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First Limbaugh, then Santelli, now Cramer: Is Obama White House empowering its critics?

March 4, 2009 |  8:15 am

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs

Team Obama is continuing to push back against critics on talk radio and cable TV, prompting some observers to wonder if the White House is instead giving the complaints a wider audience.

Conservative radio king Rush Limbaugh, who recently said he is hoping the president fails in his efforts to "restructure and reform this country so that capitalism and individual liberty are not its foundation," took the first hits. Obama challenged House Republicans not to let Limbaugh, with a weekly audience of more than 13 million arch conservatives, direct their votes.

Today, the drumbeat continued. In an Op-Ed article in this morning's Washington Post titled "Minority Leader Limbaugh," former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe warned Republicans:

If the GOP sticks with its strategy of failure as the only option, further eroding its brand with the people who decide elections, we may find out what it means for a political party to hit rock bottom.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee also weighed in this morning with a website mocking GOP leaders like Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele for first criticizing Limbaugh and then, in the face of an enormous brush back from his fans, apologizing. The website allows visitors to create their own apology to Limbaugh but offers this template:

You and I both know that in reality, you simply want President Obama to fail in this time of economic collapse. How can I disagree with that? Please accept my sincere apologies, oh great leader of the Republican Party.

The White House has also taken on on CNBC's Rick Santelli for slamming the president's mortgage relief plan. You may recall Santelli issued "the rant heard 'round the world" -- a huge viral hit -- about not wanting to bailout his greedy neighbors whose appetites were bigger than their wallets.

Now comes Jim Cramer, of CNBC's "Mad Money," blasting the White House for wanting to rob Wall Street to pay Main Street.

In slow motion, I felt the total lack of control that we all feel right now -- the ‘it’s out of my hands,’ the ‘where’s the authority,’ the, ‘Hey, it’s amateur hour at our darkest moment.’ It’s the feeling of capitalism vanishing, businesses capsizing under their own weight -- thanks to an administration that doesn’t seem to know or maybe doesn’t care.

Again White House press secretary Robert Gibbs shot back, with a droll mention that the mad man of Wall Street does not exactly have a Limbaugh-sized audience.

If you turn on a certain program, it's geared to a very small audience. No offense to my good friends, or friend at CNBC. But the president has to look out for the broader economy and the broader population.

Cramer, who last fall urged investors not to sell their Bear Stearns stock (which later tanked), was quick on the reply, accusing Obama of not understanding Wall Street.



MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Scarborough wondered today if the White House risks glorifying its critics by spotlighting their remarks.

Obviously the White House is calculating that in an age of 24/7 chatter, no administration can afford to let its critics keep mouthing off without a counter-attack.

What do you think?

-- Johanna Neuman

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Photo: Associated Press

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