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March 3, 2009

Toe to toe with Rush Limbaugh, Michael Steele blinked first

In the battle between RNC chairman Michael Steele and talk show host Rush Limbaugh, Steele blinked first.

But the feud may not dissolve anytime soon.

The flap began over the weekend, and has become fodder for cable news shows and political blogs.

Steele made a weekend appearance on the DL Hughley show on CNN, and fielded a question over whether Limbaugh – who had just delivered a fiery speech at the CPAC convention – was the “de facto” head of the Republican Party.

Not so, said Steele. Limbaugh was an entertainer, the former Maryland lieutenant governor said. And he sometimes used “ugly” rhetoric, such as hoping that President Barack Obama’s economic policies would fail.

To be sure, there was no way that Limbaugh would stay quiet. On his radio show yesterday, Limbaugh lashed into Steele.

Limbaugh said Steele needed to focus more attention on backroom party building, and less on being a talking head. Limbaugh accused Steele of being ungrateful after the host had Steele on his show during Steele’s 2006 Senate bid.

After the impact of Limbaugh’s words sank in, Steele had second thoughts. He told Politico’s Mike Allen that he called Limbaugh to apologize.

“I went back at that tape and I realized words that I said weren't what I was thinking," Steele said. "It was one of those things where I thinking I was saying one thing, and it came out differently. What I was trying to say was a lot of people ... want to make Rush the scapegoat, the bogeyman, and he's not."

Some national commentators are painting the flap as a battle for the soul of the Republican Party.

It is also the nation’s first in-depth look at the glib, off-the-cuff Michael Steele – which Marylanders have witnessed for years.

Millions are now learning that Steele’s first instincts are to make comments that while sometimes clever, are not particularly well thought-out in hindsight.
The tendency has been on display locally. In 2005, when asked his view about Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., his political partner, holding a fund-raising event at an all-white country club, Steele responded: "I don't know that much about the club, the membership, nor do I care, quite frankly, because I don't play golf. It's not an issue with me."

He later apologized for appearing to be insensitive.

As a Senate candidate in 2006, he explained his opposition to stem cell research, telling a predominantly Jewish audience in Baltimore that they should understand better than anyone the dangers of experimentation on humans, a clear reference to Nazi-era scientific work.

He later apologized, called the remarks “irresponsible.”

Steele lost the Senate race. He’s no longer lieutenant governor. He’s now got a much more visible platform, though. The stakes are higher.

How many more mistakes will he get?

Posted by David Nitkin at 12:49 PM | | Comments (13)
Categories: Michael Steele
        

Comments

NITKIN,FIRST TIME RED YOUR COLUMN. WHY PICK ON MR. STEELE WHEN OUR COUNTRY IS GOING TO HELL IN A HAND BASKET. HOW OLD ARE YOU.?DO YOU REALIZE WE ARE HEADING TO A SOCIALIST COUNTRY . DO YOU KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT RUSSIA&COMMUNISM, SOCIALISM DEMOCRACY. WRITE SOMETHING ABOUT OUR COUNTRIES PROBLEM WITH THE GIVEAWAY PROGRAMS,BUDGET,DEFICIT ETC.

Rush is no more a Republican spokesman as Jon Stewart or Sean Penn is for the Democrats. Rush is a radio DJ with an entertainment show. He should not be taken seriously. Good for Steele to show him who really is in charge of the party. The sad part is that he will get backlash from the Rush fans who blindly follow everything he says without realizing that he is an entertainer. Controversy brings ratings so Rush will attack anybody, even his own party to get his name in the paper and more listeners to his show.

It is interesting how quickly Steele toed the line once Rush heard, though.

What's wrong with Limbaugh?
I guess he can't accept the fact that the GOP is shrinking and they can no longer make money from the stockmarket.
I guess all those drugs he took shrunk his brain!!
Well the Democrats are the majority now! GET OVER IT!!
THIS IS A CHANGE THAT HAS BEEN NEEDED FOR A LONG TIME!!!

Maybe Michael Steele welcomes the distraction of his spat with Rush Limbaugh.

It draws attention from the new turn his campaign spending controversy has taken:

http://www.wbaltv.com/11investigates/18805463/detail.html

- Steve Lebowitz

GRUNDY & CINDY B:LISTEN TO LIMBAUGH FOR 1 MONTH,LEARN ABUT FREE SPEECH REAGAN WASH.,LINCOLN,CARTER,CLINTON JOHNSON,KENNEDY THAN YOU WILL KNOW THE REST OF THE STORY.PLEASE WAKE UP SAVE U.S.A. 300 YRS. OLD,THE GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD.

US News & World Report finds GOP advisers who want Steele to buckle down, make some personnel decisions, and lay low. And stop giving so many freakin' interviews.

"What is amazing is that Steele was elected because of his communications skills, and it is those skills that are damaging the Republican Party... There is not much patience for failure."

MAPAPIP:

Stop shouting, learn to spell and make actual sense. You are shouting mispelled jibberish.

Joe Biden has mistaken his way into the Vice President's office. I'd say if he were a democrat the sky would be the limit for Michael Steele. To bad for him he's not.

mookworth: You mean "misspelled" ???
Yikes !!!

Dick: mookworth also means "gibberish"! LOL

But he is right about MAPAPIP.

Grundy-- It might have been "good for Steele to show him who was really in charge of the party," if he actually had. He stuck his tail between his legs and apologized almost immediately. Zero spine. And, by the way, when was the last time Tim Kaine (or any prominent Democrat) felt the need to publicly kowtow to Sean Penn? Limbaugh has FAR more influence in the GOP than either of the individuals you mentioned has in the Democratic party. It's not even close.

This is the unofficial name of the new Democratic strategy to exploit conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh and his de facto control of the GOP. Limbaugh is very unpopular with most Americans, but retains a tremendous amount of influence over Republicans. Even RNC Chairman Steele had to apologize to Limbaugh after criticizing his radio show.


Of course, the average conservative American or GOP politician has little to do with Limbaugh, and many wish he would just conveniently die of an OxyContin overdose, or otherwise go quietly into that good night. But he won’t .

To many Americans, Rush is the embodiment of GOP. He is also the archetypal angry white male, and the stereotype of the uneducated, hypocritical “red neck” conservative, given his inability to finish college and his past drug abuse problems.

Even better for Democrats, Limbaugh polls well. He is less popular than the following people:

* Rev. Jeremiah Wright (Obama’s incendiary former pastor)
* William Ayers (former Weather Underground leader)

Among voters under age 40, only 11% had a positive view of him. Which means that support for Limbaugh is well below support for President Bush during his last days in office.

And Limbaugh is perfectly happy to take all this to the bank. Starting with his “I hope he fails” statement about Obama, and then his speech at the recent CPAC gathering, he is embracing this storm of controversy as a ratings bonanza. Good for him. He is a media figure, and like any media figure, he should go where the money is.

Bad for the Republicans, however. Limbaugh is perceived as their media figure, and so now the GOP’s to-do list includes disassociating itself from Limbaugh. Maybe Dick Cheney can waterboard him into silence.

There are, I believe, good, honorable, patriotic conservatives in America. But Rush Limbaugh is not one of them. So conservatives have to ditch Rush before Rush runs the GOP into a ditch forever.

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Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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