I've stayed away from the Rush Limbaugh discussion since it seems the ultimate in Seinfeldian debates about nothing.
My overall sense is that the Frums and the Douthats of the world would be well served by staying away from this argument. As Ross himself has written, the grassroots needs elites -- and the elites need the grassroots. By trying to isolate Rush, the elites break down this elegant separation and veer into micromanaging the grassroots -- a losing proposition, particularly against a brand as sticky as Rush. By staging a power play against Rush, they also play into the Democrats' far-fetched notion that Rush is the GOP's leader -- an 11% proposition -- rather than letting him be as an entertainer and provocateur and popularizer of conservative ideas.
I missed Rush's CPAC address and watching it later on YouTube but was left wondering "What's the big f'ing deal here?" In content, the speech was no different than what Rush has been saying for the last 20 years. Why are we all reacting as if any of this is new? If Rush was going to damage the GOP, he would have done it by now. (In fact, the last time we had Rush in a situation like this, things didn't turn out so bad.)
It's one thing to reject spokespeople with neither egghead credentials nor talent, like Joe the Plumber, or those who are positively cringe-worthy, like Coulter. Rush belongs in neither of these categories. There is value in having provocative voices who know how to string two sentences together with arguments rooted in conservative ideas, not cultural pastiche. And though provocative and sometimes impolitic, Rush's arguments are usually calibrated and thought-out in their own way. Wanting Obama to fail from wrecking a country we all hope succeeds is not something a GOP politician should necessarily say, but is something Rush should be able to say from his perch outside the party. CPAC featured speakers who were still peddling the Obama-is-not-a-citizen nonsense to applause from the crowd. Let's distance ourselves those bumbling ignoramuses, not successful, well-honed voices like Rush.