LIMBAUGH’S HAITI COMMENTS DRAW FIRE…. Obviously, radical TV preacher Pat Robertson’s remarks on the devastation in Haiti have generated widespread revulsion. Alas, it probably won’t change his leading role in conservative Republican politics.

But he’s not only the only extremist who’s made outlandish remarks regarding the Haitian disaster. There’s also Rush Limbaugh, who told his radio audience yesterday:

“Yes, I think in the Haiti earthquake, ladies and gentlemen — in the words of Rahm Emanuel — we have another crisis simply too good to waste. This will play right into Obama’s hands. He’s humanitarian, compassionate. They’ll use this to burnish their, shall we say, ‘credibility’ with the black community — in the both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country. It’s made-to-order for them. That’s why he couldn’t wait to get out there, could not wait to get out there.”

He also rejected suggestions that people contribute to relief efforts: “We’ve already donated to Haiti. It’s called the U.S. income tax.”

While the remarks have generated some criticism, including some pushback from the White House, no one seems especially surprised by Limbaugh’s callousness. Limbaugh spews bile on a daily basis, and is richly rewarded. This is just who he is.

But Kevin Drum asked the same question I always ponder every time the right-wing, drug-addled radio host crosses the decency line: “I wonder what it takes to get the conservative movement to disown this guy?”

I wonder the same thing, but it simply never happens. On the other side of the ideological divide, when a Democratic lawmaker works with or appears at Netroots Nation, there’s ample criticism from the right about Dems associating with “liberal extremists.”

And yet, no matter how loathsome a figure Limbaugh becomes, top Republican officials not only reach out to the right-wing talk-show host, but effectively treat him as the de facto head of their political party. Indeed, in the rare instances in which a Republican actually offers subtle disapproval of Limbaugh, they invariably apologize to him and kiss his proverbial ring.

The GOP effectively lets Rush Limbaugh call the shots, and when he says disgusting things, Republicans don’t dare disagree with their boss.

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Steve Benen

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.