The New Leaders of the GOP

Many of my readers have been wondering what happened to the leaders of the Republican Party since the election when the party took such a beating. Herewith a report.

The leader whose career has generated the most interest is, of course, Joe the Plumber. Many people thought Joe would complete whatever training he needed to become a licensed plumber. That was not to be. Unlike John McCain, who returned quietly to the United States Senate to continue his life as a senator, and Sarah Palin, who went back to Alaska to resume being a governor, Joe went in a brand new direction. He became a correspondent for Pajamas TV. His first assignment sent him to Israel, a position for which he was uniquely qualified.

Before the 2008 election he had an extensive interview with Shepard Smith of Fox News in which he explained why a vote for Barack Obama was a vote for the “death of Israel.” The interview was lengthy and I’ll not try to synthesize Joe’s cogent explanation in a few hundred words. It was no surprise, however, to learn that because of his incisive analysis of Mr. Obama’s position he was hired by Pajamas and sent to Israel. A quick review of Pajama’s webpage gives an idea of the kind of in-depth reporting Joe did from there. Joe posted many stories including “what he thinks Israel’s response [to the proposed cease fire with Hamas] will be based on his conversations with regular Israelis”, and an analysis of “what the media should and should not do in time of war.”

After completing his assignment in Israel he returned to Washington where, according to a posting on Pajama’s website, on February 5 he was asked to “investigate the stimulus package” proposed by Mr. Obama. On February 11 the site said he had a report wrapping up “his investigation of the stimulus bill for PJTV.”

His next big assignment was to be part of the Conservative 2.0 Conference that was being held in conjunction with the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) 2009 convention that took place February 26-28. Joe was to participate in a panel entitled “Bias in Media and Education.” His appearance there was also listed in the CPAC agenda.

Joe was not the only celebrity to be part of the CPAC meeting. Many of the failed presidential candidates from the 2008 election season were there to make their suggestions as to how to save the country from the plight into which George Bush had thrust it. Their main message was that whatever the new president was doing was wrong, ignoring the fact that the recent election suggests that much of the country thought everything they’d done during the preceding eight years was even more wrong. The main speaker was not, however, a failed candidate but an icon of the conservative movement and someone who said shortly after Mr. Obama’s inauguration “I want him to fail.” The speaker was none other than Rush Limbaugh. According to reports Mr. Limbaugh was slated to speak for an hour but because he had so much to say, he spoke for almost an hour and a half. Explaining what he meant by saying he wanted Obama to fail he explained that the president’s plans include “rampant government growth, wealth that is not being created yet . . . being spent” and it is that policy that he hopes will fail.

It is clear what Joe’s future might be. He could be another Walter Cronkite. It is less clear what Rush Limbaugh’s future is. White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, observed that Mr. Limbaugh is the “voice and the intellectual force and energy behind the Republican Party.” He pointed out that whenever a Republican criticized Rush, the critic found it necessary to “run back and apologize to him and say they were misunderstood.” Mr. Emanuel was probably thinking of Michael Steele, the new Republican National Committee chairman. Responding to CNN’s D.L. Hughley’s statement that Rush is the “de facto leader of the Republican party,” Mr. Steele said that the title belonged to him and went on to say that Rush is a “mere entertainer” whose show is “incendiary” and “ugly.” Using his golden microphone, Rush went on the attack the following day referring to Mr. Steele as a “so-called Republican” and saying the party needed a little leadership.” In response to Rush’s attack Mr. Steele retreated saying: “My intent was not to go after Rush-I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh. I was maybe a little bit inarticulate. . . . There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership.”

Now that that we all agree he’s the leader we can move on. It’s not too early to focus on the upcoming presidential elections in 2012 and it’s certainly not too early to suggest that an ideal Republican ticket would be led by Rush Limbaugh with Joe the Plumber as his running mate.

CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI is a lawyer living in Boulder, Colorado. He can be reached at:




Christopher Brauchli can be e-mailed at For political commentary see his web page at