Much of the political uproar over the past week centered on Rush Limbaugh’s address at CPAC in which he reaffirmed his desire to see President Obama fail. Understandably, many people are up in arms over this statement but some of them seem to be upset for all the wrong reasons. Obama is not the messiah and he will have policy failures. The sooner we accept that inevitability, the better.
But there is another reason why Rush’s words should have incensed us. Not only is his naive desire to see our country’s problems worsen ignorant at best, it also goes against everything we’ve been led to believe. America is a country built on dreams, MLK’s dream, the American Dream, even Obama’s dreams from his father, and failure, although sometimes an intermediate result, is never a goal. That’s where Rush gets it so wrong.
In America, we love dreams and we love seeing people pull through when everyone else is sure they’re going to fail. Kirk Gibson in the ’88 World Series. Willie Mays’ catch. The Tampa Bay Rays’ run to the pennant. No one gave any of them a chance but somehow they managed to overcome failure and succeed beyond their (and our) wildest imagination. When failure is an end instead of a means, dreams die and you become irrelevant.
Rush’s problem and, by extension, the problem of the Republican Party is that their actions have begun to cast them as irrelevant to the national debate. Wishing failure on your opponents doesn’t make you a seer. It makes you a streetcorner prophet, carrying your cardboard sign and sleeping on a park bench at night. It doesn’t signal engagement but rather disengagement.
The real issue and what Rush is afraid to say is that it’s not so much that he disagrees with Obama as it is that he has no solution of his own. After the experiment of the past eight years proved morally and financially bankrupt, how could he? However, the purview of the streetcorner lunatic has always included yelling louder than everyone else and making sure that yours is the voice that stands out. In that respect, Rush can truly claim, “Mission Accomplished.”