Various news sources have reported that radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh challenged President Obama to a debate, ostensibly on the issues of the day.
I find this to be really curious. Mostly because while Limbaugh is a self-styled pundit (thanks to my fellow EMS blogger TOTWTYTR for pointing this out to me – he is quite right about this) he is not the leader of the Republican Party. That is the job of Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee. From what I’ve seen and heard, Steele has been tripping over his own tongue recently. On a CNN broadcast last week he went out of his way to criticize Limbaugh. In return, Steele got mashed on Limbaugh’s radio show. And Steele reportedly went out of his way to make nice with the owner of the Attila the Hun chair.
Why do I mention this? Well, it’s looks like Steele made an ass of himself as well as making the RNC and the Party. And it’s interesting that Limbaugh would call the President out; by doing this, some would say that he’s assuming a de facto leadership role in the GOP.
While I agree that Steele tripped over his own tongue (and he really is an idiot – just watch him sometime and you’ll see what I mean), I disagree that Limbaugh is trying to position himself to lead the Republicans. I think it is more of an attempt to, on one hand, galvanize the GOP to become more active before the next election in 2010. On the other, I think he’s doing his best to antagonize his listeners, for the same reason. He does have a liberal listening base in among the large number of conservative listeners, but his attitude, described as a “take no prisoners” mentality, bothers many. Including me. I have a hard time with someone who is unable or unwilling to consider multiple sides of an issue. But then he has never had to do that, and his philosophy is simple: his view is the only view, and listeners tune in to his show to listen to his view.
Like him or not, he has the right to do this under the First Amendment. And that’s fine; there are others who say what they believe under the protection of the First Amendment, and they are also entitled.
As for a debate? I don’t think it will happen. Why? Right now, the President has his hands full. Whether or not he would want to, I simply don’t think he has time.