Gibbs and Emanuel Tweak Rush Limbaugh
By Howard Kurtz
If White House officials were trying to elevate Rush Limbaugh to the leader of the opposition, they may have gotten their wish.
After the radio titan delivered a raucous, red-meat speech Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said yesterday on CBS's "Face the Nation": "He is the voice and the intellectual force and energy behind the Republican Party, and he has been up front about what he views, and hasn't stepped back from that, which is he hopes for failure."
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs added his voice today, saying reporters should ask Republicans "whether they agree with what Rush Limbaugh said .... in wishing and hoping for economic failure in this country."
Limbaugh, a master of drawing media attention, has filled a GOP vacuum since the election, and Emanuel's comments had the effect of further boosting his prominence.
Limbaugh fired back on his show today, saying the White House was trying to "malign me, take me out of context" and "attach it to the Republican Party in general, because President Obama wants no debate." He said this was "a game of manipulation emanating from the Oval Office," and that he wants Obama's "socialist" policies to fail -- not for the economy and stock market to tank.
Liberal bloggers denounced Limbaugh's hourlong address, which was carried live by Fox News and CNN, with Huffington Post's Taylor Marsh calling it "a rambling, sometimes incoherent, self-indulgent mess." Republican National Chairman Michael Steele called Limbaugh "an entertainer" in an interview with CNN's D.L. Hughley, adding: "Yes, he's incendiary. Yes, it's ugly."
Limbaugh today faulted what he called "the drive-by media" for not reporting the contents of his speech. Some excerpts:
- "There will be more controls over what you can and can't do, how you can and can't do it, what you can and can't drive, what you can and can't say, where you can and can't say it."
- "They don't have the right to take money that's not theirs and none of it is from back pockets of producers and give it to groups like A.C.O.R.N. .... If anybody but government were doing this, it would be a crime."
- "They have destroyed poor families by breaking up those families, by offering welfare checks to women to keep having babies, no more father needed."
Posted at 2:36 PM ET on Mar 2, 2009
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