Excellent analysis -- by the NYTimes Timothy Egan-- of the damage Rush Limbaugh is doing to the Republican Party. (Kudos, too, to the home page editors at the Times for putting a link to it at the top of the page for so long today.)
Polling has found Limbaugh, a self-described prescription-drug addict who sees America from a private jet, to be nearly as unpopular as Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who damned America in the way that Limbaugh has now damned the nation’s newly elected leader. But Republicans just can’t quit him. So even poor Michael Steele, the nominal head of the Republican Party who dared to criticize him, had to grovel and crawl back to the feet of Limbaugh.
Where Democrats have gotten smarter is in their ability to push the whacko fringe off-stage when they start getting too much attention. That's going to be a problem with Limbaugh, whose livelihood and lifeblood is tied into getting as big an audience is possible. Rev. Wright will be able to feed his family if he doesn't have a mass audience; not so Limbaugh. That will make Rush exceptionally difficult to shut up, even if he were willing to in the name of party unity. Which he isn't.
Which is a pity. What this country needs is principled dialog and problem-solving, not demagoguery. The more Limbaugh drives the Republican agenda and dialog, the less likely bipartisanship becomes, which weakens the nation at a time when it requires the best effort from all available smart people.