Rush Limbaugh

Remarks at Hillsdale College's Churchill Dinner

delivered 5 December 2008, Washington, D.C.

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Larry told me I have five minutes, so --. Thank you all very much. This...receiving an award like this is beyond my -- my comprehension. (You always check yourself when there's a camera around.) Please bear with me, folks. I've got a case of bronchitis and a little fever, and I'm going to try to suppress my coughing spasms. But I see Fred Thompson. I don't know how it's possible. Let me tell you. I was in the air flying up here from Florida at about 4:30 and I'm over Raleigh, North Carolina, well right between Raleigh and Durham. And I'm -- Well, I want to be fair with the nondiscrimination stuff, so --.

And I've got Fox News on. And there's the Cavuto show and Fred Thompson is on Cavuto show and he was in New York, right? So he's in New York at 4:30. He's not dressed like he is now.  And I just recently got here. I landed at Dulles about 5:50. It took an hour and 35 or 40 minutes to get in here because the tree lighting ceremony and my temporary security guy, who is an order of fries short of a Happy Meal, got the route all wrong.

He had to get all the way to LaGuardia. And I assume you shoveled it to National? And you didn't hit traffic, it's amazing. Somebody told me you were going to be here and I said," He can't be, he's in New York." I was in this hotel one time prior to this. It was in 1987. And I was working in Sacramento at the time. And I had never, you know, I did not do guests. I had constantly sworn off on doing guests on the radio, because everybody else did. And the, excuse me, local management was so insistent that I do guests that they sent me here for a week if I would do guests. And the ABC Studios are right across the street on Desales Street, and that's where we did the radio show for a week. And so I lined up a bunch of guests. I lined up George Will. I lined up Sam Donaldson, Judge Bork, a number of other people. And one of them that I lined up was Vitaly Churkin. Now, back in 1987, Vitaly Churkin was a regular. He was almost a co-host of Nightline.  And he was at the Soviet Embassy. And he was one of these KGB guys that spoke perfect English, looked as American as anybody at Hillsdale College.

And you just watch this guy. And, you know, back in those days you had Gorbachev and that birthmark. And as Soviet expansionism took place, so did that birthmark grow. And Churkin is just a propagandist. So I decided, I'm going to call the Russian embassy. I wanted to see if I could get him as a guest on the radio program. And he got on the phone, which stunned me.  And he said he would do it. And I, the night before he was scheduled to come on, I went out with some friends. I consumed some adult beverages, perhaps more than I should have, and got back to the room and I pretended that it was bugged by the Soviet Embassy. So I kept looking in the lamps and I was looking in the corners and chandeliers and so forth. "Mr. Churkin, do not cancel on me." That's my memory of the hotel.

Look, I really do have limited time. And I do want to say just a few things about the future of the country as I see it. And I probably, not knowing the full spectrum of the makeup here in the ballroom tonight, and it's probably a safe bet with me, I'll irritate or offend some of you. This is what happens when you invite me. It is not done on purpose. We have our problems with the Obama Administration. Frankly -- pardon the sniffles -- I'm still, the jury's still out on what kind of president he's going to be. I thought I had him figured out. Then I didn't think I had him figured out. Then I thought I did, then I didn't. And I'm back now to I'm not sure. I really -- I don't know how much of Obama just wants to "be" President and not really do anything. Just "be" President. I read a story recently that when David Axelrod, quoted, when he came down to pedal the medal time in deciding whether to run at all, that it was Michelle Obama who said, "Barack, why do you want to do it?" And his answer was, "Well, after I take that oath of office, the world will have more respect for us, and America's children will feel proud of their country again." And Axelrod told the story, "You could be very proud of that. That's a great reason to be President." To me, it's purely symbolic.

It is nothing but imagery. And I look at who he has appointed in his cabinet and it's the Clinton Administration third term. And he's got as many kook, fringe leftists angry at him as some of us were at him during the campaign. My instincts are the guy is who he is. We know who he is because of his associations, we know the things he said he wanted to do during the campaign. But, for example, you know the Democrats are not going to saddle themselves with a military defeat. So we're not going to pull out of Iraq until we've won it. I don't think he's going to be able to close Club Gitmo as quickly as he wants to. I think all that stuff was campaign rhetoric. You look at the Saxby Chambliss results when Obama wasn't even there, this is just -- It's so tragic. We could have beaten the guy. We could have beaten the guy if the Republican Party had the guts to be the Reagan Republican Party that he turned it into that's a blueprint for landslide victory.

And it's just we kept hearing, "Obama is who he is and he's going to be whatever he is. We're going to have to deal with it." But we have a bigger battle coming up, and that's defining who we are as a Party. 

Now, the conservative movement has to have a political arm. It has to have a political identity.  That has always been the Republican Party. But there's a battle now within the Republican Party over who's going to lead it and who's going to define it. And even during the Reagan era, a lot of you in this room were prominent then. You know that there was a lot of resentment for Ronald Reagan among the quote/unquote "elitists" in our own party because he wasn't properly educated, he didn't come from the right geographical areas, you know, all the things that elites use to distinguish themselves. And plus he wasn't smart. We have -- Well, that's what they thought. He was a bumbling dunce, they agreed with Tip O'Neill. But in the meantime, while they had never been able to secure more than 135 seats in the House and go Bob Michel is our leader, and Nelson Rockefeller getting drunk at the '76 convention in Kansas City, falling off his chair is about as far as they ever took us. Reagan comes along, two landslides. And using the same thing that Reagan knew, we took over the House in 1994. And all of us in the Republican Party saw "that era is over." And I never hear the Democrats say "the era of FDR is over." Not only are they trying to revive FDR, Obama is trying to say he's Lincoln, too.

We're sitting around deciding among ourselves, how are we going to approach the Walmart voter? And how are we going to go out and get -- We're into an argument now amongst ourselves, "We have to be for Big Government, too. We have to be for spending to create voting blocks that will vote for us. We have to, because that's what the American people want." Well, what's left to spend? Seriously, what is left to spend? We can't spend any more than we are unless we start printing, and I'm convinced that we're not already doing that. We don't have this money we're using to bail out left and right. It's just tragic to see what has happened. Right before our eyes. Now look at these poor automobile execs. I find it difficult to believe that every automobile executive for 35 years has been an idiot. When you look at what's happened to the business, you figure: There's got to be something. Why don't we look at what is wrong with it?  And why don't we look at what's wrong with the mortgage industry? And why don't we look at what's wrong with the housing industry? Why don't we look at what's wrong with -- and, you know, everywhere you look at what's wrong with this or that, guess who you see? Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter. You see Democrats.

Without exception. If, during the first bailout of the mortgage business, Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac, if they could have found a Republican to blame it on, he would be in Guantanamo Bay right now. After they had done hearing after hearing after, they could not find a Republican. So they had to circle the wagons. And of course we get the impressions, Republicans, "Well, these people are losing their homes. We can't have them -- no, of course we can't have any suffering in America anymore. We can't have any suffering, can't have any discomfort. Government's going to solve all that. There will be no difficulties whatsoever. Government can fix all of this."

We have, I think, as conservatives, a golden opportunity here to reintroduce to people -- because this isn't going to work. Down the line it isn't going to work. Central Planning -- like, I don't know if you were following the stock market, poor old Ben Bernanke, every time he opens his mouth, folks go sell because the market jumps down 200 points. Happened today. No matter what he says -- and of course Hank Paulson, I'm sure they're trying their best. It came out today, the magic number, the magic number for mortgage interest is 4 1/2 percent. Central Planning says so. Central Planning: 4 1/2 percent. Where do they pull this stuff out of? This is not going to lead to prosperity for anybody except liberal Democrats who want as much control over people's lives via the government as possible. I look at the auto execs, to get back to them for a moment. And I look at the big oil execs. And I look at -- To me, the most insulting, incompetent, insufferable, arrogant people on these House and Senate Committees lecturing these people. I don't know of one Senator who could produce a drop of oil for anybody's gas -- I don't know a Senator -- Herb Kohl may know how to win in the NBA, but I don't. These guys don't know diddly-squat. The people that are up there being queried and being interrogated on losing money for their companies are being interrogated by people who are the most irresponsible with other people's money I have ever seen in my life! The members of Congress!

So, I've had this fantasy. Let's say I'm Rex Tillerson, ExxonMobil. And because of whatever market conditions, the price of oil's up there at 147 and that means on cue it's time for the Barney Franks of the world and the Chris Dodds and the Harry Reids to start hollering and yelling about excess, obscene profits and so forth. I would love it if Rex Tillerson, being grilled, would say "Senator, I want to change seats with you. You need to be asked questions by people in my industry, such as why in the hell are you standing in the way of us exploring and discovering for more of the product that you want us to deliver to the people of the world?" 
You!  Can you believe? How bad has it gotten when the CEO of General Motors drives a Malibu to the hearings? He can't even fit in one! It's all PR. It's all smoke and mirrors. Yeah, because Harry Reid went out there and said they had the audacity to fly in their corporate jets. I don't see Harry Reid giving his up and I don't see Nancy Pelosi giving hers up.

But, more importantly, to force these men who are running corporations that have values and worths larger than some countries in the world to reduce the value of their time in a meaningless PR -- these people have business interests all over the world. They have corporate fleets. They have to get executives to these places to do business. Why do we tell people -- Why do we not educate people as to the realities of the world instead of all this PR pandering? It's because these guys are scared to death and they've come up with their hands out and they want money and so they're bending over forwards and grabbing the ankles in front of people like Barney Frank. This is dangerous. Asking for money.

What I really wish, I wish these guys would come up and say, "How about you give us the money we need and then you leave us alone for six months? No requirements on CAFE standards. Tell us we don't have to produce hybrids. People aren't buying them. They're available. They're not going to buy electric cars. Let us build cars people want to buy and you people stay out of our business." That's what I want. The people have lost courage. Everybody is scared to death of government because government has stopped serving people. People have begun to serve government. And it's got to stop. And we're the ones, folks, we're the only ones that believe this has to stop. And it's going to take -- it's going to take courage. And, unfortunately, it's going to take a little time for what's happening now to seep in and really screw things up. Because we can tell people how bad it's going to get and that's not going to be enough. They're going to have the problem is, it's all going to be blamed on George Bush. Well, it is. Politically, it's all going to be blamed on George Bush, as far as the media's concerned, Obama is too big to fail. They've got too much invested in the guy. Historic nature of his candidacy, his election. This guy can be -- he could end up being the most bumbling, incompetent, dangerous, worst president we've ever had, he'll be covered for because "he's too big to fail." And it's going to get blamed on the Republicans, whatever happens. Like right now, I can't believe that we're sitting by and letting this mortgage business get blamed on Bush. The one person who actually tried 12 different times to come up with some stronger regulations to stop the farce that was Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was shut down by Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. And today they get to redefine how we fix this and break it even further. 

And we're not going to redeem the principles of our founding as Americans or as conservatives -- Excuse me, again, I'm sorry -- if we get into a debate with Democrats over who can be Big Government the smartest, which is where too many of our so called intelligentsia on our side in the media and elitists in our party want to go because they think that the public has determined they want Big Government and that nothing is going to change that. Gone are the days of teaching people that that's wrong. I mean, I forget the old quote. You all are more informed than I. It's been said by more than one or two statesmen. Once people figure out they can vote themselves whatever they want and that number's over 51 percent, it's over. And when you look at the few percentage of people paying income tax, we're dangerously close to that circumstance. And as easily as they have spread class envy throughout our culture, I mean, the auto execs drive to this latest round of hearings and somehow that's supposed to improve their public image? I bet they didn't sell one damn new car over what they would have just because they drove a Malibu, carpooled to the hearings. But this is what people think is substantive these days.  I do love this. It's going to offend some people, but again that's why I'm here. We just got the candidate and the campaign that the elitists in our party and the smarter-than-everybody-else-in-the-room media in our party said is the future of our party. We got a candidate to go out and get Democrats. And we had a candidate go out and attract moderates. We had a candidate go out and get Hispanics. We had a candidate to go out and get the this or that. We had a candidate who had no core beliefs, no principles.

And if he had them, he didn't know how to express them. And so with what were we going to attract independents? "Well, I can work. I can work with Democrats." Well, if I'm a Hispanic, I'll go for the real thing. "Well, I could attract the moderates." Yeah, that's why Bill Weld endorsed Obama and that's why Colin Powell endorsed Obama. All these moderates that were supposed to be on our side, this was their candidate, this was their campaign; this was their blueprint. And if it weren't for Sarah Palin, my friends, it would have been a double digit loss.

I was chosen by Barbara Walters as one of her 10 most fascinating people in the country the other night. It don't matter. And it's like that, Clarence? You know, do you know what a thrill it is?  I have to tell you. I'm just like Larry Arnn said, I'm from this big metropolis, Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Do you know what a thrill it is for me to be able to refer to an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court by his first name, Justice Thomas? That is such a thrill to know you that well to be able to. Now, many of you think I've lost my place. Many of you hopefully think I've lost my place. Barbara Walters asked me -- she criticized me during the interview. I don't know if this will make the cut on her show tonight. But like everybody on that side of the aisle, just really hammered me on Sarah Palin. And she said, "What do you see in her?" I said, "She's smart.  She's enthusiastic. She's got a core belief system." I said, "Barbara, she has lived a rich and genuine American life. She defines what American life is all about. And she has thousands of people who will vouch for it." Obama had to hide everybody who can vouch for his life until after the election. And she kept hammering me. And I said "What is your problem with her?" And Barbara Walters said, "She's uninformed." I said, "One interview. One interview with Katie Couric." And I said "You, of all people," I said, "I would think that you would be looking at this woman, who is maligned viciously by other women. I think people like you would be coming to her defense. She's being treated the way she is because she is effective."

Saxby Chambliss. Now, Saxby Chambliss is a fine American and he's a wonderful man, but if it weren't for his varicose veins, he would be totally colorless. Uh oh. I thought Dr. Arnn was walking out in protest. And Obama threw everything at Saxby Chambliss he had. He threw Ludacris. He threw Jay-Z. He threw everybody but Plaxico Burress and a loaded gun. Of course, Obama himself didn't go down there because he couldn't risk losing. It was Sarah Palin that pulled that out down there, and Saxby Chambliss, God love him, Saxby Chambliss said the day afterwards, this proves we got to get back to our Reagan roots. There it is.

Reagan roots. Reagan roots is not anti-Communism and low taxes and the Laffer Curve and all the other things that Reagan was dealing with at the time. Reagan roots are the roots of our founding. And the primary leg on that stool is individual liberty. This is a nation founded on the concept that we are individuals. We are not a collective. We are individuals. And that we do our best when we are working in our own self interest, not selfishness, but our own self interest, improving our lives, our families' lives; improves everybody's lives around ours in our communities, cities, towns, the nation at large. Individual liberty will never go out of style because as our founders correctly noted, it is part of our creation. It's what sets this country apart from every other collection of human beings in the history of the world. We have acknowledged that our creation comes from God, not from government, that our freedom is a natural yearning of our creation. And that is the natural yearning of our spirit, to be free, all humanity, all human beings. And as such, liberty will never go out of style. Freedom will never go out of style. We will never, ever say hopefully "the era of freedom is over." We will never say "the era of liberty is over." And as such, we will make a huge mistake if we fall in line with these dummkopfs, who think they're the smartest in our room, who say "the era of Reagan is over."  Because the era of Reagan is basic Conservatism 101 which believes, what? The best in everybody. It does not look across a room of people with contempt. It does not look and see incompetence. It doesn't see black, white, male, female, gay, straight. It sees human beings.

Conservatism sees Americans, sees potential, sees great opportunity, sees an opportunity for people to be the best they can be using whatever ambition and desire they have. Reaganism conservatism does not need to be adapted to issues of the day. There's no such thing as the conservative version of Big Government. That is a sellout of conservatism. What we need to stand true on -- We have to have the courage to continue to teach people that sometimes the way they're going and the way they're voting is not good for them, not good for their family, not good for the country. It may feel good at the moment. It's always going to be a battle. I forget who said this, but it's true. Any group of two people or more, any organization that is not, by definition, conservative, will be liberal. Because liberalism is the most gutless choice you can make. Liberalism's following a cult figure. Liberalism is following a demagogue. Liberalism is doing whatever thinking -- you have to do anything with a liberal, you just have to think in a way that makes yourself feel good. Walk outside the hotel tonight. See a couple homeless people on the grate and go, "Oh, that's so bad. Wow, am I a great person, I care." Yeah? What did you do for them? Well nothing, but I care. Yeah, well where's your homeless ribbon? I don't see it.  Conservative looks at them and says, "What can we do about this? That's unacceptable. What can we do about it?" We have to come up with solutions. Liberals don't. All we have to do is make people think they care. And all liberals apparently have to do is sound intelligent while they don't know diddly-squat.

You know, we do have a problem. This is a media age. And we need, this is what's so great about Fred. Fred, Senator, that night, the Wednesday night at the Convention was the highlight of the Republican Party this year. You. Stand up. Because that's the night that the McCain campaign gave to us Senator Thompson. Rudy Giuliani was on fire. I mean, having more fun laughing about community organizing. That was just the whole night. It was so great that I actually -- I didn't have anybody's e-mail address on the campaign because I don't presume -- I would never presume to tell them what to do, just as I don't really like people telling me how to do my radio show. I'm the expert. And I've not run a campaign. So I don't try to find out who these people are and stay in touch with them and so forth. But on this one occasion, I called Mary Matalin and said can you get me so and so's e-mail address. I just want to send an e-mail. So she got it for me. And I sent an e-mail.  I said, "Please, please, it's one night. Just one night. Please on Thursday night do not -- do not have Senator McCain talk about working with Democrats, please? It will destroy everything that happened on Wednesday night." And of course on Thursday night we got, "And I can work with Democrats." So, how many times have you heard Barney Frank or Chris Dodd or Harry Reid or Pelosi or Ted Kennedy or whoever the hell else campaign on the basis they can work with us? How many of them go out -- Why are we so damned defensive that we think the American people have to -- We can work with these schlubs. I don't like being on defense all the time. And that's why I don't like what's going on with this bailout stuff, watching serious American businessmen and others kowtowing to these Little Lord Fauntleroys. Anyway, folks, we have -- I know you got to go. You've been sitting here a long time. I have to fly back to Florida.

Seriously, with the security guy I have tonight, it will be an hour and a half before I get back to Dulles. Actually, it is my regular security guy. And I am always using him in Washington because I'm immensely safe. He looks just like Stalin. Larry, come stand here on the steps.  No, come stand here on the steps. Come stand here on the steps. Come stand on the steps.  There you go. I tell you, New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, walk with him and you're safe.  In fact, they want your autograph. Anyway, we've got, I think, a challenge. There will be little meetings. You know, the smartest people in the room on our side will have these little meetings and these little hideaways, they're going to discuss what went wrong and how to fix it and so forth. The answer's right in front of us. The blueprint's there. We don't have to reinvent who we are. We just need the courage to once again be who we were.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.


Book/CDs by Michael E. Eidenmuller, Published by McGraw-Hill (2008)

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