Don’t lie. At one point or another you have had a dream of Rush Limbaugh either running for, or acting as President. Admit it. Granted, the spike in this role playing fantasy came watching the inept or toothless response to media tidal waves during the Dan Quayle, Bob Dole and John McCain nightmares – but just once, we would love to see Rush Limbaugh dismember Brian Williams or Katie Couric on a Sunday morning news show, or better yet, during a White House press conference.
I will keep the intimacies of my own phantasms private but suffice it to say in the wee hours of the morning it suddenly dawned on me:
Newt Gingrich is the closest thing we will ever see to a President Limbaugh.
I know, I know, it’s a stretch, right? But wait. Both men would cringe at the thought as I explain below. And, to listen to some conservatives (like George Will) who think Newt is the new anti-conservative, you would think Gingrich was Harry Reid with more fat and more hair. THAT is quite ridiculous without even looking at American Conservative Union ratings from 1998 especially comparing scores by Paul and Santorum. Newt is NOT as conservative as Rush, true. But, bear with me here as I recount the similarities and advantages of the two. They are more alike than just being two old, not-so-svelte white guys. How?
Weird Two Syllable last names. Ok, I admit I’m starting off slow to ease you into this but you have to admit. GingGRICH and Limbaugh (or Lim-boro as Sharpton calls him) ain’t Smith and Jones. The names also bring unflattering similarities to “Grinch” and “Limp” which makes me guess they were mercilessly teased in kindergarten. Both are now completely undeterred by bullies.
Liberals Love to Vilify Them. Those of us politically coherent in the 90’s will never forget the “Grinch that Stole Christmas” Newsweek cover or the artificially manufactured (and delayed) rage on Limbaugh’s McNabb comment on Monday Night Football. (Don’t get me started how the ESPN guys knew about college football child molestation charges and did nothing – but had the gall to banish Limbaugh on a factual comment that Shannon Sharpe agreed with charging it was racist.) Gingrich similarly got too powerful as speaker and the mainstream media (with complicit help from the GOP establishment) and had to run him out of town too. Something about these guys truly piss the liberal pundits off. And they are both continually blamed for “hate” in just portraying truth as in this NY Daily News piece. Piece of crap that is. Both are continually accused of lying and being callous when, in fact, it is honesty and a deep concern for others that drives them and allows them to excel in their endeavors.
Opponents Fear Them. Limbaugh has recounted numerous incidents where Democrats simply won’t appear on the same talk show with him. Gingrich is so intimidating it seems even Mitt Romney won’t risk a one on one debate with him let alone the main stream media talk shows who pass over him in favor of weaker “conservative” voices. Honestly I don’t blame them. That would be like trying to look good debating….PolitiJim. A truly terrorizing specter.
Amazing Recall and Depth of Knowledge. Mark Levin had Newt on his radio show this week and I sensed that Levin was heating up the tar and plucking feathers off of a Haitian chicken in questioning Gingrich on global warming. I don’t want to say the questions were pointed but Madonna never had a bra that peaky. I’m in the green technology business and have written how long it has taken us to figure out what the data REALLY says and my concern Newt is about 3 months behind the curve. He then blew me away (and I think Levin) with a detailed analysis of a Swiss report on heat escape variances not accounted for in climate models. Limbaugh similarly has an unbelievable knack at remembering positions of key liberals (and conservatives) from 20 years ago and connecting non-intuitive dots not just on hypocrisy, but on a underlying motivations and/or philosophical principles. One of the reasons we have longed for Limbaugh to run for an office – is to slice and dice the deceptive liberal arguments thrown at constantly “sprung” on conservatives like a caffeine cutting Ginsu chef at Benihana’s. I tweeted that after the first or second debate, Gingrich would jump 10 points in the polls if he promised to debate Obama. I guess the PolitiJim power is all pervasive in the blogosphere because the NEXT debate he did just that.
Educators. You would think a former professor and college drop out are more dissimilar than not. Newt taught History and Environmental Studies at West Georgia College for eight years before running for Congress. Limbaugh airs callers almost weekly who have a near religious conversion to conservatism, not spiritual – but intellectual. And Rush portrays his show not just as entertaining political talk, but quite accurately the “Limbaugh Institute of Advanced Conservative Studies.” Both are not just content to state a position, but to help their audience understand WHY that position is important and viable. I mentioned in How to Pick A GOP Candidate that this is one of the most overlooked values of Reagan that not only made him accessible and viable in getting elected, but that it was critical to his ability to continue pushing conservative policies and defending them against an unending stream of liberal attacks. It is what George Bush and Bob Dole did NOT have and the “communication thing”" cost them dearly. It is a rare gift they both share for sure.
Prolific Body of Work. Both are best selling authors and have always been in demand as public speakers. Limbaugh’s entertainment empire and communication giftings give him an edge on popularity although Newt is no slouch with 24 books and 15,000 speeches. What is interesting about written work from the Limbaugh Letter to Newt’s film on God in America, is that they are at a seriously scholarly depth of thought that is translated in ways the average Joe can understand.
Reagan and Conservative Revolution. Few remember that Gingrich would keep the CSPAN camera frame on fire into the wee hours of the morning as a minority member FOR YEARS challenging, prodding and pushing liberal think from the House floor. Ten years later Limbaugh did the same nationally from the radio waves. It can’t be underestimated what either of these men meant to the country, conservatism and each other in the Gingrich engineered Contract With America in 1994. Newt was rewarded as Speaker of the House and Rush was made an honorary member with the Freshman class. Both have been closely partnered and aligned with the Heritage Foundation and other major conservative forces often out of favor with the Republican establishment. It is pathetic how people attack Newt for being “establishment” not knowing his history of being marginalized years before he was Speaker by being kept off of key committees and later being sucker punched over the direction of the GOP in the waning Clinton years. Mainstream GOP leaders have called Limbaugh an “entertainer,” which of course, he is. An exceptional one. But it is an intentional deceit attempting to demean his true function as the conservative consciousness and compass for the cause of founding American liberty. And what is funny (as I discuss next in the conflict between he and Newt) is that they both are EQUALLY thought of as the voice of the Republican party, although liberals see Limbaugh clearly more so because of his daily platform. (Notice George W. Bush gets ZERO percent and Dick Cheney is only one point behind Newt & Rush. Amazing.)
With these similarities it is so strange that they have had quite a few public tiff’s and run-ins from time to time. Limbaugh was absolutely right in his chastisement of the Pelosi couch ad. Newt was absolutely correct that policy implemented in the Reagan era doesn’t address a myriad of other problems in this century. Limbaugh readily admits he manipulates “how” and “what” he says for entertainment and ratings. He even has a publicized media “tweak” and tells them he is doing it. I am not suggesting he changes his core beliefs, but he does get bent out of shape (or pretends to) when people react negatively to what he says. It’s great for Limbaugh’s ratings and his ability to purchase new Apple gadgets or cat toys, but sometimes harms the very cause he claims is important to him. It is Rush’s job to be entertaining. It’s Newt’s job to be smart and create policy. Is it really embracing Reagan’s 11th commandment and helping the conservative cause to criticize people like Newt who are peddling (as admitted by the liberal media) conservative policies? Limbaugh chides Gingrich:
'Well, what do we do, as conservatives? What do we do? How do we overcome this?' ... One thing we can all do is stop assuming that the way to beat them is with better policy ideas. [...]
Rush prefaces much of what he says about how he has supported and admired Gingrich back to the Reagan days AND EVEN ADMITS he is taking a guess at what Gingrich is saying that both the George W. Bush and Reagan era’s are over. Ironically – it’s the same problem Newt has in calling Rush “irrational” for hoping Obama fails. Newt didn’t listen to Rush’s show in context and Rush didn’t read Newt’s book for the same. We don’t need the liberal MSM or establishment to “like us” but with the exception of the Marxists, there are people on the left who can be silenced, if not won by arguments. When they think WE are all Boston Tea Party and no substantive policy, it doesn’t make for convincing the people in the middle in easier. Ironically, Rush and Newt are like an old married couple with hearing loss that are pulling an Emily Latella while trying to do much of the same thing. I suspect both subconsciously enjoy thinking themselves superior in thought to the other. And it suggests even a similar psychological motivation as well.
Personal Issues. I actually understand this part of both men very well. Multiple times divorced, yet deeply devoted to God, they are an enigma to the non-religious and the ultra-religious alike. Both didn’t hide their failings when embarrassed by them, but publicly denounced and repented from them for all the world to see. Ironically, the Clinton’s and Weiner’s (meaning two different guys not a redundant description of the same guy) only come clean when it is politically advantageous and even then, continue to make excuses for the underlying behavior. Both Newt and Rush use it to warn others and make it a private crusade to save others from the same traps. I don’t know either of these guys personally (yet) but it would seem like many a man of power, they both have had UFC cage match tournaments with “pride.” Both have had personal and public betrayals the likes that would embitter most, and yet their good humor and love for this country are unquestioned by all.
It’s true that Rush is likely more creative and Newt is more of a bookworm, but I think all of us would take a potion combining the best qualities of Rush Limbaugh as President with an eye of Newt.
And just for the sake of argument, could you imagine a Gingrich/Limbaugh ticket? Talk about entertainment. Just the heart attacks at MSNBC would be worth that.