The Unsilent Minority
While running for president in 1968, Richard M. Nixon, through his speechwriter Pat Buchanan, famously coined the phrase "the silent majority." History doesn't confirm or deny whether the silent majority existed or not but one thing is clear: Hubert Humphrey, the only man left standing on the left after Bobby Kennedy's assassination and Eugene McCarthy's fade to black, almost overtook Nixon and his so-called silent majority when the vice president finally broke with LBJ's policies in Vietnam in a speech in Utah.
It could be said that Barack Obama won the presidency as much through disaffection with Republican policies as honest affection from his supporters. This is exactly how Richard Nixon won the presidency by a razor-thin margin. Nixon was a more than good enough professional politician to see and exploit the Democratic Party's implosion at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. So, in a way, it's only fitting that the table was turned when a Chicago-based senator won his own quixotic quest for the White House and held his victory speech in the same Grant Park where anti-war protesters were mercilessly beaten by police 40 years earlier.
History being cyclical if nothing else, we've witnessed the GOP's own implosion brought about in part by its own disastrous war policies. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy cheerfully chronicled by the liberal blogosphere. Republicans starting with Rush Limbaugh have shamelessly called for Obama's failure even before he was inaugurated without once considering that wishing for our new president to fail in the greatest collective crisis in our nation's history is to wish for America to fail.
Unfortunately for the Republican party, this unsilent minority, most of America wants him, and America, to succeed. A recent WSJ/NBC poll reveals that President Obama's personal approval rating is close to 70% while his policies get a more tepid but still-impressive 60%. The GOP's hold on Congress had completely evaporated and their presence on Capitol Hill and grip on the White House had disappeared over two successive elections.
They are so bereft of a leader that they're eating their own, launching an offensive on their own newly-elected leader, RNC Chairman Michael Steele, when he grew some backbone for all of 51 minutes and called Rush Limbaugh an "entertainer" whose show was "incendiary" and "ugly." The very fact that the GOP would eat their own to defend Limbaugh conclusively shows that they have made him their de facto leader because their own elected ranks have been decimated to the brink of irrelevance. The best shock troops they can offer are disgraced figures of the past such as Tom DeLay and Newt Gingrich. And, of course, Rush Limbaugh.
William Rivers Pitt said that Barack Obama and his administration no longer have to make Rush Limbaugh the official poster child for the GOP. The GOP is doing that whether or not they intend to. Rush Limbaugh, a man who mocked the 13 year-old First Daughter, a celebrity with Parkinson's and African Americans and Native Americans too many times to count, will prove to be the GOP's albatross. As with George W. Bush these past four years, the Republican Party is in a Brokeback Mountain relationship with Limbaugh- They're simultaneously trying to break with him and run to him.
And if making a stereotypical Republican, an overweight, cigar-sucking, thrice-divorced, morally-palsied, racist Caucasian hypocrite their standard bearer is the GOP's aim, I sincerely hope they succeed.