Thomas Sowell
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As if it is not enough that they have been decimated by the Democrats in the past couple of elections, the Republican survivors are now turning their guns on each other.

At the heart of these internal battles have been attacks on Rush Limbaugh by Republicans who imagine themselves to be so much more sophisticated because they are so much more in step with the political fashions of the time.

New Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele's cheap shot at Rush's program as "ugly" set off the latest round of in-fighting. That is the kind of thing that is usually said by liberals who have never listened to the program.

Regular listeners to the Rush Limbaugh program or subscribers to the Limbaugh newsletter know that both contain far more factual information and in-depth analysis than in the programs or writings of pundits with more of a ponderous tone or intellectual airs.

Why Michael Steele found it necessary to say such a thing-- except as a sop to the liberal intelligentsia-- is one of the many mysteries of the Republican Party. Steele has since apologized to Rush but you cannot unring the bell.

More important, the mindset it betrays is at the heart of many of the problems of the Republican Party, going back for years, long before Michael Steele appeared on the scene.

There has long been an element of the Republican Party that has felt a need to distance themselves from people who stand up for conservative principles, whether those with principles have been Ronald Reagan, Rush Limbaugh or whomever.

The latest example is John McCain's daughter, who has said how embarrassed she is by having to explain Ann Coulter to her friends. If it wasn't for articulate conservatives like Ann Coulter, both the Republican Party and the country would be in even worse shape than they are now, for there are extremely few articulate Republican politicians who can make the case for any principle. Certainly Ms. McCain's father is not one of them.

The only time John McCain led Barack Obama in the polls last year was after Governor Sarah Palin joined the ticket. The economic collapse doomed their candidacies but McCain would have had no chance at all with another inconsistent and inarticulate Republican like himself on the ticket.

Yet many in the Republican Party seem to have felt as embarrassed by Governor Palin as they have been by others who articulated principles, instead of trying to be in step with the fashions of the time-- fashions set by liberals.

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Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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