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3/3/2009
RUSH VS. NEWT: GAME ON!

I am still trying to digest what everyone agrees was an important speech by Rush Limbaugh to CPAC attendees on Saturday. It was, perhaps, the most entertaining political speech I’ve ever heard. But a speech that will last for decades and make an impact on the conservative movement? No one knows. But we can try and judge it based on some solid principles of what makes a good political speech.

I have often pointed to Theodore H. White’s definition of what goes into the making of a good political speech - the moment in history when the speech is given, the background or “framing” of the speech, and the words themselves. In these respects, Limbaugh hit a stand up double and, with a little more effort, may have stretched it to a triple. The moment in history was ripe; conservatism at sea, rudderless, and uncertain of itself in the age of Obama. The backdrop - the CPAC convention with just about everyone who is anyone in the conservative movement present and paying attention (exceptions include some more moderate conservatives frozen out by the movement) as well as mass media coverage. But the words themselves meandered aimlessly at times as Limbaugh treated the address more like an extended monologue from his radio show rather than a well crafted, carefully thought out political speech.

Newt Gingrich also spoke to a large, enthusiastic crowd at CPAC but didn’t get half the coverage of Limbaugh despite a speech that, in many ways, was even more important than Rush’s tour de force. The difference in the two speeches was striking. Rush eschewed a teleprompter - to his detriment I think while Newt used the device to say exactly what he meant to say. Meanwhile, Gingrich had his ideas bubbling up from somewhere deep inside, churning and frothing on the surface until they were laid out like a picnic lunch, cogently and coherently by a master conceptualist. Limbaugh’s speech was more volcanic- erupting against Obama and the Democrats emotionally while flowing effortlessly from pop culture conservatism to a more thoughtful but still generalized critique of the Obama administration.

The juvenile confrontation yesterday between Limbaugh and RNC Chairman Michael Steele, placed in the context of Limbaugh’s extended remarks at CPAC, would lead one to believe that there is the possibility of a civil war erupting in the GOP between the grass roots and the elites. That may yet happen. However, I think it much more likely that war will break out between movement conservatives like Gingrich and “party men” like Limbaugh.

Who is Rush Limbaugh? And why did the only other speech of note at the conference - New Gingrich’s much more thoughtful but flawed critique of conservatism - not receive the massive attention devoted to Limbaugh?

Because Rush is on radio? I’m sure that’s part of it. But beyond that, one speaker gave the audience largely what they wanted to hear, putting into words the feelings and fears of listeners while the other engaged the minds of his audience by relating some uncomfortable but necessary truths. In that kind of competition, the appeal to emotion wins out over the appeal to intellect every time.

Limbaugh does not fit any of the comfortable definitions that liberals and the media love to apply to conservatives. Calling him a mere talk show host is simply wrong and reveals the ignorance of anyone who tries and make that claim. Limbaugh has crossed the cultural divide and, like Obama, become more than a political figure (or entertainer) and achieved a peculiar kind of celebrity. Ross Douthat believes a more appropos comparison is with Oprah Winfrey, someone who crosses easily between the entertainment and political world. In this respect, the irony is that both men start from the other side of that divide. Limbaugh, the entertainer has passed Obama while on the way to achieving his status as political bellweather of the GOP. Meanwhile, Obama was moving the other way, from political force to cultural celebrity. Loved by their legions of supporters, despised by their opponents (with both men generating a hate from their opponents that mirrors the passion of their supporters), the deliciousness of this parallel between the two men shows both the strengths and weaknesses of our political culture.

But Limbaugh’s status is a millstone around the neck of conservatism. Despite his obvious gift of a sharp mind and his presenting the clear impression that he has given a considerable amount of thought to the nature of modern conservatism, Limbaugh nevertheless has a rather narrow and even shallow view of what conservatism is and where it stands right now.

Limbaugh’s speech appealed to the heart, rather than the head.

For those of you just tuning in on the Fox News Channel or C-SPAN, I’m Rush Limbaugh and I want everyone in this room and every one of you around the country to succeed. I want anyone who believes in life, liberty, pursuit of happiness to succeed. And I want any force, any person, any element of an overarching Big Government that would stop your success, I want that organization, that element or that person to fail. I want you to succeed. [Applause] Also, for those of you in the Drive-By Media watching, I have not needed a teleprompter for anything I’ve said. [Cheers and Applause ]  And nor do any of us need a teleprompter, because our beliefs are not the result of calculations and contrivances. Our beliefs are not the result of a deranged psychology. Our beliefs are our core. Our beliefs are our hearts. We don’t have to make notes about what we believe. We don’t have to write down, oh do I believe it do I believe that we can tell people what we believe off the top of our heads and we can do it with passion and we can do it with clarity, and we can do it persuasively. Some of us just haven’t had the inspiration or motivation to do so in a number of years, but that’s about to change. [Cheers and Applause]

Limbaugh struggles to move beyond these show biz tropes when he gets into what he describes as a definition of conservatism:

Let me tell you who we conservatives are: We love people. [Applause] When we look out over the United States of America, when we are anywhere, when we see a group of people, such as this or anywhere, we see Americans. We see human beings. We don’t see groups. We don’t see victims. We don’t see people we want to exploit. What we see — what we see is potential. We do not look out across the country and see the average American, the person that makes this country work. We do not see that person with contempt. We don’t think that person doesn’t have what it takes. We believe that person can be the best he or she wants to be if certain things are just removed from their path like onerous taxes, regulations and too much government. [Applause]

We want every American to be the best he or she chooses to be. We recognize that we are all individuals. We love and revere our founding documents, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. [Applause] We believe that the preamble to the Constitution contains an inarguable truth that we are all endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life. [Applause] Liberty, Freedom. [Applause] And the pursuit of happiness. [Applause] Those of you watching at home may wonder why this is being applauded. We conservatives think all three are under assault. [Applause] Thank you. Thank you.

Aside from the small matter that the quote about “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” appears not in the preamble to the Constitution but the Declaration of Independence, that is a very nice start to explaining what conservatism means.

But after telling the audience he was going to define conservatism, Limbaugh flits away off to another red meat topic guaranteed to light a fire under his listeners. His bragging about not needing to write down what his principles are because “we can tell people what we believe off the top of our heads and we can do it with passion and we can do it with clarity, and we can do it persuasively,” may be true as far as it goes but I am reminded of Francis Bacon’s admonition “Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.” Judging by Rush’s speech, he was anything but “exact.”

But this didn’t seem to bother his thousands of admirers as he hammered away gleefully at Obama and liberals. Here, Rush shows he’s somewhat familiar with Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s critique of the effect of the welfare state on Black families and gets to the nub of the Obama revolution; dependency:

They do believe that they have compassion. They do believe they care. But, see, we never are allowed to look at the results of their plans, we are told we must only look at their good intentions, their big hearts. The fact that they have destroyed poor families by breaking up those families by offering welfare checks to women to keep having babies no more father needed, he’s out doing something, the government’s the father, they destroy the family. We’re not supposed to analyze that. We’re not supposed to talk about that. We’re supposed to talk about their good intentions. They destroy people’s futures. The future is not Big Government. Self-serving politicians. Powerful bureaucrats. This has been tried, tested throughout history. The result has always been disaster. President Obama, your agenda is not new. It’s not change, and it’s not hope. [Applause] Spending a nation into generational debt is not an act of compassion. All politicians, including President Obama, are temporary stewards of this nation. It is not their task to remake the founding of this country. It is not their task to tear it apart and rebuild it in their image.

(Crowd chanting “USA”)

It is not their task, it is not their right to remake this nation to accommodate their psychology. I sometimes wonder if liberalism is not just a psychosis or a psychology, not an ideology. It’s so much about feelings, and the predominant feeling that liberalism is about is about feeling good about themselves and they do that by telling themselves they have all this compassion. You know, if you really want to unhinge a liberal it’s hard to do because they’re so unhinged now anyway, even after — but all you have to do is say you know that the things you people do, the things you people believe in are cruel. That’s the last way they look at themselves. They are the best people on the — they’re the good people. You tell them that their ideas and that their policies are cruel and the eggs start scrambling.

But it was Rush’s references to Reagan that put him at odds with reformers like Gingrich. Limbaugh believes talk of “change” is treason. There is nothing wrong with conservatism that wouldn’t be cured by transplanting the Reagan agenda to the present:

Conservatism — for us to make the decision that we’ve got to figure out policies, to get the Walmart voter — psst, we’ve got most of them already, is the bottom line. Conservatism is a universal set of core principles. You don’t check principles at the door. This is a battle that we’re going to have. And there are egos involved here, too. When the situation like ours exists, there are people who want to lead it. They want to redefine it. Their egos are such that they want to be the next X, whoever it is. So there will be different factions lining up to try to define what conservatism is. And beware of those different factions who seek as part of their attempt to redefine conservatism, as making sure the liberals like us, making sure that the media likes us. They never will, as long as we remain conservatives. They can’t possibly like us; they’re our enemy. In a political arena of ideas, they’re our enemy. They think we need to be defeated. Why do you think — you all in this room know this. For those of you watching at home, my first address to the nation — [Laughter] — I’m sure you paid close enough attention, that you knew at one time Senator McCain was the favorite Republican of all the cable news networks and the Sunday shows. And they would just — I mean their tongues would be on the floor. The media people (panting) when they knew McCain was coming. And they would treat McCain as the greatest guy in the world. Did you wonder why? You were told he was moderate. He was not strict. He was not an authoritarian, he was able to walk to the other side of the aisle, able to get along with the enemy. And everybody wants love and bipartisanship.

That’s not why they invited Senator McCain. They invited Senator McCain because he happened to be the loudest at criticizing his own president and his own party and that’s what they want, is people from our side — and there will be factions in our movement, folks, who are going to make an effort to say we have to grow, we can’t stay stale, I think I heard the term used the other day. Nothing stale about freedom. There’s nothing stale about liberty. There’s nothing stale about fighting for it. Nothing stale whatsoever. [Applause] Freedom. Are you getting tired of standing up, I don’t blame you. By the way for those watching on TV you think the standing — people are just tired. They’ve been up and out of their chairs 100 times here. [Applause] Thank you. Freedom — freedom is the natural yearning of the human spirit as we were endowed by our creator. And the United States of America is the place in the world where that yearning flourishes, where freedom is expected because it’s part of the way we’re created.

I will say frankly that this is the nuttiest part of Limbaugh’s speech. There is probably no one answer to what ails conservatism but there is widespread agreement among profressionals that people like Rush, who wish to repeal not only the Great Society but also the New Deal, are anachronisms. It is not going to happen - ever. The question then becomes do conservatives chase a will o’ the wisp goals that guarantee them permanent minority status or do they apply conservative principles to government as it is and not as we would wish it to be?

I am a broken record saying this as my regular readers know. Since I began promoting this course of action, several commenters have made some excellent points that reveal glaring weaknesses in this formulation. To wit.

* There is a danger that anything proposed by conservatives in Congress would be seen simply as “liberal lite” and voters would give the GOP no credit for dealing with reality.

* The nature of the opposition would make any effort to apply conservative principles to governance moot.

* There is also a danger of throwing our principles under the bus in an effort to compromise.

* The American people are basically conservative and all we have to do is become more conservative ourselves to win.

This will not be an easy or quick route back to power. But I believe a recognition that for conservatism to be vital it must be brought into the 21st century where appeals to the heart fall by the wayside and calls for new thinking dominate. Here’s Gingrich at CPAC (unfortunately I have been unable to acquire a transcript of this speech and only have these extended excerpts):

The great irony of where we are today is that we have a Bush- Obama big spending program that was bipartisan in its nature. Last year the Bush-Obama plan had a $180 billion stimulus package in the spring which failed. It came back with a $345 billion housing package in the summer which failed. It then had a $700 billion Wall Street spending package in October which failed. It had a $4 trillion Federal Reserve guarantee which failed… We got big spending under Bush, now we got big spending under Obama. And so we have 2 new failures. The lesson I draw from this is that we have a party of the American people… that was led by Ronald Reagan and on the legislative side reached its peak with the Contract with America and the election of a majority actually dedicated to reforming welfare, cutting taxes, and balancing the budget. And there is a party of big government and political elites and tragically in the last few years the Republican party became the right wing of the party of big government and political elites. And that is why there is a Bush Obama continuity in economic policy which is frankly a disaster for this country and cannot work.”

I find it fascinating that both men invoke the name of Reagan in two entirely different theaters. Rush points to Reagan’s core beliefs as set in stone - despite the fact that 48% of Americans already pay no taxes at all. How across the board tax cuts would generate the trillions in revenue to offset the damage already done by Obama goes unanswered.

On the other hand, Gingrich takes the Gipper’s desire to reach out to Democrats and independents and uses it as a model for a conservative comeback. Note also that where Rush almost exclusively talks of Republicans, Gingrich speaks more generally about conservatives.

I consider this the most important statement made during the entire week:

And so it is time to recreate the party of the American people and to recognize that that is a much bigger party than the Republican party. In every major political speech Ronald Reagan reached out to Democrats and Independents as well as Republicans, and he understood to govern in America you have to bring people together in a tripartisan majority. We are bigger than the Republican party, we stand for principles that transcend the Republican party, and we’re going to fight for the principles that lead to economic growth and jobs.”

It is implicit in forming this “tri-partisan majority” that some aspects of the welfare state as well as regulatory agencies are remade to function according to conservative principles and not done away with entirely as many Limbaugh conservatives would like to see. Too many Americans benefit from these government programs for the Middle Class to abandon them in favor of some nebulous promise that suffering by denying oneself benefits from government is somehow enobling. In a modern state of 300 million people, the Jeffersonian “yeoman farmer” model of the republic is a fantasy that, if it ever was true, hasn’t been so for more than 100 years.

Limbaugh, the Iconoclast vs. Gingrich the Conceptualizer. That is where the movement will cleave most noticably. One side living in the past, fantasizing about recapturing conservative greatness by stroking Reagan’s name and accomplishments as if they were a magic talisman designed to wipe away the modern world and lead us back to some ancien regime where everyone bagged their own meat, built their own houses, and churned their own butter. The other, dealing with life in America as it is in the 21st century - an enormously complex clash of interests where conservatism must find a comfortable place in which to compete in the great marketplace of ideas.

It will be a lovely little war.

By: Rick Moran at 9:23 am
38 Responses to “RUSH VS. NEWT: GAME ON!”
  1. 1
    rascalfair Said:
    10:13 am 

    Why a war? They’re both right. We can’t save our country by being Them-Lite, Rush is right about that. Nobody expects to dismantle the things that can’t be dismantled, but getting them to work, minimizing them, reducing people’s dependency…both Rush and Newt would agree there. Rush’s point is that the Republican Party is not the point…America is the point. Damn the Republicans if they can’t save America. Newt says the same, and calls for extension beyond the Republicans… There it is…let’s get anybody who wants to save America and save it. Those that want to play the same old game, changing sides on the court from time to time, well count me out. I’m taking my ball and going home, or to play with someone who wants to play the game I want. Saving America. It’s the only game worth the time.

  2. 2
    michael reynolds Said:
    10:16 am 

    Rush or Newt. Newt or Rush. Which unlikable, angry, has-been will symbolize the GOP?

    This may be the best exemplar ever of “a win-win situation.” For Democrats.

  3. 3
    funny man Said:
    10:49 am 

    In my opinion, most people base their political opinions on emotion more than on ‘ratio’. Gingrich, although not always right, tries to give conservative politics a rational basis. Obvious case: of course we have to reach out to moderates if we are to in any election. Limbaugh appeals to emotions; it’s just we and them. Great for the ‘angry white male’ not a way back to power.

  4. 4
    sara in va Said:
    10:57 am 

    Why did Rush get all the love?

    Because he’s not a politician.

    Newt represents the old guard, even if he has new ideas. His view that Reagan reached out to Democrats is right, but it was a different world back then. Newt is trying very hard to be the new Reagan truth bearer. But it’s almost painful to see how much he appears to want that (his Reagan movie and all). When someone wants a crown really badly, it’s just a little ugly and we avert our eyes.

    I really tire of the war going on. I’m the last person in the room who would shy away from a fight, but geez-louise, this war is growing tiresome. I don’t know who’s on my side today, changes by the minute it seems.
    All I want to do is remove Obama’s marxist a$$ from office and take back a few seats in 2010. Is that too freakin’ much to ask?

  5. 5
    Chuck Tucson Said:
    11:18 am 

    If the American voters were to give the country back to the Republicans to facilitate this so called ’saving of America,’ I’m curious to know how things would be different from the previous Republican reign of power that ended just recently.

    I think America needs to be saved from both parties.

  6. 6
    Mark J. Goluskin Said:
    12:30 pm 

    There is nothing wrong with having both Newt and Rush out there in their different capacities explaining the conservative/Republican message. We can learn from both of them. I think that conservatives need to stop beating up on each other and use some of this on the Obama administration and the raping of the free-enterprise economic system. We need to have two plain-speaking people like Newt and Rush.

  7. 7
    Robert Said:
    12:43 pm 

    The focus should be on conservatism and not party affiliation. In that aspect I agree we can reach accross the board because I know that there are conservative democrats that are extremely uncomfortable with where Obama is leading us. They are not likely to stand up for those beliefs in the current climate for fear of being steamrolled. It is conservative principles that made the country great not republicans. Only when republicans followed these principles did they suceed i.e. Newt and his contract with America. They failed because they broke the contract. I love Rush and Newt. Mainly because if they do nothing else they bring attention to the problem that we have as conservatives. I don’t know what the right path is for sure and only time will be able to tell. I hope we choose wisely. I think a concerted turn back to conservative principles will begin to heal our credibilty. That is the place to start.

  8. 8
    John E. Howard Said:
    1:09 pm 

    Limbaugh, the Iconoclast vs. Gingrich the Conceptualizer.

    As said above, we need both. But right now we’re in a vicious intellectual war with progs who hate. Rally the troops first and inspirit them. Give them hope and raise that flag they’re fighting for, or all the conceptualizing in the world won’t matter.

  9. 9
    jazplyr Said:
    1:40 pm 

    To hell with Limbaugh and Gingrich! Neither one of those louts even mention the one definitive solution that would bring our country back to prosperity. In fact Limbaugh will not even let it be discussed on his show. I’m referring to the FairTax. It must begin from the ground up. Of course, the K Street lobbyists will fight it tooth and nail because they’re not stupid. When 22mil is invested in the research of an idea that means something to me. It’s non-partisan, being authored by John Linder and Colin Peterson. Does Gingrich or Limbaugh care about common sense or conservative capitalism? Hell no! Gingrich is a deceiver and Limbaugh is just a rabble-rouzer. At least Mike Huckabee shows a little common sense in his support of Fairtax. If anyone is curious I would recommend both books.

  10. 10
    Person of Choler Said:
    1:40 pm 

    The trouble with Gingrich is that he brings talking points to a gunfight.

    Limbaugh, however much I dislike his arrogant blowhard attitude and superficial grasp of ideas, is at least aware of the nature of the contest we’re in.

    “Come let us reason together” doesn’t do much when, for example, ACORN is fully staffed and loading up with taxpayer money for the 2010 elections.

  11. 11
    sara in va Said:
    2:09 pm 

    jazplyr #9

    You had me from hello.

    … and then you mentioned Mike Huckabee.
    Bye.

  12. 12
    mannning Said:
    2:25 pm 

    I have seen the call for new ideas and new directions for conservatism being made by many spokespersons. What I have seen very little of are presentations of well-thought-out ideas that have both the punch and the basis in conservatism required to capture the imagination of the public.

    It is still true in my mind that a tax cut is the bread and butter issue for now, paralleled, obviously, by significant spending cuts somewhere.

    But where are the really new ideas that would replace or complement these staid and sound ideas of the past? Tax cuts are an easy sell, normally. Spending cuts are going to be a very hard sell when the opposition is using a snow shovel to toss money into the economy, to save jobs, and mortgages, and cars.

    But it is precisely spending that must be brought under control, and if it is attacked by us in the next election cycle, many of our citizens will believe that they will suffer for it (probably rightly) and will opt for shovel-loads of taxpayer money yet again.

    The old saw of shooting for greater government efficiency to save taxpayer dollars has been used over and over, I would say with very limited success, among many reasons, because government growth overwhelms the savings, the system itself mitigates against contraction of services for needs, the protection by Congress of fiefdoms, the incessant and effective lobbying for this or that program continuation, and what I will term “poor utilization of human resources” in government, just to get around lots of sensitive pieces of the problem.

    Entitlements are yet another area that must be handled, including SS and Medicare. They are the largest spending sector, and they have large constituencies as well. The opposition is going to offer low cost or even some free medical care, subsidized by the government. That tends to trump rational suggestions that promise to put these programs on a healthy financial basis over time, but must have many subscribers to pay fees in the meanwhile.

    If we look into Education, or Energy, or Defense, or (God help us!) Climate Change, for new ideas, we hit the shovel approach again head first from the opposition, right in the middle of the depression/recession/stagflation or what have you? in 2010.

    What I return to is the crying need to identify a significant list of line-item targets for spending reductions and the rationales for them that sell the public practically on the face of what they are now. The magnetic rail line in Nevada comes to mind, and bridges to nowhere that keep cropping up, or saving a rodent or bug in the desert or forest are examples. The identified savings would have to amount to many billions of dollars, while not doing more harm than good.

    So, I am hoping for some brilliant men and women to put the new ideas and their justifications up for review real soon now. The complexity of it all is daunting. I envy no President his job, but I do reserve the right to object to what is proposed, particularly in the case of the Obama/Reid/Pelosi Triumverate.

  13. 13
    mannning Said:
    2:43 pm 

    Yes, the FairTax and the Flat Tax are worth looking into. But, how do you sell either of them to the 40% and soon to be 60% of the voting taxpayers that currently owe no taxes at all, and may well get money from the IRS anyway via negative income tax provisions?

    Then too, either of these approaches will hit another big wall, and that is the constitutional change that would be required to the 16th Amendment in order to allow them to function. There could go years of the ratification process.

    The real fear I have is that we just might end up with the worst of both worlds–the income tax, and the FairTax/Flat Tax–given the thirst for revenue in the Triumverate.

  14. 14
    jazplyr Said:
    4:24 pm 

    Sara; did you read the books I suggested? Huckabee didn’t write ‘em! Whenever I encounter a new idea, I study it for merit before I accept or reject it. hr 1025 and s 1025 (FairTax) have been introduced in both chambers. These so-called conservative talkers; Limbaugh, Hannity, Ingraham, won’t even consider arguments for/against the initiative. They are just a crowd of blowhards with closed minds. It would be a herculean task to overturn the 16th amendment, but that’s not out of reach. Again, I must emphasize, the job, of necessity must begin from the bottom up. Difficult? Unquestionably yes. We can’t sit around waiting for good things to be handed us on a platter.
    Blessings,
    the Jazplyr, Gene Sprenkle

  15. 15
    mojocaesar Said:
    5:45 pm 

    I agree, both Rush and Newt are correct in what they say and how they say it.
    Each has a function and purpose and they are both saying the same thing…and that is.. (Conservatism is a part of America that is not confined to a political party) Rush speaks in laymans terms while Newt is the techincian. Newt is passive and Rush is agressive. Newt wants to reach out and sell the conservative message to the ADD public, while Rush wants to let conservativism speak for itself (if the conservatives actually practice conservatism…which was the slap to M Steele) So, GOPers need a combination of them. A person that appears humble and articulates as well as Newt with the simplicity and emotion of Rush…in other words, a GOP BHO.

  16. 16
    funny man Said:
    6:25 pm 

    I disagree with some of the posters here. Rush and his followers are often quite vocal in their opposition to Rinos, so called elitist intellectual conservatives, many who don’t follow the dogma laid own by the Rushbo. They believe this is a necessary cleansing of conservatism. I don’t. I think this is a sure way into the wilderness.

  17. 17
    mannning Said:
    6:39 pm 

    In Holland, they ended up while I was there with an 18% VAT tax, plus a 62% income tax. Not easy to save money with that combined rate.

  18. 18
    Ken Said:
    7:54 pm 

    You’ve go things 180 degrees wrong when you call Rush Limbaugh a party man and Newt Gingrich a movement conservative. Limbaugh’s philosophy has not changed or “matured” as yours has. His conservatism is the same today as it was when he wrote his two books in the 90’s.

    His position is now and has always been, stick to the principles. I agree that Reagan was more pragmatic than Rush. I fault Reagan for that. But Reagan was a politician and Rush isn’t. He is a voice for fundamental conservatism: low taxes, small government, maximum personal rights.

    It appears to me that you are the one who has lost perspective and like other former conservatives have become centrists and more party men than you realize.

  19. 19
    michael reynolds Said:
    8:08 pm 

    Ken:

    You don’t get it at all.

    Rush Limbaugh stays rich if he continues to pander solely to wingnuts. Wingnuts are his audience. The only way he could really hurt his bottom line is by changing.

    GOP politicians, on the other hand, have to get re-elected. And they know if they follow Limbaugh they’re Whigs. Done for as a national party.

    Rick actually seems to give a damn about the party and its prospects. Possibly because he understands that there are only the two parties and the only one even slightly likely to advance conservatism is the GOP. So he actually wants the GOP to survive.

    Rush only cares about himself. His money, his power, his ego.

    Which is why Democrats like me are buttering popcorn and enjoying the show. See, we want Rush in charge. We are Rush’s second biggest supporters. Because unlike the nihilist dittoheads, we can read polls.

  20. 20
    Hyde Park Libertarian Said:
    8:27 pm 

    I’ve lately come to the conclusion that while many can opine as to what American Conservatism should be, no one seems able to define what true American Conservatism is, or its’ relevance in the 21st century.

    Limbaugh’s red meat anti intellectualism has very little appeal for libertarians, most of whom have deserted the movement and the party anyway. Conservative elites driven from the movement because they dared to question the qualifications of the “red meats” favorite daughter, Sarah Palin. Religious/social conservatives unapologetically clinging to their pro-life, anti-gay marriage litmus tests, paleocons migrating to god knows where, neocons forever discredited for their chicken hawk hypocrisy, and the economic conservatives belief in free markets proven a lie by their many exceptions.

    Add to this disarray the massive demographic shifts going on in both the southeast and southwest coupled with a growing number of Americans who like to vote themselves “stuff” and suddenly the task of reviving and revitalizing American Conservatism seems not just daunting, it seems impossible.

    Reality bites.

  21. 21
    Joe Said:
    9:39 pm 

    Not a center-right country anymore, a fact that Limbaugh and other rabble rousers like Hanitty just ignore. Do some conservatives just ignore the demographics? Gingrich gets this, imho Rush does too, he just pretends he doesn’t so he can continue his purity movement. The worlds changing, Limbaugh wants to re-live the glory days, Reagans ghost is tired of being conjured up, the gop is imploding before our very eyes.

  22. 22
    retire05 Said:
    10:04 pm 

    If I were to ever visit this blog and Rich had one descent thing to say about Rush Limbaugh, I think I would collapse from shock. This constant basing on a man who has been the voice for conservatism for 20 years is beginning to look more like sour grapes than rational thought. Envy comes in all kinds of packages.

    Saying Rush “status” is a millstone around conservatives necks. What the hell does that mean? Does it mean that if Rich had a talk show with the number of listeners that Rush commands, Rick would be the new “millstone” since not all conservatives agree with Rick?

    Conservatism needs both Rush and Newt, the same way that we needed Patton and McCarthur. Both have a purpose and both contribute to the conservative movement.

    Basically, Rick has begun to sound no more than someone who had eaten one too many sour grapes.

  23. 23
    retire05 Said:
    10:05 pm 

    Sorry, since I can’t edit my last post, please, replace Rich with Rick.

  24. 24
    Chuck Tucson Said:
    11:53 pm 

    Conservatism needs both Rush and Newt, the same way that we needed Patton and McCarthur. Both have a purpose and both contribute to the conservative movement.

    Conservatism needs liberalism more than it needs Rush and Newt. Without that duality, both would die horrible deaths.

  25. 25
    bsjones Said:
    5:24 am 

    manning,

    I thought #12 was a great post, but the real Triumvirate is The Democratic Party/The Republican Party/Wall Street.

    More evidence here:
    http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2009/03/fed-talf-to-begin-disbursing-funds.html

    and Here:
    http://www.creditwritedowns.com/2009/03/aig-the-biggest-quarterly-loss-in-corporate-history.html

  26. 26
    WhereIsLincolnWhenYouNeedHim Said:
    5:37 am 

    What is your objective in this article?

    Are you jealous of Rush Limbaugh?

    Why making a fight between Rush and Newt? Can’t you handle Rush on your own and you need Newt to do the battle for you?

    Stop this. Rush and Newt are both in agreement. Stop over-analyzing.

  27. 27
    jambrowski Said:
    5:41 am 

    rick,
    one of the best posts yet.
    you are absolutely correct, the conservative movement needs to change with the times, not only do we not live in jefferson’s world, we do not live in reagan’s world, things have changed, the economy is driven differently, we have new allies, we have lost others, the world is smaller, and like it or not, it is even more vulnerable to all manners of ilk (notice i didn’t say catastrophe). we do need to move past the old mantra of bigger boom stick, religion, and tax cuts. most importantly, as i see is important to all those around me (i am in the business of higher education) we need to dump, expunge, flat out leave behind the unhinged “right”, if and when we do that we can move this party forward, if not we will continue to stagnate. people are sick and tired of the far right and religion hijacking/pervading every aspect of conservatism (or at least as it is portrayed by the media) yeah, the media, like it or not as long as they can keep playing clips of some nitwit protesting abortion or being a complete hypocrite (e.g., ted hagard ring a bell, baker, delay, etc…) we are screwed…
    keep up the good fight rick!!!

  28. 28
    P. Aaron Said:
    3:18 pm 

    Nature abhors a vacumm and the Republican leadership has provided one. Until they fill it to the satisfaction of their supporters and voters alike, fill it with leaders who can articulate conservative positions and effectively define the opposition, we will always appreciate a glib and pointed response to our critics.

    Be mad at the GOP, they’re the one’s who need to change their tactics, they’re the one’s with whom you are stuck with. You can tune Rush out…if you chose to.

  29. 29
    Chuck Tucson Said:
    3:39 pm 

    What we really need is a convenient, web based way to make it easier for Republicans to apologize to Rush.

  30. 30
    michael reynolds Said:
    4:11 pm 

    Chuck:

    Funny you should ask:

    http://www.dccc.org/content/sorry

  31. 31
    mark30339 Said:
    9:30 pm 

    Thanks a bunch Rick for focusing on Newt’s well crafted speech. I checked it out at http://playpolitical.typepad.com/us_politics/2009/02/newt-gingrich-addresses-cpac-2009.html

  32. 32
    Thomas Jackson Said:
    3:10 am 

    Very Dreheresque.

  33. 33
    Gary Gatehouse Said:
    3:30 pm 

    Rush,
    Is a motivator-plain and simple, he talks at a level most Americans understand.

  34. 34
    Gary Gatehouse Said:
    3:31 pm 

    I forgot to mention Liberalism is DEAD–it has been replaced by the second step towards Communism–and that would be SOCIALISM

  35. 35
    mimi k Said:
    9:35 pm 

    Yes, I do choose to tune in to Rush and shall continue to. “Angry white male” crap has nothing to do with his success, but he does express exactly my hopes and frustrations.

    Gingrich — he’s had his chance. And in the last 8 years he tended to blow it (i.e. photo with Hillary, “global warming” crap). That, and other incidents make him an untrustworthy game player.

    The GOP has no message — our representatives, disfunctional. Years missed opportunities has left us scattered. The GOP primary season was an example of the disconnect our party has. Couldn’t stand Huckabee (jerk), McCain (though I was forced to vote for him). Loved Thompson (but what was that about). Romney (he had and still has potential, but he tends wimp out in embarrassing ways). Then there were the others … what can I say.

    And hey, what was going on with Bush in the last 4 years? Seems he and his administration put absolutely no effort to appear to be anything Republican even — forget conservative

    I’m sick of them all. I don’t know what the answer is. Frankly, I don’t think the majority of the country really care, either.

  36. 36
    Political Blog Weekly: 3 March 2009 | U.S. Common Sense Pinged With:
    9:26 am 

    [...] "Rush vs. Newt: GAME ON!" Originally published:  3 March 2009 Submitted by:  U.S. Common Sense Summary:  Comparing the CPAC speeches between Rush and Newt, and how they view Republican comeback differently. [...]

  37. 37
    Newt 2012 - Page 2 Pinged With:
    9:37 pm 

    [...] Right Wing Nut House RUSH VS. NEWT: GAME ON! __________________ To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts. [...]

  38. 38
    Leah Said:
    10:35 pm 

    It’s sad that so many are apparently cursed with short memories.

    I remember back in 2004 when the Dems lost seats in both the House and Senate (including Tom Daschel losing his seat) and Kerry lost to Bush. To quote Washington Post writer John F. Harris on the day after the 2004 election: “It is still a divided country, but the evidence was clear that it is becoming a more Republican one.”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/politics/elections/2004/

    The Dems then went into circular firing squad mode. Many pundits, talking heads, and blog posters opined that the Dems would be lost in the wilderness for years to come. Now they’re saying basically the same thing about the Republicans.

    The Republicans will be back in force and probably sooner than most think. And it will most likely be caused by the Democrats mistakes and over-reaching as opposed to Republican ideas or leadership.

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