By now, the “controversy” about Michael Steele calling Rush Limbaugh an “entertainer,” dismissing his “incendiary” and “ugly” rhetoric, and then making a soft politician’s “I misspoke” semi-apology has been covered in the usual extremely anal amount of detail across the conservative blogosphere.
What Steele should have said to D.L. Hughley was this. “The reason Rush Limbaugh exists is because the mainstream media, outside of FoxNews, affords no respect to conservative ideas. We’re a big-tent party, and we welcome all kinds of views. And conservatives bring a lot to the party. They want to keep the government out of people’s faces so they can make their own choices. They know that keeping the government out of people’s faces only works when you have a solid system of values in place. They also don’t believe spending a trillion dollars we don’t have on things we don’t need is fiscally responsible. And if the mainstream media respected conservatism enough to give a fair shake to those ideas, Rush Limbaugh would be out of business.”
What frustrates conservatives is that the leadership of the Republican Party is always so quick to concede points to Democrat attacks. You never see the Democrat party treat its base like this. The Democrat party base is filled with hardcore socialist whackjobs, but their leadership doesn’t act like they’re a source of embarassment, and doesn’t try to win over the center by attacking them.
Instead, the Democrats repackage their base’s demands into soundbites that are palatable to the center. The base says, “We want Bush and Rove executed for war crimes,” and the Democrats repackage it is, “We want accountability in government.” The base says, “We want to criminalize capitalism!” The Democrats repackage this as, “The rich will be taxed and benefits will be showered on the middle class.” The base says, “We want socialized health care.” The Democrats repackage this into, “We want to socialize health care for the uninsured. (We’ll get the rest of you later.)”
A reasonably capable party chairman ought to be able to repackage the conservative message of limited government and personal responsibility into something even dim-witted moderates can buy into. Michael Steele, in his campaign for chairman, sold himself as someone who could champion and articulate conservative ideas. Maybe he should try that, instead of pandering to the bigotry of the liberal left.