We have had a request for a post on the Rush Limbaugh phenomena, and here at Greater New York always aim to please our loyal readers. First, this question of wanting political opponents in power to fail is always tricky. Now, I was not glad that Bush so badly screwed up the rescue efforts after Hurricane Katrina, which ended up costing almost 2,000 lives and countless billions in damages, and I wish he had been more efficient, and that Brownie actually had done a heckuva job, but on some level I was delighted that Bush was exposed for the callous ineffectual bumbler that he was, and that Katrina, opened, as it were, the floodgates, for mainstream criticism of his actions. Wanting the government to fail is something you may secretly want, but it generally something you can’t afford to say publicly, and generally its something you only sort of want, as if it could occur without the pain of failure. Bush designed the whole War in Iraq to intimidate potential critics, from the vote on war authorization to his lackeys who kept on saying that if you don’t support the president, you don’t support the troops. I was very, very sorry about the tragic loss of life, American and Iraqi, in the war, but I was glad on some level that on May 1, 2003, the “mission” actually was not “accomplished.” It was a lesson we as a nation very much needed to learn, and I only hope that we have learned it. And whatever Limbaugh actually feels, to say he wants Obama to fail, which means that he is hoping for governmental interventions to curtail the growing recession to be ineffectual, and for Obama to be overmastered by a Hoover-like depression and the expanding immiseration of the American people, so that the Republicans might win an election, is just something that can’t be said publicly.
But the broader point is that the political discourse of this country has shifted several degrees to the left since the election of Obama,and its less what Obama himself has said but the general aura that surrounds the administration. Major cable news networks, now allot air time to lefty commentators like Amy Goodman, who a few years back would have treated as a mere fringe player. Now their heads can talk. And the question is no longer whether Obama is a liberal, but whether he is a socialist, and whether he will nationalize the banks—a subject that six months ago was not even been discussed in places like The Nation. And the Republicans have a choice, as they had in the 1930s, of moving to the left, with the general political tenor of the country, or remaining where they are on the far right. And Limbaugh, uneasily, reminds them that the modern Republican party has been based on trashing, despising, and ridiculing liberalism, at a time when many Republicans are eager to become more “moderate.” What can I say, Rush Limbaugh is their creation, their petard, and long may they be hoist by him. And once again Greater New York does take requests, and would be happy to entertain at your next party or business meeting.