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Who's Really Using Rush Limbaugh As A Distraction?

Reported by Ellen - March 5, 2009 -

I caught several FOX News programs yesterday (3/4/09) and every single one of them included at least one discussion about Democrats' deliberate effort to characterize Rush Limbaugh (because polls show how unpopular he is) as the face of the Republican Party. And, mimicking the stance of RNC chairman Michael Steele, the discussions repeatedly suggested that Democrats are using Limbaugh to distract attention from Obama's policies. But other than the usual “Obama's enacting a dangerous socialist agenda” talk, I didn't see much of an attempt on their part to focus on policy. Neil Cavuto's interview with House Republican leader John Boehner was a perfect case in point. With video.

Discussing the attacks on Rush Limbaugh, Boehner said,"This whole thing was created by the White House to be a distraction from his policies....his plan to raise taxes on all Americans." In step with the "distraction" meme, the FOX News video is titled, "Democratic Diversion?"

No mention that the “tripwire” came when Limbaugh said he hoped Obama fails, four days before Obama was inaugurated. In fact, Americans United For Change, a liberal group with ties to the Democratic Party, used Limbaugh's comments in a commercial to help pass the stimulus bill. Democrats may be using Limbaugh as a foil but they're hardly dodging the issue the way, say, Republicans (and FOX News) used Bill Ayers as a diversion from the economy and the war in Iraq during the presidential campaign.

And if FOX News is so concerned about Limbaugh being used as a diversion, then why keep talking about him when they could be discussing the economy and any Republican solutions? Could it be that crying "diversion!" is a convenient diversion from a lack of credible alternatives they have to offer?

Cavuto, after noting President Obama's high approval ratings, said, “I guess the argument now, though, Congressman, is that Republicans are not clear where they stand. I mean, there's more arguing and sniping these days among each other than there is at the other guy. Or such is the perception.”

"Neil, Neil,” Boehner protested. “Listen, the White House started this the day after the president was sworn in. They started this little skirmish to draw attention away from what was going on here in Washington."

Actually, I think you could say that Limbaugh started it with his inflammatory “I hope he fails comment” made before the inauguration. Not that Cavuto brought that up.

Boehner added, “The American people want us to get the economy moving. That's what I'm focused in on every day. And that's what Republicans on Capital Hill ought to be working with our Democrat colleagues, to have policies that are sensible, that will put Americans back to work and get our economy moving. And keep the stock market going up like it was today.”

He added that the Obama plan “will do nothing but grow the size of government."

In contrast, according to Boehner, "Our plan would cost half as much as the administration's plan, and create twice as many jobs."

What proof did he have that his plan would create twice as many jobs? We never learned. In fact, that was pretty much the end of Boehner's “focus” on what he plans to do to help revive the economy.

Cavuto again returned to Obama's high approval ratings. “What do you make of that?”

Boehner answered, “You know (Obama's economic policy) won't work. I know it won't work. Part of my job is to help the American people understand that if you took all of the wealth that the top five percent in America have, it will not fix this problem and it will hardly put a dent in the budget deficit that's being proposed.”

But the budget does not propose to just take the money away from the wealthy and use it to "fix" the deficit or the recession. The budget proposes to take the money and invest it in various projects such as alternative energy, infrastructure, education, etc. which will, in turn, help to fix the problem.

And what neither Boehner nor Cavuto mentioned (and rarely seems to get mentioned on FOX by the tax-cut cheerleaders), is that Obama proposes to give 95% of middle class working families a tax cut.

Cavuto did make the point that “the argument is” that the spending will stimulate the economy. “And if it does and if the economy does pick up, they'll take full credit for that, that is Democrats. And argue that you and your colleagues were mere obstructionists. What say you?”

“If you throw enough money against the wall, some of it is bound to stick. I think our job is to be responsible with the American people's money,” Boehner replied. Responsible? These are the guys who helped get us into this mess in the first place.

Cavuto did not challenge Boehner's statement.

This post was prepared with much assistance from guest blogger Brian.