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CPAC Review: Ruling-Class Republicans Still Don't Get It

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Today's the day that I might just drum myself out of a movement. Well, it could happen. Let me take a whack at I think what happened this weekend at CPAC. There's all kinds of articles about it, too, I mean people in the Drive-By Media reviewing what happened, people in the conservative media reviewing what happened. There are some exceptions to this, of course. I'm just talking about the overall impression. It seems that the ruling class hasn't learned a whole lot since the election. It's somewhat troubling to me. Now, CPAC, a lot of great people show up, don't misunderstand, thousands of independent activists, lot of young people, but it's still run by a bunch of old hands and ruling-class types. I know this is gonna get me in trouble. Any conservative conclave, any conservative weekend, big, big major conservative weekend which concludes with a straw poll of Ron Paul, I mean, nothing against Ron Paul but come on, folks, let's get real here. (interruption) No, it's not the kooks have taken over. It's not kooks. It's just, you know, Paul buses in a bunch of his supporters here. They've not taken over anything. And don't think that the media doesn't love reporting that, that of all the candidates the CPAC straw polled revealed Ron Paul as the most favored presidential candidate.

Now, let's be serious here. Ron Paul, his son, they're fine, fine people. But Ron Paul is not going to be the Republican presidential nominee. It just isn't gonna happen. So you had a weird list of priorities and focus. I mean we had it all. We had GOProud, the gay conservatives. We had demands to legalize drugs, marijuana, at CPAC. Most conservatives strongly oppose gay marriage and legalized pot. We had would-be candidates promoted by the Washington ruling class. We had some candidates dumping on talk radio. We had Mitch Daniels saying, (paraphrasing) "We need to move beyond the audiences of Rush and Sean," and so forth and the C-SPAN viewers, we need to move beyond that. There was this constant drumbeat that came from a lot of people, from Jeb Bush, from Mitch Daniels, a lot of people, "We gotta do something about these social conservatives. We gotta dump this," and I just have a question. Does the left ever dump any of its factions? Does the left ever hold a convention and say, "You know what, we gotta get rid of the Huffington Post people," or "We gotta deemphasize the Daily Kos"? Does the left ever do anything it does to appeal to its enemies, to try to be loved and associated by its enemies?

But if you look at last year, if you go into the campaign and the election last year there's an unmistakable conservative ascendancy happening in this country. Even independents were flocking in the direction of conservatism. Now, they had to vote Republican. They didn't want to vote for Democrats in November. But the move was clearly to conservatism, not the Republican Party. But at CPAC, you didn't get the impression here that there was a conservative ascendancy going on. You had a lot of people saying, "We gotta do something about that faction of conservatism, we gotta do something about that faction of conservatism, we gotta move beyond this faction of conservatism." I think the ruling class has circled the wagons and used CPAC to do it. Social conservatives were dissed again at CPAC. And the ruling-class cheering every speech made, every comment made that dissed the social conservatives. I thought with what had happened last fall, I mean, Cheney got heckled, called a war criminal and a draft dodger at CPAC. Sorry, that's not the CPAC that I've always thought of or known. A guy like Dick Cheney gets heckled and called a war criminal.

What was missing I thought from the CPAC convention just as a theme is what has been occurring the last few years, this ascendancy of traditional conservatism, the ascendancy of Reagan conservatism. There's no doubt it is happening all across the fruited plain. You didn't get -- at least I didn't get any sense of it, watching CPAC. And don't misunderstand, nobody's looking here, certainly not I, for some magical appearance of a Ronald Reagan, just looking for a conservative that actually embraces conservatism. Not parts of it; not tries to redefine it. I mean clearly there's some people from the era of Reagan is over crowd. Did you ever hear Reagan say, "We got social conservatives here, we got to make sure, yeah, we'll listen to 'em but then we're not gonna pay much attention to 'em." There wasn't this kind of division within the ranks.

What is a conservative candidate? A candidate who supports the Constitution; who supports national security; who supports traditional family values, the basic stuff. And that stuff seemed controversial for parts of CPAC. When a would-be candidate says put aside the social issues, what does this mean? Is the left putting aside the social issues? The left right now, they are in federal court demanding that judges impose an agenda on the nation that was voted down at the ballot box. What do we do in response to that, ignore it? We have a health care bill here that's unconstitutional, could have been a huge rallying point. Instead, we got the latest ruling-class drumbeat that we put aside the social issues, more important things on the agenda than the social issues right now.

I shared with you I don't know how many times the story of when I first became personally aware of this in the early nineties at a fashionable dinner part in the Hamptons with moneyed Republicans. They came up, "What are you gonna do about the Christians?" meaning the pro-lifers. Nothing's changed. Somehow we need to put aside the social issues. "We can't let those people have a prominent position in our party or our movement. We just can't have those people be a face of what we're doing. It's just gonna be a problem." And they use CPAC as the means of that. Look at our borders, our borders remain wide open, the level of crime and drug importation sky-high for our citizens who live on the border. Illegal immigration affects communities all across the country, including their schools, their health care, law enforcement budgets, and we're told to accept it or ignore it otherwise we're racist. That seemed to be the position of some people who spoke at CPAC. "Look, if you're worried about immigration, stop it. We don't want to be seen as racist. Stop talking about abortion, stop talking about the social issues, stop talking about all this, that's only gonna hurt, we don't need to deal with that in our party." This is what the ruling-class guys were saying at CPAC.

Now, my focus -- I have people constantly, you would not believe -- well, you would believe it. I have people constantly begging me to say on this program their own words, what they can't say because they don't have a microphone about their pet issue. "Rush, you've got to say this about X," and I always write 'em back and I say, "You know, you're missing the point. I'm not in the business you think I am." I have always said my focus is my audience, you. Not all the other groups of people that affect you, but you. You are what's key. And that seems to me to apply to politics today. The voters are the key, the people that make things happen in this country are the key but they're being ignored. The Tea Party, I know you don't have a formal candidate yet from the Tea Party but the Tea Party was under assault in its own way at CPAC. And you in the Tea Party understand full well the ruling class is not happy with you. And it was clearly obvious.

Same principle applies to politics. Dance with the people that brung you. But this doesn't seem to be what's going on in the Republican Party. The people that brung us embarrass us. Some of the people that brung us embarrass us, seems to be the message. We gotta deemphasize this. We gotta stop talking about the borders and immigration, that's racist. We gotta stop talking about social issues, that's abortion, wives don't like it, we don't wanna get henpecked at home, whatever it is. You know, it has been forgotten, and the reason I keep bringing Reagan up is Reagan made CPAC. When Reagan attended CPAC he pretty much put it on the map. Reagan fought the establishment. He went to CPAC before 1980 to fight the establishment. Back then CPAC and the Republican Party were two different things. He went to CPAC to ask them to join him in changing the Republican Party. That's why Reagan went to CPAC. He went there to advance a conservative cause. Remember, now, the establishment had tried to throw him to the curb in 1976. The establishment really wasn't that enthralled with Reagan. He did not then say, "Okay, how can I make the Republican Party like me? How can I make the ruling-class Republicans like me?"

He didn't care about that. He went to CPAC and said, "We gotta take over the Republican Party. We need to reform it. We need make it a Conservative Party." He wanted it to be one of the vanguards in advancing the conservative cause. He reached out to all traditionally conservative people, including people of faith. He reached out to all of them. He didn't ask 'em to put aside their principles, he didn't ask 'em to shut up. He asked everyone if they were conservative to embrace him. He said they had a candidate in him who would promote them. He wanted to win. He wanted to win by running as a conservative, not some hyphenated conservative, and not a special interest conservative. He understood that if the culture crumbles, the society crumbles. And that includes fiscal and national security issues. So he set out a strong -- and this is relevant, 100th birthday weekend recently -- set out a strong simple agenda of across-the-board tax cuts and spending cuts, rejected the limitations the ruling class and the GOP establishment tried to place on him. He insisted the military needed to be built up, the communists were our enemies, the Islamists of today.

You don't need to agree with all the things that he said or all the things he did as president, but you knew he was faithful to the Constitution's principles. He could be trusted to do what was right or at least try to. Now, when you have candidates or would-be candidates telling conservatives to park their principles at the door, to check their principles at the door when they come in, who are not fully understood on a host of issues, they're not gonna be trusted by voters at large. To the extent that people who voted in November paid attention to CPAC and told that this is conservative political action conferencing, I wonder how much conservatism they actually saw as measured against what they were expecting, if they watched it. You had a candidate promoted by the Republican establishment who didn't write off conservative voices on the radio but says we're gonna move beyond that.

Now, nobody would disagree that for a movement to grow you need people from all over the place to join the movement. So I didn't take personally Mitch Daniels saying we need to move beyond the audiences of people on talk radio. It's in fact smart but in the process of doing so, you don't diss the people who are already audiences of those shows, you don't say that they're irrelevant or unnecessary, who won elections for your party year after year after year, and all this, of course, done to impress the mainstream media. The problem with CPAC, frankly, is that rather than promote traditional conservative principles -- maybe even with new strategies, that's fine and dandy -- rather than do that, the principles are now up for grabs, the definition of a conservative is up for grabs. And people who have had very little to do with election results since last November are now lecturing everybody on how to move forward, and that's what CPAC was and it just kind of didn't compute.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: We're gonna start in Port Huron, Michigan. Jackie, nice to have you on the EIB Network. Hello.

CALLER: Oh, hello, Rush. It's such an incredible honor to speak to you. I really can't believe it, I'm gonna pinch myself. But, Rush, I heard you speaking. I listen to you every day and I heard you speaking about Mitch McConnell's speech. My husband and I, he's retired OB-GYN doctor and I'm a retired RN, but we listened to Mitch McConnell's speech, and we were really impressed. We thought here's a man who seemed to cover all the bases and do it well and do it conservatively and be a constitutionalist and then I hear you say something different, and it kind of blew my mind. I was wondering if you could explain why you don't --

RUSH: Well, Mitch McConnell, one thing he did say that I was very happy to hear him say was that the Obama legislative agenda is over. I mean for the remaining two years Obama's legislative agenda is finished. He's had it.

CALLER: Yes.

RUSH: There's almost lame duck status here for the remaining two years of Obama's agenda.

CALLER: Mmm-hmm. Yes, I was glad to hear that, too. And his ideas I thought putting forth -- oh, gosh, my mind goes blank periodically, but --

RUSH: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Do you mean Mitch Daniels by any chance?

CALLER: Yes. Did I say something different?

RUSH: You said Mitch McConnell.

CALLER: Oh, I'm sorry. I'm nervous.

RUSH: You said Mitch McConnell.

CALLER: I'm so nervous.

RUSH: Oh, oh, you mean Mitch Daniels, his CPAC, Mitch Daniels' CPAC --

CALLER: Yes. I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Rush.

RUSH: Oh, okay, yeah, okay.

CALLER: I'm on the same track now. Yes. I just thought it was such a good speech. He was proud of his country, he was enthusiastic, he has all sorts of ideas to bring, encourage freedom, free markets and increase trade and --

RUSH: He had a lot of good things to say about the debt as being the red menace. You know, he's a budget guy, budget guy with Reagan and so forth.

CALLER: Hm-hm.

RUSH: I didn't have any qualm with the substance of that remark that he made whatsoever. Now, he did say that we need to move beyond the audiences of Rush and Sean and there's a context here, Jackie, that I think maybe I assumed people understand, not understand, but know, and maybe you don't. And I don't even know that it's worth my time to get into it here because it's gonna be interpreted as being petty, but from my perspective, the Republican Party establishment group is really not thrilled with talk radio. They're not thrilled with the Tea Party. They don't like it. They're trying to find ways around it, and so these allusions to, "Yeah, what we got's fine but we're not gonna win with what we got. We need to get even bigger. That means we need to reach out to traditional nonconservatives." It's the same old message. We can't win just being conservative. We're gonna have to go out and have a message for people who aren't conservative that says, "Yes, we're supporting you, too." Rather than try to build upon this conservative ascendancy which because of Obama is building on its own, we're not having to really teach it, we're just having to be true to it.

CALLER: Yeah.

RUSH: There are still some people very embarrassed or troubled by conservative ideology. I don't think that we can only win by watering ourselves down and diluting ourselves. I didn't take it personally. None of this stuff I take personally. It's this overriding notion that conservative is not enough to win. That bothers me, because clearly it is.

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RUSH: Mitch Daniels might have been saying we need to appeal to more than just political junkies, there's no doubt about that, but the more we differentiate ourselves from Democrats and liberals the better we will do. I just think that's abundantly clear here and it's an opportunity waiting to be had. Some people don't seem to want to seize it.

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RUSH: Folks, look, I knew I was gonna get in trouble if I endeavored to be critical. I heard Allen West. There's a lot of great stuff that happened there, don't misunderstand. You can doubt me all you want. Despite my constant admonitions not to doubt me, I know you're going to, and conservatism wins every time it's tried, particularly when we have such obvious opportunities for contrasting what we believe. We don't need to be reaching out to other people by giving them conservatism light. You know what the problem is? I'll tell you one of the problems is that some people in the upper reaches of the Republican Party, the marketing types, really don't have the messaging down pat. For example, this is not to be critical of anybody, but when you rename the repeal health care bill as repeal the job killing, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, whatever health care bill, you cause people to scratch their heads. But if you talk about repealing health care because you're gonna lose freedom, it's gonna cost you all kinds of money, and you're gonna lose control over your future and your destiny, then you've got 'em. Then you've got 'em right in the palm of your hand.

What happens is some people who use incorrect or poor messaging end up thinking it's the policy that's not working to convert people, so they start monkeying around and changing the policy a little bit because they think, "Well, my gosh, they're not hearing us on this job killing bill." I'm just using that as an example. There are any number of others. But when our messaging fails -- let me just make it as simple as I can -- when our messaging fails the people in charge of the messaging think, "Well, it must be the policy that's wrong. Maybe our policy's too narrow, too restrictive," and so they start changing the policy, relaxing it, because they think that what they have to do is make it more palatable to people when in fact it's the messaging that's been wrong, not the policy. And I think some of that was on display at CPAC. Allen West was a humdinger of a closing act. I mean he was great. I know Allen West. I've talked to him a number of times, real deal. He was superb. I'm just of the impression here that we don't need to water down who we are, especially now. This notion that there are things about conservatism that are offputting, we've gotta change those things, we've gotta silence those things, gotta reach out and broaden our base, it's not the case at all.

When the Democrats tell us what they are really all about, they lose. When the Republicans tell them what they're really all about, they win. Democrats realize this. The Democrats have no problem faking it. The Democrats have no problem lying about who they are. Obama, who is he trying to be? Reagan, for crying out loud, we've got more people on the Democrat side trying to be Reagan than our guys are. It's really no more complex than that. We got Obama out there calling himself the Gipper, for crying out loud. People on our side, well, we need to, you know, move beyond. That was a different era and a different time, and so forth. To me it's about winning and not a whole lot else. I don't care who likes me or dislikes me in the process, but then my job really doesn't depend on that. People in politics may think their job does.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: This is Dan in Louisville. Great to have you on the program, sir. Hello.

CALLER: Hello, Rush. Your comments regarding CPAC and the pandering of the right to win over people to the left, I think your analysis is brilliant. I think you could go one step farther and say that not only will it not win the people over, but it will create apathy because those who could potentially be swayed, instead of seeing something different to come over to the right, will simply say, "Well, there's no difference, there's no reason for me to be involved."

RUSH: Wait a minute. What do you mean when you say the pandering of the right to win over people to the left, what did you hear specifically that was that?

CALLER: Well, as you're analyzing the CPAC speeches and saying that the --

RUSH: Like get rid of the social issues and things like that?

CALLER: Right. We are not identifying ourselves as something different, something conservative. I shouldn't say we; I should say the members of CPAC and the members of the Republican Party or the Republican elite are trying to cast themselves as something more moderate, more acceptable and more appeasing.

RUSH: I would substitute appealing than appeasing. I think the establishment, the ruling class, whatever you want to call them, made up of Republicans and Democrats, they unite together against any perceived threat from the, quote, unquote, outside. The Tea Party would thus constitute a threat. The Tea Party are not professional political people. They're just average citizens, and as such they are rubes. And they are to be humored, and they are to be serviced. But they also can be an embarrassment, and so the message has to be subtly sent that, "Yeah, we understand some of the things they care about, the social issues, that's not us, we have to move beyond that and so forth and so on."

Let me read to you something Reagan said. And I like citing Reagan 'cause it just irritates these people, it just irritates the heck out of 'em. Reagan's first CPAC speech in 1975: "I don't know about you, but I am impatient with those Republicans who after the last election rushed into print saying, 'We must broaden the base of our party' -- when what they meant was to fuzz up and blur even more the differences between ourselves and our opponents. It was a feeling that there was not a sufficient difference now between the parties that kept a majority of the voters away from the polls. When have we ever advocated a closed-door policy? Who has ever been barred from participating?" That's what Reagan said. That's 1975. That's 35 years ago. And you could say the same thing today after the CPAC that we just had. Impatient with those Republicans who after the last election rushed into print saying we have to broaden the base, we have to broaden the base of our party. That's what some of these people were saying when they said we have to go beyond X and we have to go beyond Y and we have to go beyond Z.

And what Reagan said then is applicable today. They are really trying to fuzz up and blur the differences between ourselves and our opponents because if I dare say so, those differences embarrass our ruling-class people. But this is nothing new, folks. And I, El Rushbo, have been warning you about this. When did it start? Last year, the year before, even before that. But I've warned everybody, don't think for a moment here that there's not a battle going on within the Republican Party, too, for who's gonna run it. It's not just the Democrat Party falling apart because of whatever, there's also a battle going on in the Republican Party as to who's gonna define it. Why do you think the Tea Party sprung up? That's a totally spontaneous thing. It sprung up because the traditional home of those people did not seem all that inviting, i.e., the Republican Party, so they sprung up. Well, can't do anything about it, you have to humor that bunch, have to do what we can. The only reason I made my comments, normally what I'm saying to you is what we would have heard from CPAC in traditional years. Just we didn't hear that other than from a couple of great keynoters.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: I'm being reminded in my CPAC speech I issued the same warning that Reagan did. I remember when I gave my CPAC speech, that was in the middle of total conservative, slash, Republican Party depression, desperation, all's lost, all's over, all's gone, we got nothing. It's a constant fact that there are factions in the Republican Party that do not like conservatives. They're either RINOs or they're liberals or Libertarian Republicans or what have you. Fact of life. The evolution of CPAC is that those people had to have their own meeting in the past to speak. They didn't show up at CPAC and say it. CPAC was where the contraindication was to all that, which is essentially my point in analyzing this year's speech. Yeah, we had lots of great conservative speakers at CPAC, don't misunderstand. We also had some people saying some pretty questionable conservative things. It'll all get ironed out, just sharing with you my analysis of it.

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