Rush Limbaugh vs Newt Gingrich on the Future of Conservatism
I understand that Newt did some good things for conservatives back in the 1990s, but the fact that he is either (1) buying into the global warming hoax and pushing for big government based on it or (2) is trying to gain politically from the fact that a large portion of the American public is ignorant and is buying into the global warming hoax, shows me that he is no longer a leader for conservatism. Anyone who buys into the global warming hoax loses all my respect. So I am very glad that Rush nailed him on it.
RUSH: [ … ] We need to straighten this out, because from what you’ve said since Sunday, I don’t think we’re that far apart on things, but when I heard you say the Reagan era is over, and then you confirmed that again today on Fox, this morning, I had a reaction to that that I wanted to explain to you, because I don’t think the Reagan era is anything other than conservatism. And I don’t think conservatism is over. I don’t think it’s finished.
GINGRICH: Well, no, look, we’re old friends and we’ve been in a lot of good fights on the same side for a long time. If you mean by Reaganism, conservatism as a philosophy, it’s not only not over, it is timeless, it is enduring, and it is the core organizational principles for a successful country. So I couldn’t agree with you more.
RUSH: Why is it abandoned then? Why is it not to be found in our campaign except with maybe one candidate?
GINGRICH: I think a couple reasons, and this is part of what I was trying to get at. I don’t know how you feel about this, but I think people who try to use Reagan as a mantra rather than as a mentor make a huge mistake. When somebody stands there and prattles on, says, “I’m really for Reagan. I really love Reagan,” you say, “Fine, so what would you do about our energy policy?” And I tend to agree with you, there are sound, free market, incentive-based entrepreneurial models that will fix almost everything that’s wrong in this country today. But I don’t hear these guys out there saying that. And I think we need, in 2008, the same kind of commitment to solving problems — and this is the one place where maybe you and I do have a slight disagreement here, but I just find it very intriguing, because Reagan, back in 1966, when he was first running for governor, made the case that it is the job of candidates for election to think through how to solve problems.
Reagan gave a speech on the creative society. He said, “Public officials are elected primarily for one purpose, to solve public problems.” Now, that’s what I was trying to get at. We need a 2008 agenda that is as bold for us as Reagan was in 1975 with CPAC. We need a willingness to be either for a flat tax as an optional approach or something like the FairTax. We need a willingness to say, “If you’re really serious about getting energy independence, how fast can we start building nuclear power in a big way?” We need a willingness to break out of the bureaucracy, whether it’s the education bureaucracy that’s failing in Detroit, or frankly the Department of Education bureaucracy that’s failing in Washington. I think there are a number of steps we can take that suddenly become twenty-first century conservatism with twenty-first century solutions. That’s why I wrote Real Change. I wanted to put an entire book full of ideas that allow people to look and realize that we have, from Social Security personal savings accounts to abolishing the capital gains tax, to an entire array of changes, including taking on the problems of places like Detroit, which I think are symbols of how government destroys the future for its own citizens.
RUSH: Well, precisely. But in the litany that you just went through, the one thing that was missing, to me, and the one thing that I most took from Ronald Reagan, was that he understood that it’s the people who make this country work, not politicians, not elected officials. They get in the way. The thing about Reaganism that’s inspiring to me is that he went and told people, “Look, this you can do. We are America, shining city on a hill,” and all. He motivated; he was inspirational. He had three legs to his stool. He was going to beat the communists in the Cold War, he was going to cut taxes, and rebuild the military. He kept it very simple and delivered on all three things. But he led a movement, Newt. Every speech he made he was telling people what conservatism is. We don’t have that anymore. We’ve got people running away from it. And when you say that the Reagan era is over, people are going to get — the Democrats never say the era of FDR is over, that the Great Society is over. They never say that the war on poverty is over. We never hear about the Churchill era being over. What replaced Reaganism if it’s over? Nothing has.
GINGRICH: That’s right. I think the challenge is, Rush, and maybe you and I just disagree, I think the challenge is for our generation to come up with a platform that is as bold, a set of solutions that are as bold, as Reagan was in 1979-1980. Reagan didn’t go around and say, here’s what Eisenhower would have done. He didn’t go around and say here’s what Goldwater would have done. He went around and said, look, here are the core, unchanging principles. Freedom works, bureaucracy strangles, lower taxes give you more freedom and give you more choices, you’re better at creating jobs than government is, and he walked through a series of things like this, and then he turned those into very specific, very practical programs. And maybe part of what I was trying to suggest on Sunday is, and, again, this is why I wrote Real Change and this is why I spent the last few months trying to build American Solutions as a real movement — and I don’t mean this as an attack on these guys, they’re all hardworking, they all mean well — but I don’t sense any of these candidates out there right now have a firm and clear grip in the way that Reagan did in ’79-’80. You knew by then, because he had matured since the 1964 speech, he’d had 16 years to think this through, and he really had a program, in working with Ed Fullner at Heritage and others, he really developed a momentum that significantly moved America back towards a more conservative society and away from where Johnson and Carter and the welfare state had tried to take us.
RUSH: No question about it. By the way, when I say Reaganism and we need to go back to it, I’m not talking about reliving the eighties. I’m talking about applying the existing core principles of conservatism because they work every time they’re tried, to the existing problems that we have today. Now, you said on Stephanopoulos’ show on Sunday — I’m going to have to paraphrase because I don’t have the transcript in front of me — but you said something, if you were a candidate, I think you were speaking as a candidate, “I need to find a way to see to it you don’t need as much home heating oil.” That sounds like the way liberals talk to people, “I’m going to find a way you don’t need so much home heating oil.” And my reaction to that, was, where’s the concept of growth? Conservation is all well and good, but it’s not going to grow us anything and it’s not going to expand the economy. Plus, all this environmental stuff related to climate change is a bit of a hoax and everybody is jumping on board this bandwagon. Senator McCain is making it a central part of his campaign, and all these guys seem to want to use the offices of Big Government to make people think that they don’t have to do anything for themselves. They have to sit around and just wait for these problems to be solved and things are going to be hunky-dory, and —
GINGRICH: Let me stick with the one you just mentioned because it’s an important one. We have a section called The Platform of the American People, and these are all ideas, by the way, that have a majority Democrat, majority Republican, and majority of independent support. We say flatly, entrepreneurs are more likely to solve America’s energy environmental problems than bureaucrats. If we use technology, innovation, and incentives, we do not need to raise taxes to clean up our environment. We talk about the notion, for example, and I don’t know if you’d agree or not, but we support giving tax credits to companies that can cut carbon emissions as an incentive to cut pollution. We then go on to say that we ought to build more nuclear power plants; we go on to talk about the idea of developing more oil refineries in the United States, and we also say that we ought to look seriously at drilling for oil offshore and lay off the notion that it’s a little bit irrational for us to be relying on Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran and Russia while blocking ourselves from even knowing whether or not offshore we have enough oil and natural gas not to need to rely on these guys. If you look at the Platform of the American People in here, I’ll bet you will agree with 95% of it.
RUSH: I probably would, but the thing about dependence on foreign oil, there are a lot of myths about that. Our number one importer, we import most from Canada. Number two is Mexico. We’re not totally dependent on Venezuela or the Saudis. There’s so many myths about this, the carbon mess. Newt, this country is being sold down the river on a hoax! Carbon dioxide, you and I exhale it. There’s no way we can cut that back. It’s not a pollutant. This is a mechanism whereby liberals want to grow government and have people with less freedom, and I don’t hear freedom or inspiration being talked about in this campaign. That’s what Reaganism is to me, and it’s not being discussed. We have too many Republicans running away from it, as though they are afraid of it. He won two landslides. It led you to capturing the House of Representatives in a huge landslide, and everybody wants to abandon it and apply policy today based on the liberals setting the table.
So we’re reacting to what liberals want to do. If they say we got an energy problem, okay, we have to admit that and come up with a better plan instead of telling the American people, “Look, oil is the engine of freedom. It is and always will be, we’re not running out of it, get used to it. The price of gas has gone up $2.80 in 40 years. Stop complaining.” Instead, we want to respond to all these complaints, because the liberals do. We’re trying to out-liberal liberals. We got candidates thinking they can win the presidency by picking off a couple liberals in New Hampshire, a couple liberals in Pennsylvania, California. That’s not the way Reagan did this. You go to the country and you tell the American people they’re the ones that make it work. You tell ‘em how great they can be, that they’re better than they even know they are. None of this is in our campaign right now, and it’s frustrating as hell.
GINGRICH: Well, listen, I agree with you, it’s frustrating. I think we ought to be much more aggressive in taking ‘em on directly, and one of the places I take them on directly is what government has done to destroy Detroit and to cripple Michigan. You’re having a primary today in a state which is having an artificial recession caused by the state legislature and the governor raising taxes and driving business out of state.
RUSH: And destroying the auto industry. Newt, there are a couple people in this campaign, if they win, California is just an example of what this whole country is going to end up being.
GINGRICH: I think that’s exactly right. Part of what I’m worried about, I’m very clear about this in Real Change, is that I am very worried about the degree to which if you look at Sacramento and you look at Albany, you have cities where the governors preside but the interest groups govern. And the truth is, Arnold Schwarzenegger lost his effort to try to change California when the unions beat him in the series of initiatives.
GINGRICH: And, as a result, he has since basically compromised with the people who beat him.
RUSH: Gotta take a quick break. Can you hang on for a couple more minutes? If not, no big deal.
<br>GINGRICH: No, but listen, I’ll be glad to come back sometime. I’d love to keep talking with you. Thanks.
RUSH: Does that mean you’re going or staying?
GINGRICH: I’ve gotta run, unfortunately, but I’ll give you a call back.
RUSH: Thanks for the time.
RUSH: Thanks to Newt Gingrich for joining us today. Look, folks, I want to tell all the rest of you out there that are just getting in on this, the reason that we don’t cite Eisenhower — you know, you don’t hear us talking, “We need to go back to the Ike era.” And we never say we need to go back to the Nixon era. We never say we need to go back to the Ford era. We don’t cite those three because they were not consistent, they were not principled conservatives in the way Reagan was. The mistake people are making, I think they think that people like me are worshiping a cult of personality with Ronald Reagan when, in fact, those of us who view Reagan the way I do stress conservative principles and the success that comes with it. It’s fine and dandy to come up with scores of proposals, and to have policy this and policy that for dealing with various issues, but that only scratches the surface. A list of policies to take to the American people without a core principle underpinning to justify those policies and explain why they will work, is senseless. To get into a policy contest with the Democrats, okay, here’s their health care plan; well, here’s ours, and we end up reacting to what theirs is.
We think we gotta come up with a health care plan because they are saying we need health care, universal coverage. Rather than argue the merits of their proposal, we make the mistake of running around, coming up with an alternative that has a little conservatism in it, but it really is nothing more than an attempt to stay in the game with the rules and the terms defined by the Democrats and the liberals. And frankly, this is what the campaign has been, and it’s frustrating as all get out to me. You can’t find one shred of conservatism in the amnesty bill, for example. There wasn’t one conservative point, philosophy in that at all. It was pure 100% liberalism. The Democrats were engaging in the amnesty bill to destroy the Republican Party; and Republicans, for some blind reason, were going along with it. A laundry list of policies, folks, without a fundamental theme is just that, a long list of policies. Reagan wasn’t a policy wonk. He was an idea guy.
Policies and ideas are two different things. Policies emanate from government. Ideas are what you take to people, and they hear and process the ideas, and then things happen, and the American people make things happen. Capitalism, the American people engaging in commerce, that’s the single greatest agent of change in this country, not what happens in Washington. Well, they can change things, but it’s not great. Nobody’s out there saying we should continue to fight the Cold War and the Soviets. But we do have another war, and we can’t even get everybody to admit that. We’ve got a war against militant jihadists of the Islamofascist stripe. The era, the Reagan era, is not over because conservatism is not over. If the Reagan coalition is dead, what replaced it? Somebody tell me that. Nothing has replaced it and that’s why so many people are scratching their heads, why so many people are a little nervous because there isn’t any real leadership out there that causes people, inspires people to get behind it, go rah-rah, and make certain things happen. That’s what’s missing. Reaganism is leadership. Reaganism is conservatism. It’s not a personality cult.
Vincent in Rhode Island, great to have you on the program, sir, thank you for calling.
CALLER: Rush, this is a tremendous honor. I’ve been a fan for — a big conservative raised in this liberal state here. I just wanted to comment that I think what Newt — I think he kind of means that, I don’t think Reaganism is dead as much as it needs to evolve maybe to encompass some of today’s issues that weren’t around back in the day, you know, some of the things that we’re going through today.
RUSH: Wrong. Wrong. They’re always around.
CALLER: Oh, they’re always —
RUSH: The biggest enemy, the biggest enemy we face in this country is liberalism.
CALLER: Oh, definitely.
RUSH: Conservatism is the answer to it. The second biggest enemy we face is ignorance. It’s the most expensive thing we pay for in this country. Conservatism fixes ignorance. We have different events happening, but we don’t have to adapt conservatism. Do you hear the liberals talking about, “Well, you know, the era of liberalism is over. We’ve gotta adapt.” They talk about maybe appealing to the values of voters after they lose an election, but they don’t change anything, and we never hear ‘em talking about it. Nobody ever suggests that they do. We’re always being told, “Abandon this Reagan stuff, Rush, it’s old hat.” It’s not old hat. It’s freedom.
RUSH: This is Stephanie in Columbus, Georgia. Hi, Stephanie. Welcome.
[ … ]
CALLER: Good. I want to tell you, I was in the car and I was listening to your conversation with Newt, and it got me so cranked up. I think that’s what people need to hear. Everybody’s too “middle” right now. I agree that we’re trying to appease liberals and just kind of step over to the edge a little bit to “let’s appease everybody,” and that’s the wrong direction, and what you said I feel like is exactly right. It sounded presidential.
CALLER: It’s what people need to hear. Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, it’s dead on.
RUSH: I appreciate that. You’re very kind, and I appreciate that very favorable review.
CALLER: Hey, let me ask you one thing, if it’s okay.
CALLER: I don’t know a whole lot. I mean, I follow this campaign. I follow politics with my son for several years now, but I don’t know really a whole lot. I’m totally against Hillary. I don’t really want a woman president anyway. Maybe Condi Rice is someone I would consider, but I don’t know a whole lot about this Obama guy. What do you know about this?
RUSH: I know all I need to know about Obama. Obama would wreck the country. He’s a liberal!
CALLER: He’s way out there.
RUSH: This stuff is not… He’s a perfectly nice guy, and I’m sure that he’s well-intentioned, and I’m sure that he believes what he believes, but he’s just wrong. There’s not a dime’s worth of difference, policy-wise, between him or Hillary, or Edwards.
RUSH: They’re all liberals! We know what liberals are going to do. They’re gonna raise taxes. They’re going to take away your freedom. They’re going to put thermostats in your house and control them from the utility company. They’re going to tell you what car you can and can’t drive. They’re going to tell you what food you can and can’t eat.
CALLER: Oh, yeah.
RUSH: They’re going to take away liberty under the guise of protecting you and making you safe and secure. I don’t care where he went to school. I don’t care who his parents are. I don’t care about any of that stuff. It doesn’t matter to me.
CALLER: Right. He is what he is.
RUSH: He’s a liberal!
RUSH: He’s a Big-Government liberal. He doesn’t trust the individual to make the right decisions in life to enjoy it. He believes that the central problem in America is “inequality,” like all liberals believe, and their solution to inequality is not raise people up, but go punish the achievers. Screw that! Achievement needs to be motivated, inspired, and rewarded, not punished! That’s all I need to know about Obama.
RUSH: Greg in San Antonio, you’re next, great to have you here.
CALLER: What in the cornbread hell is wrong with Newt Gingrich? Did I just hear him say cutting carbon emissions?
RUSH: You heard him say that, yes.
CALLER: I mean, I thought for years that this man was the anointed leader of the movement, and I gotta wonder where the hell he’s coming from.
RUSH: Well, that, I think, in the call, that’s what fired me up, that’s when the blood started circulating. I’ll tell you, look, I don’t know how to — I didn’t have a chance to ask him —
CALLER: That was the only thing I picked up on, and I heard it, and I said, “Has he been listening, has someone been talking to him?” What in the world is going on, Rush? I gotta believe that —
RUSH: No, I’ll tell you what — look. Here’s what it is. This is a guess. I’m going to tell you, it’s the same thing, the same story I just told you about the auto industry. The American people are customers. And the American people want cars that don’t pollute, and they want cars that get good mileage. That’s understandable. But it’s rooted in the fact that they’ve been sold and they have purchased a bill of goods on a climate change hoax to the point that they think the car they’re buying is going to save the planet rather than being something they genuinely want. Okay, you look at a guy like Newt or anybody like him, he looks out, he surveys the American people, “Wow, these people are really buying the global warming stuff,” and they’re voters. And democracy happens. If a majority of people are made to believe that global warming is being caused by them, and you have politicians that want to get elected by them, then you respond to what those people think, instead of telling them how wrong they are and trying to educate them. This is what Newt Gingrich did, starting in the 1980s.
I haven’t changed. I have remained rock-ribbed steady in my beliefs, principles, conservatism, and other things. But politicians look out and they see people buying this stuff, and they say, “Okay, well, I better come up with a carbon reduction proposal,” because this is what people care about. I’m not saying I pander to people, but politicians do. They’ll say whatever they have to to get elected. If a majority of people think that the sky is green, the politicians are going to tell them they’re right somehow, rather than educate ‘em. It’s a really frustrating thing. Now, I can’t compare myself to politicians, Mr. Snerdley, because getting an audience and keeping it is different than getting votes. The countryside is strewn with the carcasses of media people who thought they could get elected to anything. I have no desire to get elected to anything, I don’t want to run. I don’t want to ask anybody for a dime if I were to campaign. But that’s beside the point. I’m just telling you, back to Reaganism. Back to conservatism. Conservatism doesn’t bend and shape. It remains rock steady, and it tells people what is. But they’re just — I don’t know. Guts are in short supply on the American political scene these days. Sad thing to note, but it seems to be true.
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