Back in the day, when someone asked if youd heard the latest from Rush, it immediately conjured up visions of the legendary power rock band from Canada. The same question today, though, is more likely to evoke images of a mercurial and wily Conservative talk radio host than the talented trio from the Great White North. Where once the reply would have been, Do they have a new record out, today its Whatd he say now?! Of course, Im referring to Rush Limbaugh, he whose talent is on loan from God. The self-styled voice of Conservatism and a consummate self-promoter, Rush has selflessly stepped forward to defend the movement and its principals from the unmitigated assault he sees emanating from the White House and the Obama administration. Rallying the faithful at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, Rush launched into a blistering tour de force that has propelled his exposure and ego back to the heady days of the Clinton era when he was the face of the Great Right Wing Conspiracy. In the process, he has unwittingly given the President and the White House priceless political cover by becoming the story itself, instead of commenting on it. Dont get me wrong. Rush is an intellectual and ideological powerhouse of the first magnitude. In truth, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Bill OReilly and legions of authors, pundits and talk show hosts across the nation owe their success in no small part to Rushs indefatigable and dogged efforts. However, at this point not only is he rallying the faithful among the Conservative ranks, he is also doing it among the devoutly Liberal. He inspires unrivaled passion and fury in both camps; one in support and the other opposition. The question on the minds of many is - How did this come to pass? The answer lies in two parts really. And both are relatively easy to understand. First, politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum. There is currently a power vacuum in the Conservative movement and the Republican Party. Rush, with his weekly audience of 16 million-plus loyal listeners, his reputation and influence among Conservatives generally speaking and his zeal for political combat however personal it may become is naturally positioned to fill that void. Many would naturally look to the leadership of the Republican Party and the Chairman in particular to step into the breach. While Michael Steeles taking the helm at the Republican National Committee was greeted with great expectation and hope, he has to date been disjointed and incoherent at best and a bitter disappointment at worst. More than a month into his term, Steeles executive staff lacks a chief of staff, a political director, a finance director or a communications director. So long as these critical elements of his staff are missing, his effectiveness will remain chronically crippled. In addition to offending and then subsequently kowtowing to Rush after the Conservative icon dressed him down on-air and condemned him to the childrens table of the movement, Steele has made repeated and highly embarrassing public gaffes that have left many Republicans nervous and questioning his ability to lead the Party organizationally, much less philosophically out of the political wilderness. That being the case, in the absence of any other credible and substantive contender, Rush is the de facto face of Conservatism and the loyal opposition for the time being. Controlling the largest bullhorn in the movement, with the White House, its Liberal base and the cable news networks eagerly awaiting his show each day and the target de jour of his scathing wit and analysis; this will remain so for some time to come. The second part of the answer can be found in the preferences of the White House and its supporters. Instead of having to defend the Presidents proposed $3.55 trillion budget and projected $1.17 trillion deficit for fiscal year 2010, the White House and Liberal stalwarts like Paul Begala and James Carville are more than happy to play up Rushs latest diatribe. They delight in highlighting the internecine warfare that is part and parcel of a political party wandering in the wilderness in search of direction, purpose and leadership. In the process, they have succeeded in transforming the debate into a clash of personalities and not ideas. Substance has been sacrificed for style as discussion of the nations future degenerates into the political equivalent of pro wrestling. While the outcome may be unknown at this point, what is certain is that it will not be Rush in the cage match for the title come November, 2012. While I have no doubt hell be at ring side loudly cheering on the Presidents opponent, it will ultimately be someone else hitting the political mat and looking for the three count that John McCain never came close to sealing last November. The sooner the Republican Party can develop a staple of legitimate contenders to challenge for the belt, the better off they and the nation will be. In the meantime, Rush is gonna run wild on the Obama-maniacs, faithful readers! Oooohh yeeeeaahhh!!! Stay tuned for further updates as events warrant, the Republican Royal Rumble rises to a fevered pitch and the White House continues to benefit from a loyal opposition that is disjointed and leaderless.