THE GOP’S ‘VOICE AND INTELLECTUAL FORCE’…. We talked yesterday about how anxious Democrats and their allies are to “promote Rush Limbaugh as the public face of the GOP.” As Greg Sargent reported, “key leadership staff in the House and Senate, and in all the political committees, have been encouraged by senior Dem operatives to push this message wherever possible.”

To help drive the point home, consider what viewers heard on “Face the Nation” this morning.

Not missing any opportunity to make Rush Limbaugh the figurehead of the GOP, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel called the brash talk show host the “voice and the intellectual force and energy behind the Republican Party” on Sunday.

Appearing on CBS’s Face The Nation, Emanuel brought up Limbaugh without being prompted. Applauding the conservative radio personality for being upfront in his desire to see the president fail, Emanuel went to great lengths to make the case that Limbaugh, more than any other contemporary figure, is the leader of the GOP.

Emanuel wasn’t subtle. Indeed, he emphasized the fact that “whenever a Republican criticizes him, they have to run back and apologize to him and say they were misunderstood.”

The more Limbaugh talks, and the more he actively roots against the United States, the more Democrats like Emanuel will be exploiting this for all it’s worth.

In 2008, the top priority for Democrats and their allies was tying George W. Bush around the Republican Party’s neck. In 2009, Bush has been replaced by a figure that’s arguably far more loathsome: a drug-addled shock-jock who’s actively rooting for America’s decline.

The key difference? In 2008, Bush hid from public view. In 2009, Limbaugh can’t wait to jump in front of the cameras and share his twisted ideology with anyone who’ll listen. He is, in other words, making the Democrats’ job easier.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.