The Corner

Rush to Judgment

Kathryn, in all the Rush-bashing, I was more disturbed by Michael Steele’s wretched performance. His initial reaction — that Rush’s show is “incendiary” and “ugly” — revealed:

a) that he never listens to it;

b) that he takes his cues from the mainstream media, for whom Rush is invariably “angry”. They don’t listen either. Rush is a lot of things, but “angry” isn’t one of them. If you catch him for 20 minutes, you know he’s full of fun, laughing it up, having a grand old time. There are a lot of angry talkshow hosts out there bellowing at the world for three hours a day, but Rush isn’t one of them. (Full disclosure: I guesthost for Rush once in a while, and regard it as a signal honor for a sinister foreigner such as myself.)

This first reaction is disturbing for two reasons: first, given the size of Rush’s audience, it’s something an RNC chairman should not be so obviously foreign to; second, it’s not encouraging when the de facto face of the party accepts so unthinkingly the liberal/media framing of the issue.

Then we come to Mr. Steele’s second response – his reaction to the reaction to his original reaction: By apologizing for his first remarks, he opened the door for his DNC opposite number to make sport of the way he was kowtowing to the “ugly” Limbaugh. So a man who apparently shares the elite’s disdain for Rush and his audience nevertheless feeds the impression that the Republican leadership is prostrate at his feet: the worst of both worlds. 

In two brief soundbites, Mr. Steele has managed to suggest to his own party base that he has a lazy disposition that reflexively shares the liberal biases, and to allow the wider world to portray him as a craven squish. This is not encouraging. At the very minimum, he does not appear ready for primetime.

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.