There's a reason Rahm Emanuel is happy to agree with Rush Limbaugh's assertion that he, the Great Rushbo, is the de facto leader of the Republican opposition: Limbaugh turns off middle-class, middle of the road voters. An Obama vs Limbaugh battle is not one the White House is going to lose. Indeed it's hard to think of a better way for the Republican party to marginalise itself and reinforce the impression, held by many voters, that it's little more than a rump of pop-eyed angry white men. This impression may be inaccurate but there you have it. David Frum is, as you might expect, depressed by this:
Rush knows what he is doing. The worse conservatives do, the more important Rush becomes as leader of the ardent remnant. The better conservatives succeed, the more we become a broad national governing coalition, the more Rush will be sidelined.
But do the rest of us understand what we are doing to ourselves by accepting this leadership? Rush is to the Republicanism of the 2000s what Jesse Jackson was to the Democratic party in the 1980s. He plays an important role in our coalition, and of course he and his supporters have to be treated with respect. But he cannot be allowed to be the public face of the enterprise – and we have to find ways of assuring the public that he is just one Republican voice among many, and very far from the most important.
Doubtless this will lead to the usual complaints that Frum's a fraud, a sell-out and an intellectual snob. All this could be true and none of it would prohibit Frum being right.