Has Rush Jumped the Shark?

On Conservatism, Politics — By on March 4, 2009 at 1:20 am

Has Rush Limbaugh ‘jumped the shark’? That depends on what you think his purpose is. Is he, as Michael Steele no doubt wishes he hadn’t said, just ‘an entertainer’? Or is he the de facto leader of the Republican party, as so many liberals would like him to be?
Rush Limbaugh is not the head of the Republican party. And he’s not just an entertainer. He is…. Rush Limbaugh. And frankly, that’s ‘the way things oughtta be.’
Rush Limbaugh has arguably done more than any other conservative commentator to give regular folks a voice – to help the average conservative understand and articulate the views he’s always taken for granted. He gives the guy on the street not only a voice but a vocabulary with which to voice his frustrations. He’s helped put many members of the Right on the same page by serving as a sort of ‘shared text’. The taxi driver who doesn’t know what laissez-faire means can discuss economics at length with a fellow ditto-head because Rush gave him the means to do so.
Is this vocabulary out-dated? Has Rush ‘jumped the shark’? Not yet.


While it’s true that he probably does have less pull with the younger generations than with the 40 and above crowd, he’s still a very necessary part of the movement. And until a more effective successor comes along, he’s here to stay.
In a recent post John Mark Reynolds criticized Limbaugh’s address to CPAC, saying it was “a bad speech”, addressed only to his base, poorly delivered and badly thought out. I disagree.
While I agree that Rush’s influence on the current crop of college students may not be what it was in years past, I think the now-famous CPAC speech did exactly what it needed to do. Do we need new leaders who can inspire the next generations of young conservatives? Absolutely. Is Rush the best man for that job? Arguably not, though the generation gap isn’t yet wide enough to create problems of the scale that Reynolds suggests. The current crop of college students may not call themselves ditto-heads, but their mentors and heroes within the movement still do, and that will continue to be very significant for awhile yet.
Rush delivered his speech just as he delivers his radio show, and his audience would have been disappointed by anything else. It wasn’t poorly delivered, it was Rush doing what he does best – being himself. I suspect that a carefully-crafted, content-rich speech would have been less effective (see Bobby Jindal) than the admittedly rambling address that was delivered. Yes, he appealed to his base, but that’s how he appeals to a broader audience. He would have been less effective if he had tried to reach out or used less of the ‘insider lingo’ that Reynolds found disappointing.
Of course it was, as Reynolds said, “a bad speech as a speech.” Speech-making is not what Limbaugh does, and it’s not what he needs to do – he’s better off doing what he does, and so is the movement. We certainly need brilliant, carefully thoughtful and nuanced leaders who will draw in more and more young republicans, but we also need a Rush Limbaugh to rile things up from time to time and to give conservatives an easily accessible set of ideas and terms with which to get started.
Rush will reach his end, but he’s not there yet. Perhaps he’s not the best spokesman for the generations to come – time will tell – but when that spokesman comes, he’ll still have Rush to contend with, and he’ll have trouble if he doesn’t do this well. Just ask Michael Steele.


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  • JillD

    I heard that there were a lot of young people in the crowd, college age adults, and they gave him dozens of “standing o’s.” That young Jonathan Krohn who spoke was amazing and he not quite 14 years old. More poise he had than men twice his age. This was not an “old” crowd.
    Frankly, I can’t imagine Rush presenting a “good speech.” He just wouldn’t be Rush. It would be bizarre if he kept to an orderly progression. The beauty of Rush is his ability to layer his thoughts, always being able to get back to where he left off – or close enough that no one cares if he didn’t finish one of his points.
    He’s not the leader of the Republican party, but he’s certainly its conservative voice.

  • http://JaysonWhelpley.com Jayson

    So, perhaps I’m obtuse enough to have missed this so far, but is this blog an Evangelical blog or is it a Conservative political blog? It seems to me that the name combined with the subject matter continues the confusion of the Evangelical movement with the Conservative movement.
    Just a comment & question, take it or leave it.

  • http://www.johnmarkreynolds.com John Mark Reynolds

    Great post.
    Let’s see if I can provoke a big old debate (pardon the limits of a comment box). I said Rush gave a bad speech. I also said Rush was the best ever at talk radio. At his job, he has clearly not jumped the shark. At things that are not his job (leading the conservative movement), he cannot jump the shark, because he has never been given the skis.
    You did not quite address my main points:
    1. Rush was talking on two major news networks. He should not have just done his radio routine knowing that. He spoke to the smaller of his two audiences. I think a communicator has a responsibility to know his audience . . . which in this case was not just the folks in the room.
    2. Rush has not-so-great for outreach numbers. See http://www.gallup.com/poll/114163/Limbaugh-Liked-Not-Republicans.aspx. As a result, he is going to go over well at CPAC, but not nationally. CPAC put him on . . . and then he was given a national audience by networks. Dems know what they are doing featuring Rush.
    His style is too bombastic for TV, as his TV career demonstrated and his CPAC speech did not modify it. That’s fine if it were not hailed by some as the speech of the ages.
    3. Rush as media personality does not have to answer for a personal life at odds with many conservative values. Rush as “leader of a movement” would. For Rush’s sake, let’s not give him a job he cannot do without exposing himself to the kind of personal scrutiny such leaders get.
    4. The evidence from the primaries suggests Rush has limited power in moving primary votes. 2/3 top finishers were opposed by Rush almost daily (McCain and Huckabee). This includes very conservative states.
    5. Rush says things on race at times that I find cringe worthy and has done so his whole career. I am NOT saying he is a racist, but I don’t think his section on race in this speech is going to win conservatism much sympathy.
    6. I don’t think using “insider lingo” outside his show is wise communications strategy anymore than if we used THI insider vocab here it would be wise.
    I like Rush the Radio Guy, just not as my leader.

  • http://www.voiceoftruthblog.com John

    Great point Jayson and I think that is a much larger debate than what might fall within the context of this article. I think often times people are hesitant to mix politics and religion because there are folks on both sides of the isle that are no doubt Christian and believe that their political viewpoints are correct. While it’s true, evangelicals have a large voice within the conservative party and the majority of churches align themselves with conservative beliefs, as Christians our party affiliation is in Christ.
    Having said that, it is irresponsible to attempt to separate politics and religion. Was not the fate of Jesus left in the hands of the politician, Pilate? Didn’t he “save” his political career by doing what the people wanted? Doesn’t Revelation teach us that the “beasts” will be both political(kingdom) and religious? So to understand where we are going, as a nation and as the Body of Christ, we have to pay attention to both, politics and religion and see how they both are pieces of God’s larger puzzle of Christ’s second coming.
    Regarding the post on Rush, He is no doubt a strong voice in the Conservative Party. Sometimes it takes a strong voice to convince other strong voices to standup. Is he the Conservative Leader? No, more likely a placeholder until one of those other voices steps up. But what he very well could be is a party uniter.
    I think it’s easy to get bogged down in right vs. left debates, but where the challenge lies is being able to remove yourself from partisanship, step back and look at the picture as a whole. Is it truly Democrat or Republican forces at work here? Or is there something much larger? Think about that as you watch us move closer and closer toward global solutions and how that relates to what we are taught in the Bible.
    http://www.voiceoftruthblog.com

  • jd

    JM Reynolds:
    First, Rush is not a politician, and I don’t want him holding any office in the conservative, much less Republican, movement.
    Second, you say Dems know what they are doing featuring Rush. I would agree that they know what they are doing so long as they can control what people see and hear of him. I believe that most people know Rush from everywhere but his radio show. I think people, who don’t already hate the guy, would have been inspired by that speech.
    Third, you say he doesn’t have to answer for his personal life. In that case he should run as a Democrat–no problem. He would be on a level playing field. But your point is well taken. He would have to answer questions about a troubling personal life. However, the American people are a forgiving bunch. He has been as honest as he can about his problems. You can’t argue that he has not been vetted. Every opposition research firm, every unethical prosecutor, in short, every dirty trick has been used to dig up dirt on this guy.
    Third, you say you cringe when he talks about race. You must be one of us “race cowards” as Eric Holder describes us. (Wonder why he was never held to account to explain what he means.) Bill O’Reilly has said much the same thing: White folks are afraid of black folks. Rush doesn’t appear to have that fear.
    Fourth, there is no one else on the scene who can speak so eloquently for the conservative movement. (Just as an aside, while I agree with him politically, Sean Hannity doesn’t have 1% of the talent of Rush Limbaugh). Newt Gingrich comes close, but well he’s Newt.
    Rush is no politician. He says what he means and means what he says. Everyone respects that kind of honesty. However, politicians can’t do that. It seems to me that you are basically asking for someone with the eloquence of Rush, the passion of Rush, the core beliefs of Rush, who is able to fool people into thinking he is not like Rush. That means you need a politician who is basically like Obama–dishonest about his true intentions, a lawyer who tweaks his message for his audience, speaks soaringly about NOTHING when needed–who shows his true colors when he’s elected.
    If you can find someone dishonest enough to beat Obama, well, then we’ll have to decide if that’s the kind of character we want in a president.

  • http://www.johnmarkreynolds.com John Mark Reynolds

    JD,
    Maybe I have not been clear.
    Rush as a radio communicator is the best at what he does: ever.
    Rush as “voice of the Republican Party” is something like a disaster.
    Look at the demographic numbers: Most people outside of his audience don’t like him.
    Try listening to his speech with one of the millions of people we need to “get” in order to win the next election. Women, to give just one minor demographic, are frequently turned off by Rush’s style. That is fine for Rush the Radio Guy, but pretty much a disaster in the a party voice.
    Rush has framed the issue so often on his radio show that many people fall into his picture of the situation. Speak as he does or become a weenie compromiser on the issues.
    No! Never, never, pander to people and simply tell them what they want to hear. However, you CAN present arguments and use language that make people more likely to listen and will convert a few to your point of view.
    If we put it in Evangelistic terms perhaps my point will be understood. We all know talented and good hearted Christians that other Christians like to listen to. However, non-Christians don’t get their “insider lingo” or find their style off-putting.
    When sharing the Faith (much more important of course than politics!) it is best to embrace a STYLE and not SUBSTANCE that others can hear.
    I am not saying I can do this, but we know Rush cannot. The more he is featured as Party Leader or the Voice of Conservatism the more we will be limited to a little political ghetto.
    Rush (on his show) sounds like it is his way or compromise. What about his way with a more broadly persuasive voice? Doing this would not be rocket science . . .and does not require lawyerly compromise.
    As to race: I teach on race, lead discussions on it, have (in the past) lived in areas where I was a minority. Not afraid to disagree. Not afraid to give my point of view.
    I have listened to Rush on race and he has a tin ear. He does not know how to make his points without closing off the discussion by giving offense. There is nothing “brave” about that . . . it is just foolish. See his gig doing football.
    Stepping on rhetorical landmines is not courage, but folly. Better a party leader (see Reagan, Ronald) who can defuse the landmines and clear them!

  • http://www.johnmarkreynolds.com John Mark Reynolds

    Let me make my point using an analogy from the Revolutionary War. Sam Adam was a great guy who now has a decent beer named after him. He was a leader in the early stages of the Revolution. If, however, he had become the face fo the Revolution in those days, we might very well have lost. He could not appeal (and turned off) many people we needed on our team. Instead, Washington became the face of the revolution and our leader.
    It matters to get the right Face Man. Ideally (see Washington, George) your Face Man is also your Fighting Leader, but you simply cannot have the Sam Adams types being your public persona or a good many of the Virginians and nice Pennsylvanians you need to win will turn away from you.
    Rush as party leader or Voice of Conservatism is in the wrong role. He is Sam Adams cast as Washington.
    Bad move for Rush and for us.

  • http://homewardbound-cb.blogspot.com ChrisB

    John Mark Reynolds said: “He spoke to the smaller of his two audiences.”
    I think he really only had one audience. He might not have been the best person to put on TV: Given his reputation, I don’t think he has much potential of reaching the middle. Reaching out to voters isn’t Rush’s job — it’s Steele’s.
    That said, he’s good at energizing the base, as Rachel said, much like people praised Palin for in the election.
    I think Rush has a role in the GOP. It needs people who hold to conservative principles and make the base feel like they’ve got someone in their corner. It also needs someone who’s more pragmatic than ideological — Steele. If they’re careful they might just manage to work together.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    It seems to me that you are basically asking for someone with the eloquence of Rush, the passion of Rush, the core beliefs of Rush, who is able to fool people into thinking he is not like Rush.
    Actually I think the Republicans are looking for a slight variation on this. They want to be fooled into thinking they themselves are true to their ‘core beliefs’ when they really aren’t. In other words, they want to be fooled into thinking they are ‘like Rush’ when they really are very far from Rush.
    Ask yourself this, when during the last 8 years did Rush hope for Bush to fail? Yet all in the sudden we learn now that Bush was no conservative, that Republicans had to ‘hold their nose’ in supporting many of his policies for the sake of….what? loyality? Or for that matter who supports abolishing Medicare Part D, Bush’s biggest entitlement increase?
    Rush’s conservatism is, IMO, a bit like Thomas Jefferson’s vision of America as a land of small farmers. It’s something we should keep in mind and it’s a vision worthy of respect but at the same time it is helpful to realize that was a path we did not choose to follow….and that decision wasn’t made by Obama, or FDR, or Lincoln but was made as far back as Jefferson’s own time. The GOP’s problem, though, is that the vision has become not a useful ideal but a present day monster that is totally disconnected from reality but has enough influence to be unhelpful and even destructive. The right uses Rush not as a tool for advancement but a tool for self-delusion. It would be like a Board of billion dollar agribusiness CEO’s meeting and hearing inspiring speeches by a Jefferson-actor praising the yeoman farmer while demanding a platform of crop subsidies, patent protection for genetically modified seeds and trade protections against foreign competition.

  • http://www.johnmarkreynolds.com John Mark Reynolds

    Nobody (yet) has suggested Rush has no role (or even a small role) in the Party or conservatism.
    The question is: what should his role be?
    Rush in the Washington role does more harm than good. Rush in the Sam Adams role does more good than marm.
    CPAC put him in the Washington role (given the network coverage) and Rush blew it . . . as was predictable. He does not have it in him and putting him in that role is bad for Rush as well as the movement.
    Rush knows his speech was bad. Look even Rachel agrees that Rush’s speech (as a speech) was pretty awful. Let’s not put stars in one area in a forum where they do themselves and us harm.
    (See movie stars testifying before Congress for a left of center example!)

  • Carole Scannell

    As a woman listener of Rush, I find him to be very truthful and staight forward. I like that .. I don’t have to spend time trying to figure out what he really means. Some of the woman callers to the program are so defensive with a pre-conceive view of Rush they don’t hear a word his says.
    On the racial issue, Rush is color blind! Look at the people he promotes as “wise” people: Thomas Sowell, Clarence Thomas, the Seattle coach/pastor, the list is endless. His favorite is probably “Bo”, the man that has worked at his side for many, many years.
    Yes, he is a showman but he uses that talent to get and hold your attention, hoping you will open your ears and get the message.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    jd
    Second, you say Dems know what they are doing featuring Rush. I would agree that they know what they are doing so long as they can control what people see and hear of him.
    And how do they do that? CNN carried Rush’s speech live and unedited as did Fox. There are few areas of the country where you can’t get at least a few hours of Rush a day. Rush broke into the big time in NYC, supposedly one of the largest media markets and one of the most liberal. Transcripts and archived recordings of just about every Rush show are freely available on the Internet & Rush has been around for nearly 20 years now. Anyone who has even a modest interest in Rush has ample opportunity to have heard or read a fair, unedited sampling of his thoughts. At this point you can’t really maintain the ‘if only for the left-wing media they’d all love us’ line like you guys do with Palin & others.
    Third, you say he doesn’t have to answer for his personal life. In that case he should run as a Democrat–no problem. He would be on a level playing field. But your point is well taken. He would have to answer questions about a troubling personal life.
    You mean his criminal activity. Last I checked criminal charges filed against you are public record, not a ‘personal problem’. But I agree this would only be an issue if he ran for public office and it alone shouldn’t be fatal to any attempt to run.
    First, Rush is not a politician, and I don’t want him holding any office in the conservative, much less Republican, movement.
    Yes because if he held office he would actually have to confront reality. It’s easy to spin out rhetoric when you don’t actually have any hard choices to make. That is indeed a ‘kind of honesty’ but not as useful as people like to believe.

  • http://www.johnmarkreynolds.com John Mark Reynolds

    Carole,
    What works for you (or for me), may not work for most people. Rush has trouble reaching out beyond the white demographic. He causes his limits by the language he uses . . . period.
    His ideas can be advanced in different ways, but he is not good at talking outside of his own “bubble.” I am not saying I am good at it. . . just trying to point out the obvious fact that:
    1. there are not enough dittoheads to even win an Republican primary. Rush did not like Huck or McCain and both were top 3 finishers in the primaries.
    2. dittoheads need a bigger leader to reach out to others.
    Could Palin do it? It looked like she could expand the base, but for many reasons she failed last time out. I love Palin, but nobody not already voting for McCain did. Not good. I hope she can solve this problem . . . and she might be able to do so.
    Rush has chosen (it is good business) NOT to solve it. Good for him. We need a Sam Adams, but he has marginalized himself to his comfortable EIB seat.

  • ucfengr

    Ask yourself this, when during the last 8 years did Rush hope for Bush to fail?
    When Bush proposed things that Rush disagreed with, he did hope for him to fail; on immigration for example.
    Yet all in the sudden we learn now that Bush was no conservative, that Republicans had to ‘hold their nose’ in supporting many of his policies for the sake of….what?
    Many elected Republicans did have to “hold their nose” and support his policies. One of the disadvantages of a party system it is very hard to oppose the leader of the party, especially when he is also the President. That said, many elected and unelected Republicans did oppose Bush on immigration, on the Harriet Myers Supreme Court nomination, on the Dubai Ports deal, to name just a few.
    Or for that matter who supports abolishing Medicare Part D, Bush’s biggest entitlement increase?
    If I recall, Rush opposed Medicare D, as did many on the right.

  • jd

    Dr. Reynolds:
    I think your demographic numbers are probably skewed by people who have never listened to him. When I first started listening to him I slammed the radio off more often than not. In my experience many of the people, women and men whom I respect, who don’t like Rush, have never really listened to him. What they know of him comes from a media that hate him.
    Can you give me some examples of things in that speech that are cringe producing? (other than the joke about John Kerry being completely colorless if it weren’t for varicose veins.)
    What he did was articulate conservatism with passion and clarity. He contrasted it with the failed policies of socialism and big government. He named names, and made fun of Democrats. He even mentioned that he was sure it was shocking for people to hear Democrats laughed at in such a way.
    One of the worst things about this discussion is that while we are trashing the most powerful apologist for conservatism alive, Barack Obama is trashing the country because no one other than Rush has the ability to confront him on the issues. While we act embarrassed about Rush, Barack Obama has made the Communist Party USA say this about him: We now have not simply a friend, but a people’s advocate in the White House.
    http://groups.google.com/group/cp-news-n-views/browse_thread/thread/e545348cd535e3c4
    How did this man get elected? Where are the nuanced questions coming from the conservative right when this guy can be praised by Communists?
    I know that Rush can never be elected, and I have no reason to think he would be any kind of a good executive. But no one comes close to articulating conservatism like he does. If you can think of one, please, please, please don’t keep it a secret; let someone know.

  • Brian A

    The problem with the cab driver being able to discuss the economy with a fellow ditto-head is that more than likely, they are both simply bouncing Rush’s words off each other and repeating verbatim Rush’s transcript as if they are having an actually discussion. Bring in a well-versed liberal and most ditto-heads’ reasoning falls apart and they cannot debate unless the liberal uses a catch-phrase that Rush has used to make his point. That’s not a criticism of Rush’s content, but that simply listening to Rush and not also being able to read and understand a position paper from the Heritage Foundation leaves most listeners acting like lemmings unable to make their point to anyone but a fellow believer.

  • jd

    Dr. Reynolds:
    I just don’t get it. You say Rush blew it. I just don’t get it. Did you not feel proud of the way conservatism was expressed? Did you not agree wholeheartedly with what he said about how this country got to be the power that it is?
    Rush is not there to run for office. He is not there to become the head of the Republican party. He is simply saying things that need to be said–things that, according to you, too few people hear. After all, his audience is a “little political ghetto.” Dr. Reynolds, I’m on your side. Are you embarrassed by me because I’m not deeply offended by Rush?

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    ucfengr
    Granted, support for all things Bush was not a solid refrain during his terms. I think, though, on the immigration plan you run up to the demographic barrier that John Mark Reynolds mentions. Yes a certain portion of the population loves the anti-immigration stuff but it’s not a majority and it doesn’t even seem to be sufficient to secure a GOP nomination (Romney and Hucklebee tried to out-immigrant each other in the primaries and lost, McCain would have been public enemy #1 if this issue really carried the bulk of GOP voters). The other issues were real but in the big scheme of things not much of a break with Bush….except for Medicare Part D.
    This is an example of what I was trying to articulate. Rush is less about ‘core ideas’ and more about self-delusion. GOPers like Rush because he makes supporters feel like they are standing for ‘core ideas’ when they really aren’t. In other words, people like thinking they are ‘like Rush’ when they really aren’t….and that goes for Rush too.
    It’s relatively easy to say you opposed Medicare D. After all, a GOP Congressman could always say the bill wasn’t ‘good enough’ in his opinion (and there’s never a bill that is so good that a person couldn’t spuriously claim they would support it if only it was ‘a little better’). Bush ran on a drug benefit, though. You guys supported him. You can say you didn’t like Medicare D but you can’t say it was any stab in the back by the guy you elected, like you could claim about his father’s tax increases. More to the point now that we have it no one’s running against it or would even consider making its repeal part of their platform (even Rush wouldn’t….hence even Rush gets to enjoy being ‘not like Rush’). Why is this?
    You can say it’s because you’d loose quickly if you ran on a platform of taking drugs away from seniors and you’d be absolutely right. This doesn’t sufficiently explain your stance (or lack of one). After all, the pro-life stuff isn’t winning any major elections either yet the GOP has become even more rigid on that issue in their higher level candidates (to be fair, that proposition might have been disproven if Rudy G had adopted a less maverick strategy of betting the farm on Florida). Where you guys go wrong, though, is blaming the American people for this fact.
    Basically you would like to assume the American people are idiots who have been conned by goodies (free drugs for Ma and Pops!) and the evil liberal media that won’t tell your side (but how can that be considering that Fox is huge now, talk radio reaches millions, the MSM has plenty of right wing pundits, and every other waiter in the country has a political blog?). The more realistic evaluation, though, IMO, is that the American people want some type of medical security. This makes sense given that pharmaceuticals have gotten very good but are very expensive and we have an aging population. In many ways it is more conservative to want pharmaceuticals to be part of our ‘basic care’ rather than let it be swayed by very random factors like personal fortune or loss. This means doesn’t mean that there’s no room for conservative approaches. The benefit will have to be paid for, will have to be structured so perverse incentives can be minimized and so on. But when you start to say this you are off the Rush farm where rugged individualism is the model and gov’t's role is limited to whatever you remember of Ayn Rand from your college days.

  • Fred Esannason

    I am totally insulted by the person calling himself Rush Limbaugh. People who support his opinion are just as disgraced as he. Just because we enjoy certain freedoms does not mean we should rant and range our hatred and prejudices for all to bear. Yes, Rush stand up for your opinion. Stand up for the injustices you see or feel deep in your heart and soul. But where is the RESPECT we should display to the leader of our nation. I have yet to witness any disrespect towards you by the Administration viasbe the President. Where is all this hate you have in the soul coming from? If you have any legitimate gripe with the mission our President has embarked; do engage him professionally. Why use the media to wage your terrorist propaganda with attempts to divide this nation at a time of great financial dilemma. Why not take the high road and offer positive criticism that may have a lasting positive affect not only to greater America but to the otherside world as a whole. GET OFF OF THE PARTY AGENDA. Wake up and smell the coffee for goodness sake. I don’t like you for what your doing. But I love you because you are a creature of God Almighty. Rush, remember you are a man. Act like one.

  • Kelsey

    I am a college age student and I can tell you what we are looking for in speeches and leaders of the country is passion. And Rush Limbaugh is definitely passionate when he speaks. He affects everyone he speaks to and that is what interests the younger generation. I saw a very interesting video about Rush Limbaugh and his speeches at a website that is, not only student run, but also takes global media perspectives and compiles them to get the true story. No opinions. No bias. Just news.
    http://www.newsy.com/videos/rushing_the_gop/

  • ucfengr

    I am totally insulted by the person calling himself Rush Limbaugh.
    This is the kind of thing that stupid people say to try to sound intelligent. Do you refer to yourself as the “the person calling himself Fred Esannason”?
    Just because we enjoy certain freedoms does not mean we should rant and range our hatred and prejudices for all to bear.
    You mean like what you are doing now?

  • http://www.johnmarkreynolds.com John Mark Reynolds

    Let me respond here:
    You say:
    Dr. Reynolds:
    I just don’t get it. You say Rush blew it. I just don’t get it. Did you not feel proud of the way conservatism was expressed?
    I say:
    No. I don’t. Bad speeches are bad speeches. Rush is great at radio, but he failed at making a speech. His content was confusing to many outsiders, offensive to many outsiders, and not useful to the movement.
    He could have roused us easily and done a better job.
    For one thing, his speech was way, way too long.
    You say:
    Did you not agree wholeheartedly with what he said about how this country got to be the power that it is?
    I say:
    No. I don’t totally. Rush sounds like “individualism” is the only good. Conservatives have always feared “mob rule” as much as state power. We don’t trust vox populi OR the state.
    We want power to diffused between both. We want to check the majority sometimes!
    You say:
    Rush is not there to run for office. He is not there to become the head of the Republican party. He is simply saying things that need to be said–things that, according to you, too few people hear. After all, his audience is a “little political ghetto.” Dr. Reynolds, I’m on your side. Are you embarrassed by me because I’m not deeply offended by Rush?
    I say:
    I am NOT deeply offended by Rush. I get it. I agree with 90% of what he means. I am just sorry that he says it in a way that a big chunk of people that MIGHT agree with us don’t.
    I don’t want Rush silenced. I don’t want Rush off the air. I just don’t want Rush put in a role he is not good at.
    I also don’t want to get to the point in any movement (and that includes my own work!) where we all must agree or perish.

  • jd

    Dr. Reynolds:
    You thought the speech was “way, way too long.” I thought the time flew by. I guess that about says it for us, doesn’t it?
    I guess we’ll have to disagree.
    I would say one more thing. I too am troubled by the notion of individualism if it is not tempered by faith in an absolute power. You probably know that Rush avoids talking about faith and especially his faith; that’s the way his show has always been. I have heard him talk about faith in a way that would leave no doubt where he stands. But usually I’m not so sure.
    However, I have no idea where you get the notion that Rush is somehow encouraging the mob. Can you explain that?
    And since you brought up the conflict between vox populi and the state, I would say we’re in danger of falling off the horse on one side and not the other. Which side do YOU think we’re falling off?

  • jd

    Dr. Reynolds:
    I would ask one more thing. Do you have anything to say to Kelsey’s comment #20 above? She says passion speaks to her and other college students. Wouldn’t you have to agree? It would seem that Rush would have tremendous appeal to college students.

  • http://www.johnmarkreynolds.com John Mark Reynolds

    First, I should say I am honored to interact with so many good comments.
    Second, please understand it is difficult (for me at least) to get the right tone in a comment box. I am trying to make clear that:
    1. I am not throwing Rush or anybody else under the bus BUT
    2. I am not going to let the Left tell me who should be driving the bus either.
    Sadly, every study I have seen demonstrates that Rush does not have much appeal to the under 30 set . . . especially college students. I know many exceptions and the minute I write this someone will say, “I am under 30 and I love Rush!” . . .but nothing backs it up.
    I am also unwilling to give up on a combination of reason and passion. I think Rush does what he does as well as anybody ever (though he was once better than he is today in my not always humble enough opinion!), but he is not a leader.
    I don’t think Rush makes very good arguments and that his rhetorical style has very limited appeal. That is o.k. . . . unless he becomes the spokesman for the whole GOP.
    Rush has real limits.
    He does not, for example, create ideas or implement them. He talks about them. He is not a debater, he is an explain-er. He does that well for a certain small group. . .
    But if you want to know Rush’s real limits remember that he could not sway Republican primary voters! If he cannot do that, he and his part of the base are not going to win us an election.
    Look: I have been a Republican all my life. My family joined the Party under Lincoln. We love the GOP to the point that my Mom bought everyone in the house an elephant for Christmas to cheer us up . . . and we are also very conservative.
    I don’t support the Stimulus Bill or the new budget. I am opposed to the housing bill. I hate socialism and all its works.
    I don’t want a wimpy party, but I want a smart one that speaks to as many Americans as possible. I want a good party that argues best it can . . .not one that throws reason under the bus just for the sake of humor.
    Rush works for some people, but not for the vast majority of Americans. We need a big chunk of those Americans. I hope I am wrong.

  • http://www.johnmarkreynolds.com John Mark Reynolds

    JD,
    My point about the Rush speech and length had nothing to do with whether I liked its length. I teach 3 hour classes for a living! It was whether it was an appropriate length for the venue and real (TV) audience.
    It was Clinton-like in being too long for most people’s attention span. That is too bad, but conservatives are not Utopian! We must talk to folks as they are and not as we wish them to be!
    Finally, nobody has dealt with the fact that Rush is not influential enough to kill a nomination in the Republican Party. That tells you a great deal.
    Rush did not like Huck or McCain. McCain won and Huck came in 2nd or 3rd depending on how you look at it. Rush favored candidates Romney (my own choice) and Thompson (my Dads) did not do horribly (see Rudy for that), but got little traction.
    If he is that limited in the GOP, his real limits have been exposed. There is a reason that the Dems want him as the face of the GOP . . .

  • jd

    Dr. Reynolds:
    You have explained your position clearly enough for me.
    I really wanted to push back because I was afraid you had fallen prey to the syndrome of the half-informed on the whole subject of Rush. Joe Carter can’t stand Rush anymore and it clouded his vision enough for him to say that there are better radio talkers out there. He even suggested that Hannity was better. Whoa! I told Joe that Joe Carter has much greater flair with words than Hannity.
    I guess I’ll have to go for someone with talent AND moderation: maybe Glenn Beck. Yeah, that’s the ticket, Glenn Beck. He does moderation to the max!!

  • ucfengr

    Granted, support for all things Bush was not a solid refrain during his terms.
    When I look at your post, I can’t help but get the feeling that you conceded my point in the first sentence, and then spent the next 500 or so words defending your original point.
    Sadly, every study I have seen demonstrates that Rush does not have much appeal to the under 30 set .
    John, Rush has 15-20 million listeners, which represents something less than 20% of the available audience. So I guess you could just as easily say Rush doesn’t have much appeal to any particular demographic. That said, I am really not sure what your point is. When you are in your 20′s, your priorities are different than when you reach your 30′s or 40′s. I suspect Hugh Hewitt, William Bennett, or any other of a number of conservative commentators, or for that matter, baby food and diaper commercials, have even less appeal among the under 30 set than Rush does, but does that mean he will never appeal to them or that when their priorities change, the things that appeal to them will change?

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    When I look at your post, I can’t help but get the feeling that you conceded my point in the first sentence, and then spent the next 500 or so words defending your original point.
    You are correct, thankfully I was successful in my defense. I concede to you minor and unimportant ground. The right was really brave in breaking with Bush on the Harriet Myers appointment.

  • ucfengr

    You are correct, thankfully I was successful in my defense.
    I thought it was pretty weak, though this post is weaker still.
    The right was really brave in breaking with Bush on the Harriet Myers appointment.
    Where would they have had to break with Bush to be “really brave”? I think opposing him on a Supreme Court nomination was pretty brave, as was opposition on immigration, Medicare Pt. D, and No Child Left Behind. Sounds less like a successful defense and more like “moving the goalposts”.

  • JillD

    The other thing Rush does so well, however he accomplishes it, is to remember what’s happened in the past and to remind us of what the facts were. Maybe he has an amazing memory; maybe he has a crackerjack research crew. Doesn’t matter. So much of what happens today can only be understood in terms of what’s gone before. I didn’t remember all those ways the Repub’s had broken with Bush until you just reminded me, ucfengr. There is simply too much going on each and every day for anyone to keep it all straight. Rush will certainly have his slant on what he dredges up from the archives, but it’s a starting point for further conversation.
    I miss the occasional shows he used to do which were limited to those callers who disagreed with him. I gain a lot more from a debate than a monologue.

  • dick

    I am so incredibly Offended, I have listned to rush for many years as a child, I have heard many of his Ideas and catch phrases, but what i never heard on his program was a Christian Ideal, understand I am a registered unnafiliated voter, because contrary to popular belief so called “conservative” values are not that of Christ who debated the “conservatives” of his time (the pharasees and the saducees). How many of you go to church sunday in you lexus and leave five or ten dollars in the the collection plate, a sum more approriate for tipping the waitress at the steakhouse you went to the night before. When you watch the televangelist solicit your money and offer you a prayer cloth or other ridiculos trinket in return know that it is the same time of thing that Made Christ flip out and start overturning tables in the temple, an act which was considered militant by the roman overseers. Jesus preached more about taking care of those less fortunate than yourself more than any other one subject, He also spoke out against the rich, rush is the clear opposite of this, he glorifies the rich and blames the poor for their condition, now I will admit that many times I see a homeless person and my hart hardens, I ask myself why don’t they get a job, why don’t they quit drinking, why don’t they… well you get the point, but then God reminds me that it is not my place to judge my fellow man but only to help him whenever I am able. I usually try to buy food when someone says they are hungry but if I do give a bum a $5 bill and he spends it on alchohol, that is between him and God, remember the Lord told us “judge not lest ye be judged”
    and Jesus said “He who is without sin , cast the first stone” — “For we all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God”

  • Rick Carpenter

    Limbaugh sells books: his books. He makes money from a yackshow: his yackshow. I’m a regular conservative and Limbaugh definitely does NOT represent me, and neither do O’Reilly, Beck, Malkin, Coulter, Hannity, or the rest of those clowns. If they are the ones the lib-left wants to go after thinking they are going after legit conservative leaders/spokesmen, then that’s fine and maybe they’ll leave the rest of the regular conservatives alone.