Like Tim F, I think it is smart for Democrats to make Rush Limbaugh the face of the Republican party. It’s smart because Rush is an unBurkean cancer on the Republican party, or whatever it is Brooks likes to say, because disliking Rush is one of those 80/20 propositions Patrick Ruffini likes so much, and because the Republican party does in fact seem to take its marching orders from El Rushbo.
I wasn’t surprised that the people at the Politico think Democrats should cower in fear of Rush and his silly-putty-mailing army. I was surprised, though, to see that George Lakoff, author of Don’t Think Of an Elephant and the father of liberal “framing” thinks Rush-baiting is a bad idea too:
The effectiveness of the conservative message machine led to Obama making a rare mistake in communication, the mistake of saying out loud in Florida not to think of Rush Limbaugh, thus violating the first rule of framing and giving Rush Limbaugh even greater power.
I don’t buy this at all. Rush already has complete power in the Republican party and I don’t see how he’s going to expand that to include independents and Democrats. Anyway, blaming it on the Limbaughda is just calling it like it is.
When I read Lakoff’s book, I thought it was brilliant. But it also seemed a bit pie-in-the-sky — winning the environmental battle by making voters think of Mother Earth and all that.
Is this framing stuff the liberal answer to Burkean bells? Just some high-brow nonsense that gives an intellectual veneer to a half-baked PR strategy? I don’t know the answer, but I’m skeptical of any philosophy that opposes using an oxycontin-addicted egomaniac as foil.