RUSH: While I was gone, I noticed something. With all these Republican candidates for president — you have Giuliani; you have Romney who got in today. McCain. I can’t even remember them all. There’s a distinct effort, there’s a big move underway now to redefine conservatism in a way that fits the candidacy of one or the other of these candidates. They are conflating electability with a serious discussion of conservatism. Much of it’s coming from the New York and DC elite. It reached its zenith with a column from George Will that I saw Sunday, in which there’s a big swipe taken at Reaganism and that conservatives’ view of Reaganism is a waste of time, that Reagan was one man at one time and never will be again.
It’s a stunning, stunning piece — and all these things together amused me, because have you ever seen liberalism wring its hands and try to redefine itself to fit one particular candidate? Liberals don’t make excuses for who they are. They do their best to hide who they are, and they do their best to camouflage who they are with different names (like “progressives” or “moderates” or what have you), but they never have any serious disagreements over the fundamental principles of liberalism. Yet here we go with the people on the conservative side now trying to fit each one of these candidates into what is a conservative by redefining conservatism to fit the candidate, and this is important to me because it ought to be the other way around. If conservatives are serious about a conservative candidate, then the candidate ought to have to be conservative, not the other way around, and I see that happening.
RUSH: Beth in Kansas City, Missouri, you’re next on the EIB Network. Hello.
CALLER: Hey, Rush.
CALLER: I am a very unique animal. I am a 40-some-year-old woman. I’ve never voted Democrat in my life, so I really don’t care what Obama or Hillary has to say. However, Mitt Romney today announced his candidacy for president, and I was wondering, “Is he going to follow in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan and be a good conservative?”
RUSH: Well, I’ll tell you what. Let’s listen to his announcement, because we happen to have that here and we can also show you what MSNBC did in following his announcement. So you hang on here, Beth, and we’ll go through this together. This is this morning in Dearborn, Michigan. Romney made this announcement as part of his “I’m in” thing.
ROMNEY: I love America and I believe in the people of America. I believe in God, and I believe that every person in this great country and every person on this great planet is a child of God. I believe that we’re all sisters and brothers. I believe that the family is the foundation of America and that it needs to be protected and strengthened. I believe in the sanctity of human life. I believe that people and their elected representatives should make the laws, not unelected judges. I believe that we’re overtaxed and government is overfed. Washington is spending too much money! (Cheers.) I believe that homeland security begins with securing our borders, and I believe that our best days are before us, because I believe in America.
RUSH: (mimicking audience reaction) Yay! Bravo! Bravo! What do you think of that, Beth?
CALLER: Well, it seems good, but is there any follow-up to that?
RUSH: What do you mean, is there any follow-up?
CALLER: Well, has he proven in the past that what he says… that he walks the walk? I’m from Missouri. So you have to show me.
RUSH: He’s like a lot of the Republicans are in the race. He used to believe certain things at one time and has now switched his mind on them. Some of the social conservative issues, like abortion, he was of one mind and changed his mind later — and the people that believe in Romney are saying, “Reagan used to be a Democrat and became a Republican. It happens.” So Giuliani’s people are out putting forth the message, “Hey, I do have these things in my r?sum?, being somewhat liberal on the social side of things, but I’m for the judges and I think abortion ought to be decided by the people,” and so forth. All of the candidates except McCain are doing what they can — and McCain is a different animal here, but all of them have tried to moderate their past and meld their past into a current mold of conservatism.
CALLER: What about fiscally? Will he be a fiscal conservative?
RUSH: Yeah, he’s got a pretty good fiscal conservative record. He does. I want you to listen to MSNBC, though, dice and slice this. This is Chip Reid after the announcement, and he was talking with Ana Marie Cox of TIME Magazine and this is how that exchange went.
CHIP REID: He’s barely out of the starting block so I’m going to go right for his knees.
CHIP REID: Number one: he’s a Mormon —
CHIP REID: — and evangelicals have a problem with it.
CHIP REID: Number two: he’s a flip-flopper.
CHIP REID: He was pro-choice and he was to the left of Ted Kennedy —
CHIP REID: — on gay rights —
CHIP REED: — in Massachusetts, and now he’s to the far right. Uh, and he has no foreign policy experience. How does he stand a chance?
RUSH: Now, you didn’t hear any of that — there was none of that — in following up after Barack Obama made his announcement for example.
RUSH: This is just what happens. Look… (Sigh.) I don’t know how to tell you this. I am just not into it yet. This stuff is all going to shake out, and I’ve not studied enough of these people to tell you which one of them is a better conservative, better on this issue or that. It’s what I was trying to say earlier. I think what troubles me is that all of these candidates, by their supporters, are being molded into, “Well, he can be a conservative — and he, and he, and he! Rudy, he can be conservative, and Mitt can be a conservative!” To be conservative is to be conservative, and frankly, folks, I’m going to tell you: there’s not a full-fledged, pure conservative out there in the race as of now. So the chosen candidate is going to be a compromise.
CALLER: I need to just keep listening to you, and as things happen, not only will I watch and wait, but I’ll listen.
RUSH: Well, but feel free to make up your own mind.
CALLER: Oh, don’t worry. I will.
RUSH: Well, as a woman, I know you will.
RUSH: But I appreciate the confidence that you vest in me to tell you what to think. It’s well-placed, and I will do my best to earn that as I have over the past 18-1/2 years. Folks, don’t misunderstand me on this. This may seem like a small thing to some of you, but it seems to me that there’s a big move underway now to redefine conservatism. For example, I’m not going to give a name, but let’s say there’s a so-called Republican candidate who is not really conservative when it comes to fiscal issues. Well, the tendency is to say, “Eh, he’s a good conservative,” because we the supporters of these candidates want to fit them into conservatism in such a way that conservatism has to be redefined in order to accommodate the so-called conservatism of the candidate. What’s happening here is that people are looking at these different candidates and they’re looking at “electability,” and they’re conflating that with a serious discussion of conservatism.
Now, look, you can back a candidate without pretending that they are true conservatives — and that’s what’s going to have to happen in this race. But I am not going to sit here — as I’ve done in the past and made mistakes, I am not going to sit here — and tell you candidate A is conservative if I don’t think he is. I’m not going to create a bunch of false hopes and images so that when these guys behave as they are, in ways which are not conservative… I don’t want people to be surprised. We have made that mistake in the past, and it’s time to stop making the mistake, and the mistake is made by people of good intentions who know conservatism is an important factor in primaries and the supporters of these candidates all want their candidates to win, and so we redefine conservatism to fit whatever characteristics the candidate has. I’m just telling you: that I’m not going to. One of these guys is going to end up being the preferred candidate. I’m going to be making a choice between one of these guys. I don’t know when. But I’m not going to tell you the choice has been made on the basis that “this is the conservative in the race!” if I don’t think the guy is — pure and simple, which is all I’m saying.
In addition to all that, it’s so soon here that there’s plenty of time for some shaking out to occur, and it’s just way too soon to get behind anybody. I don’t know how else to say it other than that. I’ll think of different ways to illustrate the point as we go on here, but as I’ve said, there’s so much out there that’s going to happen that we can’t predict. You have potential dark horses that are going to come out of nowhere like Jimmy Carter did for the Democrats in 1976. Who knows? You could have Duncan Hunter come out of nowhere. Newt Gingrich can pop out of nowhere and start dazzling people left and right as a full-fledged candidate. Who knows? It’s still so, so early. In this presidential race, the earliness is going to end up being a detriment to this whole thing because people are going to be fed up with the presidential race before it actually ever gets started — and I am going to try to see to it that at least you people on this show are not fed up with it, because we’re not going to get on board and start it now as though it’s the most important thing we face, because it isn’t.
RUSH: Let me see if I can build on this point I’m trying to make about “redefining conservatism” so that it fits a particular candidate, which I think is bad news and is unnecessary. We’re never going to get to where we need to be with situational politics. By situational politics I mean taking somebody who’s not a conservative and calling them a conservative because they’re “close enough,” and in the process we’re redefining conservatism. That’s — for those of us who believe in conservatism anyway, for the long haul that’s — not good. We water it down. It’s something the libs never, ever do. They don’t destroy their icons. They don’t try to redefine liberal. They’ve got a great scam going. They know they all are full-fledged, 100%, Grade A libs. Their only trick is to try to convince as many people out there as possible that they’re not that, but they don’t. You take a look at anybody. Look at Bob Casey, the former governor of Pennsylvania who was pro-life. They wouldn’t let him into their convention. There’s no tolerance for the non-lib in the Democrat Party or in the, quote, unquote, “liberal movement,” but we conservatives, we’ll water it down or whatever to let some candidate in who’s not a full-fledged conservative.
Like Romney is arguing that he fits into the traditional conservative mold including his conversion on abortion. McCain and Rudy are trying to redefine conservatism to accommodate their views, while they both are modifying their own positions to move right to some extent. McCain’s potential fatal decision was to side with the DC liberals and the media against his own party for so many years as a means of drawing attention to himself. In the process, he was running for president then rather than the GOP nomination. He thought he could double back, and after he had gotten the approval of the DC Dems and the media, that he could double back and get the Republican base and the nomination. But what’s going to happen is that the DC Democrats and the media elite will discard him and they’ve already begun to do so faster than he can sneeze. One reason right now that Rudy has an upper hand on McCain is that he has spent the last few years campaigning for conservatives, and he’s been helping to rebuild the Republican Party’s coffers, but he has been out there working for conservatives. That’s not the only reason, but that’s important to party types who have a great deal of influence on delegate selection by the time you get to the convention.
Rudy has simply been a much better Republican than McCain has. In a recent column, George Will called Rudy a conservative. In a column that ran Sunday, he says that Reagan really wasn’t — or that Reagan was a once-in-a-lifetime thing that we’re never going to have again. I’ve got that column in the stack, and I didn’t get to it today, but I will hopefully later in the week, because it’s really fascinating in a whole bunch of different ways and I want to dissect it and break it down for you. There’s too much argument — even in conservatism right now, there are arguments among people who want to be the leaders of the conservative movement — over what is a conservative, and all these allowances for (sigh) the less-than-ideal conservative or the less-than-pure conservative, are being made, on the assumption it’s the best we can get, and that’s just something you never see the left doing. Look, when it came time, they nominated John Kerry. You can’t get any more liberal in every which way: dour, sour, anti-America, hates the country, willing to protest the country. All this stuff they were putting out there, and they thought because he wore a military uniform could fool people and get elected.