Via Drudge, Rush Limbaugh is running tape from Barack Obama's appearance in New Hampshire in which Obama apparently complains to Maureen Dowd about a reference to his ears. Limbaugh's response was as constructive as you'd expect (Windows Media Player audio):
Obama up in New Hampshire being treated like a god making a speech. Now, apparently before he made the speech, Maureen Dowd had written something about his big ears. Obama, after the speech, made a beeline for Maureen Dowd who was in the audience to tell her that he didn't appreciate her writing about his big ears. Now, there's a lot of noise here and it's very muddy. I'll translate it for you, but here's how it sounded.
OBAMA: Talk about my ears. So I just want to put you on notice, I'm very sensitive about -- what I told them was I was teased relentlessly when I was a kid about my big ears.
DOWD: We're just trying to toughen you up.
RUSH: "We're just trying to toughen you up." Here is what Barack Obama said. "Talk about my ears. So I just want to put you on notice, I'm very sensitive about -- what I told them was I was teased relentlessly when I was a kid about my big ears." Now, there are many aspects of this, folks, that we need to delve into and explore. For one thing, I mean you know me, if the guy's sensitive about his big ears, we need to give him a new name, like Dumbo. But that doesn't quite get it. How about Barack Obama Hussein Odumbo. Well, if he's sensitive -- stop to think about this. This is a man being lauded as the savior of the country, a presidential candidate ready to be anointed, and he can't handle being teased about his big ears? He goes out to Maureen Dowd and says, I am putting you on notice? Is that a threat? I want to put you on notice?
The transcript on Limbaugh's site is accompanied by this classy graphic:
On the one hand, I can understand the sensitivity. But on the other, Limbaugh is right -- Obama is going to have to toughen up if he wants to be president. He can take solace in the lack that he doesn't give conservatives much to work with, as Isaac Chotiner noted on TNR's The Plank, but the onslaught is inevitable. Remember, Limbaugh attacked the mild-mannered Tom Daschle as "El Diablo." It's going to get a lot worse, unfortunately, than making fun of his ears...
Update 12/16 6:30 AM: A commenter is already referring to him as "Obama bin Laden," which I'm sure will become common among Free Republic types very soon:
I'd vote for Allen with a clear conscience and a cheerful heart. On the other hand--and I say this as a lifelong Republican--I will not vote for Giuliani, Romney, or any other East Coast lunatic-fringe liberal kook masquerading as a conservative. I see no difference between either of them and Hillary, Ted Kennedy, or Obama bin Laden when it comes to the issues that matter to me.
Update 12/17 10:44 AM: Media Matters Link: reports that some media figures say Obama was "teasing" Dowd or "joking" with her.
[Postscript: For more on Limbaugh, see our extensive coverage of him at Spinsanity.]