RUSH: C-SPAN Washington Journal this morning, the anchor Pete Slen spoke with the publisher of National Review, Jack Fowler. The subject was what National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr. might think about the Tea Party. Now, I want to preface this. Those of us listening to the program know very well how respected Mr. Buckley was, in my eyes. He was one of my heroes and idols, and it was a dream come true to be able to meet him, and to become his friend.
I’ve recounted many stories of the times that we spent together, and the first time that I did meet him at his apartment, his home on Park Avenue in Manhattan. The first time I ever heard a story about Buckley commenting on me shortly after my program began (I think must have been three years into it, so would be 1991), the story was that Buckley was in some city making a speech. In the Q&A section of the speech, somebody asked him, “Have you heard this new guy on the radio, Rush Limbaugh?
“What do you think of him?” I don’t remember verbatim Mr. Buckley’s answer, but it was in the vein of, “Yeah, let me take you here over to a corner where nobody can hear us. Yeah, I like him.” It was a classy way for Buckley to answer the question. I tell you, it’s so different today than it was back then. If Buckley… That’s 1991. Now, remember, in 1988, this program starts, and there isn’t any national conservative media. I mean, National Review probably the closest thing to it, a magazine.
There certainly wasn’t any broadcast national conservative media, and so here I storm in, and nobody knew who I was. I’d not networked. I had not gotten to know anybody. I’m just some guy on the radio that’s worked all over the country and got a break when I was in Sacramento, and then I end up in New York. Nobody had never heard of me. I had no achievements prior to this of note. There’s no reason they should have heard of me.
Then I come storming out of the gates, and I’m getting all this attention paid to me. Yet here these people have been in the so-called conservative movement for years, and they’re laboring away in the basements doing their research and writing, and if they’re fortunate, they get published. They’re not making a whole lot of money, and here I come, and Buckley embraced me. He brought me into his world to a degree.
That wouldn’t happen today. I guess it’s natural. It’s human nature. This is one of the reasons I value what happened so much. People say, “Rush, who’s gonna be the next you?” There won’t be one, but if there was — if out of the blue some really hotshot nobody ever heard of before conservative popped up — the rest of the conservative media would try to eat the person up and destroy ’em because it’s gotten so competitive now in conservative media.
That’s one of the things I always really consciously appreciated about Buckley was it wasn’t a competitive thing for him. He welcomed anybody into the so-called conservative movement, and if they needed a boost, he provided it to them, with whatever he could do. He had a lot of clout within certain areas, particularly in the highbrow literary conservative movement, lot of impact. If you had Buckley’s stamp of approval or imprimatur, that was a big, big deal.
These kind of things don’t happen now.
I guess one way of saying it, maybe even still to this day a competition underway within the conservative movement for who is going to be the next Buckley, and other people don’t think he was that big a deal to begin with. It runs the gamut. Anyway, that sets up a couple of sound bites, ’cause Jack Fowler, publisher of the magazine, was asked, “What would Buckley think of the Tea Party?” ‘Cause what they’re trying to do is discredit the Tea Party by Mr. Conservative icon.
“Oh, he woulda hated it!” That’s what they’re hoping Fowler says — and rest assured, it’s not.
RUSH: Okay, C-SPAN, Washington Journal this morning, Peter Slen, the anchor, speaking to Jack Fowler, the publisher of National Review. He says, “I’m sure you remember this editorial from the New York Times, December of 2012, “Where Have You Gone, Bill Buckley?” Quote, “It is a shame that William F. Buckley Jr. passed away in 2008. The conservative movement could use him — or someone like him — right now.
“In the 1960s, Buckley, largely through his position at the helm of National Review, displayed political courage and sanity by taking on the John Birch Society, an influential anti-Communist group whose members saw conspiracies everywhere they looked. Fast forward half a century. The modern-day Birchers are the Tea Party. By loudly espousing extreme rhetoric, yet holding untenable beliefs, they have run virtually unchallenged by the Republican leadership…” This is how the Tea Party is portrayed.
This is an outrage. There’s nothing in common. The Tea Party has nothing at all in common with the John Birch Society. Nothing. But that’s what the left thinks of it, and so here comes Jack Fowler, the publisher of National Review, and they ask (summarized) “Okay, come on, Jack! Come on, just tell us how Buckley would’ve disowned the Tea Party just like he did the Birchers. Right, Jack, right?”
FOWLER: I love how liberals claim Bill Buckley and try to use him as a cudgel. One of his most favorite people in the world was Rush Limbaugh. They were very close, and he loved Rush and loved what Rush did and the feeling was mutual. The second thing related to the Tea Party is, this is the same Bill Buckley who was famous for saying he’d rather be governed by the first 5,000 names in the Boston telephone directory than the faculty of Harvard. He had great faith in the, quote/ unquote, “common man,” as opposed to taking guidance from the establishment. I think that editorial is quite off the mark.
RUSH: Right on the money it’s off the mark. The Birch Society never… I mean, the Tea Party has nothing in common with it whatsoever. But this is how they look at it. To the New York liberal establishment, Buckley was Mr. Conservative. They use him to disparage the Tea Party. I don’t have time for the next bite. I’ve got two Buckley bites that will illustrate. They’re both from 1965 on Meet the Press. But in 1965, Buckley ran against the Republican Party as a conservative, and he went on Meet the Press to explain why.
People are saying Buckley would be embarrassed by Ted Cruz, and that simply isn’t true, and it represents… There are people on the right who are trying to make that connection. “Buckley, he wouldn’t approve of the Tea Party! Ted Cruz, he’d be embarrassed.” No. If he wasn’t embarrassed by me — and he wasn’t — he wouldn’t be embarrassed by Ted Cruz. Far from it. But this is just another indication of just how frightened of you they all remain, folks, you and the Tea Party. Don’t think for a moment you’re losing anything here.
RUSH: By the way, folks, this editorial in the New York Times that excoriates the Tea Party and refers to them as “extreme” and compares them to the John Birch Society was written by a Republican, David Welch, a former research director for the Republican National Committee, wrote it last year, in 2012. The RNC had a guy who wrote that piece in the Times bashing the Tea Party.
RUSH: So it’s October 17th, 1965, NBC’s Meet the Press. The candidates for mayor of New York City debated. National Review magazine founder and Conservative Party William F. Buckley and then-representative John Lindsay, who was a candidate of the Republican and Liberal Parties, and the New York City comptroller, Abe Beame, and they debated on Meet the Press. During the Q&A, a panelist, Richard Whalen, said, “You’ve said repeatedly that you’re the only authentic Republican in the race, yet you didn’t enter the Republican Party primary, presumably because you thought you couldn’t win. You can’t win this election, according to the current polls, yet you may very well defeat the Republican candidate. So what, in your opinion, has the Republican Party and the city gained through your candidacy, Mr. Buckley?”
BUCKLEY: The voters are going to show on November the 2nd that there are conservatives in New York who are interested in political realism, who don’t believe in bloc voting, who don’t believe in pandering to powerful forces whether they are labor union or whatever, and under the circumstances my intention is to liberate them so that they, in turn, can liberate the Republican Party. It is impossible simultaneously in New York to give people any kind of economic freedom, any kind of economic hope and continue to squander their money at the pace at which it has been spent by the Wagner administration, which managed the double the budget during the course of its tenure. It is necessary, in other words, to stop fawning on the bloc voters and insist that if there are to be any solutions in New York, they have got to be approached with the kind of political courage that Mr. Lindsay, unfortunately, is so disgracefully lacking in.
RUSH: Now, this is 1965. Could just as well be this year. Here you’ve got a conservative Republican up against the Republican establishment, in this case embodied by John Lindsay, who is attempting to give conservative voters in New York a voice. And he was right; there was no chance Buckley was gonna win this. In fact, he said even if he did, he wouldn’t accept. He wouldn’t — (laughing) — he did. I find it fascinating that this man — and I did get to know him pretty well — is used constantly by both the Republican Party and the Democrats to try to destroy the Tea Party. You could say in a sense that Buckley was the Tea Party. He was the forerunner of the Tea Party. Whalen, the moderator here on Meet the Press, then said, “In view of your opinions of three of the last four presidents then, what do you think of the American voter?”
BUCKLEY: I think the American voter is often — or often has intuitions which are better than those of their own presidents. That is to say, I think that presidents tend to, during the recent period, tend to have drawn more strength from the voters than the voters from their president. As Franklin Adams once said, “I think the average American is a little bit above average.” And under the circumstances, I rejoice over the influence of the people over their elected leaders, since by and large I think that they show more wisdom than their leaders or than their intellectuals. I’ve often been quoted as saying “I would rather be governed by the first 2,000 people in the Boston telephone directory than by the 2,000 people on the faulty of Harvard directory.”
RUSH: Buckley could have been the dean of Harvard. I mean, he was in the classical sense an intellectual, but he knew where the power in this country came from, and he loved people. He had a profound, deep respect for ’em. He would have been right at home in the Tea Party. I just wanted you to hear these two bites and to hear Jack Fowler, the publisher of National Review. Some of you in the audience may not know who Mr. Buckley is, or you may have heard of him but you’re not really familiar with his achievements or his identity per se in the conservative movement. But believe me, he and my father are the two most prominent reasons why — (interruption) Back then he was. He was on the Tonight Show, Johnny Carson. He was a celebrity in that day, in that era.
But by the time this program started in 1988 he was starting to wind down day-to-day operations of National Review. He still did speeches and so forth. But regardless, all of these efforts here to impugn the Tea Party, ostensibly taking one of the godfathers of modern conservatism and saying not even he would like the Tea Party. Just not true, folks. All I want you to do is not give up out there. Harry Reid is apologizing. Ted Cruz is not going anywhere. Obama canceling these trips. This is not playing out, this shutdown and the upcoming debt limit argument, it’s not playing out like they thought at all. They don’t have the winning optics. They don’t have the winning hand. You have to remember, none of this was supposed to ever happen again because of Obama. Don’t think people have forgotten that.
I mean, the Limbaugh Theorem still is in play, and Obama gets away with not being held accountable for things, but on something like this, partisanship, remember, he was gonna end all of that. You go back to the 2008 campaign. So many people who professed their love for Obama, he was a blank canvas, you could make him whatever you wanted him to be. And the people that ran that campaign, the media that promoted that campaign of Obama’s, they really focused on the fact that Obama was a new kind of politician that could end all the bickering. He could end all the fighting, could end all the partisanship, and he could end racism.
I mean, it was magical. And this is not something that he can pretend didn’t happen. It’s not something that his supporters can say people misunderstood. They capitalized on that. They used it themselves. They promised an end to the bickering. They assured everybody that Obama, with the very force and the will that he brought to his personality, is just gonna make everybody melt and we’re gonna become one nation again and everything was gonna happen for the best for everybody and all that, and they’ve rode that into the sunset. And they now can’t, they just can’t walk away from this.
You’re not gonna see the media do stories asking people, “Well, what do you think? You voted for Obama on the basis that he was a great unifier.” They’re not gonna go out and find those people because they don’t want to. But they exist. You add all this stuff up, these exchanges, it’s a boondoggle. And some state, California, New York, I forget which, “Oh, yeah, we have five million hits, my God.” Do you know how many hits Google gets in a day around the world? It’s in the billions. And that’s another thing. For this bunch to run around and say, “My God, we had no idea, so many people.” They have to. People don’t have a choice, but everybody trying to sign up on the exchange is used to getting anywhere they want to get on the Web.
They want to go to Wikipedia, it’s never clogged. They want to go to Google, unless there’s a service outage, no problem. There aren’t any delays. ITunes, Amazon, you name it, it all works, except Obama’s. And so they offer these excuses, “Well, we weren’t ready for this mad dash of people.” What do you mean, you weren’t ready? Everybody has to. Nobody has a choice here. Everybody has to go through these exchanges to get insurance at some point or another. You know it’s bad when they single out one or two people as success stories. In a nation of 300-plus million people, the regime has now trotted out two people who successfully signed up for Obamacare, and they’re hoisting them up and saying, “Look at this. This is a great example of how our program works.” Two people. It is an embarrassment.
The Democrat behavior, at some point, even they overdo it. Despite the fact that only CNN has made an issue of it, this business with Harry Reid getting caught saying that the life of a kid with cancer didn’t matter to him, don’t think he gets away with that because the media doesn’t trumpet it. There are lines even for Democrats that, when they cross them, people hold them just as accountable as they do Republicans on a much shorter leash.
Gotta take a break. We’ll come back and we’ll get to your calls. You sit tight, folks. Don’t go away.
RUSH: It’s Open Line Friday. Let me give you an interesting observation on William F. Buckley. It’s a quote, but it’s more an observation. Buckley pointed out that in the ’30s we were told we had to “collectivize the nation,” i.e., big government. Go socialist. We had to collectivize the nation because the people were so poor, and now we’re told that we have to collectivize because the people are so rich — and he’s right.
Back in the thirties, FDR, all the boys? “Oh, yeah, we got way too many poor people! We need to go socialism so that we can raise standards of living.” Today why are we doing it? “‘Cause we got too many rich people, and they’re stealing everybody’s everything, and we gotta take it from ’em.” I think it’s a great observation.
All right, to the phones we go. Gonna start in Northfield, Minnesota, with Jan. Thank you for waiting, and it’s great to have you here. Hi.
CALLER: Hey, Rush, how you doing?
RUSH: Very well, thank you very much.
CALLER: Good. It’s a lifetime highlight to talk to you and a precious honor to thank you for being the champion of freedom and morality.
RUSH: Well, yes. (laughing). On the freedom side, yeah. Yeah. Heh-heh-heh. You embarrass me. Thank you very much. At one time I was the epitome of morality and virtue. I think it would be a loose claim today, but I gave it my best shot every day nevertheless.
CALLER: (laughing) I’m calling you today to point something out that has happened since Bill Buckley’s heyday in the 1960s, and that is the fact that you have come on the scene. Using just your talent and truth, justice, and the American way, you’ve done something that I would have thought impossible, but you’ve done it. You’ve broken the liberal propaganda machine, and it’s very, very cool. It’s a very cool thing, and I think that that’s why we’re seeing people scramble today and try to try to turn lies into truth because without the liberal propaganda machine, liberalism doesn’t work. And so thanks a lot for doing that.
RUSH: Well, you know, actually, you’re very shrewd and perceptive in a couple of ways. I think you’re also a little bit excessively complimentary, but I accept your accolades nevertheless with great appreciation. I have often said jokingly to my friends, who don’t know what I’m talking about, “It’s amazing. There so many days I’m on an island all alone.” I say, “You know, I really do think that in one sense I am to blame for the rancor in the sense that,” you nailed it, “they had a monopoly.
“They used to be happy as clams, the leftists. They had a monopoly. They don’t anymore. It’s been busted up. I think the construction of their monopoly is what has turned them into just extremely mean people. I think it’s any more complicated than that. They had their monopoly, they were very guarded for it, and they were jealous of it, envious, and they just are fit to be tied that they have to deign to explain themselves to anybody.
Who the hell are we? They shouldn’t have to explain themselves. I think it’s one of the reasons why the media has dropped the facade of objectivity and just gone full-fledged into the agenda, because now it’s open competition — and, you’re right in another sense. We here compete in what I call the arena of ideas. They don’t. They compete in an entirely different way. Their technique is to mischaracterize and destroy anybody opposite them who is credible.
They do not came in to the arena of ideas and talk about ideas with us.
They do not debate ideas.
They destroy people who can articulate things that they don’t want to hear.
I could give you a list of names of people they try to do it to. It never ends. New people get added to their enemies list every day. You talk about how I came along, and what did I do? I didn’t really do anything but validate what a lot of millions of Americans already believed but didn’t have an outlet for in national broadcast media. It did serve the purpose of unifying and joining and bringing people together and so forth. It’s very flattering to me that you have that perception of it, how it happened.
So I thank you very much for it.
CALLER: You’re very welcome. I think that you identified all of us out here as the market, and I’m just gonna continue on a little bit and say that, without having done that, how would Fox News have an audience? How would that have formed, you know? I think credit is yours, and I think you deserve it completely.
RUSH: Well, you may be a bit excessive in your praise — and in your honor, I will accept it. No, you’re very nice, and you’re embarrassing me or I’m not often speechless, but I do thank you. You’re very kind. She said I identified a market. There wasn’t any of that, really. I’m not trying to say she’s wrong. I know what she means. All I mean by it is those of us who were here at the beginning, we didn’t sit down and look at the country as a potential audience and say, “What are we going to have to do to get one?”
We certainly didn’t do any focus groups or any kind of testing. We didn’t even sit around and say, “You know what’s missing in the media today is conservatives.” There wasn’t there any of that. There wasn’t a grand marketing strategy, and there wasn’t any kind of a PR strategy. There wasn’t, you know, “How we get this demo and how do we get that demo?” There wasn’t any of that. All it was was me realizing a drama to do a radio show the way I had always wanted to do it.
I finally encountered people as partners who were unafraid of that, and it then just clicked because it turns out we didn’t need to do any marketing research, and I didn’t have to adopt any points of view or whatever to try to reach it. You know, we didn’t say, “What are we gonna do to get the women?” We only did one thing ever, to do that (it bombed out), and that was we asked women to send in pictures if they wanted to be allowed on the air as callers.
But other than that, there was never been one thing we’ve ever done that targets anybody as a group. We aim here for the whole country. But I do believe, folks… I wish I had a better way of explaining this. But maybe you can understand if you ever had a monopoly on anything. I mean, that’s huge to have a monopoly on anything, and the media had one. I mean, they were it. They determined what was news and what wasn’t news, what was covered and what wasn’t covered. They determined who was gonna be covered how.
They determined everything, everything — and now that’s long gone.
They don’t have that monopoly anymore, and much of what they do is for each other, as they every day try to demonstrate to themselves that they still have similar powers, as they had, like they had when they did have their monopoly.