Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Thoughts on Rush Limbaugh

[This post was part of a conversation a friend of mine and I had regarding Rush Limbaugh. My friend, a Republican, was rather upset about Rush and asked if I thought Rush was as bad for the party as my friend thought he was.]

I can't generate a lot of emotion about Rush either way. I've listened to him in the past and found him generally quite amusing. Among his good qualities:
  • He is quite talented and entertaining.
  • He articulates conservative principles well.
  • He really bothers the Left in all of its manifestations.
Among his bad qualities:
  • He will use selective quotation and overstatement to make his opponents look unfairly bad.
  • He can lack charity (love) in his discussions.
  • He is more of a political and economic conservative than he is a social conservative.
  • He may turn off thoughtful people who would otherwise be open to conservative arguments.
But here is what I think is really going on with the whole kerfluffle around Rush: President Obama simply needs a new scapegoat now that President Bush is no longer in power.

President Obama built his entire campaign around two points:
  1. George Bush is the source and cause of all that is wrong with anything.
  2. Barack Obama is not George Bush
That's it. Everything else (Change! Hope! Change!) builds on these points.

We all know that the first point is simply dishonest. Even the President's most ardent supporters must know, deep in their hearts, that our nation faces difficulties and problems that are not the direct (or even indirect) result of Bush being in power. But it was useful to continually hammer the point during the election, so candidate Obama did so.

But now that he is in power, our President has a problem. It turns out that even with George Bush securely out of the way and the Democrats thoroughly in power in Congress, there are still problems with society. These problems are getting worse. More and more people are beginning to see what President Obama's detractors saw early-on: He has no more capacity to solve these difficult, serious, and complex issues than President Bush did.

So, the administration came up with a new scapegoat. He wants to give his supporters someone to hate, so he turned to one of his most popular detractors: Rush Limbaugh. I really think it is as simple as that. If people are talking about how evil or how great Rush is, they are not talking about how horrible the stimulus package is, or how the President is promoting abortion, or identifying the root causes of the current economic crisis.

As conservatives and Republicans, we do not need to spend a lot of energy defending Rush. Rush does a great job of that himself. What we need to do is challenge President Obama's supporters to move past the hate. We need to challenge them to actually be for something good, not just against whatever bogeyman the Democrats dream up next.
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