HANNITY: I spoke exclusively with the one and only Rush Limbaugh.
HANNITY: So we have a new president now. Abraham Lincoln or FDR or Barack Obama, obviously. First of all, what are your general thoughts about him as a person?
RUSH: Well, I.... (sigh) This is really tough, you know, because I've never met him. I don't know him except how and what I've seen on television. And I'm suspicious. When I see the media and the entire establishment on the left lay down and become cult-like and not examine who he is, what he's done; and not really examine what he says, but just praise him because of how he says it; my antenna go up. I'll tell you, a lot of people right now, they're just absorbed in the historical nature of this: "first black president" and so forth. Well, that is wonderful. That's great. But I got over that months ago after he won the election.
I mean, Sean, he is our president now, and he's not black. He's not from Mars. He's our president. He's a human being. We're a country comprised of human beings that the Democrat Party and the left have attempted to arrange into groups of victims, and that's who he appeals to, and the victims are the people waiting around for some grievance to be resolved. They're waiting around for something to happen for them, and he is parlaying that. So I think the fact that he's African-American -- his father was black -- to me, it's irrelevant. This is the greatest country on earth. We want to keep it that way. It is that way for specific reasons. Now I look at the things that he has said, and I'm very much concerned that our greatness is going to be redefined in such a way that it won't be great, that we're just going to become average.
We cannot have this large a government role in the private sector with so many people thinking that just because they're Americans they're entitled to things, that this guy is going to be passing them out, and keep this country great and innovative, full of entrepreneurs. These things concern me. Now my critics, and yours, when they hear me say things like this, they have knee-jerk reactions. They're not listening or parsing my words, either. They're just, "Well, Limbaugh is not with the program. Limbaugh doesn't get it! Limbaugh is not sensible." He's president of the United States. It doesn't matter to me what his race is, what his ethnicity is. What matters to me are his policies and what his plans are, and I only know what he has said he's going to do based on what he has done and how he's voted. And in terms of what I would use to define the greatness of the country, he's not it.
HANNITY: All right. Let's take that a step further here because all throughout the election, we all talked about the Chicago way: his radical friends, associates, et cetera.
HANNITY: His past voting record. By the way, I brought it up a lot. You brought it up a lot. We all talked about it. What...? Do you think he really is that and people either ignored it, people don't care, or is he just somebody who is politically expedient? That's what he had to do in Chicago.
RUSH: We don't know. See, this is the thing. Now, normally a mainstream media would have vetted this guy and we would know this. We don't know what he is. That's the whole point. People don't care what he is. They don't care who he is. They care that he's black. They care that he's historic. They care that they think he's an intellectual because of the way he speaks. It's all about how he speaks. I look at some of the facial expressions of people when they're watching the guy, and it's frightening. But I'm a thinker. A lot of people, I guess, aren't. People are emotional and they react emotionally to things, and if he makes them feel good, especially in economic bad times, then that's all they're really going to care about. I have to assume that he is who he is and his radical associations are certainly things that have defined him.
If you look at the executive orders that he's promised to issue, he's going to overturn the abortion law that has guided who we fund overseas in terms of "family planning," and that's been a roller coaster. You know, Clinton imposed it. Bush rescinded it. Obama's going to re-impose it and so forth. He's going to issue an executive order to close Guantanamo Bay, but it isn't going to happen for four years. I think... You used the word "expedient." He plays both sides. He's going to placate the far left fringe kook base, his website people will say, "Okay, he's going to close Guantanamo." But he's not going to close Guantanamo, and he's not going to get out of Iraq in 16 months. He's going to say so, but he's not going to saddle himself with defeat of our forces in Iraq or Afghanistan, and he's certainly not -- I can't believe that he will willingly release people at Guantanamo who will come back and revisit terrorist acts in this country. Not on his watch. They would have loved for that to have happened during Bush. They would have loved surrender in Iraq when it's on Bush's shoulders, but I don't think he's going to do it. But he's got to say things that make his fringe kook base think that he is being true to his campaign promises.
HANNITY: All right, let me... So then this raises this question. You're the leading voice of opposition, conservative, and have defined conservatives for over two decades. You celebrated your 20 years on the air, by the way, nationally syndicated, congratulations.
RUSH: Thank you.
HANNITY: Coming off record-ratings year for you, but you are a passionate conservative. You've defined conservatives for many people in this country for years. He represents the antithesis in terms of his worldview. So then the question becomes: Do you want him to succeed?
RUSH: Now, this... (turns to camera) I am so glad that he asked me that question. (turns back to Hannity) I am so glad that you asked me this question.
HANNITY: I'm glad to. (chuckles)
RUSH: I'll tell you why. I am hearing many Republicans say that very thing. "Well, we want him to succeed," and prominent Republicans! "Yes, we want him to succeed." They have laid down. They have totally. They're drinking the Kool-Aid, too. They have no guts to stand up for what their beliefs are because they're afraid of criticism. They're afraid of being called racists. They're afraid of not having gotten with the program. Now success can be defined two ways. I said earlier, "I don't know about this guy." I really don't. I've got my suspicions and they're pretty close to convictions, but we're going to have to wait to see what he does. Now if he turns out to be a Reagan, if he adds Reagan to his recipe of FDR and Lincoln --
RUSH: -- and if he does cut some taxes --
RUSH: -- if he does not eliminate the Bush tax cuts, I would call that success. So yes, I would hope he would succeed if he acts like Reagan. But if he's going to do FDR -- if he's going to do The New New Deal all over, which we will call here The Raw Deal -- why would I want him to succeed? Look, he's my president. The fact that he is historic is irrelevant to me now. It matters not at all. If he is going to implement a far-left agenda... Look, I think it's already decided: a $2 trillion in stimulus? The growth of government? I think the intent here is to create as many dependent Americans as possible looking to government for their hope and salvation. If he gets nationalized health care, I mean, it's over, Sean. We're never going to roll that back. That's the end of America as we have known it, because that's then going to set the stage for everything being government owned, operated, or provided. Why would I want that to succeed? I don't believe in that. I know that's not how this country is going to be great in the future; it's not what made this country great. So I shamelessly say, "No! I want him to fail." If his agenda is a far-left collectivism -- some people say socialism -- as a conservative heartfelt, deeply, why would I want socialism to succeed?
HANNITY: You want your country to succeed, and you believe that his views implemented represent failure, predictable failure, and conservatism would represent predictable success.
RUSH: Well, I don't know where what he wants to try has worked. It didn't work in the Soviet Union. It doesn't work in China. They're having to become like us in China in order to survive. It hasn't worked in Cuba. It hasn't worked! It didn't work when the Pilgrims arrived. They tried socialism. Remember, they had a plot of ground, they shared what they produced, and the slackers figured out they didn't have to produce anything to get goodies. So William Bradford said, "The heck with this," and he said, "Okay, you get to keep everything you produce, and you're not sharing it." So everybody had to work. They were really giving thanks to God for the lesson that socialism failed. It has never worked. The New Deal didn't work. You know, Hoover was president through the Depression for one year. FDR prolonged the depression for seven or eight years, and yet he's given credit for ending the Depression. It didn't happen! World War II ended the Depression. The New Deal didn't work. This is New New Deal. It doesn't work. If it works, it will be the first time that it works, but it never has, and I don't think this is going to be the record breaker.
HANNITY: So I'm guessing you didn't get your Obama commemorative dinner plates, Rush.
HANNITY: It's gotten so bad, did you notice they had the commemorative Obama thong? I mean, what do you make of the...? You talk about a cult-like personality or you use the term "messiah," "the anointed one," he descended from the heavens at INVESCO Field. What do you make of this Obama Worship Syndrome, Obama-mania?
RUSH: Well, it is cult-like depending on the people you're talking about, but let's examine the Drive-Bys, the media.
HANNITY: You've got to explain "Drive-By." Maybe one or two people have not heard of it.
RUSH: The Drive-By Media. It's a like a drive-by shooter except the microphones are the guns --
RUSH: -- and they drive into groups of people they report a bunch of totally wrong libelous stuff about people. They create a giant mess. Sometimes people get really harmed. They go out and try to destroy people's careers. Then they get in the convertible, head on down the road and do it all over again, while people like you and me are left to clean up the mess with the truth. So I call them the Drive-By Media.
RUSH: While they are praising Obama at that Grant Park acceptance night, they're out in Denver when he accepted the nomination, I listened to Jon Meacham and somebody else at Newsweek say, "You know, this is creepy. It's creepy! It's like he ascends after the speech and watches us watching him."
RUSH: They call him "creepy" for a few brief moments, but yet at the same time he's The Second Coming. Charlie Rose and Tom Brokaw one night on Charlie Rose's show, I think in preparation for the fact that they don't know what he's going to do either, got into a long discussion about how neither one of them know him. "Well, I don't know who he is," Tom said. "I don't know what books he's read. I really don't know who his role models are." Charlie Rose is echoing the same sentiment. I'm shouting at the TV, "Tom, you're at NBC! Dispatch a reporter! It's your job! Find out who he is." They didn't. They only cared... See, Sean, they've got an investment. He's too big to fail. They wanted him elected because they wanted to reassert their power, the media here, in being able to sway public opinion to the result that they wanted. So they were going to cover up the Jeremiah Wright and all these things that give indication of radicalism of Obama. Cover that up. Portray him as he wants to be portrayed: somebody who's not to be questioned, somebody who's not to be doubted.
We're just supposed to accept and trust because most of these guys came alive and came of age in the civil rights battles of the 60's. It defines who they are. They've trained the young Drive-Bys to look at events through the same prism. You know, racism in this country is the exclusive problems of the left. We're witnessing racism all this week that led up to the inauguration. We are being told that we have to hope he succeeds; that we have to bend over, grab the ankles, bend over forward, backward, whichever; because his father was black, because this is the first black president. We've got to accept this. The racism that everybody thinks exists on our side of the aisle has been on full display throughout their primary campaign. So I think they've done a great job, the media has, of covering up his deficiencies. He's too big to fail, and so whatever goes wrong, blame it on Bush, blame it on... I mean, MSNBC's new life will be criticizing you and me, because they can't criticize him.
HANNITY: But you're really saying here is you're in the "I want America to succeed. I want the right policies for America." It's not about The Messiah or the anointed one or any one individual. Any wrong-handed policies that's going to take America off a course of success which is what we've been on -- and this is something you've talked about for years-- individual responsibility, liberty, freedom. You know, we all have choices in America. It's the antithesis of where we're headed.
RUSH: Yeah, and the freedom is important to understand in the founding of our country. But it's individual, not group. You're exactly right. I'm 58 years old now, and I don't devote. I don't have hero worship. You know I have my idols, but even they had flaws that I recognized, and I didn't agree with them hands-down no matter what. But I'm not into hero worship. That's what's happening here with Obama. I do care about the country. I care about what made it great. I want it to remain great and continue to be great for people that follow after me -- nephews and nieces. I don't have any kids. But, you know, we've inherited a country with a great opportunity for ourselves. We want that to be passed on. The country is bigger than any one human being, any one presidency and so forth. I think a lot of people have put that aside or else they have assumed that this is the new direction that we're going to go that's going to get everybody fixed and solve everybody's problem, and there will be no more pain. There will be no more suffering.
RUSH: There'll just be contentment and utopia and happiness.
HANNITY: It's time for part two of my exclusive interview with nationally syndicated radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.
RUSH: The Republican Party's making a big, big -- the conservative movement, too, making a big, big -- mistake in planning for the future. You hear things like: "Well, the Republican Party needs to identify the middle class, the Wal-Mart voters, and come up with policies for them; and then we've gotta come up with policies for the Hispanics, because they hate us due to illegal immigration." That's the way the Democrats do this. You put people into groups, then you victimize them and give the victims power over the majority, because they then have grievances that are nonexistent, that have been made up; and the majority gets cowed into fear 'cause they don't want to be complained at and they don't want to be blamed.
"Okay, okay! Whatever you want. If you want health care, fine. Go get it." What made this country great is the recognition by our Founders that individuals are all created equal, endowed with certain inalienable rights: life, liberty, pursuit of happiness. If you look at the Democrat Party, are they for life? Folks, they're the party of abortion. Liberty? Uh, these are the people that are trying to pass any law they can to restrict where you can go, what you can do when you get there, where you can eat, what you can eat, what you can smoke, when you can't smoke, what kind of baby you can have, all these things. Pursuit of happiness? I have yet to see a happy liberal.
RUSH: I've yet to see a happy Democrat. They're always angry about things. What we need to be doing is Reagan. Very simple. He made the people of this country understand that its greatness is due to them. They're the ones that make the country work. Not policies, not laws, not committees in Congress and so forth, and not cult heroes or personalities, but individual freedom: people excelling, doing whatever they wish, to whatever desire they wish to work, hard work, to become the best they can be. Self-interest is different than selfishness. People working in their own self-interest benefits the family, the neighborhood, the community, the state, city, the whole bit. And this is what I think the message that the Republican Party and conservatism has lost. The blueprint for landslide electoral victory is right there, and the Republican Party and the conservative movement just washed it away.
HANNITY: I keep reading that guys like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and conservative Mark Levin -- The Great One, our friend -- that we're taking the party, pulling the party way far to the right, and that the real answer is to moderate.
RUSH: Yeah, yeah. (laughing)
HANNITY: The David Brookses of the world.
RUSH: (laughing) You know, I read those things, and I listen to these Wizards of Smart on our side go on these cable networks and say, "Yeah, well, the problem is that Limbaugh and Hannity are moving the party too much to the right." And Colin Powell says, "Yeah, the Republican Party should stop listening to Limbaugh." Well, excuse me. We haven't pulled the party to the right at all. This party has gone to the left; it's gone to the center. We haven't done this. They got the candidate they wanted. I know Senator McCain's a friend of yours. But they got the candidate they wanted. They got the campaign they wanted, and they lost huge. And the reason they lost huge is because in a contest of group politics, the experts are going to always get group votes before the pretenders will, and we were pretenders trying to get the group. "We gotta go get the Hispanic. We gotta be moderate. We gotta prove we can walk across the aisle. The era of Reagan is over." I never hear Democrats talking about walking across the aisle. I never see any of them praise each other or brag about the fact that they do it. They brag about the Republicans that they destroy. They brag about the Republican bills, legislation that they defeat. The people that are running our party now have such a defeatist inferiority complex. They want to be accepted by people that hate 'em. They want to be accepted by people that despise 'em. It makes no sense to me.
HANNITY: What about all these so-called conservatives that met with Obama? Were you invited to that dinner?
RUSH: No, I wasn't.
HANNITY: (chuckles) I wasn't invited, either. But wait. Back to John McCain. I've always liked John McCain. I admire his life story. He's not a conservative, Rush.
HANNITY: They did get the candidate. The people that thought that the Republican Party needs to moderate and move away from being the party of Reagan, they got the candidate they wanted. It didn't work out too well.
RUSH: No. The blueprint's there. Here's what's going on in the Republican Party, and it's really not new. These people that we're talking about -- the Northeastern blue-blood Rockefeller country club types -- they didn't even like Reagan. Reagan was an embarrassment. They believed that he was the dunce, an amiable dunce. But what it's about, Sean, is abortion. These Northeastern, moderate, liberal Republican types all have wives. I know this is gonna sound pedantic and simplistic. But I have experienced it, and this is how I know it. These guys that we're talking about -- and they're big money people. They are contributors, donors, fundraisers. They're just embarrassed to be in the same party with people in the (southern accent) South who are pro-life and who go to NASCAR races, and that's at the heart of this. They go to the convention, Republican convention with these people they think are hicks and hayseeds -- 24 million of them, without whom they couldn't win. So it really is about that. They won't say so publicly. It's not just that, but that's a large part of it. The Obama dinner. It's a great example, if you have time for me to analyze this.
HANNITY: We have plenty of time, Rush.
RUSH: (addressing the camera) Does anybody, anybody, with even half a brain, really believe that Barack Obama went to dinner with a bunch of conservatives to have his mind changed?
HANNITY: Good point.
RUSH: If he did, there are some genuine conservatives he coulda talked to. He coulda invited us; he could have gone to Human Events; he could have gone to some people at the Heritage Foundation. He doesn't want his mind changed. He's co-opting these people. He's bringing them in. He wants the establishment media, inside the Beltway punditry and so-called journalism, to be afraid to criticize him. I mean, if he's broken bread with them and he's made them feel good about themselves and given them an inside view of exactly who he is, it's going to be very difficult for these people to criticize him. I don't think for a minute that he cared to have his mind changed.
RUSH: Would you?
RUSH: Would you invite a bunch of liberals over to dinner at your house for the express purpose of having them change your mind? If you did it, you would be trying to talk sense into them.
HANNITY: And continuing now with my exclusive interview with Rush Limbaugh. Let's say we had a $700 billion bailout -- $850 billion is the stimulus number; some Democrats want more than that. So there's a lot of money on the table here. It's the largest, you know, transfer of wealth and control to the government in the history of this country, as you were pointing out earlier here. If that is implemented -- if he meets with rogue dictators; if he doesn't come out with moral clarity and back, say, Israel; if he doesn't stand up to Ahmadinejad, which, this is, all his statements -- what happens in four years with an Obama presidency?
RUSH: Well, who can know? I do think that he is going to overreach. I think the Democrats are going to overreach. This thing that happened all day Sunday was the Wellstone memorial on steroids.
HANNITY: (laughing) Oh, boy.
RUSH: And they overreached on that. I don't know that he's going to do all of those things. I think he's going to say he's going to do all those things. He's going to placate. I think he's going to face a whole different set of realities once he actually gets in the Oval Office and starts doing things. But the financial stuff's done. And we're looking at a trillion-dollar deficit this year even before a stimulus package. I don't know where we're getting the money for this. But this hasn't... I just... Sean, it wasn't six months ago that the Democrats were out ripping Bush for deficit spending. It was horrible; it was rotten. Now, of course, the question is, "Can we spend it fast enough to save America?" It's a bill of goods, and a lot is going to depend on how long the media sticks with this. I think they can't let him fail. And there are enough Americans who are simple sponges that watch news twice a week, believe what they see, and are done with it. The culture, we've lost the culture, Sean. We have lost pop culture. It is unrealistic to expect that people watching MTV, going to see the rot Hollywood's putting out, listening to the rot music is today, that every four years are going to go in a voting booth and vote Republican or conservative. And this is something that we haven't even addressed publicly in an electoral way, strategic way. But that's going to have to be done as well. But if he's a big failure in reality, will the media portray it that way?
HANNITY: At some point, it's gotta become him.
RUSH: No, wait, see? I get into arguments with people about this. To this day, FDR is still a hero --
HANNITY: That's true. Good point.
RUSH: -- and Hoover is the idiot. Hoover is the guy that broke the country. If the media wants to prop somebody up, they will do so. Liberalism in the media is a series of myths. One of the myths is that the Kennedys are smart.
RUSH: Caroline Kennedy, "you know."
HANNITY: "You know." (chuckles)