RUSH: Do you have any problem with presidential candidates announcing their intentions on Jay Leno or Letterman or what have you? Mr. Snerdley nods in there that he does not. What about you, Maimone? Have any problem with it? Oh, you do? You disagree with going on the Leno show? Oh, good. See, I have problems with it, too. Now, the Thompson explanation from the media guy running the Thompson campaign is that there will be far more normal Americans watching The Tonight Show, or shows like it, than there will be watching presidential debates. There’s a presidential debate Wednesday in New Hampshire, and there will be far more people watching. See, if Thompson were to announce Tuesday and go to the debate Wednesday, far fewer people would know that he’s announced than if he does it on The Tonight Show. Schwarzenegger announced it on The Tonight Show, and he’s an actor, too, and Fred Thompson is an actor.
Here’s my problem with it, folks. This is not settled science with me. I’m not fully decided on this yet. I think the office is being devalued, or it stands the possibility of being devalued when it’s announced on an entertainment comedy show type format. One of the fastest ways to devalue the office of the presidency is to make it part of the pop culture of the day and to make the pop culture of the day relevant and important in selecting a president. It bothers me. The pop culture is going to hell in a hand basket. People like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan go on those shows. ‘Well, Rush, he’s gotta reach a lot of average, ordinary Americans.’ I understand that, but there’s a more dignified way of doing this. Call a press conference, you announce it, you be very serious, explain what you want to do. I know that running for the office of presidency today, more than ever before, requires somebody telegenic, somebody media savvy. I know that with the, quote, unquote, average, normal American, that you can go on the Tonight Show or the Letterman show and come off as an average, real guy, that you might vault ahead of the others. I don’t know. I’m not totally decided about this, but it is somewhat of a concern for me. (interruption) Yes, I did say that. Snerdley is reminding me… but see, that works in my favor. Politics is show biz for the ugly, and show biz for the ugly takes place in Washington. Show biz for the beautiful people takes place in Hollywood.
Fred Thompson’s a Hollywood show biz guy. It may fit for him. Obviously he’s decided it fits for him. I know one of the reasons, too, as far as Fred Thompson is concerned, the conventional wisdom is — I don’t know if I believe this, either, every time I hear this conventional wisdom stuff. The conventional wisdom is he’s got a week after his announcement to make it stick. He has a week to make it take off, and if it doesn’t take off after a week, if he doesn’t have a good announcement tour with a big bang sort of start to it, then he’s going to fade and fizzle because he’s waited too long to get in while all these other guys have been out there treading the paths of the state fairs and spending time with the butter queens and so forth at these various state fairs. Thompson’s been out there doing that to a certain extent as well. It’s just something gnawing at me. As I say, I’m not totally decided on this. I’m just sharing with you my considerable instincts out there.
RUSH: This is Dave, and you’re next, sir. Hello.
CALLER: Hello, Rush. It’s a pleasure to talk to you.
RUSH: Thank you.
CALLER: I’m heading up to your adopted hometown, Sacramento.
RUSH: Well. Wave for me when you drive through town.
CALLER: We’ll do it. When you started talking about the devaluing of the office on television, the first thing that flashed to my mind was Richard Nixon doing Sock it to Me on Laugh In.
RUSH: Yeah, that’s right. Was he president then?
CALLER: I believe he was, yes, sir.
RUSH: Well, look what happened to him.
CALLER: I know. But it just shows what can happen if you try to use the wrong media and you don’t know how to do it.
RUSH: Well, Fred Thompson knows how to do it. I just wanted to bring this up because I have a reverence for the office. I know we have an evolving culture and things change, and I’m not trying to be locked into cement as an old fuddy-duddy. I have nothing against Jay Leno. I have nothing against The Tonight Show. I don’t want anybody to misunderstand here. It’s just an instinctual thing. It’s not because it’s unfair to the other candidates, it’s not because the other candidates haven’t been on — McCain has been — and I know Leno has political guests now and then. It just seems like the presidency should be exempt and above the common pop culture. But then again, average, ordinary Americans elect the president, and if you want to expose yourself to average, ordinary Americans who don’t know where their own country is on a map, but you still want them to vote for you, then you go on shows like this.
Lee in Tampa, Florida, hello, sir. Welcome to the EIB Network.
CALLER: Hi, Rush. First time I’ve ever been able to get through to you.
RUSH: Thank you, sir.
CALLER: If you think going on Leno to announce your presidency devalues the office of president, don’t you think trying to pick up a guy in the airport bathroom devalues the office of senator?
RUSH: (Laughing.) What’s behind this question? Do you think that I don’t — what do you think?
CALLER: No, I just think the Republicans that wanted him out of office as quickly as possible were absolutely 100 percent right because he, at a minimum, pled guilty to disorderly conduct in a men’s room in an airport and that brings discredit on the Senate and, even if other members of other parties have brought even more discredit on the Senate, I think a standard has to be made and set, and when our guys don’t meet that standard, they’re done.
RUSH: Well, I can see by virtue of the callers that Snerdley is finding today that I’m on the losing side of this argument. I can see that I have failed to make my point properly. I have failed as a communicator today, and I’m going to chalk this up to the fact that I’m fighting the ravages of the common cold. Well, maybe it’s not so common what I’ve got, but whatever it is —
CALLER: And one other thing, didn’t Gerald Ford get a big bump against Jimmy Carter when he went on Saturday Night Live?
RUSH: I don’t remember Ford going on Saturday Night Live.
CALLER: Maybe my memory is bad.
RUSH: I also don’t remember Gerald Ford beating Jimmy Carter. What are we talking about here? He might have got a big bump, yip yip yip yip yahoo. But who won?
CALLER: Well, yeah, that’s a point.
RUSH: Thank you. At least I’m right about something in this call. It’s great to hear from you out there, Lee. Thanks so much. Steve in Long Island, welcome, sir, to the EIB Network.
CALLER: Hi, Rush. Welcome back.
RUSH: Thank you, sir.
CALLER: Rush, I have a question about the Larry Craig situation. If being gay is good, and if what Larry Craig did was kind of gay, then maybe what he did wrong and why he’s being kicked out is because he won’t admit that he’s gay, which is good.
RUSH: Well, depends. See, the left cannot condemn him for being gay because they support it. This is my point earlier. The left cannot condemn any form of behavior other than conservatism, because conservatism claims to have a guide rail in life, a bunch of guide rails or guideposts called morality, decency, right and wrong. So they go after the hypocrisy. They claim that Republicans are hypocrites because they stand for all these high moral values but look at the kind of guys they elect. ‘They elect reprobates; they elect perverts; they elect liars and cheats and scandalmongers and toe tappers in bathrooms in Minnesota. We liberals, of course, have those same people in our party, but we don’t condemn them and we do not claim to have the moral high ground in the way we live, other than, of course, liberalism is better than anything out there.’ They have to go after the hypocrisy. They can’t go after Larry Craig for being gay. That’s why it would have been fine, if Larry Craig really wanted to stay in the Senate, would have announced was changing parties and becoming a Democrat at that first press conference. I’m sure he didn’t have the presence of mind to do that, but that would have confounded the Democrats. ‘Well, we don’t want you in our party, you’re a toe tapper in a bathroom in Minnesota,’ but they’ve got worse than that in their party, folks, much worse.