I’ve had my differences with Rush Limbaugh (“Operation Chaos” comes immediately to mind), but I also admire his ability to transmit conservative ideas to a mass audience and make it entertaining. Seeing him on the same stage as Ann Coulter on the same day really demonstrated that he’s in a league of his own as far as conservative media personalities goes. Listening to Coulter you would have suffered through a series of lame and dated one-liners that communicated Obama voted “present” in the Illinois state senate, had no executive experience, and that Jeremiah Wright was his pastor. But Limbaugh actually took his time on the stage to do something useful. He reaffirmed, on a basic level, what it means to be a conservative — to believe in the power of individuals to make better decisions for themselves than the government. Even to those conservatives who aren’t Limbaugh fans, it was hard to listen to his speech, which went on for about 90 minutes, without agreeing with his central point.
He was also right on target by saying that Republicans need to make not procedural but philosophical arguments against liberalism and for conservatism. And yes, we need to root out those who claim to be conservatives, but argue that the only way to win is to embrace big government. This “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” mentality is bad politics in addition to being bad philosophy.
When the story of this period of the conservative movement is written, I wouldn’t be surprised if Rush’s talk to CPAC this year is considered a historically significant speech. At a time when conservatives are demoralized, he reaffirmed why we’re all part of this thing in the first place. For those who weren’t there, it was quite a sight. Not only did he have the packed audience inside the ballroom on its feet, but at one point I slipped out to the bathroom, and I saw people watching on TV screens in all of the hallways and sitting on staircases.
If you missed the speech, the transcript and video is available here.
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