By Chez Pazienza: I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but Rush is right.
Yesterday in my regular column here, I mentioned how the right-wing media isn't simply circling the wagons to defend Mitt Romney's secretly recorded comments regarding 47% of the country, they're actually going on the offensive and rallying loudly behind him and his willingness to acknowledge what they see as an epic struggle for the soul of America. Romney shocked a lot of people by basically putting Americans into two classes, divided almost equally, then throwing half of them under the bus, saying that the portion of the nation he can't be bothered to care about is made up of victims and those who believe that they're entitled to government handouts and who'll vote for Barack Obama no matter what. Yes, it's drawn all kinds of vitriol from most sane, not-sociopathic Americans who don't consider themselves freeloaders and who certainly don't see their financial troubles during the Wall Street-engineered Great Recession as an indictment of their character. But not everyone thinks that Romney's unfiltered moment of channeling Ayn Rand in front of a group of millionaires is a fatal curse on his campaign. In fact, they see it as a blessing -- one not even in disguise.
As Rush Limbaugh puts it, this little accident -- the one that many say has put the final nail in the Romney campaign's coffin -- is actually a "golden opportunity."
And he's right. It is. Not simply for conservatives but for everyone -- every American voter.
Limbaugh's claim is not only that Mitt Romney is right in his assessment that there's a steadily growing "taker" class in this country which is content to sit on its ass and leech off the supposed hard work of the "makers," but that it's an argument that should've been front-and-center in the presidential race from the very beginning. In the minds of Limbaugh and the rest of the far-right, the only thing stopping the rallying cry of the resentful from being shouted from the rooftops has been a lack of balls on the part of Romney, who obviously and somewhat wisely considered such stridency to be politically toxic. But now, thanks to Romney being forced out into the open and put in a position where he really has no choice but to cop to what he espouses when he thinks the cameras are off, the most important debate to be had in this election is actually possible. The far-right never wanted to see Romney run on the platform of being Republican X, basically a generic alternative to Barack Obama; it wanted an actual battle of ideals, which is why so many conservative mouthpieces pissed themselves with joy when Romney chose Randian Superman Paul Ryan as his running mate, then reacted with outrage and exasperation when the campaign neutered him right out of the gate.
Now, at long last, thanks to the actions of someone who had nothing at all to do with wanting to see Mitt Romney elected president, they have the fight to the death they've longed for, because now Romney has to run as what he is: an unapologetic multi-millionaire who thinks that a lack of wealth directly correlates to laziness and who believes that any form of government assistance merely perpetuates the nanny state and encourages poor people to stay poor. He's a guy who believes that naked, unchecked greed is never a bad thing and certainly isn't to blame for the mess we're currently in. Like General Buck Turgidson in Dr. Strangelove, Limbaugh and his ilk are seizing the opportunity, now that the bombers are already in the air and the wheels are in motion, to go ahead and do what they've always wanted to anyway: nuke their enemy.
The only problem is this: What happens if Romney throws off all caution and flies the flag of callous modern conservatism high for the next month and a half -- then loses anyway? Despite it having been the glorious battle of political philosophies the right has wished for over the past several years, will Limbaugh and the like be willing to acknowledge that they lost because Americans soundly rejected their conservative ideals, or will they, ironically, retreat to a position of blaming the man rather than the message? Will they simply argue that Romney, northeastern RINO wimp that he is, wasn't the right vessel to carry their water? That he wasn't enough of a True Believer? I can't imagine the far-right being willing to admit that it's wrong and that the American people simply don't want what it's offering and don't accept its vision for the country. If anything, more and more I can't see the Republican party responding to a loss in any way other than to track even farther to the right, to dig in their heels and refuse to submit or even compromise. Because guys like Limbaugh are never wrong. They can't be wrong.
As it turns out, though, he's not wrong about at least one thing: Whether Romney wanted it or not, we've now been given a very clear choice this November.