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Who Will Slay the Limbaugh Dragon?

I know, I know. This subject has been talked to death. But there is a huge vacuum at the top of the Republican Party that is currently being filled by Rush Limbaugh’s ever-expanding ego. We’re about half-way through some Joseph Campbell hero cycle, where many noble challengers have boldly stepped forward to slay the beast but all have been forced to kneel and kiss the cyst. Eventually, someone put a hand on Jeremiah Wright’s shoulder and said "look, this isn’t helping," and he stepped off the stage. Everyone knows that’s not going to happen with Rush.

The GOP built Limbaugh up, and now they’re stuck with him — left to lob dirt bombs of faint hypocrisy at Barack Obama and Robert Gibbs who, much like the rest of us, are guilty of little more than an inability to control their laughter. Pundits are sputtering and pearl-clutching about the unseemly efforts of Carville, Begala and Greenberg to make the Republicans wear Limbaugh around their necks, but it rings pretty hollow after years of fawning praise for "boy genius" Karl Rove running skunk works out of the White House. As the country wakes up to how truly repugnant Rush is, there’s seemingly nobody with the moral authority to drive him back into his hole.

I was having a conversation last night about the fact that someone in the GOP could make a name for themselves taking on Rush, but it would have to be the right person. Newt may think it’s him, but his negatives are probably as high as Rush’s, and they’d just drag the whole thing further into the mud. Jim Baker may have the gravitas, but he has operated in the background for so long he’s not really a household word. My top pick was Orrin Hatch, whose social conservative credentials are good, but so far he has shown no appetite for the task. Palin, like Jindal, Pawlenty and Cantor, is too much of a lightweight. The only reason anyone listens to them is because nobody’s listening to Boehner, so his bellyaching is useless.

Someone suggested Huntsman, who quickly spotted how weak Jindal was and made headlines accusing him of "gratuitous political griping." He’s hugely popular in Utah with an 80% approval rating, and seems to be positioning himself as an outspoken party reformer. Could Limbaugh swallow him whole, like he’s doing with the rest of the party? Possibly. It may also be a matter of timing — the story is amusing now but wearing thin fast. A few days, a week, a month from now, Limbaugh will not have tired of the sound of his own voice, but the rest of the country probably will. If someone’s good at picking their moment — and Huntsman seems to be — they may be able to collect Limbaugh’s scalp and resurrect the GOP.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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