Last week in an interview with the Kansas City Star editorial board, Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) risked alienating thousands of ditto-heads by giving his honest opinion of whether Rush Limbaugh was the “de facto leader of the GOP.” “No, no, he’s just an entertainer,” Tiahrt said.
Asked about the episode and resulting Web buzz, Tiahrt spokesman Sam Sackett said Tiahrt was not speaking negatively about Limbaugh but was trying to defend him against the suggestion that Limbaugh could be blamed for the GOP’s woes. “The congressman believes Rush is a great leader of the conservative movement in America — not a party leader responsible for election losses,” Sackett told The Eagle editorial board. “Nothing the congressman said diminished the role Rush has played and continues to play in the conservative movement.”
As ThinkProgress has noted, other Republicans have made similar courageous statements, only to eventually back down in the face of Limbaugh’s great power.
RNC Chairman Michael Steele: On March 1, Michael Steele went on CNN and said, “Rush Limbaugh, his whole thing is entertainment. Yes, it’s incendiary. Yes, it’s ugly.” The next day, he backtracked and told Politico, “My intent was not to go after Rush — I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh.” On Jan. 27, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) noted that Limbaugh and other conservative talkers are able to “stand back and throw bricks” instead of offering “real leadership” in the middle of high-profile public policy battles. The very next day, he went on Limbaugh’s show and offered his “sincere regret” for his comments.
Republicans should be careful — looks like that “foot-in-mouth disease” is contagious.