Monday, February 09, 2009

Operation Chaos, Phase Two

I was in a liquor store a few weeks ago trying to pick up some whiskey to use in my home-brewed medicinal tonic - roughly equal parts of lemon, honey, and whiskey, with a splash of water thrown in to tone things down a bit. I had just about used up the bottle of Bushmills Original that I bought for making cookies at Christmas - that stuff does not last long when you're making batch after batch of cookies! - and I wanted to try a brand of Irish whiskey called Feckin, to see if it came any closer to Paddy. (It does, a little.)

I went to the Whiskey/Bourbon/Scotch section of the liquor store, to the Irish Whiskey subsection. I started to glance over the names of the bottles in search of Feckin - and keep in mind, this is Pennsylvania, where the liquor sales are controlled by the state and the options are few. I noticed that the radio in the store was turned up pretty loud, and was playing rock music, which seemed odd.

And then the rock music faded down, and an all-too-familiar voice began to gust out of the speakers.

Rush Limbaugh is a pompous, obnoxious, overbearing blowhard. When his twisted, egocentric worldview is being thrust at you at maximum volume in a public place, it can become very difficult to focus on anything else. Even on seeing the name on a bottle of whiskey that is directly in front of you.

I was able to muster my Zen focus to shut out Limbaugh's voice long enough to let the letters on the labels form words in front of me. I spotted the bottle marked "Feckin", wrapped my fingers around the neck, carried it to the counter, and checked out. (I also picked up a box of Cabernet Sauvignon and a tiny bottle of Cabo Wabo, identical to the one my sister got me as a souvenir from Cabo San Lucas. At least now I'll have a chance to see what that tastes like! Eventually.)

What Limbaugh was going on about was how proud he was that he had arranged a "bipartisan" rejection of President Obama's Recovery Bill - meaning that a handful of Democrats had joined in with a wall of Republicans in voting against it. If the President wanted to know how he should write the Recovery Bill, Limbaugh averred, he would be only too happy to drop by and tell him how to do it.

I couldn't get out of there fast enough.

Rush Limbaugh, a chickenhawk who managed to avoid doing any actual military service in Vietnam, anointed himself a "General" in "Operation Chaos", an attempt to undermine democracy itself by undermining the Democratic Primary process.

Operation Chaos failed. Rush Limbaugh failed.

But Limbaugh isn't done yet. Not while he has a contract that pays him an estimated $38 million a year through 2016. And I believe that Operation Chaos isn't done yet. This is a man who less than four weeks ago, in response to a request for four hundred words on his hopes for the Obama presidency, summed it up in four: "I hope he fails."

The Bush Presidency was a nightmare on so many levels, a continuous train wreck where the most that those of us on the outside could hope to achieve was a level of damage control. The Obama Presidency inherited that wreckage, and is faced with the daunting task of rebuilding something out of it. And Rush Limbaugh, backed by his army of obedient Dittohead followers, has set out to undermine the Obama Presidency in any way possible.

Limbaugh has done a good job on hamstringing the Recovery Bill through an organized campaign of Dittohead pressure on members of Congress, making sure that his talking points are the ones that are repeated, over and over. And President Obama has failed to learn the one lesson that he could legitimately have learned from his predecessor: never compromise. So now the plan that Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman criticized for being too small has been trimmed and modified to appease the Congressional Republicans who insist that their long-discredited plan is the only way to fiscal salvation. And what is left is a bastardized hybrid that represents neither the Democratic plan, nor the Republican plan, but a mash-up of parts of both. In a perverse way, this may be the ideal compromise: If it succeeds, both sides can claim victory, but if it fails, both sides can blame the concessions made to the other for its failure.

And if it fails - when it fails - General Rush Limbaugh will sit back somewhere, take a puff from his cigar, and laugh. And chalk up a victorious battle for Operation Chaos.

What does he care about economic recovery? He's got a contract. He's got his $38 million a year. Economic recovery is for the little people.

Like you and me.

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