I do it for entertainment purposes more than anything else, plus it helps me when I’m arguing with the one or two people I know who are still willing to lay claim to being members of the “Tea Party”.
I admit it – I occasionally watch Fox News.
One night near the end of July, Rush Limbaugh was interviewed by Greta Van Susteren, and she asked him a question about the “C” word. No, not that word – they talked about “compromise”.
For those of you who learned American political history, the “art of compromise” is the one phrase in our political lexicon that we’re all supposed to recognize as a fundamental element of our style of government. We are the citizens who can disagree, but by God we always work out our differences, with a few notable and tragic exceptions. But overall we have done a fairly good job in the post-war era of getting things done.
Of course, we now find ourselves with a Congress that cannot or will not agree on anything. We routinely approach fiscal crises, congressional leaders propose legislation with no chance of passage, and we spend most of our time blaming the unreasonable people on the other side of the aisle because they will not capitulate. If things do not change we are in danger of a real national catastrophe. So the question for today is “what is Limbaugh doing”?
Rush Limbaugh is calling for Republicans to continue to resist “compromise” with Democrats as a means of “defeating” those socialist demons. Limbaugh, who has a well-documented career as a national embarrassment, has once again revealed that he is a bullshit artist of the highest order. He wants us to remain intolerant of our political opponents. Democrats, according to Limbaugh, are solely to blame for all of our problems. Democrats are not good Americans; they are purposefully working toward the demise of our beloved country. Democrats are the enemy. If that view of the world was even remotely accurate there would be a clear logic to the notion that Democrats must be defeated.
The problem is that Limbaugh knows that his assumptions are plainly unsupportable. It should be apparent that most Americans, at least on a national level, tend to support the social policies advanced by the Democratic Party. Most Americans support a woman’s right to choose, most Americans support some form of gun control, most Americans support health care reform, and most Americans are tolerant of gay marriage. Democrats have done a very nice job of underscoring these facts and shaping a national dialogue that has effectively blamed Republican leadership for the grid lock in Congress. By shaping that message Democrats have done a remarkable job on a national level of damaging the Republican Party. Actually, Democrats don’t deserve all of the credit here as Republicans did most of it themselves with their inability to silence those among them who advocate regressive social measures. They also suffer from a form of political schizophrenia which keeps electable social moderates out of office. Take a moment and look what Republican PACS do to moderate Republican primary candidates in Congressional races. Unless a candidate emerges from a liberal district she faces an impossible task of winning in a primary against a social Neanderthal. Thanks to Republican gerrymandering, the district lines in far too many districts have served to keep moderate Republicans out of Congress: even the rational ones tend to come from conservative districts and in order to win come November they must vote in step with the far conservative wing of their party to remain viable especially on the core issues of reproductive health, gun control and gay marriage.
The wing nut side of the party includes people who really believe the rhetoric and they are the folks who moderate Republicans haven’t been able to silence due to the lack of a strong national leader like Ronald Reagan. Of course the problem facing Republicans today is that you cannot win on a national level if you can’t develop strong national candidates because your congressional candidates must appease a lunatic fringe which insists on teaching our children that mankind lived alongside dinosaurs, that women who are raped can somehow turn off the sperm of their rapists, and gay and lesbian people are immoral.
If the Democrats can nominate presidential candidates who can control themselves sexually it appears that the GOP must run a fiscal conservative who is socially moderate in order to win the presidency. Unfortunately, because of people like Limbaugh, the party faithful insists upon candidates who hold to social principles which are out of step with most Americans.
A perfect example of this was Mitt Romney’s candidacy. Romney spent the majority of his political life espousing moderate to liberal social principles and pro-business conservative economic policies. When it came time to make his two runs at the Oval Office he had no choice but to reverse his position on literally every one of his views on issues of gun control, abortion, and healthcare. Had he chosen to stand on his positions he would not have been able to win the nomination. His decision to select Paul Ryan as a running mate was made to reinforce the idea that he was a true social conservative, at least among the Republican base. The irony of Romney’s candidacy is that the old Mitt Romney, tolerant at least of a woman’s rights, in favor of common sense gun control measures, and staunchly in favor of universal health care while firmly a fiscal conservative, was electable especially in his run against President Obama. Let’s face it; Obama was vulnerable as a result of modest economic improvement over the course of his first term. But because of the pressure to conform to appease the social conservative the new Mitt Romney was condemned to failure as a flip flopping opportunist who wasn’t ultimately trusted by liberals or conservatives. President Obama was able to exploit the flip flopping and to create real suspicion about Romney’s lack of any core values.
Limbaugh still doesn’t get it because he is calling for a doubling down of what he perceives to be the core conservative principles by Republican politicos. He was quite clear; there can be no moderating of those principles, according to Limbaugh, because it will spell the end of our democracy. Liberal Democrats should applaud Limbaugh’s miscalculations. If the Republican Party does not move off of its positions on abortion, gay marriage, immigration, military spending and gun control they will not only NOT defeat the Dems, they will doom themselves to a long run of Democratic presidents.
Consider the Republicans over the course of the past fifty years who have been successful as national candidates: Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Nixon and Bush (41) were downright publically ambivalent when it came to a strong conservative social agenda. Hell, today Nixon would be viewed as more of a Clintononian moderate. Reagan was a master of keeping his campaign and the party he controlled on message. He gave us what he knew we would react to – rebuild American world power, strengthen our economy and let the Falwell’s of the world worry about our souls. Ronald Reagan was a political giant who understood that before you could shape the national dialogue you had to get yourself elected. He selected a northern moderate Republican vice president and he crushed his Democratic opponents. George W. Bush was in a different position because of the national sense of shame that arose as a result of Bill Clinton’s personal shortcomings….so “W” was able to shape a message which moved us closer to a conservative social agenda. “Family Values” and “I’m a compassionate conservative” played very well after old Slick Willy couldn’t keep his hands or his cigar off of Monica. So when a guy like Limbaugh urges his party to stick to unpopular objectives and a commitment to never work with opposition leaders we must wonder what he’s up to.
I assume that Limbaugh is reasonably intelligent, so it is fair to wonder why he would willy-nilly ignore the success of the men he regards as heroes of the Republican Party. I think the answer is clear: Limbaugh cares about one thing and only one thing – his place as a national political figure. Rush Limbaugh will remain relevant, at least to the folks on the far right of the spectrum, only as long as he can cast himself as a warrior against the continuing decay of American values. If the Republicans nominate a man like Reagan who will work with the Dems in both houses of Congress he knows that he loses his status as the “Boy Who Cried Wolf”. It is clear that Limbaugh could care less about solving our national problems; the really interesting thing is that also could care less about restoring the GOP to relevance. He must recognize that Republicans are losing ground as a result of our ever changing national demographics, so why does he urge immigration policies that only serve to ensure that Hispanic voters remain securely Democratic? He must know that an overwhelming majority of Americans favor some form of gun control and yet he remains unwilling to consider even background checks. He calls women “sluts” at a time when his beloved party is struggling to find a way to divert attention away from its anti-women agenda. The truth is that a grid locked America allows Limbaugh to rail against Democrats as a cancer. Rush Limbaugh doesn’t care about a conservative social agenda….Limbaugh cares only about perpetuating the myth that he is relevant.
If the Republican Party wants to improve its chances to regain the presidency they must move toward a social platform that does not alienate vast segments of the electorate, they need to support candidates who can convince women, gay and lesbian and Hispanic voters to choose to vote in support of fiscal conservatism and compassionate social policies.
As a Democrat I fully support Limbaugh’s flawed self-interested thinking, as an American I think it is high time that we wise up when it comes to this knucklehead.