comes back to us and we have no recourse. Michael Steele on the other hand is an elected leader of our national party. If he screws up, we can remove him. We can hold him accountable.
Rush certainly has his defenders, Josh Schroeder seems to think Rush is the savior of the party. I think he needs to pay a little more attention to details. I read the transcript of Rush's speech at CPAC. I'm glad I wasn't there. Rush was self-absorbed - it's okay, he's the most popular radio host ever. It was a typical Rush monologue with random tangents and an overall message that conservatives are the good guys. Leading the charge against stupid moves like appointing Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court does not take a great deal of intellectual prowess - or courage. It merely takes have a rather large bullhorn to make your voice heard. (On a side note, I doubt Harriet Miers would have been confirmed with or without Rush, or whether he was forcing GOP Senators to speak up.)
We need to stop bashing John McCain for not being conservative enough too. We lost. It's over. And if we're going to be honest about this, John McCain bent over backward quite often during the campaign so that people like Rush Limbaugh would stop bashing him. It got him nowhere. They still hate him. John McCain isn't our party's problem. So let's get over it.
The Republican Party needs ideas, Rush doesn't offer a whole lot of them. Tax cuts are not new ideas. They are not a strategy. We can talk all we want about lowering the tax burden on the American people, but if we can't come up with reforms to our entitlement programs, health care, or any other number of areas, then none of it matters.
True reforms can't come from Limbaugh, they need to come from elected leaders.
We have some people that are trying. Paul Ryan certainly is. So is Newt Gingrich. So is Bobby Jindal. It may not always look like the old school conservatism we're used to, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't pay attention. Maybe that's the point.
We need new ideas. They may not always be easy, we may not always know for sure that they will work. That's what innovation is though. We need people who are willing to get in there, get their hands dirty and try something new. At least elected officials - the good ones anyway - put their jobs on the line when they introduce reforms. That's leadership.
Rush, for all his talent and charisma is not the future of the party. He can't be because he is never going to run for anything. We need people inside the arena to lead. It's too bad Steele didn't stick to his guns. I was hoping that he would be one of those leaders.