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An Experiment

Back in January, after Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) offered some mild criticism of Rush Limbaugh, it took him perhaps 20 hours to reverse himself and apologize submissively.

It took RNC chair Michael Steele a little longer to retract his comments over the weekend describing Limbaugh as an "entertainer" whose show is "incendiary" and "ugly", but mostly because no one initially paid much attention to the interview. After Steele's words made the rounds yesterday--and Limbaugh fired back--it was only a few hours before he folded like fresh laundry.

Now, to some extent it's clear what happened here: Neither Gingrey nor (especially) Steele wants to deal with the angry phone calls, the fundraising headaches, the possible challenges down the road, etc., that would accompany Limbaugh's disfavor. But their capitulations were so abject and immediate that it's easy to imagine that there is some other, unseen mechanism in play, as if Limbaugh had reached out with his great politico-psychic fist and squeezed the apologies out of them. Were voodoo dolls involved? Are the new, more amenable Gingrey and Steele actually facsimiles grown in alien pods? Did God--who, as the great man himself likes to remind us, "thinks he's Rush Limbaugh"--grant these heretics a vision of the damnation that awaited if they did not recant?

In an effort to find out, I submit the following observation:

Rush Limbaugh is the clown prince of the GOP, someone who, in a minimally healthy party, would be relegated to the role of popular sideshow.

Can such blasphemy stand? Will I last as long Gingrey or Steele before being reduced to groveling supplication?

--Christopher Orr