February 28, 2009
He's added a few pounds since the last time he appeared in a national telecast, but Rush Limbaugh was just as energetic as ever in his speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, CPAC 2009. Since the November 2008 elections, he is considered by many people to be the de factor leader of the Republican Party or the Conservative Movement, and he did little to dispel that notion. At a time when the nation stands on the brink of a fateful, one-way "transformation" into European-style social democracy (or something very close to it), Limbaugh was at once upbeat and yet deadly serious about the threat to freedom. He explained his controversial statement that he hopes President Obama fails, and while I don't share his attitude on this, I understand it to some extent, at least.
Indeed, Republicans currently face an anguishing dilemma between showing loyalty to the Chief Executive during his "honeymoon" period and being faithful to their philosophical principles. It is one of those times when prudence and the national interest clash with ideology -- whether Right or Left. Obama is aware of the GOP dilemma, and is exploiting it to the max with his "audacious" economic recovery program, putting the onus on the minority party for failing to follow his lead. The present economic crisis carries with it clear implications for national security, since we are deeply indebted to the Red Chinese, and at times like this dissent can be seen as equivalent to treason. CPAC is a convocation of high-spirited true believers (the "grass roots"), not a group of policy-making elites. Speeches made to such an assembly must therefore be taken with a grain of salt.
I was hoping Rush would say something about the need for the conservative movement to engage in critical thinking and dialogue, and to resist the tendency to excoriate anyone who strays from the True Path. The Conservative Movement at present is sadly afflicted with a sociological pathology (the "paranoid style" of pseudoconservatives) that dooms it to minority status for the time being. Rush Limbaugh has unique attributes as a rhetorician, enjoying deep respect and affection across the right side of the political spectrum. If he can't get the "troops" out of their dogmatic rut and begin to welcome new allies into their ranks, nobody can. In that case, the Right would remain too weak to prevent our headlong descent into the hell of socialism and statist conformity.