TODD: Rush Limbaugh had the ability to hire a metaphorical moving van and to take all his worldly possessions and move into the heads (laughs) of the mockingbird media. When he decided to occupy their minds, Rush Limbaugh occupied their entire consciences because he knew how to do this. He knew them, as he might say, like the back of his formerly nicotine stained hands. He might say that.
Right? So Rush loved tweaking the media. He loved driving them nuts. And yesterday in the show Brett played some classic Rush audio from back in the day that demonstrates how you’d take serious issues like abortion and just nuke the arguments of the left and do it in a way that was instructive and funny at the same time. He did that this time that he endorsed Bill Clinton as well.
RUSH: To Montebello, California. Ann, great to have you. Hi.
CALLER: Thank you. Rush, the reason I was calling is in 1992, I got in my car to go to a business meeting, and you were on the radio, and you were talking that you had been listening to Candidate Clinton and President Bush, and you had decided that you were gonna support Clinton because he made so much more sense. And you went on and on for 40 minutes, and I was in the car, how you were gonna support Clinton, and I was believing you. (laughing) It was terrible.
CALLER: You were so convincing!
RUSH: Now, what reminded you of that?
CALLER: You know, I’ve been thinking about it a long time. How could I forget that! (laughing) I’ve always thought about that. But when I came out of my business meeting after about a half an hour away from the radio, you had talked about what you were doing. (laughing)
RUSH: Well, let me tell you something.
RUSH: I remember it too. It was one of…
CALLER: (laughing) Yes!
RUSH: There have been a lot of educational-for-me milestones on this program —
RUSH: — that have taught me about those of you in the audience and how you interact with and hear this program.
RUSH: (chuckling) Now, let me explain this to people who may, “What? You endorsed Clinton?”
RUSH: People that may not have been… At the time, folks, I was frustrated, I can’t tell you.
RUSH: Clinton was lying his head off. “The worst economy in the last 50 years,” and what really bothered me was people were believing this stuff.
RUSH: I remember I had people calling here saying, “Rush, it can’t get any worse!” Meaning the economy. It had been worse. It was not bad at all. It was all made up that we were in the worst economy in the last 50 years. The economy at that point was actually rebounding. But it was just… Clinton had been lying about the philandering, had been lying about everything, and I was near my wits’ end trying to get people to believe it!
RUSH: At the time, I didn’t realize the fatigue there was with George H. W. Bush. It really —
RUSH: That’s what I was not calculating. People were ready for a change.
RUSH: Plus, George H. W. Bush said, “Read my lips: No new taxes,” and then had gone against that, reversed himself. So he was in his own self-made mess of sorts.
RUSH: So I decided to try to persuade people in another way. So that’s what you heard.
RUSH: I opened the program with a 20-minute endorsement of Bill Clinton, basically saying that I had taken a lot of time and really gone over things Clinton had been taking, and had rethought them and was beginning to see the value in Clinton as a candidate, potential president.
RUSH: I ended up announcing my endorsement for Clinton, and went to a commercial break and came back — and the phones of course were burning and smoking. When I came back, the calls were just outrageous. I had a Rush to Excellence stop scheduled for the upcoming weekend and the guy on the phone said, “I’m burning the tickets! I don’t even want the money back! I’m burning the tickets. I’m not showing up. I can’t believe you’d sell us out this way.” I said, “What are you talking about?” “You just endorsed Clinton.”
I said, “I did not!” “Well, I heard you.” “No, you did not. I did not endorse him. There’s no way I would endorse Bill Clinton,” and I kept denying it for an hour. Every call, “You did. I heard you.” “No, I didn’t,” and then after a while, I started using Clinton excuses. I said, “Well, okay, even if I did endorse him, it’s a long time ago. You can’t hold me accountable for things I did in my youth!
“You can’t hold me accountable for things I did long ago.” I just kept denying it. I was trying to illustrate a point. “You did! You said it!” I finally said, “If you can see that I’m lying to you, why can’t you see this about Clinton?” And, Ann, it turned out to be quite effective as a radio experiment. It did not have anything to do with the election. You know, Clinton still went on to win the election.
CALLER: Oh, yes. Can I say one more thing?
CALLER: I was in Hawaii at that time. I listened to you from the very first day that you were on the air in Hawaii. It didn’t take me six weeks to fall in love with you guys. It took me one day. But I was a new widow. My husband had only been gone a few weeks when you came on, and you gave me something to look forward to every morning, and I’ll always be grateful to you for that. (laughing)
RUSH: (laughing) I love that.
CALLER: Good. Yeah.
RUSH: Well —
CALLER: But it was —
RUSH: Let me ask you this, then. When you heard that I had endorsed Clinton, were you thinking, “Wait a minute, I’ve been fooled. I’ve been… This guy…”? Were you getting close to not listening anymore because of that?
CALLER: Oh, no. I was thinking, “No, he’s not endorsing him. He’s just putting us on. Well, maybe he is. No, no, no.” (laughing)
RUSH: Ah, because —
CALLER: Back and forth.
RUSH: Well, as this thing unfolded, the vast majority of people — you people, certainly, in the audience — got it and understood it. But it wouldn’t have worked had we not been able to get all these callers who bought it. I mean, you remember? (interruption) Oh, the media! Oh, that’s right! The media reported it. They even went and talked to Clinton about it! And the Clinton campaign said, “Well, we’re happy to hear this. I knew we’d get together with Limbaugh.” That’s right. I forgot.
The media reported it, and the Clinton campaign was all excited to hear about it! And then when I explained what the thing really was, everybody dropped it like a hot potato. The media dropped it. It stopped being story (laughing) and I thought, “This has to have worked. I mean, I’ve just not just told people, I’ve demonstrated how this guy is doing it.” But he still went on to win the election, and I don’t think any of that mattered. I think people were ready for a change.
It was kind of like a replay, you know, of John F. Kennedy and his inaugural address of 1960 talking about time to pass the torch to a new generation, and that’s what the contrast between George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton also represented for a lot of people. Plus, this was also key: Clinton and Hillary had it down pat. He did not come off as anywhere near the left-wing ideologue that he is and was. She did all that. She didn’t have to get the votes; he did.
So he was able to adopt this position of moderate Democrat, reasonable. He even did his Sister Souljah moment, you know, which ticked off the Reverend Jackson. But Hillary was able to go out and be the radical leftist of the two, and that was great teamwork on their part, and that has never changed. It’s always the way they handled him getting elected. Okay. I appreciate the call, Ann. Thanks much.
TODD: Didn’t I say something about having more fun than a guest host should be allowed to have? Even as we mourn our friend one week since he passed. I remember that moment, and I remember my friends saying to me, “Well, your guy’s endorsed Clinton. What are you gonna do?” And it was… I was panicked. And then of course I tuned in (laughing) Okay. That’s why we remember the wisdom of a friend and celebrate his life.