Rush Limbaugh, honorary Republican Congressman

Some observers seem to think that Barack Obama has "elevated" Rush Limbaugh to a position of leadership in the Republican Party. Nonsense. Republicans did that long ago.

It was the House Republicans who made Limbaugh an honorary member of their caucus and gave him credit for the GOP takeover of Congress in 1994.

It was the leaders of the conservative movement who embraced Limbaugh's far-right agenda, marginalizing themselves with ill-considered and unpopular - though Rush-approved - stances on nearly every significant issue that has come up over the past two decades.

It was Dick Cheney and other prominent Republicans who chose to enhance Limbaugh's stature by appearing regularly on his radio program.

Limbaugh's place at the center of the conservative movement - though not of the population at large -- is so well-established, even Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz describes him as a "mainstream conservative."

Barack Obama didn't elevate Rush Limbaugh to a position of leadership of the GOP and the conservative movement. Limbaugh has held that position for nearly two decades - and he has done so because his fellow conservative leaders share his far-right views and his rabid distaste for fact and reason. Their embrace of Limbaugh and his failed ideology has had disastrous consequences first for the nation and then for the conservative movement. Some of those conservatives may now have the good sense to be embarrassed by their association with Limbaugh, but until they actually change their policy positions and their approach to politics, he will remain an icon of their failures and excesses.