That Rush Limbaugh is loathesome can, I think, be taken for granted. But as we’ve been having occasion to note recently, to a really striking extent conservative politicians everywhere are taking their marching orders on policy and legislative strategy from a boorish and occasionally drug-addled talk radio host. Even John McCain, who a lot of people thought would go back to his maverick schtick of 2001–2003 vintage after losing the election, is standing firmly behind Rush:
I don’t know why he would do that. Mr. Limbaugh is a voice of a significant portion of our conservative movement in America. He has a very wide viewing audience. He is entitled to his views, and he has a lot of people who listen very carefully to him. I don’t know why that the President would take him on. He’s part of the political landscape, and he plays a role.
Needless to say, it’s precisely because Limbaugh is a part of the political landscape that people feel compelled to take him on. Meanwhile, Obama’s point wasn’t that Limbaugh isn’t entitled to his views. His point was that if Republicans want to be constructive partners in dealing with the economic crisis, they need to go beyond their current posture of slavish adherence to Rushism. After all, this is a guy who’s said he’s actively hoping for the administration to fail.