Michael Steele criticizes Rush Limbaugh, who lashes back. Meghan McCain takes a swipe at Ann Coulter, and Laura Ingraham gets Ann's back by going after Meghan's weight (meeoowww--cat fight!)
One problem that is evident in the back and forth is the difference between conservatives--an ideology--and Republicans, a political party. Conservatives really seem happier being on the defensive, being on the outside, criticizing Democrats. Republicans would be happier winning elections.
Another problem--a big one, we think--is that the leaders of the conservative movement are in it for the money. Nothing wrong with that; after all, a linchpin of the conservative movement is the capitalistic imperative to get rich.
But the money motive does skew the debate. Rush Limbaugh may be a conservative radio commentator, but he's also out there making money on his radio show. He LIKES controversy, as it drives up his ratings. There's no profit in any Republican party leader attacking Rush, because Rush relishes the opportunity.
Limbaugh is a horrible icon for Republicans (as opposed to conservatives). Fat, rich, white; a drug abuser; hardly the epitome of a family man (three divorces, no children). He's everything ugly about the conservative movement, and he could care less.
Ann Coulter is another of the same ilk. Coulter makes a fortune off her books attacking the left with provacative titles. Conservatives who rail against their taxes are happy to part with their money for Coulter's diatribes. She earns nothing by taking the edge off. And she's another ugly icon of the movement--smug, smarmy, blonde. If she really believed her own Kool-aid, she'd be a housewife tending to the kids in obscurity, but, at age 47, she's never been married and has no kids.
Most of the other "leaders" of the conservative movement aren't much better. Laura Ingraham? She went after Meghan McCain because she needs the publicity for her own flagging radio show. (Laura, age 44, also has never been married; she has adopted a Guatemalan girl.) Blow-hard Bill O'Reilly? Another angry, fat-cheeked white guy laughing all the way to the bank. (At least O'Reilly is married and has kids!)
We're not saying the left doesn't have some economic opportunists--one, Al Franken, is about to become Senator from Minnesota. But by and large the left has a more balanced (and cacaphonous) cast of characters that is either less interested in the money, or just hasn't been successful monetizing the debate.
If Republicans want to win, they'll need a leader willing to stand up to the self-interested conservative money-makers, without folding like a cheap tent.