RUSH: Yes, I know, ladies and gentlemen, even when I'm not present at an event, I hijack it, I upstage it. Greetings, my friends, great to have you with us. It's Rush Limbaugh, back in action behind the Golden EIB Microphone here at the distinguished and prestigious Limbaugh Institute for Advanced Conservative Studies. The telephone number, if you want to be on the program today, is 800-282-2882. The e-mail address, ElRushbo@eibnet.com.
Okay, ladies and gentlemen, I think I owe you a little bit of an apology here, well, sort of an apology, but an in-depth explanation of what happened that caused a firestorm to kick off late yesterday afternoon. Here it is in the chronological order of events, and this has to do with my absence yesterday from behind the Golden EIB Microphone. Last week I received an invitation from President Bush to attend a farewell luncheon with just the two of us in his dining room off of the Oval Office. I readily agreed to this, and it was for yesterday. I intended to mention this to you on Monday just to let you know that I would not be here on Tuesday. I forgot to mention it to you on Monday and when I ended the program on Monday, I said, "See you tomorrow," and the staff said, "No, you won't, you won't," when the program was over. So I decided to have a little fun and play a typical little radio prank.
This past Monday Barack Obama had a press conference in which he said he was open to any idea that worked, and I, after having heard that and played that sound bite on this program, offered to meet with Obama at any time to present an idea that would work as opposed to his, which would not work. I mean, I was being bipartisan. The idea here that this is hope and change -- you know what change would be, would be a 15% flat tax. A real change would be revolutionary. What Obama is offering is more of the old and the same old, dating back to the 1930s. So I offered myself up, and I said, "I will meet with you any time, anywhere, on a moment's notice." So I instructed the guest host yesterday, Jason Lewis -- 'cause you were going to tune in yesterday and I wasn't going to be here and you had no idea why because I forgot to tell you that I wasn't going to be here yesterday -- so the prank was Jason Lewis was going to replay the audio clip of me offering to go anywhere at any time at a moment's notice to meet with Obama to present plans that would work.
After he played the clip of my saying that on Monday's program, he then announced that he had been informed late in the day that I was to be mysteriously absent, he had to come in and do the program, which of course created the impression, understandably in people's minds that I had been summoned by The Messiah to come up and present ideas when in fact nothing of the sort was true. It was just a gag, you know, a radio bit. So yesterday morning I rise early, head to the airport, fly up to Washington, DC, and get to the White House at 11 o'clock. The luncheon with the president was scheduled from 12 noon to one o'clock because at 1:05 he's gotta go to the East Room for the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony. I arrived at 11 o'clock as they asked me to in case the schedule was moving faster, they don't want the president to have downtime, so if you're waiting to meet with the president you're always there early in case his schedule changes. They called me into the Oval Office at 11:45. We went in, had some pictures, as is always the case. Ed Gillespie, one of the president's advisors was there, posed for pictures and so forth, president said, "Let's go eat!"
Now, the day before, on Monday, I had been faxed the menu from the White House mess. They asked me to choose what I wanted from the menu from the lunch a day in advance. So I looked at the menu, and I ordered salmon over rice and a side salad with some ranch dressing. We get into the president's private dining room off the Oval Office and in front of every place setting -- three of them, there's Ed Gillespie, the president, and me -- there's a cheese and cracker tray, a substantial cheese and cracker tray that they had not told me would be there. The president had not ordered, he ordered lunch, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And he told the steward, "I want red jelly, don't give me that purple jelly, I want red jelly." Ed Gillespie had a salad, a large salad. So shortly thereafter here came my salmon, here came my side salad and an older of French fries that I did not order and the president's got his little peanut butter and jelly sandwich there and Gillespie is looking at his salad, the president looks at me and said, "Hey, Limbaugh, we don't have all that much time to eat here, this is going to be a quick meeting." I said, "I didn't order all this but I'm happy to have it here."
Then I got my napkin out, and I'm getting ready to put the napkin on and unbeknownst to me a corner of my napkin dipped into the bowl of ranch dressing. The president looked at me with horror on his face. "Limbaugh, you're going to ruin your blue suit. This is the White House, shape up, man." I didn't know what he was talking about. "You've got salad dressing all over your napkin." (laughing) So just I'm sitting there, I'm laughing, everybody's laughing, so we had lunch, it was off the record. I mean, some of these people that had been invited up here the last week are going in for exit interviews where the president gives them a lowdown and things that he's done that he wants remembered and so forth. This was a friendly thing, all the policy stuff was off the record, and with ten minutes left in lunch, the door opens and three stewards walk in with a little chocolate birthday cake that has four candles in it, and they're lighted, and there's a little chocolate microphone on the plate with the chocolate birthday cake. My mouth falls open and I'm just in stunned disbelief, but I'm trying to act cool, I'm like, "Ah, this is no big deal, this happens to me all the time." Yeah, ranch dressing on the napkin, I'm trying to act cool here like this is all no big deal. (laughing)
By the way, how many people would admit to you that they dipped their napkin in ranch dressing at lunch at the White House? That's how secure of myself I am. I didn't know I had done it, but it was just funny the way, "Hey, Limbaugh, you're going to ruin your suit. This is the White House, man, shape up." (laughing) So anyway, they put the cake in front of me, and the president, "Don't blow it out yet," he and Gillespie stand up, they stand behind me, photographer comes in, he starts snapping pictures while the president and Gillespie and the stewards sing happy birthday to me, and I'm sitting there just choked up and I'm saying to myself, "I just wish my parents were alive so that I could be able to show them the pictures here and to tell them about this." And then after they finished singing happy birthday -- and I'm sure that I'm beet red in the face -- the president sits back down and says, "Well, let's have a couple bites and we gotta go because I got this Medal of Freedom ceremony. You're coming, aren't you, Limbaugh?" I said, "Yeah, I'd be honored to go in there."
So we left the dining room, went back into the Oval Office, and I just casually asked, "Mr. President, can you tell me who all is going to be here, who the guest list is?" So he shouts out to his secretary to come in with the guest list, then the secretary brings in the list that's stapled together and he starts going through the pages. I said, "This isn't the guest list, this is the cabinet, this is the families of the recipients. I want the guest list." The guy comes in, here it is. We're standing, all three of us, looking at the president go through this list like we're looking at official policy papers. I can't wait to see the pictures of this. So anyway, Gillespie escorts me to the East Room which is where the ceremony for John Howard of Australia, Alvaro Uribe of Colombia, and Tony Blair is to take place. And indeed, the place was full. They have a center aisle for the president and the honored guests to walk down. It's a long room, and it's set up in a configuration. So I walk in and one of the first people I see as I'm glancing around is Colin Powell. He's in the far upper right-hand corner, and he sees me the minute I walk in.
I just looked at him, and he looked at me, and I just looked at him, and finally Gillespie ushers me further into the room, where I said hi to Denny Hastert, I said hi to Secretary Rumsfeld, and we had some yuks, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the congresswoman from down in Miami, John Boehner was there, Vice President Cheney, and I'm laughing and yukking it all up with the people that Colin Powell says should stop listening to me while he's standing there watching all this. They seated me next to Fred Fielding, the White House counsel, the ceremony went for a half hour, and at that point I left. I went out to the car and I began the long trek back to Dulles, which is easily 45 minutes away from downtown Washington. So I got on the airplane, have a short taxi, we're in the air by a quarter of three, the ceremony at the White House was at one o'clock. We're in the air at a quarter of three, I have the computer with me, I fire it up, and then I hear that there is to be a super-secret dinner at a prominent conservative's home in Washington attended by Barack Obama. The prominent conservative host was not mentioned. I said, "Oh, cool, I wonder who this is."
Then the e-mails started pouring in. "Is this why you went to Washington?" "Are you having dinner with Obama tonight?" And I didn't answer any of these things. It eventually then came out that George Will was the host, and some of the attendees were Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol, David Brooks. More comment on this as the program unfolds. This was inside-the-Beltway conservative pundits and it was obvious to me Obama's objective here is to sway what I would call establishment punditry, the inside-the-Beltway people, and he's meeting with lib columnists tonight, and it was of his idea, apparently it was the transition's idea, although I'm seeing some conflicting reports that George Will has been asking for this dinner for a couple of months since the election. So anyway, I get home, and it's been a fun day, I'm recounting for people the incredible things that happened, and more and more e-mails come in, and more and more blog sites start speculating about whether I showed up, whether I was at this dinner.
And the opinion was one of two things, I had either sold out to go to the dinner, or that Obama had indeed asked to see me, because, remember, now, the little prank I played at the beginning of the program on Monday, when I said I would go anywhere at any time to help give Obama some ideas that worked, and it went all through the night, and it just kept building and building and building and finally I get a note, "Do you realize you hijacked a dinner you weren't even at?" I mean, this is almost better than the Know Your Bible Contest, except I didn't even know this was happening. When I played the sound bite of me being willing to go to Washington, or anywhere, at any time, at a moment's notice, to talk with Obama about policies that work, I had no clue that there was a dinner in Washington last night at George Will's house. Even this morning, after I had sent this story to a bunch of people to set 'em straight, evening this morning people were speculating on whether or not I was there. And I wasn't there. Here we got a little sound bite, just as an example, this is from KTTV Los Angeles, their Good Day LA show, Dorothy Lucey and Steve Edwards have this exchange.
LUCEY: Barack had dinner last night with a bunch of Republicans. Did he have dinner with Rush Limbaugh? Okay, that would be crazy.
EDWARDS: Did he?
LUCEY: No. Yes, he did -- I don't think so. Yes, he did have dinner with a bunch of Republicans, but Rush Limbaugh said he was going to DC for a secret meeting. Was he there?
EDWARDS: What are you looking at me for?
LUCEY: I hear he wasn't.
RUSH: (laughing) So here I'm heading up to Washington, DC, and it's funny, it's just hilarious, wasn't even there, and I was the focal point of having hijacked this whole thing. My so-called apology to all of you, I just forgot to mention on Monday that I wasn't going to be here yesterday, and when that was pointed out to me, we decided to have this little fun prank yesterday. It just goes to show my prescience. It just goes to show how in touch I am, my finger is to the pulse, even when I'm not aware of it.
RUSH: This is Randy, Billings, Montana, where it has to be freezing. Hello, sir.
CALLER: Oh, it's not too cold here yet, but it's very awesome to be talking to you, Rush. I just wanted to talk about yesterday. That was messed up 'cause I spent all day listening to your show and hearing about everything that was going to be happening, and I spent all night trying to imagine what would happen there, what was said, if he was even listening to you, and I'm a truck driver, so I had to make sure that I was here in time for your show to start 'cause I did not want to miss a minute of it, and, bam, it was a joke.
RUSH: See, this is a great example. I'm both happy and sad you fell for it.
CALLER: Yeah. (laughing)
RUSH: (laughing) But let me ask you a question, seriously. You know, one of the things we do on this program, the root of the gag, of course, was we illustrate absurdity by being absurd. I think it's patently absurd that Barack Obama would ever ask for a meeting with me. It is not absurd that he would ask for a meeting with the guys he asked for a meeting with.
CALLER: Right, but--
RUSH: No, wait. Hear me out on this. Barack Obama is a committed leftist, and some would say a socialist. I have just one question. Do you think that Barack Obama, the Most Merciful, the Lord Barack Obama, The Messiah, is actually interested in having his mind changed by people?
RUSH: All right. So, then, what's the purpose of this dinner last night?
CALLER: Well, I thought that maybe he might have stepped down off of his throne a little bit to actually listen to what is common sense.
RUSH: Why? Why? Why? Do you think I would convene a meeting with liberal bloggers hoping they might enlighten me or change my mind? And if I did that, what would you think?
CALLER: I wouldn't. I don't have to think that. I know you wouldn't.
RUSH: Of course not.
CALLER: There's nobody that is a liberal that could change your mind, Rush, nor mine.
RUSH: Do you think that Vladimir Lenin, if he could have, would have had a meeting with Ronaldus Magnus, hoping that Reagan could change his mind on communism?
CALLER: The key word is "hope."
RUSH: The reason I'm putting the question to you this way is to ask every one of you to consider what the motive was last night. The way the Drive-Bys are spinning this is that Obama is open-minded, that Obama is willing to listen to any idea that works, just like he said on Monday. Well, I've studied Obama's life. And, believe me, Obama is committed to what he believes in, and he doesn't change his mind on things. Now, he might want people to think that he vacillates. This is all a PR game. You have to understand the Obama administration is a giant public relations stunt. Meaning, what we see, what we hear, is supposed to cloud and confuse us when we see what he does. I would urge everybody to ignore what they say, ignore what the PR press coverage is and look at what they do. Now, in that context, Obama gets a meeting, dinner last night at George Will's house. He's got Rich Lowry, National Review, Krauthammer and these other guys, David Brooks and Bill Kristol. Now, some of the people at the meeting last night, as you and I well know, have been leading the charge that the era of Reagan is dead, that the era of Reagan is over.
Some of the people at that dinner last night have been suggesting that the Republican Party needs to become more like the Democrats. We need to go out and get the immigration vote, the illegal immigration vote; we need to look at people as groups; we need to get the middle class vote, the Walmart vote, and they got the candidate that they wanted that we went down to flames with. Is it any wonder that of all the conservatives that Obama could have reached out to he's talking to these guys? The only two people in that group last night that I would say might have held the line would be Krauthammer and George Will. But who knows. Here's what I think this was about last night. And I'll guarantee you, folks, on our side, I will guarantee you there are so many establishment conservatives, we refer to them on this program sometimes not by names, but people that think Reaganism is over, the era of Reagan is over and there are a lot on our side in media, inside the Beltway that believe that. These people are referred to as Establishment Media. There's Establishment Media, which is the Drive-Bys, and the left pundits and the conservative pundits, inside the Beltway, the established media, and then there's the New Media, the blogs, talk radio, Fox News, that are not inside the Beltway, they're the new kids on the block. They're the ones that don't have any stature in the eyes of the elites.
So is it any wonder who Obama chose to have dinner with? See, what I think this was about last night is Barack Obama trying to choose who conservative spokesmen and leaders are. Now, you might be saying, "Well, Rush, how could he do that?" Well, he's the president-elect, and he's historic, and he has just given these people who dined with him last night an audience. Now, it was all off the record, but it will leak out because the people that were there will talk, it will leak out in dribbles and Obama intends it to. Don't misunderstand here, folks, I'm not complaining at all that it happened. I just don't buy this notion that Obama was genuinely interested in what these people had to say. I think the whole point of this was for Obama to weave his magic and convince these people of him, that he's not what their instincts may have told them. I think this works the other way around. I don't think Obama was seeking their ideas. I think it's just the other way around. He's seeking to define who conservative spokesmen are in terms of influencing people and so forth.
This is all about the Beltway and the Establishment Media and again, the people, with a couple of exceptions that met with Obama last night, they've already gone over to the other side by claiming the era of Reaganism is dead, that means the era of conservatism is dead. So I don't know what Obama really could have learned from them because he already thinks that. And I don't think Obama wanted to learn anything. I think this is all PR smoke and mirrors that he's interested in ideas that will work. He knows what happened in FDR; he knows what the real game plan here is; and that's the increased power for eternity, the Democrat Party, and himself.
RUSH: Let me tell you seriously why he will not. In fact, Mr. Snerdley, let me tell you why. You think it would be brilliant of him to do it. It would be stupid of him to do it. Now, follow me on this. You know, Snerdley is normally a pretty quick guy, but I've had to educate him recently. He's been around here 20 years like everybody else has. I've had to educate him recently on how Obama will not get any media scorn if the economy continues to plummet, that Bush will get all of that. When Snerdley thought in six months, if things haven't improved the American people are going to hold Obama accountable? It ain't going to happen. He's too big to fail.
I'm surprised you don't see this. Obama meeting with me -- and it would leak. Even if it were secret, clandestine, it would leak. He's the President-elect. He has a schedule and a press corps that follows him around. There's a pool bunch that follows him around. It would be known. Obama meeting, ladies and gentlemen, would give me legitimacy. It would. He wants to give legitimacy to the inside-the-Beltway conservatives who have forsworn conservatism. He wants to give legitimacy to the people who thought McCain could win. He wants to give legitimacy to the people who say the era of Reagan is over. Obama had no desire to have his mind changed on anything last night. To say that Obama doesn't understand conservatism, I think is a mistake. I think he understands everything about conservatism. He just rejects it.
And to say that he wanted to have a dinner last night with some conservatives to maybe have his mind made right is just not realistic. That's not I'm sure what was on his agenda last night. Obama will never legitimize me if he can help it. That's why I said he was trying to choose our leaders last night. Obama was trying to legitimize the people at his dinner in hopes that they will become the, quote, unquote, "legitimate conservative opinion leaders." They're all establishment types and they're all inside the Beltway, and that's what his objective was: to legitimize them. Look at who wasn't there. There are plenty of really superb conservatives he coulda had dinner with: people from Human Events, people from the Investor's Business Daily, people from the Washington Times. I'm talking about print and print opinion people. There are a lot of genuine conservatives he coulda had dinner with, but no!
He went with the people who are being critical of conservatives, being critical of conservative leaders these days -- like me. The last thing he'll want to do is legitimize me, and he'd run the risk of doing that, were he to have a meeting with me. Unless, of course, he asked for the meeting. If he asked, I'd go. I mean, there's no question I'd go. If, after the meeting the leak went out, "Ah, Obama told Limbaugh what-for and Obama did this and Obama said that." You know, unless they tried to do it that way, but I don't see that. I don't see it happening in any way, shape, manner, or form.