Fox News channel media analyst Howard Kurtz commented on President Obama’s recent interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo about how some Republican congressman had told him they were “worried about what Rush Limbaugh is going to say about me on the radio” if they didn’t try to defund Obamacare.
Kurtz pounced on the disingenuous Obama claim:
“Really? A guy with a microphone is preventing the president of the United States from getting his way on Capitol Hill? Is Rush that powerful?”
Let’s unpack this a bit. As the nation’s most powerful radio broadcaster, Limbaugh is an unquestioned force on the right. But when Republicans (who probably do want to defund ObamaCare but don’t want the political risks of a government shutdown) invoke him, what they’re really saying is they fear a backlash from conservatives powered by the likes of Limbaugh.
Kurtz points out that Obama’s claim may fire-up the OFA fringe, but might actually have an unintended effect in the long-run:
So Obama was indulging in a bit of shorthand by saying his problem is El Rushbo–and in the process elevated Limbaugh to his level.
Did Limbaugh let that one pass? Not a chance.
“I am the reason he can’t move his agenda forward,” he proclaimed to listeners, “which of course is silly because he’s getting everything he wants. He blamed me again. I mean, it’s like a broken record.” Limbaugh’s analysis is that “nobody is listening to Obama anymore.” (For the record, he insisted that “the Republicans are not listening to me!”)
According to Kurtz, Obama’s mistake in targeting Rush as the opposition is a repeat of President Bill Clinton’s strategy after the Oklahoma City bombing:
Bill Clinton made the same mistake. In the early 1990s, when Limbaugh was not yet the dominant radio force he is today, Clinton complained about how Rush had three hours a day to say whatever he wanted about the White House. Then they got into it over whether Limbaugh had helped create a climate of fear before the Oklahoma City bombing.