RUSH: Rochester, New York. John, thank you for waiting, you’re next.
CALLER: Thank you, Rush, for taking my call.
RUSH: You bet, sir.
CALLER: I’d like to comment on the audio clip you played on Friday where Bob Shrum and Chris Matthews shamelessly politicized the Elizabeth Edwards cancer situation.
RUSH: Oh, yeah. Just a second here. Cookie, go grab that bite out of the archives. She can’t get it immediately but you’ve gotta hear this again. Since you referenced it I want people to hear it who might not have heard it on Friday. Go ahead, what was your comment about that?
CALLER: Well, in that you will see that Mr. Shrum had the chutzpah to lecture us on how the Edwards’ example represents a wonderful educational opportunity to understand and deal with the cancer situation.
RUSH: That’s not what he said. He said the country learned more about cancer in one press conference and in one day —
RUSH: — because of the Edwards press conference than anybody has ever known. See, the problem is the arrogance that I’ve always described to these people or assigned to them, the arrogance and condescension. Only when they talk about something are experts talking about it. Everybody else is an idiot plebe and doesn’t understand it. And so the country was able — whatever it is they happen to do or say, it is instructive, it is the only thing worth learning and so forth, and that comes from a conceit and from an arrogance, and I’m glad you caught it.
CALLER: Well, as a cancer patient of several years, Rush, I fail to understand how going out and shaking a couple thousand hands a day, kissing babies and hugging strangers, when your immune system is weakened and you probably have a low neutrophyle and white blood cell count because of chemotherapy represents a good example. I mean my oncologist encouraged me to stay away from my own two grandchildren when they have the sniffles. They’d be appalled if I was going to go out and wade into a sea of humanity during cough and cold season.
RUSH: Here’s that bite. Cookie got it quick. John, hold on the phone there.
RUSH: This is what he’s referring to. This is Bob Shrum from Thursday night last week with Chris Matthews.
SHRUM: Now America’s different, and I believe that today, people got more education about cancer and how to deal with cancer and in one day than they have very often over a long period of time. Whatever you think of Edwards, whether people vote for him or don’t vote for him, whether they vote for Obama or Hillary, there’s going to be a tremendous education in breast cancer and cancer generally and how to deal with it.
RUSH: Which is sophistry to people like you who have cancer, and you said that you’ve had it for years?
CALLER: Four years now.
RUSH: Four years, what did you learn that you didn’t know from that press conference? The idea that anything was taught; the idea that people who have gone through this — my mother died of cancer. Edwards press conference taught me nothing about it. That’s just the arrogance and condescension and it’s basically saying that people like you, that whatever you’ve learned, whatever you’ve done and however you’re dealing with it, doesn’t matter. Edwards and his wife, they’re the lesson teachers.
CALLER: Rush, the statement you made on Friday hit the nail right on the head that most people when they’re faced with this type of personal crisis have a tendency to turn to God and turn to their family and loved ones. And we also look upon every additional day as a gift, and we try to live it to the fullest surrounded by the people that we love. And I for one would not squander that gift on the campaign trail surrounded by strangers.
RUSH: Well, I also said that political people are different. You say that you turned to God, and I’ve heard that from — my mother did, and people that I know that have gotten cancer turned to God. I got a couple sound bites here. I’m going to use the occasion of your call to use these sound bites because I think that it demonstrates what I also said on Friday, that political people, their political quest is their religion. In a sense, it’s what animates them, it’s what motivates them, gives them drive, and it’s that from which they take their identity.
CALLER: Rush, I’d like to say one thing. My problem is not with the Edwardses. They have the right to make any kind of personal decision they want.
RUSH: That’s what I was going to say next, that’s right.
CALLER: My problem is with these liberal pundits who seem to see everything, including a personal crisis, through a prism of politics, and then they spin it for a political advantage. I think that is about the lowest form of political discourse there is.
RUSH: You have hit the nail on the head, and we have some sound bites to demonstrate this very thing, as we did last Friday, starting with Howard Fineman and everybody else with the disclaimer, ‘You know, we really shouldn’t talk about this, but they’re going to get sympathy and the Edwards campaign is going to get a little kick from this,’ da-da-da. They were all analyzing it, especially the press conference, in terms of how good it was politically. And of course Howard Fineman said, ‘It’s a ten strike, they couldn’t have done this any better,’ as though political things are calculated. That’s one of the problems with politics. People calculate their words; they calculate their actions; they plan ’em out. So if you’re going to credit what the Edwards did as great political theater, it was just that. I found it abhorrent that everything like this in the political world is looked at through strictly a political prism. John, thanks much for the call. Let’s start at the top, audio sound bite number one. This is what John just referred to me saying on last Friday’s program.
RUSH ARCHIVE: Now, let me say something that might be accused of cynicism. What is their religion? I don’t doubt they’re religious people, but we talk about this — political people are different than you and I, and, you know, most people when told a family member’s been diagnosed with the kind of cancer Elizabeth Edwards has, they turn to God. The Edwards turned to the campaign. Their religion is politics and the quest for the White House, and it’s not just with them, I mean that’s part and parcel of political people.
RUSH: Now, here’s a little See, I Told You So. This is from 60 Minutes, Katie Couric interviewing the Edwards last night. She says, ‘Can you describe the decision-making process for me in terms of what we do now? ‘Do we stay in, do we suspend it temporarily, do I call the whole thing off, do we call the whole thing off,’ how did that unfold with you?’
EDWARDS: She said to me, ‘This is what we believe in. This is what we’re spending our lives doing. It’s where our heart and soul is, and we cannot stop.’
RUSH: A-hem, a-hem, a-hem. You heard this on Friday from moi before Edwards said that himself. Just confirmed my analysis of what political people who are different than you and I, how they look at things. He just made my point for me right there. But that, of course, is not our stopping point. Let’s go back. Bill Schneider on a San Francisco TV station on Friday calling me a cynic for saying that Edwards was trying to jump-start his campaign.
SCHNEIDER: Well, that’s pure cynicism. You know, there will always be cynics in politics. This was a difficult decision which he reached in collaboration with his wife, and I think she will be an asset.
RUSH: Everybody was out there looking at it this way. Everybody from the Drive-By Media was examining this in a political sense, just like when Tim Johnson had his cerebral hemorrhage. ‘Oh, no, what’s this going to do to the Democrat majority,’ they all fretted. ‘Oh, no! Is this going to be a problem with Lieberman not sure he’s a Democrat, oh no!’ That’s all — well, not all, but that was the primary focus of the Drive-By’s attention when poor old Tim Johnson had a cerebral hemorrhage. Now, here comes Katie’s question that — well, I guess it’s one of mine. Here’s the exchange. I’m not going to read the question. I’ll play Katie asking the question.
COURIC: Politics can be a cynical business. Some have suggested that you’re capitalizing on this.
EDWARDS: There’s not a single person in America that should vote for me because Elizabeth has cancer, not a one. If you’re considering doing it, don’t do it. Do not vote for us because you feel some sympathy or compassion for us. That would be an enormous mistake. The vote for the presidency is far too important for any of those things to influence it. But I think every single candidate for president have personal lives that indicate something about what kind of human being they are, and I think it is a fair evaluation for America to engage in, to look at what kind of human beings each of us are and what kind of president we’d make.
RUSH: Let’s see. I think even Katie was taken aback in this next bite. Her question was, ‘I guess some people would say that there’s some –‘ by the way, I made this point at the beginning of the program, and I know a lot of people are going, ‘Hey, you know what? She really hit them with tough questions.’ Yes, but every tough question was prefaced with, ‘Some people are saying, some people say.’ If I were Edwards, I would say, ‘Well, who? Who’s saying it? You’re saying it, aren’t you, Katie? You’re the one asking me the question. Why don’t you have the guts to put it in your voice instead of blaming it on these other people. Who are these people?’ That’s how I deal with it. I get this question all the time, ‘Some people say that you’re X.’ I always say, well, who? Who are they? Anyway, you find out the journalist is not talking about anybody else, they’re just talking about themselves. Anyway, Katie’s question, ‘I guess some people would say that there’s some middle ground. You don’t have to necessarily stay at home and feel sorry for yourself and do nothing, but if given a possibly finite period of time on the planet, being on the campaign trail away from my children a lot of time and sort of pursuing this goal, it’s not necessarily what I would do.’
MRS. EDWARDS: I’ve often said that the most important thing you can give your children, wings, because you’re not — you’re not going to always be able to bring food to the nest. Sometime they’re going to have to be able to fly by themselves.
COURIC: They’re six and eight. They’re still baby birds.
MRS. EDWARDS: They are still baby birds.
EDWARDS: But they gotta start learning to fly. They aren’t ready to fly on their own yet, but they gotta start learning.
RUSH: Whew. We are talking about six and eight-year-olds here.
RUSH: To Heartland, Connecticut, and Matt. Thank you for calling, sir.
CALLER: Hi. Mega dittos, Rush.
RUSH: Thank you.
CALLER: How are you?
RUSH: Very well. Never better.
CALLER: Look, hey, a little comment on the John Edwards thing. I have just a little bit different take. It’s almost like part of their strategy is to give Edwards some immunity from criticism much like the Michael J. Fox issue with stem cell research. If his wife is suffering from cancer, and we all pity her for that, you know, I think they might think it would generate enough sympathy to where people would be afraid or ashamed to try to criticize them or to contest the issues —
RUSH: Well, look, I think it’s true, I mean if you’re Barack Obama or Mrs. Bill Clinton, how do you attack Edwards now? His wife has cancer. Simply you can’t. Clinton, Inc., would find a way, but it just isn’t going to happen. I can’t believe that’s a calculation. I can’t believe they had a conversation, ‘Look, Elizabeth, I want to stay in.’ ‘Yes, John, I think you should but now you can’t be criticized.’ Man, if that’s part of the calculation, then I would be stunned, I would surprised. Michael J. Fox is a different situation. Michael J. Fox wasn’t running for anything. Michael J. Fox was used by a couple of politicians, and the whole purpose of putting him in commercials with the symptoms of his Parkinson’s on full display was to inoculate him from any criticism because he’s a victim, there’s no question. He can say whatever he wants politically and nobody could challenge it because you just don’t. I mean, got to hold out hope for his cure and so forth. That’s what I railed against, and, of course, caught a lot of grief over. Once you enter the political fray, I think you’re subject to criticism. In time when Edwards starts talking about issues again, that criticism or disagreement, debating, whatever you want to call it, that criticism will commence again. But there’s going to be a grace period here obviously.
CALLER: Right, well, that’s what I was getting at, Rush. I don’t think it was at calculation or the main point of bringing her out publicly, but I think it’s an ancillary aid to his campaign that at least if not jump-start it, at least maybe protect them, give them a little bit of time, buy him some time to get his issues out, maybe immune from criticism and see where it goes from there. In the end, I agree with you, I don’t think that’s going to save this whole campaign.
RUSH: Well, nah, his campaign, if he’s going to win this, I think he knows he’s not going to get the nomination based on the sympathy of voters. The primaries are a long time down the road. I could be wrong about that. I don’t know these people. I have a little different take on this. When I look at this, I cannot tell you the degree of sympathy I have, but it would probably surprise you why. This is just, to me, it is so obvious that there are just certain things missing in this guy’s life that I better be careful here. But, look Matt, I appreciate the phone call.
RUSH: I must admit, I am still struck, even as Katie Couric was taken aback when the Edwards said that, ‘Well, you know, as far as spending time with our kids, you know, bird’s got to learn to fly sometime. They have to be able to fly by themselves.’ And Katie said, ‘Look, they’re six and eight. They’re still baby birds,’ and Elizabeth Edwards said, ‘They’re still baby birds.’ Then John Edwards himself chimed in, ‘Well, but they’ve gotta start learning to fly and they’re not ready to fly on their own yet, but they’ve gotta start learning to fly.’ I tell you, as I said mere moments ago, that evokes in me a tremendous amount of sympathy. I’ll just go ahead and tell you why, because it appears to me that there’s one thing in this guy’s life, and that’s running for president. Without that, it doesn’t seem he has a life or nothing in it that’s worth spending some time on, anyway. It’s sad. It’s just very sad, to me.
RUSH: Let’s go Slay the Nation. The host Bob Schieffer was talking to David Brooks, who is the conservative columnist at the New York Times — and Bob Schieffer said, ‘A very unusual occurrence in the campaign last week. John Edwards and his wife come out. She says that her cancer has come back, but he’s going to keep on with the campaign. Were you surprised, David Brooks, that this became something people sort of talked about? I found that rather odd.’ Bob, how could you…? They had a press conference, Bob. What’s everybody supposed to do about it? Schieffer found it odd everybody was talking about it?
BROOKS: I was saying I don’t want to talk about a woman facing really sobering odds in a political sense. I thought, nobody is going to talk about that publicly. We’ll all talk about it privately. But they — everybody is talking about publicly, the idea that this is —
SCHIEFFER: About the impact that this is going to have.
BROOKS: Yes, political analysis on someone’s really horrible disease, and there’s a new world where everything is open.
RUSH: Yeah, he’s right about that. He just sounds surprised at it. I have been warning you that this has been happening for many, many moons. MySpace, YouTube, everybody in the world out there wants to be known. But we’re going to talk about it privately? What’s the difference between talking about it privately and publicly? You can talk about it at your cocktail parties, but don’t go on television to talk about it? Despite all of that the question from Schieffer still boggles the mind. ‘Were you surprised, David, that people sort of talk about it? I found that rather odd.’ I mean, isn’t the whole point that people were supposed to talk about it? Isn’t that what a public press conference is for, is to provide news and generate conversation? I’ll tell you, sometimes I sit here and I marvel at the blockheadedness of these people who claim to be the first and foremost guarantors of our Constitution. Now, on the Today Show today, Meredith Vieira interviewed Senator Kerry (who served in Vietnam) and his wife Teresa Heinz-Kerry, and Meredith Vieira said, ‘Hey, Teresa, you know to some extent what it means to be called a distraction because back in 2004 — you’re a very outspoken lady — and sometimes your words were used against your husband, so what do you think the Edwards are up against here in terms of the political arena?’
HEINZ-KERRY: Elizabeth is facing terrible odds. She’s a brave person. I’ve lost people in my life suddenly and all I can say is, um — not just my late husband — not having had time to say go back was very hard.
HEINZ-KERRY: And so I would make certain choices. Everybody makes their choice.
RUSH: Oh. Okay. Teresa Heinz Kerry. I’m interpreting this as she’s saying she would do something different than what the Edwardses have done — and, by the way, I warned you people — well, I told you back in the 2004 campaign — when this woman shows up, she will not stop talking about her first husband, who was John Heinz, and there’s Lurch sitting there. Lurch is sitting there. He’s always sitting there when she does this. She referred to him as — by the way, this is the first time I’ve heard her refer to him as ‘my late husband.’ I’m sure she said it before. Usually she just says, ‘my husband,’ with Lurch sitting right there.
RUSH: Kathy in Williamsville, New York. Glad you waited
CALLER: Hi, Rush.
RUSH: Welcome to the program.
CALLER: Thank you. You know, I have five kids. I think these people are lunatics.
RUSH: Who? Who? Who?
CALLER: The Edwardses. They’re going to spend their last — either one of them are going to spend their last — couple of years on the road giving stump speeches? It would be a blessing if they had five or six years, as a couple with their kids.
RUSH: They might, they might. What she has, she’s got a 20% survivability rate over the next five years. She might make it. There might be a —
CALLER: She might, but then they’re trying to —
RUSH: Wait a second. A miracle might happen. You don’t know.
CALLER: But then her child is going to be ten or 11? And the feminist response to this, Rush, has been, ‘If she made any other decision, then it would be a setback for women.’ I was shocked at that.
RUSH: Wait a second. That doesn’t surprise me but I’d like to know who said it.
CALLER: Well, I heard Geraldine Ferraro’s interview on Fox.
RUSH: Okay, then that’s just another bunch of people looking at this through a political prism.
RUSH: She has become not a human being to them. She’s become a symbol for the feminist movement. If she were to step back, it would set the cause of sisterhood back.
CALLER: Well, that’s what they said. They have been so messed up in the group, it’s absolutely shocking.
RUSH: All right, but don’t the Edwardses have the right? It’s their lives.
CALLER: But —
RUSH: If they want to spend — by the way, they’re okay financially. What if they’re taking the kids out of school and traveling with them? I don’t know that this is true, but what if the kids are with them on the campaign trail?
CALLER: I don’t know. Six and eight-year-old kids, they want to play. They want to have a childhood. Do they want to be on a campaign trail? It’s very —
RUSH: Well, they may want to be with their parents now.
CALLER: Yes, they should want to be with their parents, but little six and eight-year-old kids want to play and have friends and go to school and be normal, and there’s going to be nothing normal about this.
RUSH: Boy. I’ll tell you what, you people are tough out there. That’s all I’m going to say.
CALLER: I don’t know. They’re just a little bit off.
RUSH: I tell you what: I really do believe this is an object lesson. I believe that your anger is not so much with the Edwardses, as it is the way that they’re being portrayed by the media and all their decisions are being lauded as the smartest decisions that anybody could make, and that’s being forced on you. They’re not the ones doing it. It’s their willing accomplices in the media that are doing it. Of all the people that have called here today to talk about this, I think most of their anger, if you really get down to the nut of it, is directed at the media — the Bob Shrums of the world, telling the ordinary, average Americans (and you average Americans know who you are), that you don’t know diddly-squat and you’re being lectured to about it, when many of you have faced these same circumstances and resent it. I think that’s the large part of this. This is Wendy in Lansing, Michigan. Hi, Wendy. You’re next on the EIB Network.
CALLER: Hi, Rush. I just wanted to make a comment. I have had breast cancer at the same time my first husband had brain cancer, and I took care of him for eight years and we raised a young son during all this, and my sincere opinion is that the Edwardses are in denial and it’s going to change over time. They did the same thing with Christopher Reeve and his wife, Dana. They jumped all over them and were holding them up as some kind of a token of bravery, and they’d make comments like we’re going to have, you know, more kids and just go on with life as usual — and if you noticed on interviews they had years later, things changed, and reality is going to hit, and I really think that they’re going to pull out.
RUSH: You do?
CALLER: Or things are going to be changed. She’s in denial. It’s like this has just hit her full in the face and it’s like she hasn’t really even had time to think about it.
RUSH: Now, according to your theory how long is it going to take for this realization?
CALLER: It depends on the person and it depends on the people around her who might be pushing her, like you said, you know, the media and other people are saying, ‘You can’t quit. You have to keep going.’
RUSH: Give me more. Pretend I’m a lawyer leading a question. What is it that would force reality to smack them, in your thought. You have 30 seconds here, not to pressure you. What would force them to have reality smack ’em upside the head?
CALLER: Oh, her kids, things her kids say. If she has to go on chemo or radiation how sick she gets. The whole thing is just going to come crashing down. I’d be really surprised if it didn’t. She’d say, ‘You know, I had to make a choice.’
RUSH: I can see why you say that, but I think you’re dead wrong.
RUSH: I think there’s going to be something else that does it.