Politics & Government

What is Rush Limbaugh's place in the GOP?

The Rush Rumble is growing.

Political chatterers left and right were electric Tuesday over Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele's apology to Rush Limbaugh – the third Republican leader in weeks to very publicly back away from a disagreement with the talk show host.

What got the chatter going was a long and cheer-prompting speech that Limbaugh gave Saturday to the Conservative Political Action Conference. Critics say the speech "doubled down" on earlier remarks that Limbaugh wanted President Barack Obama to fail.

And they have noted how the White House is clearly trying to tattoo the GOP as a bunch of radical ditto heads.

"It's in the Democratic Party's best interest to portray Limbaugh, a talk show host, as the intellectual leader of the Republican Party," said Mike Shanin, whose KMBZ talk show was dominated by the Limbaugh rush.

Mary O'Halloran, a former talk-show host and a Democrat, said the strategy was working because it was true.

"He's clearly the head of the Republican Party," she said, "… who speaks without fear of contradiction."

The nationally syndicated radio host was back at the microphone Tuesday, telling listeners that he was misunderstood.

"I am an average citizen … I have a microphone," Limbaugh said. "I am not in charge of one Republican policy."

It may sound like a rare blast of humility from a personality who often claims to have borrowed his talent from God. Earlier this year he claimed Obama was "obviously more frightened of me than he is Mitch McConnell. He's more frightened of me, than he is of, say, John Boehner, which doesn't say much about our party."

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