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Getting Tough on Limbaugh

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Follow Me on Twitter     Message Dean Powers
Every time Republican scandals spell victory for the Democrats, I remind friends that Rush Limbaugh is working three hours a day to neutralize the bad news. They usually roll their eyes, but I haven't seen Democrats win any upsets lately. Democrat politicians ought to turn up the heat on talk show pugilists the way that Bill Clinton did in his Fox interview with Chris Wallace: in a way that's gutsy, indignant, and newsworthy.

It is estimated that Limbaugh reaches 20 million listeners, but most of them probably vote because he keeps them in constant fear of a Democratic "takeover." And in 2002, the last mid-term election, only 80 million people voted according to the Election Assistance Commission. So before substantive issues are rolled out, Rush is leaving Democrats just over 60 million people to woo over. On top of that, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and a host of wannabes flood cable news and AM airwaves from morning to night, reaching additional millions of voters. If Democrats continue to let these airwave politicians go unchallenged, then they will continue to stay out of power.

Substantive issues and the people who care about them are in the pocket of Democrats. With record deficits, the Jack Abramoff investigations, an unpopular war and a gay sex scandal that the Republican leadership apparently covered up, only Osama Bin Laden could fail to oust the vulnerable Republican incumbents. But it is not so easy. Democrats must veer away from the script when conservatives try to turn rational debate into a high school parking lot fist fight. Bill Clinton stopped the show the instant he sniffed out Wallace, and caught his assailant with a surprise left hook. Conservatives get flustered when they are challenged. They look bad.

Mark Foley's sex-scandal broke into the news last Friday. It is exactly the type of gut-punching issue that Democrats could use to win back chunks of Limbaugh's audience. Only one problem: in two weeks, Limbaugh will have pumped his listeners up with enough vituperation against the liberals to neutralize this scandal. For example, four days after the scandal broke, Limbaugh announced that "[liberal Democrats] don't find what Mark Foley did repugnant...It's a thrill. Believe me it's a thrill."

Is it heretical for a liberal to ask where all the manhood in our party has gone? Even "the poor wren, the most diminutive of birds, will fight, her young ones in her nest, against the owl." Democrats who do not fully comprehend the threat these Republican predators pose to our posterity do not deserve to be running for office, for survival and power always go to the bold. Civilization has not anesthetized our attraction to alpha-males, and this is even truer among Rush's flock. The only way to overcome our perception of weakness is to directly challenge the pundits who are slandering and libeling us with lies.

Rush's fans may be simple-thriving on anger-but they are not dumb. For instance, if Rush were caught molesting a little boy his career would be over tomorrow. His fans would never stand for that. He may not be that bad, but he is vulnerable.

Democrats need to frame the way people perceive Rush. In the past week alone, his comments have careered toward an outright defense of Foley's behavior; he is a company spokesman, calling the sky green and the grass blue for a paycheck; he is a hit man, as Clinton described him; he is a drug addict; he is an elitist, richer than most of the Democrats he trash-talks; he is prideful, often referring to himself as talent on loan from God; and worst of all, he does all his trash talking into a microphone from the safety of a heavily secured cave-pretty gutless.

If Democrats tweaked all their comments up to the pitch of tough-as-hell indignity and made these pundits the subject rather than the interpreters of the news, they could neutralize the right wing "noise machine" and get back control of Congress.
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Dean Powers lives in Castleton, VT. He has apprenticed at several newspapers including The Nation. He currently writes for OpEdNews. He can be found at

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