Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said “enough is enough” when it comes Democrats delighting in the hullabaloo over Rush Limbaugh.
Asked during an interview Monday with The Washington Times if the Limbaugh situation was getting too much play from the Democrats, Mr. Dean laughed and responded: “Of course it is.”
“You expect people to have fun, and it was fun, but enough is enough,” he said. “The reason it’s fun is because it’s true.”
The conservative radio host has been a top headline for more than a week after first being scolded for sharply criticizing President Obama and saying he wants the Democrat to “fail.”
Democratic activist groups and official Congressional fundraisers seized on the remark — and pushed the idea that Mr. Limbaugh is the true leader of the Republican party.
That was only furthered when Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele first dismissed Mr. Limbaugh as “entertainment” who offers “ugly” comments. After being excoriated by the radio titan, Mr. Steele apologized.
Mr. Dean told The Times it was “an embarrassment” and “ridiculous” that Mr. Steele felt he had to apologize to Mr. Limbaugh.
He said he can’t blame Mr. Steele, adding as the leader of the Republicans he shouldn’t have to apologize for pointing out the party’s sorry shape.
He said the inner-party squabble “reminds me of what happened when I got here,” though disputes he had with entrenched party leaders were kept private “instead of a public fight with a very prominent figure.”
The comments came as Americans United for Change released a new television ad mocking Republicans who said “No,” to Mr. Obama’s economic stimulus plan.
“So who are Republicans saying yes to?” a narrator asks, before showing a clip of Mr. Limbaugh speaking recently to the Conservative Political Action Conference.
“I want Barack Obama to fail,” Mr. Limbaugh said in the clip.
“Tell Rush and the Republicans America won’t take no for an answer,” the narrator concludes, guaranteed to keep the controversy alive another day.
As White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs left the briefing room Monday, a reporter asked about the radio host.
“You are willing to debate Limbaugh now, aren’t you?” the reporter said, referring to Mr. Limbaugh’s challenge to debate Mr. Obama.
Mr. Gibbs drew laughs with his reply: “I’m busy this afternoon.”
New DNC Chairman Tim Kaine, who replaced Mr. Dean after he held the post four years, raised money off the dust-up.
Last week in an e-mail titled “What real leadership looks like,” Mr. Kaine cited the legislation Mr. Obama has signed and noted that Democratic accomplishments are a “far cry” from what Republican leaders have been doing.
“Nearly every Republican in Congress voted against the Recovery plan. Instead, they’re following Rush Limbaugh, who last week reiterated his hope that President Obama fails,” he wrote DNC supporters in an e-mail.
Mr. Kaine said Mr. Steele had done the “right thing” by denouncing Mr. Limbaugh.
“Following Rush Limbaugh and the failed attack politics of the past — as Republicans are doing — is not the kind of leadership that’s going to get America back on a path to strength and prosperity. So it’s going to be up to us to lead the way,” he wrote. “Make a donation now so that we can continue showing what real leadership can do for America.”