POLITICS
04/03/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Scritti Politti: March 3, 2009

Just to button up this rather Limbaugh heavy day, we'll turn to David Frum and Ross Douthat, who both, amid the ongoing "battle for the soul/future/secret sauce recipe/hip-hop identity of the Republican party," continue to articulate a space for sensibility and responsibility on their side of the schism. Both, one should note, seem perfectly capable of criticizing Limbaugh with a cutting deftness without surrendering either their conservative principles or their balls. These are two remarkably serious takes:

Frum, March 2, 2009:

On the one side, the president of the United States: soft-spoken and conciliatory, never angry, always invoking the recession and its victims. This president invokes the language of "responsibility," and in his own life seems to epitomize that ideal: He is physically honed and disciplined, his worst vice an occasional cigarette. He is at the same time an apparently devoted husband and father. Unsurprisingly, women voters trust and admire him.

And for the leader of the Republicans? A man who is aggressive and bombastic, cutting and sarcastic, who dismisses the concerned citizens in network news focus groups as "losers." With his private plane and his cigars, his history of drug dependency and his personal bulk, not to mention his tangled marital history, Rush is a walking stereotype of self-indulgence - exactly the image that Barack Obama most wants to affix to our philosophy and our party. And we're cooperating! Those images of crowds of CPACers cheering Rush's every rancorous word - we'll be seeing them rebroadcast for a long time.

Douthat, March 2, 2009:

...if you accept the parallel [of Limbaugh] with Oprah [Winfrey], then you also need to recognize that if American liberals treated someone like Ms. Winfrey the way the adoring CPAC-goers treated Rush - not just as a great communicator and entertainer, but as an arbiter of what their movement is and ought to be, and what their party should be standing for - they'd look like starstruck fools. And rightly so.

Will Bushworld Be Deconstructed: Sarabeth of 1115.org very nicely summarizes a number of areas of concern where the Obama Department of Justice is failing to demonstrate much of an improvement over his predecessor. It's all stuff that shouldn't be dismissed away just because your ideological inclinations toward the new president are more favorable. What's more, these abuses, absurdities, and abridgments are not the sort of thing you'd have ever expected a Dawn Johnsen or a Marty Lederman to accommodate. Maybe it's time we heard from them!

Steele's Rhyme Scheme: Adam Serwer's piece on Steele and his "hip-hop" strategies for TAPPED comes with a killer kicker:

The reason I find Steele's behavior irritating is that his invocation of archaic black cultural tropes is plainly not for black folks -- it's for white people. It's to remind them that he's black. His appearance on the DL Hughley show cemented this impression for me -- there was no awkward signifiying, no "off the hook" or "bling bling," as there was in his interview with Curtis Sliwa. There was just Steele being himself and arguing his position. Steele didn't front because he didn't have to -- talking to Chuck D. and DL Hughley, there was no one there to perform for.

Sags, Like a Heavy Load: On the other hand, Nia-Malika Henderson's painfully condescending wheedle on the black "dog whistle" tropes contains this stultifyingly dumb sentence:

In January remarks about the economy, Obama made a reference to "American dreams that are being deferred," a phrase black audiences understood without a citation as black poet Langston Hughes.

Know who else recognized it as a Langston Hughes poem without citation? AN ENTIRE NATION OF MIDDLE SCHOOLERS, MAYBE? Anyway, as far as Henderson goes, "I will speak daggers to her, but use none." And that's a DOG WHISTLE to all my homies, holding it down in Denmark.

Jindal's Tall Tale: Lots of people have talked about how Jindal's Katrina story rang false, but few have appreciated just how well revised the story became on subsequent drafts!

Oh, no.: Via Taegan Goddard. I know few Virginians who do not dread sentences like: "There's not going to be much movement until the candidates start ratcheting up their ad buys." So...:

The latest Public Policy Polling survey in Virginia's gubernatorial race shows Terry McAuliffe leading the Democratic pack with 21%, followed by Brian Moran at 19% and Creigh Deeds at 14%.

Key finding: 46% of Democrats are still undecided on their potential nominee.

There's not going to be much movement until the candidates start ratcheting up their ad buys.

Argh.