Summary: Ron Paul and David Shuster of MSNBC Discuss Rush Limbaugh's Role in the GOP posted on YouTube March 3rd, 2009
DS: Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is the latest in the long line of republicans who felt compelled to apologize to Limbaugh after criticizing him. Over the weekend, Steele called Limbaugh an entertainer and incendiary. Last night Steele apologized and backpedaled hard. Quote. “My intent was not to go after Rush. I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh. I was maybe a little bit inarticulate. There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership.” Today Steele says he spoke with Limbaugh and added quote “We’re all good.” Texas Congressman and former presidential candidate Ron Paul joins us now live from Washington. And Congressman, let’s get right to the heart of this. Rush Limbaugh said the following. Quote. “The dirty little secret is that every republican in this country wants Obama to fail but none of them have the guts to say so. Congressman Paul, do you and every republican want President Obama to fail?
RP: No. I don’t even think of it in those terms. I want nobody to have credibility on bad ideas. If they’re promoting socialism and welfareism and totalitarianism and foreign intervention, I I don’t want that to be successful. But I want the message to be that liberty works. Free markets work. Sound money works. And therefore I take it out of the context of personality. I think the personalities are irrelevant. It’s only the issues that count. It’s only the ideas that count. It’s our philosophy that count. And I’ve been wanting to make the case…
DS: Well, fair point. But let’s just be absolutely clear. So when Rush Limbaugh says that every republican wants Obama to fail, are you willing to take this opportunity to say on that point, and even that very narrow point if you want, Rush Limbaugh is wrong.
RP: No. But I’d be quite willing to say that when you hear Obama say that what his goals are, I want him to be successful.
DS: I’m asking about Rush Limbaugh.
RP: Well, I don’t even think about him because I don’t…
DS: //laughs// Congressman, we’re thinking about him right now. Everybody’s thinking about…why is it so difficult, why is it so difficult to say, “Hey, when Rush Limbaugh says…” Look, we can all agree or disagree that maybe the President’s policies are destined to fail. That’s a point of view. But when Rush Limbaugh says, “ I want President Obama to fail.” Why can’t republicans say, “Rush Limbaugh is wrong when he says that.”
RP: Well, I think a few has. And I think it’s a matter of semantics. And I think we dwell too much on the semantics rather than dealing with the real issues. Why don’t we ask questions like I’d like to, you know, if I had a reasonable intellectual debate with Rush Limbaugh, I would ask him, “Why doesn’t he stand up more for civil liberties? Why doesn’t he explain why he doesn’t supp”…you know, he has supported the Patriot Act. Why does he not…
DS: Congressman, that’s such a great point. And I think you would win. You would win that argument. But here’s my point. How can we have that argument when even you, Ron Paul, are not willing to take this opportunity to say, “When Rush Limbaugh says that every republican wants President Obama to fail, Rush Limbaugh is wrong.” How can we have the next conversation if you’re not willing to have that first one?
RP: Well, because you want to control the semantics and the definitions, yes, he’s wrong. If he doesn’t have the same understanding as somebody else, then he’s absolutely wrong. And you can’t put your definition on a particular word about failure. I want those goals to be successful yet I don’t want his philosophy to be successful. So it’s two different things. And you know in the media you like to personalize and have a fight going on. And that’s the way politics works. But I would much rather talk about why Rush Limbaugh doesn’t support my position on looking onto the Federal Reserve and being able to audit the Federal Reserve. Now that’s an important issue. Not whether or not I can say something that is confrontational to Rush Limbaugh. I think philosophically, I have confrontation because I was disappointed with Rush because he is a good conservative. Yet he never said hardly “boo” against George Bush. He supported all that big spending. Did he complain about George Bush? Did he complain about all those wars that were going on that caused us so much trouble? So that’s the kind of issues that I wanna talk about. And I will be quite willing to challenge Rush Limbaugh on those issues. But, just to pick out a word or two and say, “He is wrong.” I don’t think that solves any problem.
DS: Well, here’s a related issue. In terms of solving problems, including these very important issues that you raised, is Rush Limbaugh the head of the republican party right now?
RP: No. No. I mean I don’t know…
DS: He’s not?
RP: How could he be a head of a party? I mean, he has a lot to say and…
DS: When republicans are so quick to apologize to him as Michael Steele has, when Senator Barasso was on air last night…wasn’t even willing to say that Rush Limbaugh’s wrong. He wouldn’t go as far as you have. It just seems, Congressman, like so many republicans are terrified of Rush Limbaugh. We’re just trying to explore that.
RP: Well, he’s very influential. But they shouldn’t be terrified of him. Why should they be? But they don’t have any answers. They don’t have an explanation on why the party is shrinking and how you can reach out, how you can reach people who care about personal liberties, how we can take our philosophy and translate it into real policy. We talk about personal liberties and balanced budgets. The republican party lost credibility because it didn’t do any of that. It violated the privacy of individuals. It flaunted the spending and ran up these huge deficits, got us into wars that are not winnable. And those are the real issues. That’s why it’s been translated into personality squabbles and who’s running what because they’re really not talking about why the republican party is a minority party and why they lost. And I think as long as they do that, they’re not gonna solve their problem. And we will continue to dwell on Steele versus Rush Limbaugh. And, quite frankly, I don’t think that’s a relevant debate. I think the debate ought to be our foreign policy. Why don’t we have a foreign policy that of non-intervention? And why don’t we deal with the Federal Reserve?
DS: Congressman, you raise some very important and we always appreciate having you on. Good of you //cuts out//