I actually caught the Rush Limbaugh dressing down of Michael Steele on the radio today. And given the GOP's sorry track record on trying (ever so briefly) to stand up to the right's $400 million radio bully, it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that within about a New York minute of Rush's smackdown, the Notorious RNC would punk out. To refresh: here's Michael Steele Saturday night, trying to man up:
And here's Rush Limbaugh slapping him down like a skinny puppy:
Mr. Steele called Mr. Limbaugh after the radio host belittled Mr. Steele on his show, questioning his authority and saying the new Republican leader was off “to a shaky start.”
... Mr. Steele told Politico on Monday that he had called Mr. Limbaugh to apologize.
“My intent was not to go after Rush – I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh,” Mr. Steele told The Politico. “I was maybe a little bit inarticulate. There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership.”
Democrats reacted with glee to the exchange. “Michael Steele has denounced himself for renouncing Rush,” said Paul Begala, an ally of Mr. Emanuel and one of the Democrats presenting Mr. Limbaugh as the face of the G.O.P. “Can anyone seriously argue now that Rush is not the unchallenged leader of the Republican Party?”
Um ... no. But that's not the best part. For that, let's go to Politico:
“I went back at that tape and I realized words that I said weren’t what I was thinking,” Steele said. "It was one of those things where I thinking I was saying one thing, and it came out differently. What I was trying to say was a lot of people … want to make Rush the scapegoat, the bogeyman, and he’s not."
“I’m not going to engage these guys and sit back and provide them the popcorn for a fight between me and Rush Limbaugh,” Steele added. “No such thing is going to happen. … I wasn’t trying to slam him or anything.”
Michael ... do you understand the words that are coming out of your mouth?
Want to feel even more uncomfortable for Michael Steele? Check out the ReidBlog Michael Steele page!
UPDATE: Best response to the Great Steele Capitulation, from Andrew Sullivan:
Comrade Steele dutifully apologizes to the Great Leader and offer his regrets to his fellow comrades in the movement. Re-education camp will follow shortly.This climb-down marks the end of establishment Republican resistance to the Poujadist pontificator. It's Rush's party now. So why shouldn't he run for president in 2012? Make Palin his veep - and be done with it.