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I look forward to the comments and emails that will come in from this commentary. Last night I watched the interview Greta van Susteren did with Rush Limbaugh. I understand he is a lightning rod and I know the derangement that the mere mention of his name induces to those on the left who are either committed socialists or who have never actually listened to his program for any significant amount of time.
But I thought the clarity and the insight that he brought to the Obama presidency, its failures and dangers, as well as the wisdom he was giving for Republicans heading into 2012 was simply brilliant. He runs counter to the conventional wisdom and yet when he explains his position you come away thinking, "how can the conventional wisdom be so conventional when it's so stupid?"
Rush gave his typical (and accurate) assessment of the continual obsession amongst Republican establishment types to nominate a "moderate" who will appeal to the great center of the political spectrum. He put it this way:
The Republican establishment has decided they don't want any part of conservatism. And this is really not new. People are surprised to hear this, but the Republican Party formative event with conservatism is Goldwater's landslide defeat. That's what they think of when they think conservative. They don't think Reagan, they think Goldwater.
They believe what the inside-the-Beltway philosophy is about conservatives. They're racist, sexist, bigot, homophobe, Southern hayseed hicks. They're pro-lifers. They're embarrassing to have to go to convention with them. And they're just embarrassed to have those kind of people in the party. They're dumb. They're not erudite. They're not educated in Ivy League schools. We'll take their votes on election day, but we really don't want to hang around with them. We don't want anybody in Washington thinking that we're really that close to them and aligned with them.
So in the process -- you know, it's a very sophisticated electorate. The Republican primary voter can sense that the Republican Party really doesn't like them, really doesn't want them, thinks that they are the route to defeat. That's the problem in a nutshell. The Republican establishment thinks that a conservative nominee is the route to defeat because they think Goldwater landslides are going to happen because they believe what the popular misconception the left has created of conservatives -- they think everybody thinks that.
Rush is right, and you wonder how many John McCains, George H.W. Bushs, Bob Doles we have to cycle through until conservatives realize that rather than trying to appeal to the squishy center by picking someone squishy, we ought to try picking someone who is a strong conservative and will persuade the squishy folks to follow us.
But the most compelling and the most important part of this interview was the way Rush characterized this silly game conservatives play about never being on offense. We feel like going on offense and being critical of liberals is going to turn off the moderates. Rush points out that you've got people like Barbara Boxer out there saying Republicans are going to kill 8100 people if they have their way with the payroll tax bill and Nancy Pelosi saying much the same. In other words, liberals never hesitate to go on offense and say horrible things about the Republicans. They never worry about tying the person to the policies. Why do conservatives?
Here's Rush's wisdom:
And so the independents -- this is the craziest thing. Listen to this. I love this! And Barbara Boxer said yesterday that Republicans, with this latest bill on the payroll tax and the pipeline, want to kill 8,100 people -- 8,100 people. Barbara Boxer, Republicans want to kill 8,100 people. Republicans want dirty air, dirty water. Republican CEOs want to kill their customers, OK? Now, that's what the Democrats say. You've got mean-spirited extremist stuff coming out of Harry Reid's mouth and Pelosi's mouth. You've got that.
Then you have our candidates. There was a fascinating news story on Yahoo News the other day. Yahoo inadvertently was invited to listen to a conference call between the RNC and a polling group. I think it was Torrance. The RNC was seeking advice from Torrance on how to beat Obama. And the people at Torrance said, "Well, don't criticize him personally. He's got very high personal numbers. People love him. Feel even feel sorry for him. Don't attack Obama."
OK, well, then you'll lose. If that's what you're going to do, you lose because you can't separate Obama from his policies. You can't -- and they said, Don't bring up Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Don't bring up Bill Ayers. Don't bring up anything that -- don't -- don't go personal. (INAUDIBLE) People like Obama. Well, OK. Put ourselves in a straitjackets, we lose.
What -- and that belief system is rooted in the fact that -- great 20 percent, precious independents and moderates don't like conflict, don't like criticism of Obama, don't like confrontation. They want to us work together across the aisle, compromise. Fine.
Really? So we criticize Obama, they're going to run off to Nancy Pelosi or Barbara Boxer, who's accusing us of killing people? They look at the Democrats as mild-mannered compromisers? It's a bunch of crap, Greta!
This whole notion that the Republicans can't be confrontational, can't be aggressive, can't go on offense because they're going to tick off the independents, and instead of running the Democrats is a scam philosophy that has been foisted upon us to shut us up! It's a minor version of political correctness. We're not supposed to be honest in what we believe. We're not supposed to be critical of liberalism or socialism. It makes the independents nervous.
So what do we do? We nominate milquetoast moderates! And what do they do? They lose! But we feel better about ourselves.
I know I'll be accused of hero worship here, and that's okay. The truth is that in grad school and since I've read volumes and books full of political analysis and explanation. Since starting this radio program I've heard hours of analysis from Karl Rove and James Carville and all kinds of political brains, and Rush Limbaugh has a grasp on stuff that these guys could only dream of having. His ability to entertain is unquestioned - the ratings prove that. But I think the most understated thing about Limbaugh is his sharp insight and political wisdom. The man is a giant of conservatism in this country. His brief commentaries like this do more to advance the cause and bring clarity to the state of the movement than a hundred volumes on the same subject.
When it comes to what he does, the man is incomparable, and that was on full display last night.