Shuster: Rush and Hannity Don't Matter

With Joe Scarborough away, the mice did play during the opening segment of today's Morning Joe . . .

WILLIE GEIST [facetiously]: David, I know how you like to speak for Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and the rest of that group.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: He's going to the [CPAC] convention.

GEIST: You're the voice of that community, but can you make sense out of this? Are they willing, the conservatives, the Limbaughs, the Hannitys of the world, to concede the election, to not have John McCain be president, to take Hillary Clinton over them, just to take a principled stand?

View video here.

BRZEZINSKI [sarcastically]: It's for the good of the party, David.

DAVID SHUSTER: It's such an interesting question, and I think part of it may have been answered when, I think Rush Limbaugh the other day -- you know, I listen to Rush Limbaugh every day, religiously, I do -- no, Rush Limbaugh said the other day, better for Hillary Clinton, I'm paraphrasing here, this is not exactly -- better for Hillary Clinton to get the presidency because of all the problems that she will create or a liberal will create, better for that to happen than for John McCain to be the president with his sort of agenda and create similar problems, the idea being that, well, look, if John McCain's the president the country's headed for problems and the Republican party should not be branded with those problems.

So I'm not sure some of those conservatives are going to come over, but again, I don't think the Sean Hannitys and the Rush Limbaughs of the world matter at this point. I think their value is overstated in their own minds, and I think it's going to matter far more what the rank-and-file want, and the rank-and-file Republicans are sick and tired of Bush and Cheney and they want somebody who can unite the country. I think that's why you're seeing so many Republicans and independents cross over to Barack Obama; I think that's why independents are crossing over to help John McCain: because they don't want the partisan bickering to continue to the detriment that it has.

Shuster was likely alluding to comments by Rush as reported in this Howard Kurtz column:

Rush Limbaugh has been relentless in his criticism of John McCain, prompting suggestions that he may have to soften his stance if the Arizona senator wins the nomination and faces off against Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. But if that happens, Limbaugh said in an interview over the weekend, he would rather see the Democrats win the White House.

"If I believe the country will suffer with either Hillary, Obama or McCain, I would just as soon the Democrats take the hit . . . rather than a Republican causing the debacle," he said. "And I would prefer not to have conservative Republicans in the Congress paralyzed by having to support, out of party loyalty, a Republican president who is not conservative."

In contrast with Shuster's presumably facetious claim, I do in fact listen to Rush virtually every day, and recall him saying yesterday that he did not quite mean to suggest he'd rather see Hillary in the White House. Clarification from Rush surely forthcoming.

As for Shuster's claim that "rank-and-file Republicans are sick and tired of Bush and Cheney: does he mean the 76% of them who support Bush as per this recent poll reported in USA Today?

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.