Yesterday, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) made headlines when he criticized Rush Limbaugh for hammering Republican leadership for their pliability on massive Democratic spending plans. He scoffed at the idea that Rush provides leadership, telling Politico that Rush and other commentators were merely “living well” and not having to worry about what was best for the party. Today, Gingrey is singing another tune entirely, attempting to clear up the “misunderstanding”:
Because of the high volume of phone calls and correspondence received by my office since the Politico article ran, I wanted to take a moment to speak directly to grassroots conservatives. Let me assure you, I am one of you. I believe I was sent to Washington to fight for and defend our traditional values of smaller government, lower taxes, a strong national defense, and the lives of the unborn. In my six years in Washington, I have led the charge on many of these issues. In fact, in 2008 The National Journal ranked me the #1 most conservative Member of the House of Representatives.
As long as I am in the Congress, I will continue to fight for and defend our sacred values. I have actively opposed every bailout, every rebate check, every so called “stimulus.” And on so many of these things, I see eye-to-eye with Rush Limbaugh. Regardless of what yesterday’s headline may have read, I never told Rush to back off. I regret and apologize for the fact that my comments have offended and upset my fellow conservatives—that was not my intent. I am also sorry to see that my comments in defense of our Republican Leadership read much harsher than they actually were intended, but I recognize it is my responsibility to clarify my own comments.
Now more than ever, we need to articulate a clear conservative message that distinguishes our values and our approach from those of liberal Democrats who are seeking to move our nation in the wrong direction. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Newt Gingrich, and other conservative giants are the voices of the conservative movement’s conscience. Everyday, millions and millions of Americans—myself included—turn on their radios and televisions to listen to what they have to say, and we are inspired by their words and by their determination. At the end of the day, every member of the conservative movement, from our political commentators and thinkers to our elected officials, share an important and common purpose in advancing the cause of liberty, reigning in a bloated federal government, and defending our traditional family values.
I’d agree that we need to articulate a clear conservative message — and that the GOP caucuses in the House and Senate have thus far failed to do so, and have failed at it for the last few years. Rather than take shots at Limbaugh, Hannity, and fellow Georgian Newt Gingrich, they should be listening to them. Because, despite Barack Obama’s fantasies, the Republicans in Congress stopped doing that after they won the majority in 1994, and they’re paying the price now.
They have a golden opportunity before them now to demonstrate that they’ve learned from their bingeing on government pork and reckless spending between 2001-6. The stimulus bill represents everything conservatives fight against. If the Republicans don’t stand up for efficiency, accountability, and responsible governance now, they won’t get another chance for years as this turkey burdens another generation with its irresponsible spending.
In the meantime, for our friend Rep. Gingrey, we’d like to hear a few choruses of the Brenda Lee classic: