RUSH: Let’s go to the phones, people patiently waiting, we start in Peoria today with Andrew. I’m glad you called, sir.
CALLER: Hi, Rush. How are you?
RUSH: Fine. Very well.
CALLER: Well, I’ve been listening, I’m a 24/7 subscriber and everything, but I’m also a big Huckabee fan. I think you’ve been unfair, and I think Club for Growth has been unfair. Ronald Reagan had the same problems as what Huckabee had in his — went up double, taxes went up. And it’s because of the format of — it’s the format of the government, you know, you have to have a balanced budget as governor.
RUSH: Let me understand this, because we had a call yesterday that tried to make the same point. You are equating Mike Huckabee with Ronald Reagan, and you are saying that Mike Huckabee is Reaganesque and we can expect Reagan II with Huckabee simply because you can cite similar records with both the governors in terms of raising taxes?
CALLER: No, that’s not the only thing.
RUSH: You mean there are other comparisons of Huckabee to Reagan?
CALLER: One of them is that he’s not the establishment candidate. That was something in the ’75-’76 when he ran, and he almost got the nomination there because of the support of evangelicals in the South.
RUSH: Can you tell me — I mean, I understand the technique here, because this is the second or third attempt on the part of Huckabee supporters, who, by the way, you know, I think he’s a fine man. He’s just not a conservative. And this is what, to be quite honest with you, offends me greatly with this attempt to compare him to Ronald Reagan. You have to go back and cite their records as governors, some sort of a non-establishment candidate and so forth. Could you tell me something about Huckabee rather than trying to compare him to Ronald Reagan, a comparison of which I will blow out of the water in mere moments?
CALLER: (laughter) Well, the FairTax is a conservative view. Of course he’s got all the social issues.
RUSH: No, he doesn’t.
CALLER: Such as?
RUSH: Well, you know, this is really not comfortable for me. This is not easy. I swore a vow of neutrality during these primaries and I’m sitting here and I’m minding my own business, and I’m remaining faithful to my vows, for one of the few times in my life. Just kidding about that. I’m just referring to my multiple divorce record. Don’t make anything more of it than that. Snerdley, would you close your eyes? You’re sitting there looking wide-eyed. All of a sudden I’m minding my own business, remaining faithful to my vows for what is a very common thing for me to do, to remain faithful to my vows — is that better? — and all of a sudden I start getting attacked by the Huckabee campaign. And so I had a chance. Do I sit back and just ignore this, or do I deal with it? So I dealt with it, and now what we’re getting is an onslaught of Huckabee supporters, which I totally understand, attempting to do damage control, fearing that what I have been saying about their candidate will be harmful tonight in the Hawkeye Cauci and in future primary elections. The latest gambit has been for Huckabee supporters to claim that, hey, he’s just Ronald Reagan. Reagan raised taxes when he was governor; Huckabee raised taxes when he was governor.
Here’s my problem with this. I say this with all compassion, and I say this with love and respect for all of you who support Huckabee. But how dare you compare Mike Huckabee to Ronald Reagan. That is simply intellectually vapid, and it’s grasping at straws. Ronald Reagan not only served as a governor, but he wrote and spoke for years about conservatism. Ronald Reagan was there at the beginning in 1964 about conservatism. I said yesterday, I have not spent a lifetime advocating conservative principles only to throw them away to embrace a particular candidate. I don’t support open borders and amnesty. I don’t support the release of hundreds of criminals. McCain supports open borders and amnesty. Huckabee released hundreds of criminals. I don’t support repeated increases in taxes. I don’t support national health care, whether you call it a children’s program or whatever it is. I don’t support anti-war rhetoric. I don’t support Republican candidates trashing the war in Iraq when we’re winning it. I don’t support Republican candidates claiming the president doesn’t read the National Intelligence Estimates as an excuse for him not knowing what the hell is in one. And that’s Governor Huckabee.
Governor Huckabee has no similar intellectual or conservative movement record to fall back on. And I’ll tell you, if those of you — and I say this with all respect, and I say this with the love that I have for everybody in this audience, those of you that support Huckabee — but the idea that you want to claim Mike Huckabee as Ronald Reagan II based on tax increases while governor, is an insult to me. That’s not who Ronald Reagan was. We all know it. Ronald Reagan came in and said, ‘I’m going to cut taxes. I’m going to defeat the Soviets. We’re going to win the Cold War, and I’m going to rebuild the US military.’ Mike Huckabee has come in and said, (paraphrasing) ‘Well, yeah, I raised taxes, but I had to, but I support this FairTax thing,’ which doesn’t stand a chance in hell. Seriously, folks, gotta be honest about these things.
The second thing is, Mike Huckabee wants to treat the modern-day equivalent of the Soviet Union with the Golden Rule. That’s not how Reagan did it. You could argue that Huckabee’s approach is worthwhile this time, I’m not going to argue with you about that if you want to say that, but don’t tell me he’s Ronald Reagan. Don’t tell me that any of these people on the Republican side are Ronald Reagan, because they are not. This is what I feared from the get-go with this roster of candidates, that not just conservatism was going to get redefined to fit the mold of whoever these candidates are and whichever one wins, but that Reaganism was going to be redefined. Now, if candidates want to go out and claim they’re Ronald Reagan II, fine and dandy, then go do it, go be it. Don’t try to say that what you are is Reaganesque when it isn’t. You want to be Ronald Reagan II, be it, but don’t be a phony baloney, plastic banana, good-time rock ‘n’ roller and say you’re Reagan when you’re not trying to implement and emulate what Reagan did. It’s just that simple. As recently as last year, Governor Huckabee — and I wasn’t going to say this — folks, I had decided I’m going to take the day off on Huckabee. But here I got the first call out of the box — thank you, Mr. Snerdley — Huckabee supported as recently as last year the phony amnesty bill. He believes illegal aliens should receive Social Security. He believes they ought to receive driver’s licenses. He thinks their kids ought to get tuition breaks.
Now, you might say, ‘Hey, Rush, Reagan supported the ’86 amnesty bill that was Simpson-Mazzoli.’ Yeah, but not because he supported these things. Reagan didn’t support these things. He supported amnesty for a few million illegals in exchange for securing the border. Congress never secured the border. Reagan was not motivated by conferring benefits and rights on illegal aliens as Governor Huckabee is and as Senator McCain was, and probably still is, and who knows who else in this Republican field. Reagan was a huge law-and-order governor as well. He put down the riots on college campi from ’66 to ’74, he didn’t release hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of criminals. If you want to compare him to a California governor on that stand, compare him to Governor Schwarzenegger, who is preparing to release a bunch of criminals on the basis of budget cuts.
I’ll tell you a little Reagan story. During these college riots, free speech movement and all this, a bunch of kids demanded to see Reagan in his gubernatorial office in Sacramento, and of course security said, ‘You can’t go in there and see Reagan.’ Reagan said, ‘Let them come in here. I’ll be glad to see them.’ So these college punks, these students, about five or six of them were granted permission to come in and talk to Reagan, and they just railed against him, ‘Who are you, old man? Who are you to tell us what we can and can’t do? Who are you to tell us how to live? Who are you to be governor of this state? Look at how old you are. I mean, when you were born, there weren’t airplanes. When you were born there were barely telephones. When you were born there wasn’t even air-conditioning. You don’t have any idea what life’s like for us.’ And Reagan just looked at them, and said, ‘You’re right. Me and my generation didn’t have those things. We built them for you.’
RUSH: Now, just a couple more things here about this Reagan-Huckabee comparison because I know that others are going to attempt to call and improve on others’ failed attempts to persuade me that Huckabee is Reagan. Conservatism is a set of principles and ideals, kind of like the Constitution. They don’t float, they don’t bend, they don’t shape. You don’t rewrite them to fit the social mores or depravity of the day or what have you. Conservatism is what it is. Conservatism seeks to balance the budget, not by raising taxes, but by cutting government and reducing the size of government. Now, true, in anticipation — so far, the two callers we’ve had on this have focused on gubernatorial records of Governor Huckabee and Governor Reagan and tax increases. I just want to let you know if you’re dialing in, ‘Hey, Rush! Hey, Rush! Reagan raised taxes as president! What about that?’ Yes, he did. It was called TEFRA, the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982. It was a Bob Dole-sponsored deal, and it had a component promised by Congress. I forget the precise specifics, but it was for every dollar in tax increase, there’d be two dollars in spending cuts. Therefore, Reagan’s tax increase that he went along with in the federal government did not abandon conservative principles.
Conservatism guided Reagan every time he opened his mouth, every time he signed a bill, every time he made a speech. The only thing that went wrong in TEFRA is that those spending cuts never happened. So that’s why they were able to label Reagan a tax raiser as president. But he cut the marginal rate. When he took office, the top marginal rate was 70%. That’s 1981. When he left office in 1989, the top marginal rate was 28%. Nobody had done that prior to Reagan. Governor Huckabee didn’t do it. If you want to start talking about tax increases as governor (which I don’t, but if you insist), I have two pages of Governor Huckabee tax increases as governor of Arkansas. Governor Huckabee raised more taxes in ten years in office as governor than Bill Clinton did in his 12 years as governor. So I really want you all to understand here that you can try to sell me on Huckabee in a number of ways, but don’t — don’t! — tell me that he’s Reagan. Don’t tell me that Mitt Romney is Reagan, and don’t tell me that John McCain is Reagan, and don’t tell me that Rudy Giuliani is Reagan, and don’t tell me that Fred Thompson is Reagan, and don’t tell me that Ron Paul is Reagan, because they aren’t. You might be saying, ‘Well, then, Rush, what are you going to do?’
There’s no Reagan out there. One of the things that amazes me…. I’m watching our conservative media buddies in the print area and other places all over the country, I don’t want to mention any names here, but magazines, and blogs, and newspapers, and so forth — and here we have this roster of candidates, and people who have all along claimed to be full-fledged, staunch conservatives have chosen their candidate. I don’t care who it is. Some have chosen Mitt, some have chosen Fred, some have chosen Giuliani, some have chosen McCain, and then they’ve immediately embarked on this quest to convince us that their guy is more Reaganesque than anybody else in the race. In the old days, when conservatism was just being given birth to as a major faction in this country, the people behind it held out for what was as close as they could get to what conservatism was. Why do you think Bill Buckley, one of my idols, started the magazine National Review? Not just because of so much liberalism all over the place, but because he understood and hoped for a genuine conservative presidential candidate some way down the road.
His purpose in founding National Review was to influence people in political life to go in that direction. That’s what the purpose of National Review was, and look at where it led us. It led us to Goldwater and then it eventually gave us Reagan. Today, what we have are not people in the conservative media establishment, the so-called conservative movement, not a whole lot of them are insisting on conservatism. You got a roster of candidates they’re looking at it, and they start making the case for the candidate that they like, and their theory is, ‘Hey, look, it’s the best we got. We gotta make due with what we got. We can’t pretend that what we want is out there and so forth.’ But the idea that you take any of these candidates on the Republican side and just assume they’re who they are, and then start trying to plug them into various holes that fit the Reaganesque mold — or the so-called conservative mold, however you want to label it — to me is a bit disappointing. A real, full-fledged, thriving conservative movement would do its best to get all these candidates moving in that direction on the basis that it wins!
RUSH: All right, for you Huckabee supporters and Romney supporters, whoever, it’s one thing to try and call and fool me. That’s impossible. You can’t do it. But it’s an entirely different thing to fool yourself, and you’re doing it.
RUSH: Let me try to explain this a different way. Let’s go back to the November elections of 2006. Remember, we were all angry and disgusted leading into that election over a number of things. We were upset over the Macaca business of George Allen and how it was blown way out of proportion, Washington Post accomplished, sadly, its objective, which was what? To keep George Allen out of the presidential field. If you want to talk Reaganesque, George Allen. But he’s not there. Macaca. And in the House we had the Mark Foley incident, with the pages and all that other stuff. So the Democrats took the House, and how did they do it? You know, our memories are so short. How did the Democrats take the House? What did they do? How many of you remember? The Democrats ran in southern states conservative Democrats against Republicans who had campaigned as conservatives, who had been incumbents, who had strayed from conservatism. And what happened? The conservative Democrats, enough of them won to put liberal anti-war nuts in charge of the House of Representatives: Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, and her whole group.
What was the real reason the Republicans lost the House in 2006? The real reason was that they had abandoned conservatism, the conservatism they swore to, the conservatism they campaigned on. It was said in various degrees they got caught up in all the power and they felt invincible and they abandoned their conservatism, instead doing what they wanted to do to stay there and exercise their power and feel it, so hello earmarks, hello increased spending and so forth. I’m here to tell you that the reason the Republicans lost the House in 2006, you could chalk some of it up to Foley, but the corruption stuff was largely focused on the out-of-control spending, whoever was to blame for it, and the perception that Republicans were simply abandoning that which they had promised, conservatism. Now, I know that coming up in the 2008 presidential race, a number of Republicans just want to win. They want to win for a number of reasons: We can’t have Hillary; we don’t want Edwards; we don’t want Obama; we don’t want any of those people because they’re all the same.
I’ll tell you, by the way, on the Democrat side, Dan Balz has a story in the Washington Post today, it’s pretty accurate, too, the Democrats are pretty much in the same mode. They don’t care about ideas in this campaign. They’re going to do whatever it takes to win. Look at Mrs. Clinton. Every day a different campaign strategery. One day she’s the woman. The next days she’s experienced. The next day she’s for change or what have you. The Democrats are out there calculating whatever it takes to win. They’re admitting it in this story that Dan Balz writes in the Washington Post. I have always believed that campaigns that win do so on the basis of ideas that take the American voting public seriously, don’t insult the American voting public, and actually campaign on ideas. When this happens, conservatives win. They win in landslides. I’ll never forget Reagan’s two landslides, and after each of those landslide elections, you’d have Alan Cranston, the Senator from California, ‘Ah, it was just a triumph of slick marketing and packaging over common sense.’
David Broder, after ’84’s landslide, said the same thing in the Washington Post. They could not, and they still can’t, liberals could not reconcile the idea that they’d gotten beaten by competing ideas. I have a fear that on the Republican side there’s the same attitude. We gotta win Rush, we just have to win, we just have to win. All right, fine, I agree we gotta win, but how do you do it? Do you win by calculating how to win or do you win on the basis of ideas? Ideas are what give you the mandate. Ideas, you run an idea, have your three-legged stool, I’m going to do these three things, or make it four, whatever you want, keep it simple, and then you have, if you win, a mandate to go ahead and implement those things. You understand what the Democrats are going to do if they win. They’re going to remake this country like you’ve never seen. National health care, they’re going to try to implement the Fairness Doctrine, they’re going to do whatever it takes to make sure they never lose power again. They’re going to do whatever it takes to take out the opposition and make it harder for the opposition to find a voice in the media. They’re going to build up as much social programs as possible, try to create as much dependence as possible from the American people.
They want to remake this country, but they’re not going to say this. They may propose a national health care bill. Edwards, by the way, is coming the closest of any of them to saying it. Edwards is out there pretty much telling you what all these Democrats are going to do. They’re going to go after all the corporations; they’re going to go after everybody that they claim is rich; they’re going to go after everybody that disagrees with them. They’re going to try to make as many people dependent on government as possible. Edwards is the only guy really saying it. The others are saying, how could we say this without saying it, how can we get elected without saying it, because they really can’t get elected if they say it. The country is not liberal, so they’re out there calculating how to win. And if they do win, it’s just like in 2006 in the November elections, do you realize what was not in the campaign in 2006 congressional elections? The war in Iraq. Go back and look, folks. The Democrats were not making a big deal about the war in Iraq. They were talking about how Bush had mismanaged it and this and that and the other thing, but they were not pledging to get us out, they were not pledging to end it, but after the election, what did they do? They claimed that as their mandate, which is what they always do.
If they win this election, which I think is crucial, if they win this election, they are going to do whatever they’re going to do and claim that the American people elected them to do it, which will not be the case if they win. This is a long way of saying, roundabout way of saying that ideas matter, and calculating ways to win is what the Democrats do and what the liberals are doing. And I think on our side, compared to them, any one of our candidates is far preferable to any one of theirs. Many of the campaigns on our side are engaged in a semblance of ideas and so forth. I know you’ve got the dirty campaigning going on, it’s part and parcel of the whole thing. Huckabee said on The Tonight Show last night if you can’t stand the sight of your own blood, don’t get into politics. This was before he played the guitar or maybe it was after he played the guitar. Clintonesque. Clinton played the saxophone on Arsenio Hall; Huckabee last night played the guitar, the bass guitar. Bottom line is, yes, I’m a purest, and I know we’re not going to get pure.
I think we can get closer to it by demanding it than if we don’t demand it, than if we don’t ask for it. If we simply choose up sides based on whatever reason that we choose and then claim, well, this is the best we got, I think this is a guy that ought to run, then try to claim that person fits the conservative mold when that person may not, is devastating to the future of conservatism. I just don’t want it to be redefined nor do I want Reaganism to be redefined.