02/27/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Rush Limbaugh Is Hot Under the Collar

Rush Limbaugh is worried. His anxiety might have something to do with his precipitous weight gain. Also, his speech patterns are showing stress. The normal enthusiastic, even jovial, oom-pa-pa of the instrument has become labored, dogged.

It's a hinge moment for the Limbaugh career. The advent of the Obama administration and the sweeping gains of the Democratic Party, together with the disorganization and enfeeblement of the Republican Party, could be an incredible opportunity for Rush. He could become the remaining voice of the right. On the other hand, he could be marginalized out of existence. If the economy trumps ideology, if Obama makes progress neutralizing the political wars, that's bad news for Rush.

Right now Rush is being played. The Obama dinner with conservative columnists, shortly before his inauguration, was as much about excluding Rush as coddling the columnists. Not only did the conservatives fawn, but Rush fumed. It got under his skin. Indeed, the rumor that he might in fact be there (likely coming from the Obama camp), and then his evident lack of an invitation, highlighted the slight. He's tried to make it out to be a political point ever since, but mostly he sounds like a guy who's hurt he didn't get invited to the hot party.

Then, there was the president's throw-away line suggesting that Republican lawmakers, in the midst of the greatest modern financial crisis, were glued to their radios listening to Rush rather than hard at work. It was deft suggestion, not so much about ideology but about seriousness. Rush isn't.

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