Rush Limbaugh directs his Operation Chaos against Clinton and Obama
The Commander in Chief of Operation Chaos is in his Miami bunker, cigar firmly clenched in his teeth, radioing edicts and orders to his far-flung, obedient troops to wreak havoc on their perceived political opponents in this ongoing primary campaign.
Rush Limbaugh, he of the non Slim-Fast diet, is in his element these days. One of the loudest voices of the vast right-wing conspiracy is doing everything he can to help a Democrat named Hillary. Clinton. You read right.
Trailing Barack Obama in their party's presidential primary race, she's not about to say anything -- or discourage anyone from supporting her, even her old nemesis from the nineties, good old Rush.
It's not that Rush has seen The Liberal Light or anything like that. It's that he's determined that another Clinton would bring much larger Republican voter unity and turnout come fall than the Illinois guy.
And the longer the two surviving Democrats go at each other, the better it is for Republicans, even if the GOP standard-bearer this fall will be the notorious questionable conservative Sen. John McCain.
McCain is not a Limbaugh favorite. And to the extent that....
...Rush doesn't have to talk on the air about how conservative the Arizona senator isn't, Operation Chaos is doubly helpful. In reality, the worst thing Limbaugh could do for the conservative cause is endorse McCain now, since that would hurt the senator among moderates and independents.
And if Limbaugh can help keep the intra-party feuding going until the Democratic National Convention in Denver in late August, one side might feel so embittered, it could lose its enthusiasm for Nov. 4.
The Operation has been going on for weeks now. No one knows exactly what effect it's had, but Rush has been encouraging Republicans among his 12-13 million daily listeners to change their party registration, since the GOP race is settled. And help Hillary. Because it hurts Democrats.
Carla Marinucci, the San Francisco Chronicle's esteemed political writer, examined Rush's operation over the weekend and found, for instance, some 100,000 Republicans crossed over in last week's Democratic primary in Pennsylvania.
Another 100,000 Republicans-turned-Democrat-for-now voted for Clinton in Ohio, maybe 120,000 more in Texas, 38,000 in Mississippi. Obviously, not all were following their the orders of their Commander -- or as he brags some Democrats call him, the Great Satan.
And since talk-radio is, after all, entertainment, the publicity for Rush is priceless, especially if some Democrats play into his publicity-grabbing hands and call on the show's advertisers to withdraw financial support. To look at Rush's colorful website -- most of it subscriber-only -- one might get the impression he's doing all right in the direct-marketing business of Operation Chaos shirts, hats and other gear too.
Limbaugh says it was actually the Democrats who gave him the idea for Operation Chaos, by the way they crossed over in some early states to help make McCain the GOP frontrunner. The normally shy and retiring Limbaugh (italics added sarcastically) says he's having "more fun than a human being should be allowed to have."
At one point last week he said, possibly tongue-in-cheek, he wouldn't mind if the Denver convention descended into riots, a la the events in Chicago in 1968 that helped fracture the party and doom Hubert H. Humphrey's drive against Richard Nixon.
But one evergreen rule in politics is, be careful what you wish for. Watching Clinton's stamina and gritty willpower in recent weeks when she's often been counted out, some Republican operatives are wondering now if they really do want to run against the Arkansas couple again. And a new Associated Press-Ipsos poll out Monday appears to confirm that Clinton would do better against McCain than Obama.
-- Andrew Malcolm
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