Ed Driscoll

A Radical Gets Rolled by His Own Rules

“The Winner: Rush Limbaugh,” Jeffery Lord writes in the American Spectator:

Five days later, a bare 24 hours after Obama had been sworn-in, Fox News host and fellow talk radio star Sean Hannity sat down with Limbaugh in Florida. As the Fox cameras rolled, Rush elaborated in answering Hannity’s questions, making himself crystal clear: in spite of the uproar created by his “I hope he fails” remark, Rush Limbaugh would not be backing down. The Obama agenda, he was certain, was doomed to inevitable failure, and if others were afraid to say so, Rush Limbaugh was not.

LIMBAUGH:…When I see the media and the entire establishment on the left lay down and become cult-like and not examine who he is, what he’s done, and not really examine what he says, but just praise him because of how he says it, my antenna go up.

Now I look at the things that he has said, and I’m very much concerned that our greatness is going to be redefined in such a way that it won’t be great, that we’re just going to become average. You cannot have this large of government role in the private sector with so many people thinking that just because they’re Americans they’re entitled to things, that this guy is going to pass them out and keep this country great and innovative, full of entrepreneurs, and — these things concern me.

Now my critics, and yours, when they hear me say things like this, they — have knee-jerk reactions. They’re not listening or parsing my words, either. They’re just, Limbaugh is not with the program.

…. So I shamelessly say, no, I want him to fail, if his agenda is a far-left collectivism, some people say socialism, as a conservative heartfelt, deeply, why would I want socialism to succeed?… I don’t know where what he wants to try has worked…. It hasn’t worked…. It doesn’t work… it never has, and I don’t think this is going to be the record breaker.”

Hearing this, watching this, the Obama White House made a fateful decision.

As Obama and his aides began relentlessly pushing exactly the far-left agenda that Limbaugh so publicly predicted would fail, they decided to bring the hardball of Chicago politics into play: they would intimidate their opponents by making an example of America’s number one conservative talk radio star. .

Which is exactly the point where the path to the conservative victory of 2010 began.

A MERE THREE DAYS after Obama took office, Republican congressional leaders were ushered into the White House for their first formal meeting with the new president. Wary of Obama proposals for a massive stimulus bill, with a huge health care bill looming beyond that, they sat quietly as Obama’s Limbaugh strategy began to unfold. Borrowing a tactic from Rules for Radicals, the handbook written by Obama’s hero the late Chicago radical community activist Saul Alinsky, Obama the one-time community activist become president lectured the astonished GOP leadership, saying pointedly “You can’t just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done.” The Republicans were barely out the door before the story leaked, causing a media feeding frenzy as the White House knew it would.

With that, the stage for the entire next two-years was set. The looming battle over the direction of America would be deliberately, willfully cast — by the White House itself — as a battle royal between the President of the United States and Rush Limbaugh. The specific tactic to be employed was Rule Number 12 of Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. Which reads this way:

RULE 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)

In a way, by attacking Rush, Hannity, Beck and Fox News by name, Obama wound up Alinskying himself, once the new media returned fire, and became increasingly sympathetic underdogs to the millions of Americans who didn’t vote for Obama, disagreed with his agenda, and/or simply don’t appreciate an elected official who’d rather bully than govern.

Or as Glenn Reynolds wrote in late September, when the latest target du jour of the Demonizer in Chief became John Boehner:

The Alinsky playbook contains useful tools for annoying and undercutting The Man. It doesn’t work nearly as well when you are The Man.

But read the rest of Lord’s article in the Spectator — it really is a reminder that the president and his highly partisan inner circle really do govern from a worldview much more attuned to the control room at MSNBC or the writers bullpen of the New York Times than Mainstreet USA.

And speaking of new media, Kate McMillan of Small Dead Animals notes that yesterday’s GOP victory was also a victory for Fox:

Make no mistake about one thing – while the mainstream now admits that Sarah Palin is a political force to be reckoned with, a 2010 mid-term election dominated by Tea Party successes would not have been possible without the fair, balanced, and uniquely honest coverage of Fox News. If any one entity emerges from this election “with more clout”, it’s Fox.

Every maintream media outlet in the nation attempted first to starve, then ridicule — and when that didn’t work — to destroy the Tea Party. Every network but Fox.

Yes, talk radio and the internet played a huge role, but despite their growing influence, radio can’t convey the images and internet can’t reach that still largely passive portion of the political audience in the way that television can.

This was Sarah Palin’s night, but it was just as much Glenn Beck’s, Sean Hannity’s, and Bill O’Reilly’s – along with the news reporters and editors who chose to report on Tea Party rallies across the nation, to allow American conservatives see themselves, and for themselves, that they were not in the minority.

They were never in the minority.

But how much — if any — “progress” will the American people actually get to stand athwart?