The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

15 March 2009

Democrats Say They've "Exhausted" Limbaugh Attack Strategy


For Now, Dems Give Up Failed Rush Attack Strategy

Was it the
way he seemed to relish their attacks? Or, were Obama's rapidly-sinking approval numbers to blame?

Whatever the reason, At least for now, Democrats say they're done utilizing an anti- Rush Limbaugh strategy in an attempt to neutralize their political opposition. Now, it's on to something else. For how long, however?

From the Politico:

Beginning Sunday, the White House will harness every part of the Democratic Party’s machinery to defend President Obama’s budget and portray Republicans as reflexively political, according to party strategists.

A participant in the planning meetings described the push as a successor to Democrats’ message that Rush Limbaugh is the Republican Party leader. “We have exhausted the use of Rush as an attention-getter,” the official said.

David Plouffe, manager of Obama’s presidential race, helped design the strategy, which includes the most extensive activation since November of the campaign’s grassroots network. The database—which includes information for at least 10 million donors, supporters and volunteers—will now be used as a unique tool for governing, with former canvassers now being enlisted to mobilize support for the president’s legislative agenda.

Others involved in the planning included White House senior adviser David Axelrod; the DNC chairman, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine; and DNC Executive Director Jennifer O'Malley Dillon.

The plan follows the private complaints of some Democrats that Obama let the GOP get the better of him during the debate over pork in the budget bill he just signed, and growing concerns among some Democrats that charges of big spending could stick to the president.


This is not an easy message war for Democrats. Obama's budget calls for the largest deficit in U.S. history and a doubling of the national debt to $23 trillion in 2019. That is a big, juicy target for the GOP, which plans to hit this theme relentlessly all spring.

Republicans were successful in making earmarks, which accounted for only a sliver of total spending, the centerpiece of debate over the omnibus spending bill. The GOP sees sky-high deficits as similarly easy to explain to the public.

Have the Democrats come to the realization that their failed effort did little more than promote the talk titan's program? Between the radio and television hit pieces (which Rush himself happily highlighted) and the direct attacks on El Rushbo coming straight from the White House, he's likely headed for a significant ratings boost.

In addition, as many have noted, the anti-Rush billboard contest was a disaster, with the winning entry as underwhelming as one could imagine. Some are now wondering whether the West Palm Beach sign will ever be erected.

Another consideration: the Get Rush campaign coincided with rapidly- declining approval ratings for Obama, with an especially- alarming jump in voters who now disapprove of his still-young administration. From Rasmussen:

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Saturday shows that 37% of the nation’s voters now Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President.

Twenty-nine percent (29%) now Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of +8 (see trends). Congressional leaders are viewed less favorably.

Sixty-six percent (66%) of Democrats Strongly Approve and 54% of Republicans Strongly Disapprove. As for those who are unaffiliated with either major political party, they are evenly divided between positive and negative reviews (see other recent demographic highlights).

The Presidential Approval Index is calculated by subtracting the number who Strongly Disapprove from the number who Strongly Approve.

Clearly, it didn't take too many days of sinking poll numbers for the Obamistas to get the message: a successful presidency can't be built on attacking Rush Limbaugh and his 20 million American listeners.

At the same time, don't believe for a minute that Democrats are through with Limbaugh. On the contrary, they would love to see talk radio let down its guard so that the real campaign of terror against political opponents can begin.

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  • Hmmm...

    There's hope for ya Brian ... if ya love radio as much as I think ya do.

    By Anonymous Anonymous One, at 17 March, 2009 16:39  

  • It's no coincidence that Obama's budget proposes an ambitious program of automatic-enrollment pensions for workplaces that don't offer 401(k)s or that his stimulus package has billions of dollars for smart meters. These tough times call for sacrifice. So the Obama administration has embarked on a belt-tightening plans.

    By Anonymous Amanda Crowe, at 25 April, 2009 00:52  

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