Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Man in the Mirror

"I'm starting with the man in the mirror. I'm asking him to change his ways. No message could have been any clearer - if you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change."

Michael Jackson understands personal responsibility...or something. Maybe, at the very least, he should be commended for putting "Man in the Mirror" on Bad. I appreciate the sentiment of the song because it touches on a classic pillar of wisdom: humility.

If I can be forgiven for the presumptuousness, I think the Republican Party could benefit from reading the lyrics of the song. (If you can't tell, the picture depicts Rush Limbaugh as Jabba the Hut and Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican Party, as the enslaved Princess Leia.)

A recent survey from Gallup indicates that most Republicans can't find consensus on a man or woman who can speak for or lead their party. According to the survey, Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich were the top 2 picks with 10% each. This is somewhat surprising since neither of them is an elected official; Newt hasn't been in Congress since 1999.

As a (mostly)life-long Democrat, I certainly won't lose any sleep over anxiety about the state of the GOP. Nevertheless, I prefer it when all government institutions are functioning efficiently and coherently. The intra-party tumult of recent months seems to preclude efficiency or coherence, especially since a radio talk show host is dominating the conversation right now.

One of the unfortunate consequences of Mr. Limbaugh being the most prominent Republican voice is that the criticism of the president, and the set of alternatives which accompany it, is fairly narrow and devoid of nuance. And, of course, such an aversion to nuance betrays the legitimate and reasonable arguments of the Republican Party. Mr. Limbaugh's response to President Obama's Cairo speech is a great example of this. Even a cursory examination of the radio program transcript will show the shrill, nit-picky heckling of the president. Rather than commenting on the overall purpose and effectiveness of the speech(or lack thereof), Limbaugh chose to dispute a long list of minute details like the true origin of algebra.

If Rush Limbaugh truly represents the core values of an average Republican, I fear for the organizational solvency of the GOP in the coming years. My guess is that a dwindling number of citizens will find self-identification with the likes of Rush.

Like Apollo Creed searching Philadelphia for a worthy opponent, I'm waiting for the day when a conservative politician gains enough admiration and respect to be able to pick up the phone and say, "Shut the hell up, Rush." Until that day, the mutant identity crisis will roll onward.

It's interesting that someone would create the Jabba/Rush image; I wonder if they meant to suggest that, although Jabba is the one holding the chains, soon enough Princess Leia will deftly strangle the monstrous blob with his own instrument of torture.

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