THE TORCH HAS BEEN PASSED

After the Democrats' overwhelming victory in the 2008 election, there was a moment when a few Republicans said less-than-flattering things about Rush Limbaugh, who was then the king of right-wing talk radio.

They were immediately forced to recant.

There was Michael Steele:
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele says he has reached out to Rush Limbaugh to tell him he meant no offense when he referred to the popular conservative radio host as an “entertainer” whose show can be “incendiary.”

“My intent was not to go after Rush – I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh,” Steele said in a telephone interview. “I was maybe a little bit inarticulate. … There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership.”
And Congressman Phil Gingrey:
Following statements made to Politico yesterday telling Rush Limbaugh to "back off," Republican congressman Phil Gingrey now has his tail between his legs. In a groveling call to Limbaugh's conservative radio program this afternoon, Gingrey offered a humble apology and described Limbaugh as a "conservative giant" ...
And Congressman Todd Tiahrt:
... in an interview with the Kansas City Star editorial board, Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) risked alienating thousands of ditto-heads by giving his honest opinion of whether Rush Limbaugh was the “de facto leader of the GOP.” “No, no, he’s just an entertainer,” Tiahrt said.

According to the Wichita Eagle ... Tiahrt’s office is now also rushing to apologize:
... “The congressman believes Rush is a great leader of the conservative movement in America — not a party leader responsible for election losses,” Sackett told The Eagle editorial board. “Nothing the congressman said diminished the role Rush has played and continues to play in the conservative movement.”
A few years later, Republicans were groveling again, but this time it was before Donald Trump. Lindsey Graham went from calling Trump "a kook ... crazy ... unfit for office" to gushing that Trump had “allowed me in his world.” Mitt Romney attacked Trump, then was humiliated when the then-president-elect invited him to dinner to discuss the job of secretary of state, after which he gave it to Rex Tillerson. Ted Cruz and Trump traded insults during the 2016 primaries, then Cruz began kissing Trump's ring on a regular basis.

But now it appears that there's a new Grand Inquisitor on the right, or perhaps Grand Humiliator, a feared enforcer of conservatively correct doctrine:
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) found his name trending Thursday on social media for all the wrong reasons after what critics called a “groveling” and “humiliating” appearance on Fox News.

And it all started after he finally said something honest about the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol....

Cruz this week called it a “violent terrorist attack,” in line with a Jan. 7, 2021, statement he made calling it “a despicable act of terrorism.”

Those comments enraged far-right conspiracy theorist Tucker Carlson ... who called him out over it on Fox News this week.

On Thursday, Cruz went on Carlson’s show to bend the knee, calling his own comments “sloppy” and “dumb.”

But in one of the most uncomfortable moments on Fox News, Carlson wasn’t buying it:

It's almost as if Trump has ceded sole ownership of January 6, and with it the Republican Party. Carlson is at least a co-owner now, and he enforces doctrinal purity rather than Trump.

I wonder what would happen if a Republican dared to say that Carlson isn't an important figure in the conservative movement, and is "just an entertainer." Would he be threatened with banishment until he prostrated himself and conceded that Carlson is a giant among men? Maybe Ted Cruz should test the waters. He seems to like groveling.