Watching Rush Limbaugh’s address to CPAC on Sunday, I couldn’t figure out at first who he reminded me of. That morning, I had watched Karl Rove get owned by Katrina Vanden Heuvel on This Week and, for a moment, I saw a similarity between the two Republicans…the protruding foreheads, the same doughy skin, the similar anti-everything rhetoric. You’ll have to pardon me for mistaking the two. Except Limbaugh is a much larger man, and in that black-on-black wardrobe he wore at CPAC and with his larger-than-life mannerisms, Limbaugh reminded me of Orson Welles in Citizen Kane.
Actually, it’s eerie how similar Limbaugh’s arrogance is to Charles Kane’s. If you were asked, of the two, who said, “People will think what I tell them to think,” I’d bet you have trouble answering that question (it was Kane, but it certainly sounds like something Limbaugh would say). It’s a stretch to compare Limbaugh’s life to a character in the movie, especially when that character is based on William Randolph Hearst, but there is a lot of common ground: the faux populism, the unabashed nationalism, the anti-European jingoism, the undying belief in capitalism and the dominance of a particular news medium (Kane with newspapers, Rush with talk-radio) to advance their ideas. Also, they both endured a devestating personal scandal.
Now that Rush Limbaugh is the de facto leader of the conservative movement, if not the entire Republican party, it’s time to re-think where he intends to take all of this. Don’t think for one moment that Rush hasn’t envisioned a scenario in which a broken party turns to him, not just to be a leader, but to be a candidate.