Talk radio's resident right-wing provocateur, Rush Limbaugh, has made himself quite a career out of launching blistering broadsides, with President Obama and anything liberal (or anything that is not Rush) as favorite targets.
But when Limbaugh tries to get fancy he can sometimes get himself in unintended trouble.
Take his latest bit of rhetorical jujitsu, in a discussion
on Jan. 20 about Obama's new populist approach to reining in fat cat bankers:
"To some people, banker is a code word for Jewish; and guess who Obama is assaulting? He's assaulting bankers. He's assaulting money people. And a lot of those people on Wall Street are Jewish. So I wonder if there's – if there's starting to be some buyer's remorse there."
That last line referred to the fact that Jews voted 78 percent for Obama, the highest of all groups except African-Americans.
I doubt we'll see any remorse from Rush for the comments, even though his references to Jews and money and his evocation of the old "Jewish banking conspiracy" canard isn't likely to increase Jewish opposition to Obama, as Limbaugh was apparently hoping to do.
Abraham Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League, called Limbaugh's comments "a new low" and "borderline anti-Semitic."
"While the age-old stereotype about Jews and money has a long and sordid history, it also remains one of the main pillars of anti-Semitism and is widely accepted by many Americans," Foxman said
. "His notion that Jews vote based on their religion, rather than on their interests as Americans, plays into the hands of anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists."
Marc Tracy at The Tablet, an online Jewish journal, had a good analysis
of Rush's logic, such as it was:
"Limbaugh put the cart before the horse: what Obama said is offensive to Jews only if he was making the connection that bankers are Jews. But, of course, he wasn't. Instead, Limbaugh made the (offensive) connection himself, and then tried to cut-and-paste it into Obama's prior remarks. It doesn't really work that way. Sometimes a banker is just a banker."
It's also worth noting that Limbaugh continued his defense of Wall Street on Friday, accusing Obama of "raping" the banks, a favorite verb of his and one not likely to earn him plaudits from feminists -- but it's unlikely he was looking to enlist their help.
Limbaugh introduced the "Jewish bankers" issue in a discussion about the Scott Brown victory in Massachusetts, noting that Brown did well with independents and "that's what Jewish liberals like to call themselves when they're asked."
"[W]hat if they're experiencing buyer's remorse like all these people in Massachusetts did? Do you realize how important this could be?"
Or maybe not so much.