Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Sean Hannity Add Up to a Failing Republican Party

Following Rush Limbaugh et al. would keep Republicans in the minority.

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As for the hope for bipartisanship and civility in Washington, forget about it. The blame can be shared by many on the right and the left, but there is little prospect for any of either in today's caldron of bitterness and attack.

While there are more hotheads in conservative ranks, the liberals have their shouters and screamers as well.

For me, cable television and its daily programs of what passes for rational debate are at the top of the list. CNN, Fox, and MSNBC feature guests who are selected for their contrariness. Schedulers know in advance there will be heated back-and-forth for viewing audiences.

Even CNBC, normally an informative channel for business and financial news, has gotten into the act. Fighting it out over the collapse of the stock market and reasons for it provides fodder for testy exchanges of the so-called experts.

Six weeks into the Obama administration, we have witnessed about the same level of bipartisanship as in the closing years of the Bush-Cheney administration. The honeymoon period for the president could be measured in days rather than months, if that long.

Of course, members of Congress in both parties are caught up in the battle of words.

The new GOP national chairman, Michael Steele, and a House Republican were forced to apologize to Rush Limbaugh for their temerity to criticize Rush Limbaugh, the self-anointed leader of the conservative movement. Steele has already demonstrated weakness in backing down to the bombastic Limbaugh, who has challenged the president to a debate. How silly can you get?

Some liberals are miffed at Obama for not moving to end the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan immediately. There are more than mere whispers in the ranks that a President Obama is drifting away from candidate Obama.

The all-or-nothing crowds in both parties consider compromise a dirty word even if it gets some of what they demand. The high-pitched crowd on cable TV has aided that cause.

There is special contempt from me for the strange world of right-wing headliners. In addition to El Jefe Limbaugh, there are Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, the no-tax bully Grover Norquist, and the AK-47-in-every-household Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association. All were speakers at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference. The red meat was flowing from this gang to the appreciative righties.

No one in this crowd wants to listen to Mike Murphy, a sensible GOP consultant in the past to the presidential bids of Lamar Alexander and John McCain. Murphy said the Republicans would ensure themselves minority status and 25 percent of the electorate if they followed Limbaugh et al.

It was left to former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to challenge Limbaugh's hope for an Obama failure. Hardly a moderate, Gingrich said Americans should not wish a president to fail but are free to challenge his policies. Limbaugh's scorched-earth words do not meet that standard.