AP writer Douglass Daniel was enjoying the moderate Republican (and Obama Republican) response to conservatives on the Sunday talk shows. His story began:
Moderate Republicans to conservative Republicans: Turn down the volume — especially on Rush Limbaugh — and open your minds. The party's future might be at stake.
Such warnings about the GOP's right wing, along with finger wagging about a "shrill" and "judgmental" tone, marked the moderate response in the latest back-and-forth within the Republican Party.
Those words turned out to be former governor Tom Ridge’s on CNN’s State of the Union. (That's funny -- they were also Barack Obama's words to congressional Republicans.) Daniel also quoted Obamacan Colin Powell, Newt Gingrich, and Karl Rove, but led his story with the Ridge attack on Rush Limbaugh:
Ridge, an abortion-rights supporter who was on McCain's short list of vice presidential picks but deemed too moderate by more conservative elements of the GOP, said he thinks "a lot of our commentators are being shrill."
"Rush Limbaugh has an audience of 20 million people. A lot of people listen daily to him and live by every word. But words mean things and how you use words is very important," Ridge said. "It does get the base all fired up and he's got a strong following. But personally, if he would listen to me, and I doubt if he would, the notion is express yourselves but let's respect others' opinions and let's not be divisive."
AP never gets the memo that an "abortion rights supporter" could easily be defined as a "liberal." Calling them "moderate" can be misleading, at least on the abortion issue. Ridge also said if the GOP wants "to restore itself, not as a regional party, but as a national party, we have to be far less judgmental about disagreements within the party and far more judgmental about our disagreement with our friends on the other side of the aisle."
Daniel quoted Rove heading off the shut-up-Rush elements:
"I don't like this thing where people — and Powell is one them — who said, `Rush Limbaugh, shut up.' We believe, as Republicans in the marketplace of ideas. Let that marketplace decide," Rove said.
"I want Colin Powell to go out there and lay out his vision, and then I want him to back it up by finding people who share it and working like heck to get them — and that's how you win the party."