Ron Paul and David Shuster discuss Rush Limbaugh’s increasingly dominant role in the Republican Party, which became apparent after other Republicans hurriedly apologized for having criticized Rush over the controversial comments he had made about Barack Obama at last week’s CPAC.
Host: David Shuster
David Shuster: Texas congressman and former Presidential candidate Ron Paul joins us now live from Washington. And Congressman, let’s get right to the heart of this. Rush Limbaugh said the following: “The dirty little secret is that every Republican in this country wants Obama to fail, but none of them have the guts to say so.” Congressman Paul, do you and every Republican want President Obama to fail?
Ron Paul: No, I don’t even think of it in those terms. I want nobody to have credibility on bad ideas. If they’re promoting socialism and welfarism and totalitarianism and foreign intervention, I don’t want that to be successful, but I want the message to be that liberty works, and free markets work, sound money works and therefore I take it out of the context of personality. So I think the personalities are irrelevant. It’s only the issues that count, it’s only the ideas that count, it’s our philosophy that counts. And I’ve been wanting to make that case…
David Shuster: Well fair point, but let’s just be absolutely clear. So when Rush Limbaugh says that every Republican wants President Obama to fail, are you willing to take this opportunity to say on that point, and even that very narrow point if you want, Rush Limbaugh is wrong.
Ron Paul: No, but I’d be quite willing to say that when you hear Obama say that what his goals are, I want him to be successful. But I don’t…
David Shuster: Right, but I’m asking about Rush Limbaugh.
Ron Paul: Well, I don’t even think about him because I don’t…
David Shuster: Congressman we’re thinking about him right now. Everybody’s thinking about it. Why is it so difficult to say, “Hey, when Rush Limbaugh says, look we can all agree or disagree that maybe the president’s policies are destined to fail. That’s your point of view.” But when Rush Limbaugh says, “I want President Obama to fail”. Why can’t Republicans say, “Rush Limbaugh is wrong when he says that”.
Ron Paul: I think that a few have. I think it’s a matter of semantics. I think we dwell too much on this semantics rather than dealing with the real issues. Why don’t we ask questions like, I’d like to, you know, if I had a reasonable and intellectual debate with Rush Limbaugh, I would ask him, why doesn’t he stand up more for civil liberties? Why doesn’t he explain why he has supported the PATRIOT Act. Why does he not talk about…
David Shuster: Congressman, that’s such a great point, and I think you would win that argument, but there is my point. How can we have that argument when even you, Ron Paul, are not willing to take this opportunity to say, “When Rush Limbaugh says that every Republican wants President Obama to fail, Rush Limbaugh is wrong.” How can we have the next conversation if you’re not willing to have that first one?
Ron Paul: Well, because you want to control the semantics and the definitions. Yes, he’s wrong if he doesn’t have the same understanding as somebody else. But he’s absolutely wrong. You can’t put your definition on a particular word about failure. I want those goals to be successful, yet I don’t want his philosophy to be successful. So it’s two different things. And you’re in a media, you like to personalize and have a fight going on, and that’s the way politics works. But I would much rather talk about, you know, why Rush Limbaugh doesn’t support my position on looking into the Federal Reserve, and being able to audit the Federal Reserve. Now that’s an important issue, not whether or not I can say something that is confrontational to Rush Limbaugh. I think philosophically I have confrontation, because I was disappointed with Rush because he is a good conservative, yet he never said hardly boo against George Bush. He supported all that big spending. Did he complain about George Bush? Did he complain about all those wars that were going on that cause us so much trouble? So that’s the kind of issues that I want to talk about. And I will be quite willing to challenge Rush Limbaugh on those issues, but just to pick out a word or two and say he is wrong, I don’t think that’s solving a problem.
David Shuster: Well, here’s a related issue in terms of solving problems including these very important issues that you raised. Is Rush Limbaugh the head of the Republican Party right now?
Ron Paul: No. I mean, I don’t know who…
David Shuster: He’s not?
Ron Paul: How could he be the head of a party? I mean he has…
David Shuster: Well, with Republicans are so quick to apologize to him as Michael Steele has, when Senator Barrasso was on air last night, was he even willing to say that Rush Limbaugh was wrong. He wouldn’t go as far as you have. It just seems, Congressman, that so many Republicans are terrified of Rush Limbaugh. We’re just trying to explore that.
Ron Paul: Well, he’s very influential, but they shouldn’t be terrified of him, you know. Why should they be? But they don’t have any answers. They don’t have an explanation on why the party is shrinking and how you can reach out, how you can reach people who care about personal liberties. How we can take our philosophy and translate it into real policy. We talk about personalities and balanced budget. The Republican Party lost credibility because it didn’t do any of that. It violated the privacy of individuals; it flaunted the spending and ran up this huge deficit; got us into wars that are not winnable, and that was the real issue. That’s why it’s been translated into personality squabbles and who’s running what, because they’re not really talking about why the Republican Party is a minority party and why they lost. And I think as long as they do that, they’re not going to solve their problem. And we won’t continue to dwell on Steele versus Rush Limbaugh, and quite frankly I don’t think that’s a relevant debate. I think the debate ought to be our foreign policy. Why don’t we have a foreign policy of non-intervention, why don’t we deal with the Federal Reserve?
David Shuster: Congressman, you’ve raised some very important issues and we always appreciate to having you on.