Jonah Goldberg

Here we go again. Rush Limbaugh is public enemy No. 1.

Liberal bloggers and media chin-strokers are aghast at Limbaugh's statement that he hopes Barack Obama fails.

Well, given what Obama wants to do, I hope he fails too. Of course I want the financial crisis to end -- who doesn't? But Obama's agenda is much more audacious. Pretty much every major news outlet in the country has said as a matter of objective analysis that Obama wants to repeal the legacy of Ronald Reagan and remake the country as a European welfare state. And yet people are shocked that conservatives, Limbaugh included, want Obama to fail in this effort?

What movie have they been watching? Because I could swear that opposing the expansion of big government is what conservatives do. It's Aesopian. The scorpion must sting the frog. The conservative must object to socialized medicine.

Besides, since when did hoping for the failure of ideological agendas you disagree with become unpatriotic? Liberals were hardly treasonous when they hoped for the failure of George W. Bush's Social Security privatization scheme.

Regardless, the war on Limbaugh from the left is a tired rehash. In 1995, Bill Clinton tried to blame the Oklahoma City bombing on Rush. In 2002, then-Sen. Tom Daschle, the leader of the Democratic opposition, claimed that Limbaugh's listeners weren't "satisfied just to listen." They were a violent threat to decent public servants like him.

In just the last month, Obama suggested that Republicans were in thrall to Rush. White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has anointed him the GOP's leader. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., complained that Republicans didn't give Obama enough standing ovations during his recent address to Congress because they are afraid of Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

Does anyone really think that Republicans, absent fear of Limbaugh's lash, would be throwing flower petals at Obama's feet as he sells the Great Society II? If that's true, I say thank goodness for Limbaugh's lash.

Just because the Democrats' shtick is old and often dishonest doesn't mean it's tactically dumb. Limbaugh and other right-wing talkers are popular with a third of the country. Fairly or not, they turn off moderates and self-described independents (and, for the left, conservative talk radio is the font of all evil). Most politicians would prefer to have 70 percent of the public on their side at the cost of losing 30 percent, even if that requires being less than fair to the 30 percent.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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