Posts Tagged ‘Rush Limbaugh’

Everybody’s excited about the final chapter in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, and Rush Limbaugh sees a liberal Hollywood/Democratic Party conspiracy:

Speaking on his syndicated radio show on Tuesday, the right-wing host brought up the upcoming Batman film The Dark Knight Rises (or as he called it, The Dark Knight Lights Up), in particular focusing on its main villain, the Tom Hardy-portrayed hulking madman Bane. With Mitt Romney’s time at the investment fund (and the questionable time at which he retired from it) filling non-entertainment news headlines, Limbaugh tied the two together, casting some tough accusations at director Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros.

“Do you think it is accidental that the name of the really vicious firebreathing, four-eyed whatever-it-is villain in this movie is named Bane?” Limbaugh asked his listeners.

Limbaugh did note that the film, the sequel to the 2008 hit The Dark Knight, has been in the works for a long time, with a summer 2012 release date long part of the plan.

“So this evil villain in the new Batman movie is named Bane. And there’s discussion out there as to whether or not this was purposeful and whether or not it will influence voters. It’s going to have a lot of people,” he continued. “The audience is going to be huge. A lot of people are going to see the movie. And it’s a lot of braindead people, entertainment, the pop culture crowd, and they’re going to hear Bane in the movie and they’re going to associate Bain.

“And the thought is that when they’re going to start paying attention to the campaign later in the year,” Limbaugh asserted, “and Obama and the Democrats keep talking about Bain, not Bain Capitol but Romney and Bain, that these people will start thinking back to the Batman movies – ‘Oh yeah, I know who that is!'”

Four years ago, conservatives were singing a very different tune about The Dark Knight:

There seems to me no question that the Batman film “The Dark Knight,” currently breaking every box office record in history, is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war. Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand. Like W, Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past.

And like W, Batman understands that there is no moral equivalence between a free society — in which people sometimes make the wrong choices — and a criminal sect bent on destruction. The former must be cherished even in its moments of folly; the latter must be hounded to the gates of Hell.

“The Dark Knight,” then, is a conservative movie about the war on terror. And like another such film, last year’s “300,” “The Dark Knight” is making a fortune depicting the values and necessities that the Bush administration cannot seem to articulate for beans.
Andrew Klavan, The Wall Street Journal, July 25, 2008.

But Batman goes into another country and with a C-130 snatches a guy out, and then throws him back here into Gotham. So there’s rendition. At one point the Morgan Freeman character says to Batman, wait a minute, hang on, you’re eavesdropping on everyone in Gotham? And Batman says, yes, to stop this terrorist. Morgan Freeman says, I can’t be a part of it. And yet Morgan Freeman does become a part of it, and they find the Joker. One of the ways they find the Joker is through eavesdropping. I mean the parallels here of what’s going on is to me stunning.
Glenn Beck, CNN, August 6, 2008

Hey, guys… ever stop to consider that maybe the Batman movies are just meant to be entertainment? Or that maybe voters – right and left – are intelligent enough to make their own decisions at the polls and not base them on the name of the villain in a superhero movie?

Update: Politicizing Batman isn’t limited to Republicans. Check out this quote from a Democratic operative (h/t Andrew Sullivan):

“It has been observed that movies can reflect the national mood. Whether it is spelled Bain and being put out by the Obama campaign or Bane and being out by Hollywood, the narratives are similar: a highly intelligent villain with offshore interests and a past both are seeking to cover up who had a powerful father and is set on pillaging society.”
Chris Lehane, Washington Examiner, July 16, 2012

Update II: This was bound to happen inevitably… Somebody photoshopped Mitt Romney’s face on Bane’s body.

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DNC Chairman Tim Kaine enters the Limbaugh-Steele fray and takes a few shots at both of them. The most interesting thing in watching all of this is that Limbaugh and Kaine Steele effectively played right into the Democrats’ hands. The Democrats are going to get a lot of political mileage and talking points out of this episode.

As for Steele, I don’t know how effective he’ll be as a national party leader from here on out. I mentioned in a previous post that there is no media or political figure on the right or left who has the kind of muscle or influence that Limbaugh and his listeners do. The only national GOP figures who have criticized Limbaugh and avoided apology so far are Rep. Eric Cantor and Gov. Jon Huntsman. But if this becomes some sort of ideological litmus test for any Republican who has hopes for national exposure, then it will make for a very interesting set of election cycles in 2010 and 2012.

Update: Some very good observations from Greg Sargent:

The problem for Steele, of course, is that by hitting Rush — and provoking a response from the talk show host — he’s left himself in the unenviable position of having to answer Rush’s implicit demand that he say whether he’s With Rush Or Against Him when it comes to Rush’s desire for Obama to fail. It’s not a good position to be in: Either Steele distances himself from Rush and angers the base, or he throws in his lot with the GOP’s pro-failure brigade and makes it easier for Dems to paint the GOP as petulant, partisan obstructionists.

Amusingly, either choice would help Rush: The first gives him a potent rallying point, and the second demonstrates his power over the party. What’s more, all this underscores again the astonishing degree to which the interests of Rush and Democrats are aligned here, since both Rush and Democrats want Steele, and every other Republican, to publicly make exactly the same choice.

Much has been made of Rush Limbaugh’s widely quoted “I hope Obama fails” comment, which he first made on his radio show a few days before Obama’s inauguration, and repeated it again at CPAC this past weekend.

Democrats have seized the initiative and are trying to make Rush Limbaugh the face and driving force of the GOP. Rahm Emanuel himself threw down the gauntlet on the Sunday talk shows yesterday.

Keep in mind Republican Rep. Phil Gingrey publicly apologized after making comments in a Politico story criticizing Rush Limbaugh.

Eric Cantor, the second highest ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, distanced himself from Limbaugh’s comments yesterday.

Now, we’ll see if Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican Party, is going to face the same kind of pressure to make amends with Limbaugh.

These episodes show just how large of a shadow Limbaugh and his audience casts on the Republican Party. I can’t think of anyone else in political or media circles on the right or left who has this much muscle that they can force a sitting member of Congress to issue a public apology. The question now is how far will he go with his rhetoric and how far is the Republican Party and the base willing to follow him?

Update: Limbaugh responds to Steele:

“Why do you claim to lead the Republican Party when you seem obsessed with seeing to it President Obama succeeds?” Limbaugh addressed Steele.

“I frankly am stunned that the chairman of the Republican National Committee endorses such an agenda. I have to conclude that he does because he attacks me for wanting it to fail,” said Limbaugh.

Late last week, Steele told CNN’s D.L. Hughley that Limbaugh is an “entertainer” whose comments are “ugly.”

Also on his radio program Monday, Limbaugh said Steele is being used by the “liberal media.”

“Michael Steele has been around long enough to know that the liberal media will use him by twisting what I say or what others say,” he said. “He took the bait, he bit down hard on the bait, he launched an attack on me, even though the premise of what was said to him was false.”

Update II: Damn, that was fast. Steele apologized to Limbaugh.

Limbaugh said he’s not in charge of the Republican Party, but every time a Party leader or elected official has to kiss his ring every time they say or do something that annoys him, it just reinforces the Democrats’ message strategy that Limbaugh is the de facto leader of the GOP.

Update III: Andrew Sullivan has reactions to the Limbaugh-Steele feud from the conservative blogosphere.