Rush Limbaugh and the Republican Party

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.

Channel: MSNBC
Date: 3/3/2009
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.


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  • Limbaugh is an extremely talented and very highly paid propagandist. He employs deception to sway the voting public. Why would he be considered a “good conservative” ?? Does this mean that misdirection and misinformation are acceptable to conservatives as a means to an end? The conservative people I happen to know are honest hard working Americans who value truth and democracy. These good people would never agree to win elections thru the use of false statements and distortions, rather they would insist on a well informed public voting for a strong stable, prosperous country!

  • Dfens

    [I]t was surprising when Gingrich and Limbaugh became so vocal in getting NAFTA and GATT passed that was rushed through Congress by President Clinton in a lameduck session of Congress before the new Republicans were to take over in January 1994 while the Democrats still had a majority control. President Clinton called Congress back from their Thanksgiving vacation in 1993 in order to pass GATT. It seemed like he had marching orders from somewhere to get the job done. Rush Limbaugh seemed to have had the same marching orders in his strong sales pitches to get both NAFTA and GATT. The air waves were filled with his rants about the wonders of Free Trade as he locked hands with President Clinton. Limbaugh lost his composure one day and on his program he loudly pronounced that he did not care if a 64 year old worker would lose his job – Free Trade was a must! – The Rationale
    “I have been a profile in courage on this story,” declared Limbaugh on his national radio show yesterday. “When it comes to the UAE or the Middle East: I do not believe that every Arab nation, government, sponsors terrorism. I don’t believe they all are for it. I don’t believe they secretly fund it. I think this story about the two or three of the 9-11 hijackers came out of the UAE, they may have.

    “The London bomber was a British citizen. We have had homegrown criminals in this country try to blow up buildings and commit crime in this country. The idea that the United Arab Emirates government recruited those three hijackers, trained them and paid for them is not true. Just because they came out of there, I’m not willing to cast negative aspersions on a whole country.”

    Limbaugh said he was hearing a lot of fear about control of the ports, but said “fear causes all kinds of distortions when it comes to reason.”

    He also said economics is the driving force behind the deal, and the port operators, Dubai Ports World, would be the last ones seeking a terrorist-related incident at one of its locations.

    “As far as the UAE is concerned, if this is really about compromising our security or really about finding a way to do another 9-11, there’s simpler ways of doing it and cheaper and then there are also ways of doing it to where the light of attention doesn’t shine back on them after the futuristic event. Why in the world would they want to do this as a way of perpetrating another act of mass terrorism, knowing full well that the world is going to blame them and we are going to blame them?”
    You’re either for Ron Paul, or you’re for Rush Limbaugh. Not both.

  • Johnny

    Everything is simple – respect other people. I think it’s time for Rush Limbaugh to die of overdose. That guy doesn’t deserve a lot of attention, just an extra pill.

    • Keith S

      Yeah, real bright. Respect other people but I hope Rush dies. You sound just as F’d up as that so-called president, Obama. Say one thing but mean another. Are you just another liberal plant trolling real American sites? Why don’t you just move to Europe and live with the rest of slimey, stinky, socialist Marxists? I’m sick of people like you polluting my great country.

      • WOW you realy should go back and read what you’ve written and see what it sounds like! you sound like an obsessed liberal trying to make the party look like a bunch of extreamest lunatics

  • Heather

    Dr. Paul is just so cool; I love how he simply ignored the bait and kept bringing his point to the real issues at hand and why no one (the media) is willing to discuss what the real problems are.

    When are we going to wake up and realize this goes beyond the battle between Republicans and Democrats or liberals and conservatives- this country is running out of time. If we don’t come together as a nation, as a simple and free people, and put aside our semantics and our ideologies once and for all, there won’t be an America or a Constitution left to defend or a First Amendment with which to yell and scream at each other about.

    Who cares if so and so is wrong and he-said-she-said that, what’s done is done and now we have to figure out how to stop this momentum of madness and undo the decades of policy mistakes and misleadings…this wasn’t just Bush, it wasn’t just Clinton. And now Obama is just an easy poster child of ‘change’ that’s going to lead us out of a democracy (if you can still call our country that).

    Enough with the talking heads and let’s start writing our Congressmen, talking with our friends and neighbors, organizing our communities, exposing the lies and asking everyone to demand the truth and most importantly, stick together. Our government has stopped listening to us because we stopped paying attention, and caring, and now they’re just doing what’s in the interest of the corporation, not the people. Arguing about how we got here and pointing fingers is not going to solve the problem. We got here. Now let’s get out. Doesn’t anyone remember ‘divided we fall united we stand’? They want us divided- all the easier to conquer.

    If President Obama could get elected through his ‘grassroots’ internet campaign and knocking on doors and canvassing the streets, then can’t we do the same to protect our sovereignty? I think, unfortunately, the majority of Americans haven’t got a clue as to how dangerously close we are to losing this precious idea of a nation. What a shame if we don’t at least try to fight to keep it. And we wonder how Germany could have fallen so easily under Hitler? Just look at us today.
    ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’.

  • Kevin

    Its astonishing how much class Dr. Paul has. Its would be easy for him just to get caught up in the BS, yet once again Ron Paul reminds me of why I voted for him. I only pray that he runs again in 2012.

  • You guys are missing the point. Shuster is showing his a**. Dr. Paul is demonstrating maturity and poise and not taking the bait that Shuster is throwing out. Dr. Paul does not want Obama to fail, he wants him to succeed because he wants the country to succeed. However, success requires responsibility and commitment to principles of positive growth and economics. No one with any sense or credibility would fault anyone but this inciteful reporter.

    • Eric

      I agree with Rick
      I think the liberal media just wants to add fuel to the fire.
      They want to keep the conservatives arguing so the democrats can push their own agenda with less opposition.

  • Dfens

    “His positives for voters under 40 was 11 percent,” Carville recalled with a degree of amazement, alluding to a question about whether voters had a positive or negative view of the talk show host.

    Paul Begala, a close friend of Carville, Greenberg and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, said they found Limbaugh’s overall ratings were even lower than the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s controversial former pastor, and William Ayers, the domestic terrorist and Chicago resident who Republicans sought to tie to Obama during the campaign.

    Then came what Begala called “the tripwire.”

    “I hope he fails,” Limbaugh said of Obama on his show four days before the president was sworn in. It was a time when Obama’s approval ratings were soaring, but more than that, polls showed even people who didn’t vote for him badly wanted him to succeed, coming to office at a time of economic meltdown. – Politico

    Limbaugh is a globalist, wholly owned by Middle Eastern oil. I’m older than 40 and I think he’s an idiot. He supported all of Bush’s policies that destroyed our nation, and now he’s a conservative? Right.

  • fisher

    Dr. Paul is perhaps confusing himself and going soft lately. It great that he keep exposing these good ideas, but did he not know what kind of interview is about before it goes live? I’m sure he did, so what’s the matter Dr. Paul?

    • anema

      I don’t think you understood the point Dr. Paul was trying to make. It’s not a matter of him going soft, he’s simply trying to state the REAL issues at hand, which are the policies behind legislation, not the mindless bashing-the-other-party game. Some of these reporters keep trying to get Dr. Paul caught up in the same ‘name calling’ squabble that is typical of politics. He’s saying he wants some of Obamas goals to be successful, but that some of his philosophies for attaining those goals are both ethically and methodically wrong. Two people may want to attain the same goal for two very different reasons and by very different means. For example, both Dr. Paul and Obama want to see the American economy strong again, but they have very different ideas of how to do that.

      He was trying very hard to make the point that someone cannot simply say “I want Obama to fail”. It is too simplistic a statement. It’s not that he’s trying to cover his butt by sticking up for Obama or sticking up for Limbaugh, he’s just intelligent enough to realize the difference between addressing political issues and concerns, and party-bashing. This is exactly why Ron Paul should be president, because he understands simple points like this that most Americans in general do not understand.

      • Keith S.

        WRONG! Obama does want the economy to fail. He is a Marxist who wants to control everybody and everything. This is the way he was raised and tutored. His ideas need to be defeated.

    • If you wonder why people think the republican party is ignorant just listen to rush. rush is actualy harming the party by being too far to the right, he’s giving us all a bad name. It’s stereotypicle. it’s the people in the middle that elect presidents so why push anyone to the left?

      • Keith S

        No, people like you and your wishy-washy middle, give the republican party a bad name. People in the middle give us people like John McLame, Bob Dull, etc., ultimately giving us people like Obama. Ronald Reagan and Ron Paul, now there are two middle of the roaders. People like you make me pray even harder for this country to survive.