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RUSH: I got into New York last night. Had a couple meetings after work, down at the EIB Southern Command and hopped a jet, got up here. I guess I got to my fashionable Upper East Side abode, what was it, 7:30, quarter of eight or something? I took some time to get away from it all, and after I got away from it all, I went back and got involved in it all, and I prepared myself a fashionable adult beverage. I’m sitting there in my little study, and I got the computer on and I’m starting to do a little show prep for today’s show. And, you know, folks, I am written about every day. So it’s no big deal to me. I used to have, when I was much younger and greener, all these news alerts that would alert me when my name had appeared anywhere in the World Wide Web. It got to be so arduous keeping up with it, I canceled them. I thought I canceled them all, but I must have missed one last night because one came in, and the title of it was, ‘Old Warrior, Go Home,’ and it was from the San Francisco Chronicle.

So I clicked on it. It’s a column by my old friend Debra Saunders, who I met when I was in Sacramento. I’ve stayed in touch with her off and on via e-mail all these years. So I read her column, and the first two words of her column are my name. She’s really a great conservative, and she’s a classy lady and I’ve enjoyed her company, but we have a little bit disagreement here about Senator McCain, and I didn’t know it ’til I read her piece. She starts this way: ‘Rush Limbaugh launches daily rants against John McCain. Fellow conservative radio talk-show host Laura Ingraham dismissed the Arizona senator Wednesday as ‘the Democrats’ favorite Republican.” Then she quotes something that Hugh Hewitt, another famous talk show host, said on his blog. She goes on to make some observations, and, Debra, I want to thank you because you have enlightened me, and I’m going to be able to pass this on to a lot of you people as the program unfolds today.

Many of us who call ourselves down-the-road middle, rock-ribbed conservatives, good old mainstream conservatives, sit here and puzzle over the adoration, the love, the attachment that people we thought were also conservatives have for somebody like Senator McCain, or, in some cases, Governor Huckabee. I thought I figured out a bunch of reasons why, and in some cases, I chalked it up to various conservatives being embarrassed of some of the other conservatives that are in the Republican Party, others wanting to modernize the Republican Party, all these ideological reasons. But Debra alerted me to something that I may have thought about, but I didn’t really process, and some of you might have. But I want to thank her for alerting me to the real reason some of these conservatives find an attraction to Senator McCain. Number one, it is his heroic status as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. Oh, and, by the way, guess who is back? The little hand grenade with a bad haircut, Ross Perot is back on the warpath against McCain. He called Jonathan Alter of Newsweek, did you see this? He called Jonathan Alter of Newsweek to really rail against McCain, and it’s about the POW issue.

Now, nobody talks about this much in the mainstream media, but there are a lot of prisoners of war who think McCain has a lot of explaining to do in not being fully interested in getting all the POWs out of Vietnam when we left. It’s a long, convoluted story, and McCain dismisses it, says there’s nothing to it, but others hold quite a grudge against Senator McCain for his apparent lack of interest, they say, in getting everybody, every prisoner of war missing in action accounted for and out of Vietnam, and that’s where Perot comes in. Vietnam was a big deal to him. Let me remind you of this. If you want to know why Perot was on the warpath against George H. W. Bush, it has to do with POWs and it has to do with Vietnam, and I’ll go through that story when we get to the Perot segment of the program, but I want to stick with Debra Saunders here, which will dovetail into a sound bite from David Brooks, conservative, ahem, columnist at the New York Times who was on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer last night during the commentary segment with Mark Maxi Shields, and Brooks was talking about me.

So, in addition to the POW/MIA thing and McCain’s heroic status, that’s one of the things. But I want you to listen to this paragraph that Debra wrote in her piece. ‘Sure, Mac-bashers admit, he’s good on Iraq and the war on terrorism, but look at his apostasies. McCain co-authored a campaign-finance reform bill that enraged far-right (and far-left) advocacy groups.’ Debra, it enraged everybody. It was not just far right; it was not just far left. This thing enraged America. Seventy-seven percent of the American people, when they found out about this, were angry as hell. And you saw, ladies and gentlemen, real conservatism in action in the people of this country telling the government to stop getting so big and to stop disrespecting us. That bill was put together purposely, under cover of darkness in a back room with La Raza in there and its purpose was designed to keep the American people from finding out what was in it, and that effort was led by Senator McCain. Senator McCain was saying things like we gotta get the politics out of this, we gotta get it passed. What does he mean by get the politics out? Get the debate out of it. He didn’t want any debate on this. He didn’t want any hearings. He wanted to ram this thing through, and when the American people found out about it, 77% strong, it was over.

And Debra continues: ‘He co-authored global-warming legislation with Sen. Joe Lieberman, then a Democrat.’ Yeah, but that’s not just a throwaway. That’s huge! Just yesterday, in South Carolina, McCain made a huge turn left all again making sure to trash ANWR and drilling in ANWR. Everybody’s talking about energy independence and coming up with ways to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and so forth. For crying out loud, he compared ANWR to the Grand Canyon and other really beautiful, great tourist protected sites in this country in the continental US, which is absurd. It is barren. There’s nothing there, particularly the area in ANWR, it’s a very small area, which has been targeted for drilling. Anyway, Debra also said that ‘McCain infuriated the GOP base last year when he championed an immigration bill that would have set up a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. The bill tanked, and deservedly so, but not before McCain gratuitously insulted bill critics.’ She mentioned this as though we need to forget this.

Then she says, ‘I have to think that what really sticks in the Limbaugh/Ingraham/Hewitt collective craw is the fact that McCain has been a darling of the media. And some Democrats and independents say they could vote for him. Like those are bad things in an election year.’ Bam, light went off. So people like Debra — and, by the way, folks, I have to tell you she’s a brilliant lady. I don’t want you misunderstanding anything about her. She’s devoted, rock solid. But I figured it all out. These people, one of their primary attractions to McCain after the POW thing is he can get Democrats and liberals and moderates and independents and the Jell-Os to vote Republican, and that’s magic, somehow that alone is magic. So I wrote Debra back, we had a little e-mail back-and-forth last night. I said to her, ‘Debra, it isn’t that the media like McCain. That’s not why I don’t like him. It is why the media like McCain that bothers me. They know that McCain can be pulverized in a national election. I mean, the Drive-Bys will always tell us, Debra, who the nonconservatives are by virtue of who they love and support, and right now that’s McCain and Huckabee. But it’s far more than just that; it’s policies.’

Amnesty for illegals hatched under the cover of darkness, no debate. That bill would have been the destruction of the Republican Party. That was the Register Illegal Immigrants as Democrats bill. And we were frustrated and angry as hell here that a lot of Republicans in the Senate didn’t see that. His outreach to Democrats and independents is also meant to destroy the Republican Party. If you’re going to go out and appeal to independents and Democrats in today’s playing field to get them to vote Republican, what do you have to do? You have to appeal to them as a liberal; you have to appeal them to as a moderate, and, certainly, you don’t go out and appeal to them as a conservative to get moderate, liberal votes to abandon the Democrats and vote for Republicans. Then there’s the Gang of 14.

Now, McCain’s out there promising he’d do everything in the world to appoint the right kind of judges. But then, why have the Gang of 14, which basically destroyed our effort to stop Democrat filibusters on great judges? There’s just too much here of substance that we can’t overlook, plus the opposition to tax cuts. And, of course, some people say we need McCain’s strong anti-terrorist and pro war on terror, pro Iraq, I agree with that, but I want to repeat this. If Democrats win the White House, folks, I have to tell you, they’re not going to pull out of Iraq and guarantee defeat wrapped around their necks, they’re just not going to do it, and anybody who thinks they are is buying and drinking Kool-Aid. Now, the Democrat base, this is all posturing, fundraising, and so forth. Iraq’s off the table as an issue anyway. It’s the economy. The economy is the issue that the Democrats and the liberals and the Drive-Bys are going to try to destroy the Republican Party on. I mean, hell, you’ve got the energy secretary today, Sam Bodman, ‘Yeah, I think we’re heading to a recession.’ Well, that’s just great. I remember the administration saying so. I guess they want to hype their stimulus package.

The best stimulus package is a tax cut. Then you’ve got Bernanke up there testifying before the House committee today, ‘It’s not a recession.’ He’s trying to tell them we’re not headed to a recession. It’s going to be a slowdown, but it’s not going to be a recession. But here’s the thing. This election — and I also wrote this to Debra — this election is about defeating the left. This is crucial. The future of the country is at stake here. This is not about attracting a big tent of Democrats and liberals and doing it by being like them, to get them. That’s going to destroy the party. That’s why I say, McCain or Huckabee, if they get the nomination, this party, as we know it’s finished. It’s going to be reconstituted somehow and you’re not going to recognize it. What’s the value in getting liberals and moderates and so forth if you gotta be like them and say things like to get them? That’s not what Reagan did. McCain is no Reagan here, when it comes to the Reagan Democrats and so forth. The climate change insanity, we cannot overlook this.

Debra, we don’t look at it as global warming or campaign finance reform and just throw it away as issues that McCain was wrong on. We look at global warming and campaign finance reform as a destruction of the US economy in the service of junk science and a hoax. We look at campaign finance reform as a suppression of core free speech rights in the service of protecting mostly Democrat incumbents. These things are not incidental. They’re very substantive to us. It has nothing to do with personalities. It has to do with defeating liberals. Not attracting them to our own party, for crying out loud. I just now understand.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Let us also not forget, ladies and gentlemen, that back in 2004 the haughty John Kerry (who served in Vietnam) asked Senator McCain to be his vice presidential candidate, asked him to be his vice presidential running mate, and McCain took how many months to say no? (McCain impression) ‘I’m very flattered. Flattered! See? I reach out to everybody. Everybody! Democrats love me.’

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: David Brooks was on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer last night with Mark Maxi Shields and the commentary segment of the new hour with Jim Lehrer, and my name up. This is Lehrer asking Brooks a question. ‘Going back to South Carolina specifically: You think Huckabee has a real good chance of scoring big? If he does, that hurts McCain, but what does that do to Thompson?’

BROOKS: The big problem Huckabee faces, McCain’s also, is Rush Limbaugh. Rush Limbaugh all week has been on the warpath against Huckabee and McCain, as people who are not real Republicans. He says they’re drawing independents; they’re drawing Democrats; they’re breaking up the Reagan coalition. He calls them Jell-O people [sic] because they’re soft and squishy, and a lot of people listen to Rush Limbaugh, and a lot of talk show hosts repeat what Rush Limbaugh says. He’s been a very pro-Romney force in the past week, and it’s bound to eat into Huckabee because there a lot of Republican primary voters who listen to Rush Limbaugh.

RUSH: That’s David Brooks analyzing what’s been happening on the program here. One thing we gotta correct. I didn’t call the candidates ‘Jell-Os.’ I called moderates and independents Jell-Os. Let’s go back to the broadcast archives. This was Monday on the Rush Limbaugh program.

RUSH ARCHIVE: I’ve got a new name for, by the way, these independents and moderates. I call them ‘Jell-Os’ from now on. You independents, you moderates, you know who you are. You are shaky; we can see through you. You are transparent. You can be filled up with marshmallows and processed, mushy fruit like the garbage the Drive-Bys and McCain are trying to sway you with. You’re just a bunch of quivering masses of little Jell-O out there.

RUSH: All right, now, the Jell-O term here is applied, therefore, to independent and moderate voters. I’ve decided if we’ve got a bunch of Republicans who go out and act like liberals or moderates in order to get those people to vote for a Republican, I’m going to insult the moderates, and I’m going to see to it that they don’t want to vote in the party I’m a member of. (laughs) Somebody’s gotta do something here. Now, seriously, folks. It is one thing to go out and attract the so-called Reagan Democrats, these moderate conservatives that have been Democrat by tradition. It’s one thing to go get them by talking to them from the standpoint of conservatism and freedom, American exceptionalism, and greatness; but it is not good to go get them if you’re going to pander to them with populism and make them also dependent on the Republican Party as they already are on the Democrat Party. That’s not what we’re about. ‘But, Rush? But, Rush? What about winning the election?’ I understand, folks, and I understand some of you that think any of our Republican candidates would be better than Hillary or Obama, and you’re probably right about that.

I’m not going to dispute that, but I’m going to tell you: there’s not going to be much difference in terms of policy or what’s going to happen to the Republican Party. Look, the Republican Party matters to me in the sense that it is the vessel — it is the host, if you will — for conservatism. Now, too many Republicans look at themselves as the host, and conservatives as an infection — as a virus that has been spreading throughout the Republican Party and slowly eating it away. Wrong. That’s what will happen if we succeed in having a candidate — I don’t care who it is — who is so enamored with getting independents and moderates and certain liberals, by going out and trying to be like them and telling them that our party is in fact their home. It’s the Invasion of the Body Snatchers all over again in a political sense. Now, I keep talking about Ronaldus Magnus. Pete Wehner has a great piece today at Commentary, their website, and I’ll share excerpts with you in a second. But remember, now: My devotion to Reagan is not a cult of personality. I think a lot of people’s devotion to McCain is. I think a lot of people’s devotion to Governor Huckabee is a cult of personality. Reagan didn’t invent conservatism. He just showed how to apply it, and he showed how it attracts voters.

How can you do better than a 49-state landslide? A fifty-state landslide, but it’s pretty damn close. Anybody want to tell me that Reagan was campaigning as a moderate, independent? Anybody want to tell me that Reagan was running around campaigning and telling people how to become dependent on the government? Come on, folks! It’s time to wake up here. I understand going out and ‘expanding the base’ and having a chance at electoral victory and so forth, but if it means destroying the Republican Party — and certainly losing, by the way. Does anybody think that the way to be elected president is to out-liberal liberals, to out-moderate moderates? Some of this just escapes me, especially when the history is not that long ago. It’s fairly recent; it’s the eighties. Even the Contract with America and the Republicans winning the House of Representatives in 1994, you think we did that with liberalism? You think we did that by attracting moderates? We had a little help there because there’s so much corruption on the House of Representatives on the Democrat side, but how did anybody know about that? Talk radio — which, back then, was me. Well, still is me. Ha-ha-ha! Anyway, don’t forget the main point here. There’s no magic and there’s nothing valorous about going out and attracting people to our party by being like them, and having them think that our party is a new home for them, because of whatever deficiencies there are with Hillary or Obama or what have you.

That expediency to win is going to set us back. For those of us that are conservatives first and Republicans second, this is something that matters deeply. As I said, global warming and campaign finance reform are not just little throwaway issues that McCain made mistakes on and maybe apologized for (which he hasn’t). They’re substantive. They’re crucial. I think this notion that we’ve gotta go out and broaden the base of the party by forsaking our own roots, by forsaking our own base, I’m going to tell you: You talk about this notion, ‘When you get down to nominations, Rush, and you get down to the presidential race, if it’s McCain or Huckabee or any of our guys against Hillary or Obama, you really think that our guys are going to stay home and not vote for our side?’ It depends. If our nominee spends a whole campaign acting like he’s embarrassed at his own base; like he’s angry at them, wants to diminish them and deemphasize them; and wants to instead build his party and his victory on members of the Democrat Party and liberals and moderates; yeah, it’s going to make ’em mad! There’s already an undertow of real anger at Senator McCain over immigration alone and McCain-Feingold, among the Republican base. It’s just these moderates and squishy Jell-Os out there, those that are also in the media. They’re out of touch with the Republican base as well. The Republican base embarrasses them. So these are the people that consider themselves to be the party’s ‘modernizers.’

Well, hell, I’m all for ‘modernization,’ but not destruction.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: You know, about this modernizing business, my friends, and you know this, I do not blow my own horn. I do not tout my own whistle. I do not call attention to myself. That just happens. I do not say, ‘Notice me. Notice me.’ But I’m going to step in here on something. All this talk about modernizing the so-called conservative movement or modernizing the Republican Party, how many of you have heard the term ‘New Media’? You’re responsible for it. Well, I’m responsible for it, but you have sustained it, all of you in the audience. We are the New Media. I think that’s modernization. I think the true modernization of the movement and moving it forward and, quote, unquote, of the party is happening in the New Media. We are leading it, and there are people who don’t like that, either, within our own structure, within our own movement.

Mr. Brooks, I have all the respect in the world for him, for his education and what he has accomplished, but what does he do? He writes for the New York Times. That means he’s writing conservatism for liberals. He’s writing conservatism for a liberal audience, and of course you can’t help when you do that to try to seek the liberals’ acceptance. That’s not what we do here. We’re not trying to seek their acceptance. We are trying to beat them because we feel that they are destructive.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: I have a couple of audio sound bites from the previous hour that I meant to get in. We got a little bit out of order there. The first one is from Senator McCain. The second one is from Governor Huckabee. This was on The Big Story last night on the Fox News Channel, John Gibson’s show with Senator McCain, and Gibson said, ‘Senator, there’s been, as you know, there’s kind of a conservative campaign against you from a lineup of conservative talk show hosts and think-tanks. What do you say to the conservatives who are asking themselves, ‘Is McCain conservative enough?”

MCCAIN: In New Hampshire, we won all segments of the Republican base, and I believe, again: Conservative Republicans are most concerned about the issue of our nation’s security. I think it’s clear that my involvement in every national security challenge for the last 20 years will, I think, attract a good portion of them, and most of them I hope — and I think I’ll match my conservative record up against anybody that’s running and I don’t switch positions (laugh), either.

RUSH: All right. Now, there’s something. I’m tempted to just leave this alone. David Brooks was on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer saying (paraphrased), ‘I was listening to Limbaugh this week and he seems to have thrown in with Romney.’ I haven’t thrown in with anybody. All I’m doing, folks — as you who listen regularly know — is simply giving you my reactions as the news happens. I have not endorsed anybody, and I’m certainly not implying an endorsement of anyone on the program. We’re just reacting to some things, as we react to any other news story. McCain says, ‘I think I’ll match my conservative record up against anybody that’s running.’ Okay, now, see, that’s pretty clever. It’s pretty clever, because one of the laments among a lot of conservatives is that we don’t have a thoroughbred out there, that every one of these guys has some sort of a question mark about them that you can go to in their past. As I said once, ‘The only guy that doesn’t have to defend a prior liberal governing stance or moderate governing stance,’ well, and it’s not even totally, ‘is Thompson.’ But even Thompson went along with McCain on the campaign finance reform thing. So, nobody is a thoroughbred out there.

We’re not looking for purity. We’re looking for people that want to beat liberals, not join them, and not have them join us. That’s not the future. Do you ever hear liberals say — do you hear Obama and these guys running around saying — ‘We need to go out and attract conservatives to our party. We need to find out how to broaden or base?’ Do you think if any one of those candidates — be it Obama, be it Mrs. Clinton, be it the Breck Girl — started talking in ways that would attract somebody like me, that their party would put up with it in order to win? (interruption) Well, they promised a middle class tax cut, but they don’t deliver the thing. You know, it works when the conservative Democrats run in local, state, House of Representatives elections. That’s how they won the House last time. That’s another thing that bugs me. When the Democrats do want to win, especially in local House race, they run conservative Democrats, and they win. Our own side wants to shuck and jive conservatism; sweep it aside as something that’s an antique, that needs to be modernized and so forth. It’s patently absurd. Now, having said that, it is very interesting to listen to Obama cite Reagan.

This embarrasses me. He’s citing Reagan in great ways. He’s not citing Reagan on policy. He wouldn’t dare do that, and he’s taking a risk doing it anyway. That group over there despises Reagan even more than some of the country club, blue-blood Republicans on our side despised Reagan — make no mistake, they did. Nevertheless he’s out there citing Reagan, but he’s doing it in the context of attitudes and uplifting sentiments, optimism and hope and inspiration. The kind of things our people ought to be doing, Obama is out there-doing. I’ll have more on this because Pete Wehner — my buddy from the White House who is now at Norman Podhoretz’s shop, Commentary and is running a blog over there — published a piece today, and I want to get to it as the program unfolds. Here’s Huckabee up next. This was from the Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough’s show, on PMSNBC. By the way, did you hear…? Cookie, you don’t need to go get the audio on this, because it’s very short. I’m just going to pass this on. I don’t want you sweating and slaving in there while you’re trying to fix your iPhone. Speaking of the iPhone, they had this big software update and it’s cool. It’s got some neat things on it. But the one thing it needs, they haven’t done yet. It’s frustrating. People ask me all the time, ‘Do you have any power with Apple?’

Ha-ha! Do I have any power with Apple? Apple is as embarrassed that I use their products, as Democrats would be if they welcomed me into the party. But they need a clipboard! They need cut and paste on the thing so you can cut and paste something for an e-mail to text message it to somebody, or cut and paste an address. It’s gotta be simple to do, but they haven’t done it yet, and I thought with that software update that came, version 1.1.3, that they would put that in. They got some cool things in there, some really nice things. But the thing that I really wanted on this thing since I got it, was cut and paste, clipboard, and it isn’t there.

Now, MSNBC. I’m watching Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski (Mika Brzezinski is the daughter of Zbigniew Brzezinski, the national security advisor to the peanut farmer: Jimmy Carter), and they’re talking about conservatives in the presidential race, and Mika Brzezinski says, ‘I don’t have any problem with morality in politics.’ You don’t have any problem with morality in politics? And that was somehow big news!

The secularists are all over it. ‘No, I don’t have any problem with morality.’ It’s like: I can stomach morality.

Stomach it? See, that’s the one thing that Pete writes about today in his piece on Obama and Reagan, the one thing — even I have forgotten to point out — one of the most fundamental aspects of Ronald Reagan’s success was the morality of everything that he brought into play. He knew the Soviet Union would implode on the basis of its own immorality, if we just gave it the right nudge. He thought the same thing of liberalism. It’s its own immorality, if you give it the right nudge, it will implode on itself. Reagan’s morality was a fundamental aspect of who he was and how he took the concepts, the precepts, the contexts and principles of conservatism and applied them to the issues of his day. All right, I distracted myself, but didn’t forget any of it, now back to Huckabee, who this all started with. He was on Scarborough’s show on PMS yesterday. He says that there is a conspiracy out to get him.

HUCKABEE: There’s so much negative, it’s amazing. I’m the only guy that’s just getting hammered from some of these special interest groups, and I think that will really turn for me and against some of these folks, because it’s pretty obvious that there’s gotta be almost this — I don’t use the word ‘conspiracy,’ but there’s just an — anxiety that exists in the Washington power circles about our candidacy.

RUSH: So that’s another way of stating the Washington-New York Axis; the Wall Street-DC Axis; the one I belong to, that this mythical advisor said I was a member of, and Huckabee said no. Well, he didn’t say no. He said we don’t know who said it so I can’t respond to it. David Brooks is Washington-New York Axis. I’m not trying to put Brooks down. There’s no feud here.

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