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Thomas B. Edsall of the New York Times Asks, "Is Rush Limbaugh's Country Gone?"

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH:  Okay, folks, there's a headline that is attached to a column that ran yesterday in the New York Times, I guess in the Week in Review section.  And here's the headline:  "Is Rush Limbaugh's Country Gone?"  New York Times.  "Is Rush Limbaugh's Country Gone?"  It's by Thomas B. Edsall.  Let me give you the quick answer.  Apparently it is.  Apparently the country's gone, but guess what?  I'm the reason why.  I am to blame for the country being lost.  I am to blame for the Republican Party losing election after election after election.  I am responsible for whoever hates Republicans hating them. 

It was all over television yesterday. It's been all over television since the election. It's my fault, folks.  I haven't run a single election.  I haven't picked a single candidate.  I have not written one word of Republican policy.  I have not had one conversation with any highfalutin Republican about policy or campaign strategy or anything of the sort, and yet I, El Rushbo, your host, your radio guy, I have lost the country.  And not only have I lost the country, I have destroyed the Republican Party.  And the people saying this are the Republican consultants. 

Look, I don't like this program being about me.  I really don't.  Contrary to what some of you people think, that I'm an egomaniac.  Yes, I have a healthy ego, but I'm not maniacal about it.  I know I'm gonna come up anyway.  I don't have to bring me up.  I don't like being the focus of things here, but sadly it's the case. 

And what is this all about?  Well, obviously, it's about losing the election to Barack Obama, and it's also about Santa Claus.  There's a real division that has been created now, sprung up.  There are people who hate this characterization of Democrat voters as people voting for Santa Claus, and they include Newt Gingrich and Bobby Jindal and George Will, a number of people.  And then there are people on the other side who say that it is, the Democrat Party is Santa Claus, and that's why people are voting.  I have been doing a lot of thinking about this, independent of all these allegations and accusations of me, I've been doing a lot of thinking about it. 

By the way, I have been to a lot of places since the election, and nobody's blamed me to my face, yet.  They're all asking me, "What do we do now?"  Nobody's pointing at me, "You blew it! You blew it! Get out of my face.  What are you doing here?  Get outta here."  Nobody's saying that.  They're saying, "What do we do now?"  I was at a big dinner Saturday night in Pittsburgh.  "What do we do now?"  They want me fix it.  They want me to explain it and then they want me to fix it.

(interruption)

Snerdley wants to know, "Why has the Santa Claus thing caused so much angst?"  I've been thinking about this.  I'm gonna attempt to explain it during the whole course of the program today, and do so in chronological order here.  Let's review a couple things that I observed last week.  One of them was that I was really moved by Ron Paul's farewell speech to Congress.  He said something that you and I instinctively feel.  We may not have voiced it to ourselves or friends, but it's really the nut of it. It's really what has been bothering me.  Why is freedom such a hard sell?  Why is freedom and liberty such a hard sell?  And then, prior to that, when I heard that we failed because we didn't do enough demographic outreach to Hispanics and women under 30, single women and the rest of the groups, African-Americans, I said rhetorically, "Well, look at our convention." 

We had a parade of some of the most achieved, accomplished Hispanics, women, African-Americans, and I pointed out -- and this is salient -- they all had a common theme.  Every speech had a common theme.  And what was it?  It was conservatism.  It was that they all came from nothing.  They came from nothing.  Their parents in many cases emigrated to this country, and Marco Rubio was one of them, from Cuba, and Rubio, by the way, is one of the people on the warpath against this Santa Claus business.  They all had this up-from-nothing story which featured hard work.  And I asked, why didn't that -- I'll use the word "sell," from Ron Paul.  Why doesn't freedom and the opportunity for unlimited great prosperity, why doesn't that sell?  And then I asked, "Maybe we've lost the definition of how prosperity happens."  I know we have. 

A majority of Americans think prosperity comes from the government now, not themselves, not hard work.  But what I've concluded is that the Republican convention probably scared the heck out of people.  The very people that we thought -- well, I'm not gonna say "we" because I had nothing to do with that convention, either.  I didn't even go.  I had literally nothing to do with any aspect of the convention.  So maybe I shouldn't say "we."  I know what the Republicans were trying to do.  And what they did probably scared the very people that we hoped to persuade with that convention.  Probably scared the devil out of 'em.  And not because there was any racism or sexism or bigotry or homophobia, none of that.  What was it about that convention that wouldn't sell?  What is it about freedom and liberty that don't sell? 

Well, let's review.  What is freedom to you and me?  Freedom to you and me is the absence of government in our lives.  Freedom to you and me, to small-business people, getting the regulations out of the way, lower tax rates.  We want to benefit from our hard work.  We want to share that wealth.  We want to hire additional people. We want to pay the people that work for us increasing wages.  We want to grow our businesses. We want to grow our private sector. We want to grow the economy.  We want freedom in the sense that this nation was founded.  Limited government. 

The Bill of Rights limits what government can do to people.  But to the Santa Claus crowd -- and I saying that just to identify them -- to the people that vote for Obama, let's put it that way, that's not at all what freedom is.  In fact, where you and I look at government as the great object in the road to freedom and regulations and stifling rules and its ever expanding size and taking money out of the private sector with Obamacare and all this, we look at government as the impediment to freedom.  The people that voted for Obama look at us as the impediment to freedom.  We are the ones standing in the way of freedom.  And why? 

Well, to them, we are against gay marriage and gay rights.  And so we are against their freedom.  We, in their view, stand in the way of what they want to do.  So they look at us, not the government.  And they looked at the government, by the way, as the place to turn to fix what's wrong that we are in charge of.  They turn to government for relief from us.  Government is their great benefactor.  Government is their provider.  Government's their protector.  We are the threat, in their view.  I can tell you that this gay marriage business with college age kids and young people, it's, again, because we've lost the education system for the last 30, 40, whatever it is, years, because we've lost the definition of prosperity.  With young people gay marriage is at the top of the list of things that matter to 'em.  Gay rights second, and then abortion whenever you want it and contraception. 

Then I saw something in the exit polls that, again, I think if the Republicans really want to find out what their problem is, they'll take note of this.  I saw at the first wave, five o'clock exit polls, I said, "If this is true, then all the rest of this is academic."  Over 50% of the people that voted still blame Bush for the economy.  They just lived through four years of an absolute economic disaster made worse by every policy put in place by this president, this administration.  Every economic factor was made worse, and yet Bush got the blame.  How is that possible?  You know, when Obama's sitting around blaming Bush all these years, we're laughing.  And we're assuming the American people are gonna hear that and think that he's a baby, that he's childish, that they're gonna say, "Come on, man, grow up, man up.  You don't blame somebody else for your problems.  You tackle 'em." They agreed with him. 

So the Republican Party better figure out, you brilliant consultants had better figure out how that happened. You had better figure out how it is that George Bush, who, by the way, on balance, had a roaring economy for most of his administration, a story you guys never seem to be able to tell.  He overcame 9/11 and a recession, and he put together a pretty robust economic recovery.  There were years in a row where we were at 4.7% unemployment.  Then 2008 happens, and I'm not exonerating Bush or his administration from all culpability, but, for crying out loud, people lived through a disastrous four years of a plunging United States economy with every attempt to fix it making it worse.  And your guy, George Bush, gets blamed for it in an election. 

You guys need to start asking yourselves some questions.  You pick the candidates and you're getting the candidates that you want.  You're getting the issues that you want.  I'm not in charge of any Republican Party platform.  I'm not in charge of anybody's campaign.  I have nothing to say, officially or unofficially, about what the Republican Party does as it tries to win elections.  Zilch, zero, nada.  I am simply a powerful, influential member of the media commenting on such things.  But I can tell you that very little of what I thought should have happened in the campaign, very little of what I thought should have happened actually did.  You wouldn't find my fingerprints on much of this at all because not much of it is stuff I would have done had I had the authority or power, which I didn't. 

The bottom line here is there's some serious things, and this headline, "Is Rush Limbaugh's Country Gone?"  Yeah.  This guy concludes that it is, by the way.  That young people, polling data prefer socialism to capitalism.  It's narrow, but they do.  Young people prefer socialism -- during this four-year economic disaster, and it was.  I mean, we're looking at a second downturn even now.  Everybody that was unemployed ate.  They had their cars.  They were driving around.  They had gasoline.  They were taken care of. 

And, in fact, what's the top story in my stack here?  From TheHill.com:  "Groups backing an extension of unemployment benefits have launched a new round of lobbying to convince Congress to extend federal benefits to the long-term jobless. A coalition of advocates including the National Employment Law Project (NELP) held more than 40 meetings with lawmakers on Capitol Hill during the first week of the lame-duck session to make their pitch for a $30 billion extension of the program." Well, the natural reaction to that, (singing) "Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, right down..."

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: This whole theme today is probably gonna be ongoing throughout the program, folks.  It's not really possible for me to touch on everything here in the opening couple of monologues.  I just want to read to you a little section here of Thomas B. Edsall's piece. Remember who he is.  This is the guy who a year ago wrote in the New York Times that the Obama campaign was simply gonna write off the white working class vote within the Reagan Democrats, gonna write 'em off, the bitter clingers.  They figured they've lost 'em.  This is a year ago.  And Edsall, the Huffington Post, was writing a piece as a knowledgeable person, the Obama campaign.  And in his piece in the New York Times yesterday, "Is Rush Limbaugh's Country Gone?" I think he agrees with me, essentially. 

He says -- and I quote -- "In broader terms, the political confrontation pits taxpayers, who now form the core of the center-right coalition, against tax consumers who form the core of the center-left."  Well, now, what is that?  What is a confrontation between taxpayers and tax consumers?  Mr. Edsall himself is acknowledging the existence of the fact that a huge number of Americans look at the government as their protector, as their defender.  They look at the government as their provider.  They look to government as dependents.  They believe they're victims.  They believe the government has a responsibility to care for them.  They believe that they're entitled to health care, to food, to housing, you name it.  He's acknowledging this when he describes the confrontation as between taxpayers and tax consumers and the tax consumers are on the left, the taxpayers are on the right. 

What you know puzzles me about this, I mean, all of my life it has been well understood that the Democrat Party was the party of the welfare state.  People today, Republicans today, who just this past weekend went on a tirade over this Santa Claus characterization, condemning it, are themselves the people who have addressed this circumstance as the Democrat Party equals the welfare state.  The Republican Party has always been the party of the self-reliant.  The Democrat Party has been the party of the aggrieved, the angry, the hungry, the thirsty, what have you.  I don't know what's new about this.  But apparently this quite innocent usage of the term Santa Claus has really hit a nerve with some people.  Why?  Is it because it's too effective?  Is it because it's too descriptive?  And how is it, if it is reality, how is it an insult?  I gather from the Republicans upset about this that it is insulting. 

See, the problem I have with all of this is that the Democrats just won an election.  Barack Obama just won an election that, to me, was won because America is in decline.  We are in decline.  We have fewer of our citizens able to provide for themselves.  Fewer and fewer able to provide; more and more who cannot, or who do not, or who will not.  I don't care about the subdivisions.  Democrats are happy as clams.  I mean, they're running around happy as they can be.  They have just won an election, and they've done so in the midst of the decline of the country, a decline on which they have capitalized, by the way.  I don't know what is even arguable about that.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH:  Snerdley says, "What do you mean Edsall agrees with me?"  He does.  Thomas B. Edsall in this New York Times piece agrees with me. "Is Rush Limbaugh's Country Gone?"  Yes.  The difference is, he's happy about it.  I'm not.  But he agrees that it's gone.  You know this Santa Claus business, I came in the day after the election, a little throwaway line, I said, "It's tough to beat Santa Claus," and all hell broke loose on our side, on the Republican side. 

Folks, I am here to tell you, there isn't a Republican alive who has not looked at the Democrat Party as the party promising goodies to people.  That's been a fact of life for as long as I've been alive, and now all of a sudden we're acting like to say so is an insult. Why would so many Republicans be upset about this, unless, maybe, the strategy is to get in on that game, and they think I'm standing in the way of it. 

(playing of song) 

You know, the only reason that I can think that all of these Republicans are so upset over my description of all this as Santa Claus is that they want in on the game, is they want to play, too.  Because look at what's happening here.  There's a fight to define the meaning of the election and its outcome, and we here are fighting the Drive-Bys.  The Drive-Bys in the Democrat National Committee, the party, want to say that Obama has a mandate now to expand the government, to raise taxes, to expand the welfare state.  I am saying we've lost the country, that it is a victory for the tax consumers over the taxpayers.  The bizarre thing is, we're actually agreeing.  They just don't like the terms that I'm using.  We're both defining the outcome of this election the same way.  They just don't like the terminology I'm using.  I guess it's too direct or too descriptive. 

END TRANSCRIPT

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