Rush Limbaugh did not lose the election

Two editorials in the past two days have attempted to shift blame for two successive election losses onto someone who has never run for public office.  Both Mort Kondracke and Karen Harper blame Rush and other conservative talk-show hosts for the GOP’s descent into the minority in Washington DC.  Neither, though, explain how a conservative talk-show host whose policy positions got largely ignored over the last eight years cost Republican candidates votes.


How can the Republican Party rebound? The first step would be to quit letting Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham set its agenda. …

Step One is to fire Rush Limbaugh and his ilk as the intellectual bosses of the GOP. They shouldn’t be muzzled, as some liberals want to do by reviving the “fairness doctrine” in broadcasting, just ignored more frequently.

In recent years, Republicans have let right-wing talk show hosts whip the GOP base into frenzies — over immigration, brain-damage victim Terry Schiavo and same-sex marriage — that have branded the party as troglodyte.

Huh?  Did Rush or any of the other people Kondracke mentions support an explosion of pork-barrel spending?  As far as I know, Rush never uttered the phrase “compassionate conservatism” without irony or contempt.  Rush, Laura, Sean, and the rest of the talk-show circuit certainly didn’t back the biggest expansion of discretionary spending by the federal government in decades.  Other than the war and judicial nominations, Kondracke would be hard-pressed to identify which parts of the Republican agenda as pursued by GOP officeholders over the last decade belonged to Rush.

Harper falls into the same trap, only more insultingly:

However, Governor Jindal and other moderates must contend with Rush Limbaugh and others like him.  Limbaugh, the Jerry Springer of radio, continues to encourage his listeners to support the right wing conservative wing of the Republican party as he trashes anyone who disagrees with him and that includes moderate centrist Republicans.

Irony spill on Aisle 1!  Harper complains about Rush “trashing” people with whom he disagrees at the same time as she calls him the Jerry Springer of talk radio.  Well, thanks for the tolerance lesson, Karen!  We’ll put that right up there with Kathleen Parker’s “Oogedy Boogedy” description of Christians.

And how exactly is Rush equivalent to Jerry Springer?  Does he host fistfights between mutants over politics?  No.  Rush gives his opinion on politics, avoiding the incessant talking-head shouting matches we see much more often on cable television.

You know, it’s odd; when Republicans won elections, no one seemed to mind Rush and his energy to bring conservatives to the table.  When Republicans stopped being conservatives, or at least stopped acting like conservatives and more like the kind of Democrat Lite that Kondracke and Harper prefer, they stopped winning elections — and started blaming Rush Limbaugh for it.  Kondracke wants Republican politicians to ignore Rush, Laura, and Sean, but they’ve been doing that since 2001, and that’s not Rush’s fault.

The GOP will go nowhere if it engages in scapegoating talk radio for the next couple of years.  Republicans have lost two successive elections because American voters will choose Democrats when given a choice between an authentic Democrat and a fake Democrat.  We’re not going to win elections by making Republicans more like Democrats.  We will win elections when Republicans do the following:

  • Find a First Principles approach that will unite the conservative coalitions, as Reagan did in 1980
  • Have a zero-tolerance policy for corruption
  • Stop supporting pork-barrel spending
  • Take concrete steps to shrink the federal government
  • Take responsibility for their own actions and the consequences for them instead of scapegoating talk radio

Note to Kondracke and Harper: Rush doesn’t work for the Republican Party.  The Republican Party doesn’t follow Rush’s policy agenda, and hasn’t since George Bush came to office.  The notion that the main problem with the GOP is Rush Limbaugh is profoundly foolish, so much so that only Beltway insiders could possibly reach that conclusion.