From today’s presser, which just happened to fall on Super Tuesday. It’s just a coinki-dink.
First, Obama was asked about Rush Limbaugh’s degrading comments about Georgetown Law student and liberal activist Sandra Fluke. Obama talked at some length about why Limbaugh’s remarks were wrong. But when he was asked if he agreed with his hand-picked DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s comments that opponents of the mandate are waging a “war on women,” Obama declined to comment.
“Would you prefer the language be changed?” CNN’s Jessica Yellin asked.
“Jessica, as you know, if I start being in the business arbitrating–”
“You talk about civility,” Yellin interjected.
“And what I do is practice it,” Obama replied. “I’ll try to lead by example as opposed to commenting on every comment that is made by either politicians or pundits, I would not have time to do my job, that is your job to comment on what is said by them.”
Credit to Yellin for asking the question at all. The hypocrisy she exposed ought to damage the president’s credibility but it’s unlikely to have much effect.The MSM won’t follow up on it, or on Fluke, or anything relevant.
It’s not difficult to figure out what’s going on here. The president used the sequence to hit Rush, but not in a way that generates much mano a mano stuff or gives Rush the chance the reframe the debate, and to make himself sound like the adult in the room. He also avoided creating any sound that can be used to drive a wedge between himself and the person he placed atop the DNC. Wasserman-Schultz does her job — be outrageous, create headlines, rally the left — and Obama does his — try his best to look like a president, keep the pressure on Limbaugh. Good cop, bad cop, just like the old community organizer days.
Limbaugh, by the way, seems to be facing the worst crisis of his career since Bill Clinton blamed him for the Oklahoma City bombing. Longtime listeners may remember that. Clinton was sagging in the polls and had lost much of his relevance as a player in Washington. Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols committed an act of terrorism and mass murder in OKC, and the President of the United States used that to wage a campaign against “hate” on talk radio.
There was no evidence at all that McVeigh ever listened to Limbaugh’s show. Still isn’t any. That didn’t matter.
Making Rush and the entire right answer for the actions of a man who turned out to agree with the leftwing Unabomber was a ghastly but successful trick. Clinton got his groove back and won the following year, over a moderate GOP nominee given the nod mostly because it was “his turn.”
Anything about this seem familiar?
The main difference in the politics then versus now is that Obama has not left himself at the mercy of fate. He picked this mandate fight for the express purpose of having his allies cast opposition as a “war on women” and to provoke useful reactions, while solidifying ObamaCare’s transformational aspects ahead of the 2014 full implementation. He probably can’t believe his luck, that the assault on Limbaugh has gone as far as it has. But he’ll take it.