The Republicans just got whacked hard by the voters. They have to show everyone they’re not a bunch of clowns. So what does Limbaugh do? He bitch slaps the new chairman of the party. In public. He could have straightened out Steele by telephone. But Limbaugh wanted everybody to see him dressing down the one man now in charge of the Republican Party.

Rush knows what he is doing. The worse conservatives do, the more important Rush becomes as leader of the ardent remnant. The better conservatives succeed, the more we become a broad national governing coalition, the more Rush will be sidelined.
I guess.  Frum describes rational calculation, selfish but rational. But I can see Limbaugh playing out his little feud on sheer reflex.  If you can push someone around, push him around — that seems to be the wingnuts’ ruling principle. These people are programmed to glom onto attention and self-importance.
Obviously, the feud is good news for the country. In a best case, the wingnuts drop the Republican Party and it breaks apart. In a medium case, the party gets maued-maued over and over and comes across as a crippled entity. In a worst case — there is no worst case.
UPDATE: Via Andrew Sullivan, a funny bit by a guy named Christopher Orr over at The New Republic. Rare to find a liberal who can do clever stuff with words.

I would like to clarify a comment I made yesterday that has caused me untold heartache and remorse. When I described Rush Limbaugh as the “clown prince of the GOP” I intended my words to be understood entirely as a compliment. Mr. Limbaugh is self-evidently royalty in the deepest, most God-given sense of the word–yet he is still approachable, a wise and kindly jester beloved by children and animals. Not like those Kennedys.

I am filled with shame that my words may have been misunderstood, or worse, twisted by those jealous of Mr. Limbaugh. I have been unable to eat or sleep or laugh or enjoy prescription medication, and the hours that my unintended calumny was allowed to stand will weigh heavily on my conscience in the years to come. So let me set the record straight: I formally retract, for the record and without exception, any negative implication that might be inferred from anything I have said about Mr. Limbaugh, and from anything I might say at any time in the future. Indeed, I strongly recommend such “pretractions” to anyone who worries they might inadvertently slander Mr. Limbaugh–especially, though not exclusively, those who hope to work in Republican politics in the next several years.

Rush Limbaugh is the physical embodiment of otherwise irreconcilable gifts: puppies and war eagles, moonbeams and space-based lasers, Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne and Eddie Murphy pre-Golden Child. He is chocolate cake, bacon, and a stiff shot of rye rolled into one, but not fattening. He is a leader not only of his party and this nation, but of the entire Milky Way, which spins reverently about his lordly axis. He is the alpha and omega, the ne plus ultra, the capo di tutti capi. He is America, minus any of the bad stuff.

Forgive me for ever implying otherwise.

Christopher Orr