Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said in an interview with CNN that he, rather than Limbaugh, is "the de facto leader of the Republican Party."
And Steele described Limbaugh as a performer.
"Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer. Rush Limbaugh's whole thing is entertainment," Steele said. "Yes, it is incendiary. Yes, it is ugly."
Last month, Steele, a former lieutenant governor of Maryland, was elected chair of the RNC. He is the first African-American to lead the Republican Party. At the time of his election, Steele said that "Rush will say what Rush has to say; we'll do what we have to do."
Limbaugh, of course, is not happy, and is making his displeasure known:
Yes, said Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, I’m incendiary, and yes, it’s ugly. Michael Steele, you are head of the RNC. You are not head of the Republican Party. Tens of millions of conservatives and Republicans have nothing to do with the RNC and right now they want nothing to do with it, and when you call them, asking them for money, they hang up on you. I hope that changes. I hope the RNC will get its act together…
It seems to me that it’s Michael Steele who is off to a shaky start….
Fun. Any fratricide in the GOP ranks is good news for Democrats.
I expect this to shake itself out without any major explosions, but assuming Steele pushes things and presses his fellow Republicans to take a firm anti-Rush (or at least, Rush-is-a-non-entity) stance, it will be a fascinating display to see where elected Republican officials line up. Despite all assertions to the contrary, it's clear that Democratic criticisms that the GOP has been captured by loons like Limbaugh are having their mark -- Republicans realize that to the extent they are seen as in Limbaugh's thrall, they'll never break out of minority status. But of course, Rush still has plenty of boots in the base. The temporary disunity Steele would provoke might be well worth it if he manages to wrench his party back into the mainstream. Of course, if he picks a fight with Limbaugh and loses, the party likely will be moribund for a generation.