Nearly every organization has a symbol and spokesman that serve as a brand identifier, and like McDonalds’ golden arches and Ronald McDonald, the Republican Party has a red-white-and-blue elephant and Rush Limbaugh. There have been numerous debates regarding whether Limbaugh controls the GOP or if he is just their mouthpiece, but one thing is certain; he is the Republican Party’s brand. It is not just Limbaugh’s remarks to the Georgetown law student that identifies him with Republicans and their assault on women’s right to choose their own reproductive health; it is everything he champions from supporting Paul Ryan’s Draconian budget to his shameless defense of the man who murdered Trayvon Martin in Florida.
The furor over Limbaugh’s use of the words “slut” and “prostitute” prompted most of his advertisers to pull their ads from his radio program, but his employer, Clear Channel Premiere has stood by him with unwavering support. Limbaugh’s boss, Bob Pittman, claimed Limbaugh’s remarks about Fluke were “part of the normal day-to-day of talk radio” and that Rush was still the king. There is a reason Limbaugh was not summarily fired after losing advertisers and it is not necessarily that Premiere likes losing ad revenue; it is more likely that Republicans depend on Limbaugh to parrot their agenda to his audience of gun-toting sycophants, opponents of the Affordable Care Act, fiscal conservatives, and racists.
The assault on Sandra Fluke was disgusting, but no Republicans condemned his misogynistic remarks because they served their purpose of inciting opposition to contraception coverage among the religious right. Limbaugh is not known for his veracity, but he made a remark that rings true with Republicans that “his listeners didn’t think his remarks were that big of a deal to begin with” and he is probably correct and it is why he turned the Trayvon Martin case into an indictment of President Obama and support for the National Rifle Association.
According to Pew Research, 76% of Limbaugh’s audience supports the NRA and it is little wonder he has defended Trayvon Martin’s killer and, in effect, the “Stand Your Ground Law” supported by the NRA and ALEC. Limbaugh has attempted to portray the killing as an “overzealous” act by a guy who “wants to be a cop” and that there “are people trying to fan the flames of this rather than cool it down at the highest levels.” Limbaugh told his audience “we know who the people trying to benefit from this are, and you would think that people would want to try to douse it, cool it off a little bit.” Limbaugh could not care less about the controversy, but he is duty-bound to parrot the NRA myth that President Obama intends to take real Americans’ guns away and it plays well during an election year which appears to be Limbaugh’s job, and invoking racially divisive rhetoric will endear him to racists.
Limbaugh never met a Republican policy he did not like and as Draconian as the Paul Ryan budget that passed in the House on Thursday is, Limbaugh has supported it with zeal as “our kids’ salvation” and claimed that Democrats, “the architects of our debt disaster, have no right to attack Paul Ryan’s budget.” The budget that passed in the House yesterday will add to the deficit while destroying Medicare, cut aid to children, send more Americans into poverty, and give the ultra-wealthy a 10% tax cut on top of their Bush-era cuts. Limbaugh’s defense of the Ryan budget most likely came directly from Ryan and the GOP because it is a nearly word-for-word reiteration from Ryan’s promotional video touting the benefits of giving tax cuts to the wealthy while slashing safety nets millions of Americans depend on to survive. Limbaugh is the Republican Party and he is going to be around as long as they need him to promote their policies.
Rush is facing the biggest threat of his career after his vulgar remarks about Sandra Fluke, and despite his claims to the contrary, he must be worried or he would not have mobilized a counter-offensive against the left. He has downplayed the effect of losing advertisers at the same time he created a crisis management team to attack the various groups intent on getting him off the air, but he underestimates the resolve of the StopRush and BoycottRush movement that are in this campaign for the long haul. It is possible that Clear Channel can absorb Limbaugh’s bloated salary for some time, but the hundreds of local affiliates that carry his program cannot and will not continue carrying his show if they begin losing advertising revenue.
Republicans need Limbaugh on the air to promote their agendas, and his fortunes are tied to theirs. Limbaugh and the Republicans in Congress and state legislatures will discover that people are fed up with tax cuts for the rich, GOP’s assault on contraception and women’s rights, and attempts to eliminate safety nets for millions of Americans, and recent polls do not bode good fortune for Republicans in November. Rush Limbaugh’s supporters will not abandon him because he reflects their beliefs or he would have been off the air by now, and they agree with his ideology of defaming women, African Americans, and President Obama while he defends a killer. But he has went too far and enraged an army of committed, decent Americans who will not rest until he is gone for good and if he thinks for one second that he can manage this crisis, he is sadly mistaken. In every community that carries his radio show, there is a steady call to drop his program and as the effort ramps up, they will either drop his show, or lose their audiences.
It is a sad commentary that a hate-filled man like Limbaugh represents a segment of the population who will rally to protect him as much as it is tragic there are Americans who support Republican policies that are detrimental to their own interests. However, like Republicans, Limbaugh fails to recognize that in attacking an intelligent young woman and defending a man that killed an unarmed teenager, they have awoken decent Americans from their malaise and they will make them pay dearly in November, and as the Republicans go, so goes Limbaugh. Americans have had enough of Limbaugh and based on the response to the StopRush movement, they are more than willing to stay the course until he is off the air for good. He made a bad judgment call in labeling Ms. Fluke a slut and a prostitute, but playing the race card against President Obama and defending George Zimmerman has incited outrage among people of all colors and Limbaugh, like Republicans, will not recover. Republicans need Limbaugh to promote their agenda of contempt for the poor, women, and minorities, but they underestimated the consequences of tying their brand to a hate-monger. Perhaps the next time the Republican Party chooses a hate-monger as their brand, they will look back and see what a disaster forming a symbiotic relationship with Rush Limbaugh turned out to be, but chances are they will be too focused on the next campaign to hurt the poor and enrich the wealthy. The StopRush movement is in its infancy and their efforts pressured nearly 200 of Limbaugh’s advertisers to suspend or stop their commitment to support his program, and their anger is only tempered by their resolve to put Limbaugh in the same place they will put Republicans; out of a job and out of Americans’ misery.