RUSH: Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, as you know, we discussed in some detail or some length a piece that appeared Sunday in the Washington Post. The essence of the piece was that I am now irrelevant, that Senator McCain beat me in the South Carolina primary -- even though I was not on the ballot. I've been rendered irrelevant. No longer do conservatives and Republicans follow my advice. You heard all this yesterday. I'm not going to relive it, but that was the essence of it. I also said during the program yesterday, during a heartfelt moment with a caller who was asking me a series of questions, I said, "It's possible that I might not even vote for the Republican nominee this year." It's "possible." Today, I'm hearing from all over the fruited plain a Los Angeles Times blog has done an entire post on that and how frustrated I am and what it might mean. Other radio hosts all across the fruited plain are focusing on what I said about this yesterday. Fred Barnes in the Wall Street Journal today has a piece, the title of which is: "Now McCain Must Convince the Right."
Now, I'm confused by all of this. I thought yesterday I was irrelevant and should just shut up. So why is what I said yesterday worth beans to anything? Why is it that I'm the one being discussed? Why is it that I'm the one being written about, when Sunday in the Washington Post and a couple other talk show hosts proclaimed me dead, irrelevant and in fact a problem? And, of course, there were the demands that I just shut up and stop talking about this. Here's Fred Barnes today: "John McCain has a problem. After winning South Carolina's primary last Saturday, he should be the overwhelming favorite to capture the Republican presidential nomination. He's not, at least not yet, and the reason is that he's alienated so many conservatives over the past eight years. Mr. McCain may become the Republican nominee anyway -- in spite of thunderous opposition by conservatives including radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, former Sen. Rick Santorum, and American Conservative Union (ACU) head David Keene. Even then, to win the general election, he must find a way to reconcile with conservatives and unify the Republican Party."
Really? I don't think that's what his game is. I don't think unifying the Republican Party is the game here. I think going out and getting Democrats and independents and moderates is his game. But anyway, Mr. Barnes says, "Mr. McCain will have to take the initiative to repair the relationship, and he appears ready to do just that." Then you jump to the last couple paragraphs of this piece that's in the Wall Street Journal. Mr. Barnes is advising Mr. McCain on reaching out to conservatives to "unify" the Republican Party, and he says this: "Spotlighting his conservative positions" would be a "start" for McCain. "A few gestures bound to gain national attention would help. Appearing at today's March for Life demonstration in Washington would underscore his anti-abortion voting record." More on that as the program unfolds -- and then Barnes writes this: "As Mr. McCain campaigns in Florida before next Tuesday's primary, a visit to Rush Limbaugh's home in Palm Beach to discuss conservative issues makes sense."
How can this be, Brian? Yesterday, I'm irrelevant. I've been told to shut up. I'm being blamed for the problem. I'm told that no longer do people follow my influence; I've become the Republican establishment. The Republican establishment is dead! "They don't care about you anymore, Limbaugh. They're doing the exact opposite of what you say, Limbaugh. You've lost it, Limbaugh," they said, and they've been saying this since 1988. Now today, Fred Barnes is suggesting that McCain look me up here in Palm Beach before the Florida primary. I have a similar idea. Why shouldn't Mr. Barnes call up Mitt Romney or Fred Thompson and ask to go by their house to discuss conservatism? Why do I have to sit around and talk to McCain about conservatism? What's going to happen there? You notice how this is working? Even though I'm irrelevant, somehow these guys have got to get my stamp of approval. I, and perhaps others at talk radio, remain the holdouts here.
So until McCain does this he's going to have problems unifying the Republican Party. Now, this doesn't jibe with the fact that I have no power anymore and that people are rejecting me. But it also presumes that McCain is the nominee. It also presumes that I'm the one that needs to get my mind right, and McCain can come and do that. (McCain impression) "That's right, Limbaugh! It wouldn't take ten minutes because I will dazzle you, like I dazzled the North Vietnamese!" Okay, so I gotta sit here and be dazzled. Why should these other media guys not have to go talk to Romney or Fred Thompson or Rudy, in their homes to find out about conservatism? Fascinating! I mean, this is some position to be in, folks, as someone who's finished; who's been written off as irrelevant. This is not about me. Don't misunderstand. My ego is not hurt here. I'm fascinated by the ebb and flow of this. I should be shut up; now they want me to talk to the guy, or him to talk to me.
RUSH: We now move to the Los Angeles Times blog, where once again the irrelevant Rush Limbaugh is the sole focus. I don't want you misunderstanding this, folks. This does not hurt my feelings and I'm not lashing back here. I'm having fun with this. They're the ones who make all these points. Do you remember me running around (crying) "I don't matter anymore." That's not what this is. I'm amazed at what "irrelevant" has come to mean in the Drive-By Media. Anyway, this is Andrew Malcolm, who is one of the political bloggers at the LA Times and their blog called Top of the Ticket. Here's an excerpt: "Monday on-the-air he'd had enough of these impure candidates and enough of all these questions about his endorsement and when it would come and how he'd make his decision and he just blurted out to Jim in Kansas City and a few million others listening in: 'I can see possibly not supporting a Republican nominee.' WHAT?! Across the country, people were dropping their coffee cups, choking on sandwiches, fainting and driving off the road. The king of conservative talk-radio not supporting the Republican nominee? Was Rush Limbaugh pulling … a James Dobson on his now nervous fans? 'And I never thought that I would say that in my life. This stuff is very tough.' No kidding. Who'd a thought? It's tough enough just listening to him go through this, let alone live it like he is. What's a genuine broadcast conservative icon to do? 'You don't have a genuine down-the-list conservative,' he noted. So, he advised, a Republican voter must look at 'variables.'" He quotes me accurately throughout this thing.
Now, my reaction, which is what makes this interesting after all, true? Not only was I said, on Sunday in the Washington Post and echoed by some inconsequential talk show hosts, to be without clout now, the clout's gone, the conservative South Carolina gave me the bird, is what they wanted to suggest. They also used to say I was in the tank for the GOP. Remember those days? Whatever the GOP did, I was right there. Limbaugh was nothing but a cheerleader. Now yesterday I mentioned the possibility that I can see not voting for the Republican nominee this year. It's just clear these people do not understand. I'm in my 20th year and they still don't understand this show. They still look at this show through their clichéd prism. They do not understand it's so simple. I am a conservative who puts the country first, not a political party or a particular nominee. I didn't say I would not vote for the Republican nominee. I said I might not. Now, for all this talk about conservatism being dead, may I ask you people, you lovely, adorable, wonderful people in this audience, a question. Why are all the Republican candidates pretending to be Ronald Reagan, if the era of Reagan is over? If conservatism is over, why are they all trying to be Reagan, including McCain? How come McCain's not running on his amnesty record? Why is McCain not running on several aspects of his record that are not conservative? Why is he not doing this? Why has Romney become pro-life? Why does Huckabee pretend he never raised taxes and has always wanted border endorsement? Why does he do these things? Does that sound like conservatism is dead?
You should have seen the Democrat debate last night. Ronald Reagan was a star. Hillary and Obama got into an argument over whether Reagan was praised by Obama, and all Obama said was he was a transformational figure. Reagan is captivating everything and who brought Reagan into all of this in this campaign -- me, the guy who's lost all the clout. I start talking about Reagan, Reaganism, and conservatism, and a bunch of people, "Ah, the era of Reagan is over." And yet every one of our nominees on the Republican side is doing their damnedest to fit into the Reagan mold. Does this sound like conservatism is dead to you? It sure doesn't to me. So these are fascinating things to watch.
By the way, the Florida primary is Tuesday. Remember when McCain went into Michigan, and he was given great credit here by the Drive-Bys, straight talk, straight shooter, hit people right between the eyes, being really honest with them. He said, (paraphrasing) "Hey, you people in Michigan, some of these jobs you've lost are not coming back." Romney said, "What do you mean? We'll get 'em back." The correct answer, they might not come back in the form in which they were lost, but the idea we can't modernize the Michigan economy, the idea we can't bring new kinds of jobs there is silly. For somebody to see these jobs are not coming back implies they're not going to try anything to get 'em back. Okay, and then the Drive-Bys, "Wow, that's the kind of straight talk we need. We need to tell people their future sucks. We need to tell people there's no hope. That's honest." That's the kind of thing he gets praised for. He has done it again in the Florida primary. McCain told local reporters in a hurricane strike zone that he did not support national catastrophe insurance, a position certain to rankle some Floridians and perhaps draw fire from his opponents, namely Rudy. McCain said, "I believe that this nation and federal government has an obligation to help out in any tragedy or natural disaster. Very badly, we need to fix our ability to bring relief, help and assistance, both short term and long term, to the victims of disaster. I do not support a national catastrophic insurance policy. That insurance policy is there, and it's called FEMA, and it's called disaster preparedness and it's called addressing disasters."
Now, if some of McCain's opponents are on the ball, they could say, "Well, John McCain said if you lose your home in a hurricane, it's not coming back. We're just not going to get those homes back." Is FEMA going to rebuild your house? They may give you a trailer that will never get there. How conservative is this? (doing McCain impression) "Limbaugh, we've got insurance, it's called FEMA. I'm going to be in charge. It's going to work!" Okay, so the trailers are going to come in, the bottled water is going to come in, but can't buy catastrophe insurance, so got a hurricane that hits, it's going to happen again, and those homes that are lost won't be coming back. I don't know if any of our guys running against McCain have the ability to put it that way. Guidance from me, of course, irrelevant, since I have lost my clout. We lose homes in Florida, they're not coming back. Just like the jobs in Michigan. Quick call here before we go to the break. This is Joe in Dallas. Nice to have you, sir. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, Rush. Lifelong conservative, and what I wanted to say today was, you know, I've been watching this battle with Hillary and Bill and Obama, and I have a great deal of admiration for Obama. I mean, he's taken the high road, and he seems to be just an honest young man, and when you're running against a couple of patent liars like he is, it's really different, and I'm certainly not going to vote for him. I think just listening to the dialogue that you just had, instead of calling McCain McCain, I would call him a hurricane, because no one's going to shove McCain down the throat of us conservative Republicans. It's not going to happen.
RUSH: Well, it's not the throat that's the orifice I'm concerned with.
CALLER: Yeah. Well, that, too. But, you know, we're just sitting here, we've all pulled back our -- most of us have pulled back our funding for the Republicans. They used to just put their hand out and get it. They don't get it anymore, and it's driving them crazy. And we're just waiting in the bushes. But McCain is not going to pass the litmus test for conservatives this time around, and we do have a choice. I think Romney, with all of his flaws, is certainly not Ronald Reagan, and I have a portrait of Reagan hanging over my door in my entryway to my house --
RUSH: There is no Reagan. Reagan was just an expert at implementing the basic philosophies and foundation of conservatism, and he combined it with just a hugely charismatic, likable personality. Personalities are unique to each individual. But the conservatism survives. With Reagan, we're not talking about a cult of personality here, we're talking about fealty to things that we know work: the Constitution, future of the country, so forth and so on. Joe, I appreciate it.
RUSH: Okay, so Senator McCain's position is no disaster insurance for citizens, no catastrophe insurance for citizens. Fine. Good. Cool. But McCain says yes to Social Security and health care and in-state tuition benefits for illegal immigrants. So you see, ladies and gentlemen, there's nothing logical or conservative about holding these two positions. If we're not going to have catastrophic insurance for hurricanes in Florida or elsewhere, because it would be budget busting or whatever but we are going to provide Soc. Security and health care and in-state tuition benefits for illegals, why, how do you reconcile those two? McCain, by the way, is running around saying he's against Big Government spending. He's going to rein it in. We're going to get serious about this. Well, if that's true, he should never have been leading the biggest budget busting new program of all. You know what that is? What was the biggest budget busting new program of all, recently? No! Amnesty for illegals. Do you realize how much that would have cost? An enormous amount of federal tax dollars, that amnesty bill would have cost.