Rush Limbaugh: Let’s face it, Trump’s abortion answer was “hugely damaging” to the cause of beating the Democrats
Via the Right Scoop, a long clip but worth listening to in full, especially if you read this post last night. It starts with a caller basically accusing him of being in the tank for Trump and ends with this plea of not guilty:
You may not look at it this way, but I’m telling you in terms of the presidential election in November, what happened last night on MSNBC is huge. It is huge. And if you don’t recognize it because you’re so opposed to Trump and you’re so dissuaded by Trump and you’re so angry or whatever, what happened last night is major, in a damaging way, in a hugely damaging way. Because what happened last night was, you know, any crossovers, Democrats thinking of crossing over, here comes this War on Women thing, and it needn’t have happened…
I’m simply trying to explain to people what it was and how it happened in a small way to try to diminish the effectiveness of it for the Democrats. You think I’m defending Trump. You think I’m not helping Cruz. What I’m trying to do is limit the damage it’s done to us and to prevent the Democrats getting a big score out of it, because my whole point here is to defeat Democrats, defeat liberalism. That’s the destructive force. This thing that happened, you may not want to hear an hour and a half about it, but I’m telling you what happened last night was huge in terms of rejuvenating the Democrats.
They were moribund. They are falling asleep. They were depressed. They don’t have a candidate they could give a damn about. They’re excited not at all. Their turnout is nothing. Now they’re energized. I’m simply trying to do what little I can to limit the damage of what happened last night. Now, if you want to sit there and say, “You keep defending Trump.” Can you expand the way you’re looking at this a little bit? You’ve got 27 years of experience with me behind the Golden EIB Microphone. Why do you think I would sell out in six months? What evidence is there that that would ever happen?
Interesting choice of phrase in equating defending Trump with “selling out,” but never mind that. He’s right, of course, that Democrats will make endless hay of Trump’s abortion comments in the fall, but he never quite reaches the logical conclusion to that: If we’re all about limiting the damage and beating Hillary Clinton, don’t nominate this guy. Period. He had one caller after another phoning in today begging him to get off the fence and tell it like it is, which is that Trump isn’t remotely a conservative, can’t even convincingly fake sounding like a conservative when he tries, and would be a disaster as nominee and/or president. Rush’s answer to that, if I follow him, is that it’s pointless for him to try to destroy Trump’s candidacy since no force of nature is strong enough to split Trump fans off from Trump (which is true) just as no amount of persuasion is going to turn most Democrats into Republicans. Which is also true but … tends to undermine the fact that Rush has spent 30 years making the case against Democrats day in and day out. If persuasion is futile in both cases, why undertake it in one circumstance but not the other? In particular, why devote so much energy to arguing against liberalism when there are practically no liberals listening and so little to arguing against Trump when there are lots of Trump fans listening? Does that make sense?
Another thing. He spent a lot of time analogizing Chris Matthews’s gotcha question about whether women should be punished if abortion is made illegal to Stephanopoulos’s infamous gotcha question to Mitt Romney about contraception at the 2012 Republican debates. That’s a standard Rush maneuver when Trump makes a mess that needs cleaning up: Don’t focus on Trump’s unfitness for office, focus on the corruption and bias of the dreaded MSM. The thing is, though, Matthews’s question wasn’t analogous to Stephanopoulos’s. The contraception question really was out of left field; Romney hadn’t talked about it, social conservative groups weren’t pushing it. It was tossed out there by Stephanopoulos to see if he could trip someone up and create a soundbite for a Democratic attack ad. Matthews’s question, like it or not, does raise an issue that would come up if Republicans succeeded in banning abortion, which the party is clamoring to do all the time. And it has extra resonance for Trump, whose pro-life credentials are in doubt even among many members of his own party. It’s not some baroque gotcha for Matthews to probe his thoughts on the consequences of pro-life policy, as the criticism of Trump by many pro-life advocates today attests. I’d analogize Matthews’s question to asking Barack Obama circa 2008 whether, as president, he’d support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Obama’s credentials as a supporter of traditional marriage were in doubt, and since the president has no role in ratifying an amendment, you could say that a question along those lines was irrelevant and shouldn’t be asked. Does anyone think that was an “unfair” gotcha, though? It was a way to test Obama’s true beliefs on SSM by probing his reaction to a hypothetical. Why is it so foul that Matthews would try the same move on Trump? I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that if Matthews had tossed that same question at Ted Cruz, not only would it have been answered skillfully, Cruz wouldn’t have whined afterward that it was “unfair.”
Anyway. On the basic point here, that Hillary must be defeated at all costs and every defense of Trump is a means to that glorious end, there’s really no debating it. You either agree or you don’t.