An editorial from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Nov. 7
Rush Limbaugh is all over the map these days. Less than a month ago, he warned of President Donald Trump’s dictatorial tendencies. He had previously shrugged off Trump’s immigration policies as not to be taken seriously. But on his radio program last Monday, he warned Special Counselor Robert Mueller was attempting a “coup.”
Limbaugh is tripping all over himself with his trademark, spluttering incredulity. Almost as if he doesn’t know what to say anymore about a president who often defies logic.
Limbaugh’s politics are provocative, sophisticated and sharply conservative. He crafts his arguments carefully and logically, which often makes them hard to refute. Trump’s illogic and constant shifts make it increasingly hard for Limbaugh to defend him.
Lots of stalwart Republicans, who would sooner dance barefoot on burning coals than criticize one of their own in the White House, find it harder by the day to square their conservatism with Trump.
When Mueller announced legal action last week against three Trump campaign advisers, Limbaugh struggled mightily for an answer. “This is the coup. If Hillary (Clinton) had been elected, none of this would be happening, other than they still put Trump in jail as a message to the outsider: Don’t dare try this.” Huh?
No one can say how a President Hillary Clinton might have handled allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence operatives. But it’s fairly certain Twitter would not be her primary form of communication.
Limbaugh’s “coup” comment betrays the radio commentator’s fear that Trump’s presidency could be in real trouble. His former campaign manager stands accused of laundering millions of dollars and defrauding the government. Another adviser, who sat in on Trump’s national security briefings and whom Trump praised as an “excellent guy,” has pleaded guilty to lying about an effort to obtain “dirt” on Clinton from Russian intelligence.
How’s that a coup? Limbaugh’s struggle stems from the misalignment between his staunch conservatism and the new brand being hawked by Trump’s former strategist, Stephen Bannon, and his Breitbart pseudo-news outlet. Bannon’s brand plays to white supremacists and conspiratorial nut cases whose logic is the very antithesis of Limbaugh’s cerebral style.
Before the 2016 election, Limbaugh acknowledged publicly Trump is no conservative. But now he’s stuck trying to defend a president he doesn’t necessarily want to defend.
Limbaugh drew the line last month when Trump attacked NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem. “I am very uncomfortable with the president of the United States being able to dictate the behavior and power of anybody. … No president should have dictatorial power over individual behavior,” Limbaugh told listeners.
Limbaugh is at his best when he allows logic and fact to guide his reasoning. If Trump defies logic, Limbaugh should follow his heart and refuse to defend the indefensible.