In his eight full years as the recipient of endless vile, often-delusional slander, President George W. Bush rarely grumbled, much less counterattacked his tormentors. Yet before he completed his first week in office, President Barack Obama -- a dedicated disciple of Saul Alinsky, who is to left-wing radicalism and social agitation what Karl Marx is to communism -- declared war on Rush Limbaugh.
This was a calculated move by a man who professes to be open to all ideas but apparently brooks no dissent. He not only does not tolerate dissent well but also really doesn't even like to be questioned, as we saw during the campaign, when he accused the normally fawning press of grilling him for merely asking a follow-up question. We caught another glimpse of this last week, when he showed irritation at the White House press corps for daring to ask him a policy question after he had decreed that the sole purpose of his visit was to press the flesh.
But Obama's effort to target Rush is not just his ego at work. He has begun a full-court press to advance his extreme left-wing agenda and was angling both to garner enough Republican support to insulate himself against future accountability for failure and to validate his self-styled image as a bipartisan uniter.
That's why he invited a group of Beltway conservatives for dinner, in a move reminiscent of Hillary Clinton's "listening tour" -- as if discerning observers believe that listening, as opposed to projecting an image of openness, was either Clinton's or Obama's purpose. That's why he surrounded himself with big-business CEOs as he unveiled his misnamed "stimulus" package. That's why he often throws meaningless, abstract bones to conservatives in his speeches while having no intention of diluting his specific concrete liberal policies.
Obama is savvy enough to realize he can't eliminate all dissent. But he's enough of an Alinskyite to know that marginalizing and demonizing his strongest opponents could intimidate the fainthearted into supporting or withholding criticism of his policies and increase his chances for success.
Perhaps Alinsky would couch Obama's strategy in different terms, but it is essentially a divide-and-conquer approach. Make no mistake: The goal is to single Rush out and pick him off.
So Obama is trying to parlay his extraordinarily high approval rating to lay a foundation for his shock troops in the press and the party apparatus to discredit and eventually compromise or silence Rush.