Saturday, June 1, 2013

Limbaugh explains his party

Prologue. I'm adding this section based on a comment that the material is dated. The reason I delve into this topic is 1) to gauge Limbaugh's influence; 2) to read for myself what Limbaugh proposes for this country; 3) to discover his methods of argumentation. I believe Limbaugh's influence is waning, but his proposals and methods remain worth examining.

Limbaugh spends most of his time bashing Obama and other Dems in power, and much less time suggesting a conservative platform that makes sense and contains any detail. This is the closest I found to policy prescription:
First principles, first conservative constitutional principles are the answer.  Articulating that as fact with depth and conviction is what the people of this country want...  We are fed up and exhausted with people who measure their comments. The blueprint for rebuilding America has been written.  Ronaldus Magnus wrote it; Barry Goldwater wrote it; William F. Buckley Jr. wrote it; Burke wrote it, any number.  Friedrich Von Hayek wrote it; Milton Friedman wrote it.  Market capitalism is the answer.  Robust liberty and freedom for the American people is the answer, and then a government willing, after unleashing that, to get out of its way is the answer. 
It all starts with the individual.  Private property rights is the foundation because without private property rights there are no rights for people anywhere else.  The Republican nominating process is a competition of ideas and the ability to communicate how can we get back to our pursuit of happiness?  How can we get back to our pursuit of excellence?  How can we get back to the trusted institutions that have defined this nation and its greatness for hundreds of years?  How can the individual be empowered?
Not too many specifics there. Market capitalism will do all the heavy lifting, and if you have any doubts, you have to go somewhere else for even a hint at a different solution.

With this lack of policy discussion, Limbaugh does his audience no favors. Candidates are distinguished not by their policy ideas, but by other aspects (same link as above):
And whichever of these Republicans has the ability to consistently say so, take it to Obama, stand up for America, stand up for the American people, articulate a great belief and faith in the decency and the potential greatness of the American people... is who is going to get this nomination.  And that is who is going to lead in the polls... 
Nobody should be shocked, I don't believe, to learn that a Republican articulating conservatism fearlessly who is also pointing out the media's partisanship, who schools the media in their own malpractice... The American people, the vast majority of them want the media defeated every bit as much as they want Barack Obama defeated because the American people understand that they're one and the same.  The American people understand that American decline is being happily presided over by Barack Obama and the acolytes and stenographers and the fellow travelers in the media who build Obama up facilitate America's decline...
But Newt, or whoever, in the Republican primary field, this field of nominees, when they go after the media, they are signaling to the American people that they understand and are fearless and are willing to buck the establishment. 
Republican voters are fed up with establishment Washington Republicans kowtowing to the media, trying to use the media to get their message out, worrying about what the media says or thinks about them.  The American people don't want somebody who's afraid of the media.  The American people, the voters on our side particularly wants somebody who will take 'em on, just like we want somebody who will take Obama on fearlessly and not be worried about what's going to be said about it...
Limbaugh's prescription for choosing the GOP presidential nominee was to give the base red meat--lots of bashing of "Barack Obama and the acolytes and stenographers and the fellow travelers in the media who build Obama up facilitate America's decline."

However, when those red meat pitchmen stumble because they'll spin any story (Bachmann and the herpes vaccine), or they can't remember which government departments are superfluous, or their 9-9-9 plan doesn't add up, the lack of policy knowledge does cause a bit of a problem. Here's what Limbaugh says about the failure of the read meat provisioners:
The Republican establishment's trying to marginalize the Tea Party. So really, at least for me, [it] is not hard to understand. Now, there's an abject sense of panic that has set in... The race is gonna go on. See, they thought that this would be over before it started. Remember what I told you: They're gonna split the conservative vote and elect the moderate. They were gonna stand traditional theory on its head.
The traditional theory is: In the primaries, you play to your base, you win the nomination; then when you win the nomination and go to the general, that's when you go push moderates like McCain does -- and you lose. They decided, "We're gonna lose from the get-go. We're gonna nominate a moderate. We're gonna take conservatives in our party that we can't stand and we're gonna have as many of them up there as possible splitting vote," in this case splitting the polls, because there weren't any votes until January. But they were hoping the polls would end this race before a vote had been cast. So they welcomed Perry getting in and Ron Paul and Herman Cain and all these people, because it allowed them the opportunity to ridicule them.
Wow. All those crappy candidates were a cunning idea of the GOP establishment. How convenient that they all decided to enter the race, but I suppose the establishment wooed them with sweet talk via untraceable  telephone calls. One thing Limbaugh doesn't explain is how the establishment managed to keep the one good Tea Party conservative candidate (whoever that was) out of the primary.

Limbaugh also ignores that many of the non-moderate, non-Romney candidates had their turn at the top of the polls. That would have been an ideal time for conservatives to rally around, but it didn't happen. Why? Don't expect any analysis from Rush.

Here, from a single hour, is Limbaugh encouraging a "red meat" caller:
CALLER:  Listen, wife and I even talked about this Saturday before we voted, and you're the only one that I hear say it and you're exactly right, it is exactly a message that we're trying to send.  We're Romney supporters... but we kind of decided to vote for Newt and it was specifically because of what he did in the debates and taking the media to task and actually just making us feel good about that.  We're so sick and tired of every single time we watch the news or anything in the media the feeling we get, the sick feeling we get every story they tell almost... And actually we really want Romney to hear that message, though, this message that we just sent by voting for Newt.
RUSH:  I know.
CALLER:  That's what I wanted to do, I want him to take that.
RUSH:  ...The heads of your party, you want the people that run the party that you're a member of to get the message, stop making fun of you, stop impugning you, stop thinking you're a bunch of hayseed hicks.  You just to want save the country. You want somebody that's gonna have fire and brimstone to go out and beat Obama.  You don't want people that are afraid to campaign.  I know exactly what this victory in South Carolina was all about.  The Republican primary voters are this audience... the people who make this country work are sick and tired of being blamed, falsely accused, attacked, called bigots and racists and sexists and homophobes and all these other horrible, rotten things, selfish, greedy. 
They're seeing their futures robbed. Their party doesn't seem to have the guts to do anything to stop it.  They see their party leaders wanting to get themselves in charge of it all.  This guy, if I'd-a let him go on, he'd say, "We don't care if Newt were married ten times right now. We don't care if Newt had married a horse right now.  The message is what we want sent."  We want this party to figure out how to represent us.  We think we know how to beat Obama, and it's not with McCain.  It's not by going after the independents.  It's not by saying we want to compromise and cross the aisle and work with those people who are destroying this country as it was founded.
Note how Limbaugh channeled that comment and built on it. In contrast, see how he manipulates the discussion away from a caller who wants a competent manager, not a "narcissistic orator:"
CALLER: You know, (sigh) I hired a lot of people in my time, and my golf course architect, I had a very good one, and I hired him, you know, based on what he could do, but I also hired him based on his character. So I went to do a little research because I hadn't really checked into the candidates all that much, and so I just started Googling, and I was just astounded of what I found out both about Gingrich and Romney -- and, you know, it comes down to me: "What's the question? Do we want to hire a successful manager to run this country, or do we want to hire another narcissistic orator?"
RUSH: It's not about either of those right now. That's what I'm trying to say. Those are backbench issues right now. That's not what's going on here. What's going on here is the conservative base trying to send a message to the Republican establishment: "You're gonna have to have somebody who's legitimately conservative. That's the only way we're gonna be passionately behind our nominee, and that's the only way we're gonna beat Obama." This is something really big. This is not the voters saying, "We love Newt! Newt's the only guy!" That's not what's going on here. Newt's a vessel right now, and Newt would be wise to understand that, too.
So, according to Limbaugh, competence, character, and avoiding a narcissist are "backbench" issues. That's not what's important... if it stands in the way of the read meat rhetoric that Limbaugh and his audience love. Newt is the one giving the best red meat at this point, but he's just the "vessel" -- a good escape hatch if Limbaugh wants to turn on him.

It's no wonder that Limbaugh that is a terrible source for understanding the GOP. He doesn't understand how his party keeps picking moderates, and he doesn't understand how the country as a whole prefers candidates who aren't doctrinaire conservative.

I had been hoping for insight on why the loudest voices in the GOP wail and moan about not choosing conservative candidates, yet it happens two presidential primaries in a row. Who are the Republicans responding to the polls, which showed for much of 2011 that Romney was not the one they wanted? I can't tell whether conservatives are in the majority in the GOP or whether pragmatists are. Please, someone, help me! (Someone other than Rush Limbaugh.)

EIB = Excellence in broadcasting, LOL

Presage of the election demographics and Rush doesn't believe it.
Typical Rush: Another exemplar concerning Pelosi, whose criticisms sound pretty valid to me, but he does squat to refute them.
Rush on policy--bizarre paranoia.
RedState supports Rush for having "spine."
The kind of adulation of Obama that Rush derides.
A different voice in Jan '09: GOP needs to change and adjust --Bruce Bartlett
Also by Bartlett in July '07--who is the anti-Bush?


Dangerous said...

I really hope the Right and the GOP keeps listening to and following Rush's advice. He's so out of touch it would be like the Democrats and Progressives taking marching orders from Jesse Jackson -- probably with similar electoral results.

Blowhards never play well over the long term and demanding fealty to weak assertions of righteousness in their interpretation of the Constitution and Free Market just reinforces for most people -- and particularly where it matters in the swing suburbs -- how out of touch with reality the GOP leadership and mouthpieces are for real Americans' lives and needs.

ModeratePoli said...


A section of the GOP may be listening to Rush, but it's not close to a majority. Rush really pushed Newt, not to the point of an endorsement, but giving Newt's statements lots of positive play. The party didn't go for it.

I think Rush talks for a rump of the GOP, and not any more than that. Nonetheless, he still damages the GOP as a whole, as with the Sandra Fluke remarks. He does represent the nasty side of too many Republicans. People see it and take notice. So you may get your wish even without the GOP taking advice from Rush.

Kylopod said...

Pointing out that Rush's influence has waned misses the point in some ways. Rush pioneered a style of right-wing commentary that has become pervasive today among talk-radio and Fox News commentators, featuring quasi-populist anti-intellectualism, demonization of liberals, conspiracy-mongering, heavy use of propaganda and falsehoods, and a blurring of the line between commentary and entertainment (providing a convenient fallback after saying something offensive--"Can't you take a joke, people?!"). When you have all the leading GOP presidential candidates in 2012 cracking teleprompter jokes, saying "Democrat Party," and worshiping at the altar of Sainta Ronnie, it's safe to say that the influence of Limbaugh's style over contemporary GOP politics is as alive as ever.

ModeratePoli said...

@Kylopod, your points are excellent. His personal influence may be waning, but the style remains ascendant. I don't foresee the style changing because so many current factors support it. Stridency on one side reinforces stridency on the other, and that cycle will go on.