RUSH: We’ll go to the audio sound bites as promised. Now, this is interesting to me because it’s PMSNBC. This is the network that routinely lambastes me, I mean every night multiple times, but somehow I made their top ten most influential Americans of the 21st Century so far list. This is from Christmas Eve on their MSNB special: ‘The Most Influential Americans of the 21st Century So Far.’ And this is a little bit of the countdown focusing on individual person number nine. That’s me.
SALAM: Rush Limbaugh has been a tremendously influential figure in our national and political life since the eighties. Here’s a guy who’s using the quintessential old media, radio, in order to exercise tremendous influence in an Internet age.
SMITH: He has 15 to 20 million listeners daily. That does not happen if you don’t have people who share your ideology.
REINER: Unfortunately, he says things that just are not true, but people eat his stuff up. He has had not only an influence on the way people think about politics, but he’s had a big influence on the Republican Party.
RUSH: That was Rob Reiner, Meathead, saying, ‘Unfortunately, he says things that just aren’t true.’ They put all kinds of weird sound effects in there when Meathead was talking, which make him sound like a clown. Here’s Mika Brzezinski.
BRZEZINSKI: Number nine is Rush Limbaugh. The ultraconservative radio personality is a hero of the right and can sway public opinion and policy. And number eight is the late Ted Kennedy.
SCARBOROUGH: Isn’t that fascinating. We had with Colin Powell, what, ten, a moderate, somebody seen as a moderate, Rush Limbaugh, somebody on the right, Ted Kennedy, somebody on the left.
RUSH: By the way, speaking of the Kennedys, this is the first time in 23 years there has not been a member of the Kennedy family in elective office. One of the first bits we ever did on this program way back in the late eighties was term limits for the Kennedys. It’s something I actively supported in any number of ways. It took 22 years, but it’s happened. There are no more Kennedys in elective office, after I, El Rushbo, began a policy of term limits for the Kennedys. And that’s why, one of the many, many reasons these people at PMSNBC are talking about my power and my influence. Here’s Joe Scarborough.
SCARBOROUGH: Here was a guy that helped elect a lot of Republicans in 1994. He really I think as much as anybody helped create the New Media environment that we find ourselves in right now. He had a remarkable influence with a lot of Tea Party candidates who took over Congress this year.
BRZEZINSKI: The megaphone that he has, though, carries such a great responsibility, and there’s so many voices out there. The path forward in terms of influence for someone like Rush Limbaugh is to probably try and stay true to what he believes, given the money that can be made.
SCARBOROUGH: Well, he’s making a lot of money but the world has changed so dramatically. When Rush Limbaugh started this 20 years ago he was alone. Think about all the carbon copies that have followed Limbaugh. The challenge for Rush is to figure out how being the original to still break through with so many people like he has for 20 years.
RUSH: That’s Joe Scarborough again, Mika Brzezinski, your host, El Rushbo, number nine on the top ten most influence Americans of the 21st Century so far list, and they put ‘so far’ in there, for those of you from Rio Linda, because the 21st Century isn’t over yet, still 90 years to go in the 21st Century. Here is on Christmas Day, C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, Juan Williams, taking calls from viewers. And a caller on the Democrat lines, ‘It’s an absolute visceral attack from right-wing talk radio. It’s almost like a political advertisement for the past two years, with Rush Limbaugh finding every possible thing to be disagreeing with Presidential or, you know, Democratic policy on anything. It’s so obvious. It’s so absolutely obviously negative from Rush.’
WILLIAMS: Being highly critical of President Obama as a political strategy has proven successful. If you look at what Republicans in the House and Senate did in the first two years which is basically to say, ‘You know what? No, we don’t want President Obama’s policies.’ This has fueled the Tea Party to some extent, and it has acted as a base for the changes that we saw take place in the midterm elections. And President Obama, his White House did not do a good job of telling their story. People like Rush Limbaugh took over much of the conversation, even after the passage of the health care reform bill, conservative talk radio in the country has been very hard on President Obama.
RUSH: I listened to this stuff, I listen to people talk about me, and some of this stuff literally amazes me. Being highly critical of Obama as a political strategy has proven successful? If you look at what Republicans in the House and the Senate did in the first two years which is basically to say, ‘No, we don’t want Obama’s policies’? What should they have done? They’re Republicans; he’s Democrat. They’re conservatives; he’s a socialist. Strategy? How about principle? Gonna lump me in with that, highly critical of Obama as a political strategy has proven successful? Yeah, like every day I concoct a strategy in doing this program, a political strategy. I’ve decided that as a political strategy I’m gonna disagree with Obama, that there’s gonna be success in that. There’s no allowance for principle, core belief in all this. It tells me more about these people than it does about me.
This is how they look at things: strategize here, strategize there. You notice that every guest, it seems, on cable news is a strategist now? I don’t care who it is. If they had Betty Crocker on there she’d be identified as a Republican strategist or as a Democrat strategist. When I first saw this mentioned, I thought, ‘Well, they must be part of the party hierarchy. They must be paid strategerists.’ Then I started noticing some of these people aren’t paid by anybody. They’re just average, ordinary Americans that happen to get a guest gig and they call themselves Democrat or Republican strategist when the hierarchy of either party’s never heard of ’em. But that’s what they call themselves. So everything’s a strategy now. And if that’s the way they look at it it’s no wonder they’ve never figured this program out or me or a half the other people that do what I do.
RUSH: Here’s Tom in South Holland, Illinois. Great to have you on the program, sir. Hello.
CALLER: Morning, Rush. How you doing?
RUSH: Very good. Thanks very much.
CALLER: Good. You know, I’m getting a little tired of the namby-pamby, diaper-wearing, inconsequential crybabies attacking Rush Limbaugh. They used to attack William F. Buckley. You’re not gonna be very successful if you’re attacking knowledge and common sense, because it just makes you look like a person that really doesn’t know what they’re doing when they’re trying to do it. These are also the same people, if I recall correctly, who were beating up on Bush for two years after he left office, and they were solely responsible for the organization now called the ASPCDH, which is the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Dead Horses.
RUSH: (laughing) You know —
CALLER: You get so tired of it. You know, attacking Rush Limbaugh is like pushing a greasy pig up an oily hill. You’re not gonna be successful so why don’t you quit doing it? And our president. You were talking about the smartest guy in the room or is he dumb or is he smart-dumb? I’ve come to the conclusion he’s either a puppet or he really doesn’t know what he’s doing, because he has never had a real job in our world. He got $180,000 a year for saying ‘present’ 150 times, which the calculation is $1200 per saying ‘present.’ I wish I had that kind of a job. So I’m kind of with you in a way that you’re trying to decide: ‘Is he that stupid? Or has he been set up by somebody to do what they want to do, not caring whether he looks stupid or not?’
RUSH: Well —
CALLER: Any time anybody says that Sarah Palin’s not gonna make it because she doesn’t have enough experience? Excuse me. You could stack her up against this skinny little guy any day of the week —
RUSH: Let me tell you something about that.
CALLER: — and she’d wind up on top with her experience.
RUSH: To this day, I run into Republicans and conservatives that you know (I’m not gonna mention any names here) who spout that line, ‘She’s not intellectually hefty enough. She’ll never get elected. It’d be horrible,’ and I just trot out my line on ’em, ‘Oh, yeah, yeah! Give me four more years of Obama,’ and they kind of look at me with their heads cocked, not quite understanding. They think I’m agreeing with them, but then they think I’m not and they can’t figure it out. We’re being set up now to give us the same group of people that ran in 2008: Huckabee, Mitt. The left in the media is doing its best to compress our field into people who have already lost. And for a purpose. Now, this criticism of me, criticism of Bush, it is totally understandable why it happens.
The left cannot advance their agenda by promoting it. The left cannot get elected by being honest about who they are and what they believe. The left requires villains, demons. They must demonize people, and they will demonize the people they think (according to their focus group and other type polls) who are polarizing or who are outspoken, confident, sincere about what they believe — and then try to position those people (i.e., me) as the leader of the opposition to the left. In my case, they even trotted that out. Not long after Obama was immaculated they trotted out the fact that I am the leader of the Republican Party.
Look, I don’t mind it, but what it means is that no other Republican is speaking up. If any other Republican were speaking up I guarantee you he’d be the demon. But a lot of Republicans are content to let me be the demon so they can fly under the radar and escape the criticism, ’cause you can’t get elected in politics by people that don’t like you. You can have media success with people that don’t like you, but you can’t get elected. So they’re content to let that fly solo at me. I know it’s not even about me. It’s about them. They are the ones that have to have demons, and they’re just gonna make demons. They chose Bush ’cause they knew Bush wouldn’t fight back, plus Bush was the president.
They choose me because I genuinely do frighten ’em. I’m right; they know it. They know I have them pegged. Their task is to make sure that the people who… I’ll put it this way. Their task, their objective is to make sure that no more people than already do agree with me. I’ll tell you a little story. Over the course of life I run into people various places and I get questions from people that are essentially, ‘What is it like to be you?’ They don’t ask it that way, but that’s what they want to know: ‘What’s it like to be you?’ Even among people that know me, you wouldn’t believe how happy they are when they discover that I’m not as hated as they think I am, and they think I’m hated because of the media. They think I’m hated because of the press.
I was talking to some people the other day about, ‘If you stop and think just how much of what you think is important every day is shaped by the media,’ not just in politics, but in anything! I’ll give you the first example that comes to my mind. It’s a sports example because that’s all I paid attention to when I was gone. Something happened in the NFL, I forget what it was, and all throughout the media (in reports, websites, on the air) these people are all saying that everybody’s talking about X — and everybody wasn’t talking about X; they were! The media was talking about it, but it wasn’t the result of people talking about it that caused the media to start talking about it. It’s the media talking about it amongst themselves and thinks that their universe is everybody, when it isn’t.
Now, here I am. I happen to know because I know me better than anybody, that when I tell you I’m a harmless lot of those little fuzzball, I am. I know I am one of the nicest guys you will ever run into. I know no matter how you define it, I’m one of those. People who know me know that, and yet they are just as happy as they can be when they find out others might think that, too, because they think that they’re gonna have to defend me all the time to people or what have you. That’s just the nature of how people allow media to affect what they think of people. It happened even out in Hawaii. People close to me, they were so happy to find out that most people in the restaurant liked me.
They were afraid that people are gonna actually come up and start giving me the business, and they were just thrilled to find out that once the people like me.
One person said, ‘How do you come out in public like this? Don’t people want to come up and just sock you?’
‘Uh, no, that never happens. It’s the exact opposite.’
‘Yeah. If anybody approaches me in public, they’re listeners, they’re fans, they’re big supporters.’
I said, ‘Well, how long have you known me? A number of years?’
‘You ever feel like socking me?’
‘Well, why do you think these people would?’
‘Well, you know.’
‘No, I don’t know. Tell me.’
Look, I’m not complaining here. I’m just illustrating that the media has this ability to shape and form everybody’s beliefs, and these people demonizing me on the left take advantage of it, and they know it.
Their biggest problem is it hasn’t worked. If it had been successful, I’d be long gone. If all that was said about me over all these years was true? Pfft! Folks, there wouldn’t be a penny spent in support of this program. But it’s just the exact opposite. So when they start criticizing me and try to demonize me (it took me a long time to understand this) it’s actually a high form of flattery. It’s actually very complimentary. There’s a lot of jealousy on the media people’s part, too, on the left. Just in media ways, business circumstances. But the criticism of me or Bush or whoever it is in the future on the right, as long as they start picking on people telling the truth, it’s gonna be real tough because it’s tough to demonize the truth.
It’s very tough to make Truth a villain, which is what they’re doing when they come after me, or pretty much any other conservative. I was talking about earlier: We don’t strategize. Here’s what we are. It’s what we believe. It’s in our hearts, in our minds. We don’t need a teleprompter or cue cards and we don’t have to have a meeting with ourselves to tell each other what we’re gonna say. We know it. We don’t even need notes, nor do we need focus groups. Not to tell people who we are, not to tell people what we really believe, not to tell people what we want to see done. So conservatives might need help in strategizing aspects of their success agenda and so forth, but not who you are and not what you believe and so forth. So if they want to keep demonizing the truth I’ll be glad to be the target. It makes me proud and humbled at the same time.