From Mother Jones, 23 years ago.
Wizard of OozeRush Limbaugh energized 20 million voters with rock ‘n’ roll and bad-boy jokes. Now he’s recalibrated his act, becoming more political, strategic–and dangerous....If you’re skeptical, too, talk to the 73 Republican freshmen. They attribute their stunning victory to Rush Limbaugh, citing polls that show people who listen to talk radio 10 hours or more per week voted Republican 3-to-1.
Limbaugh is the national precinct captain for the Republican Party. And he works the precinct hard, five days a week, three hours a day. Like an electronic ward boss, Limbaugh explains the issues, offers the conservative GOP spin, rallies the faithful, and turns out the voters. It is a virtuoso performance, his harangue leavened by bursts of rock ‘n’ roll, bad-boy jokes, and moments of self-deprecating humor. It was no mistake that the Republican freshmen anointed Rush the “majority-maker” and inducted him as an honorary member of the 104th Congress at their orientation last December.
Another guy who started out in radio, Ronald Reagan, recognized Limbaugh’s importance back in 1992, when he declared Rush “the number one voice for conservatism in our country.” But the Democrats have been in denial. Before the Republican landslide last November, Democratic strategists shrugged off Limbaugh’s clout. “People who listen to the radio in the morning are normal people,” declared Clinton political adviser Paul Begala. “People who listen to Limbaugh in the afternoon are has-been, shut-in malcontents. I don’t pay much attention to right-wing, foam-at-the-mouth radio because they just talk to each other. It’s 20 million people telling each other how they hate Hillary.” It’s also 20 million voters, energized and mobilized by Mr. Limbaugh, as a chastened Begala discovered.
Liberals and progressives have consistently misunderstood, ignored, and underestimated Rush Limbaugh and his 20 million fans. That’s fine, if you don’t mind waking up one day to find Phil Gramm in the White House and an occupying army of Newts on Capitol Hill. But if Democrats and what’s left of the Left have any intention of getting back in the game, their first step must be an accurate, clear-eyed assessment of Mr. Bombast and his loyal dittoheads....
Because the forces of Republican barbarism and sedition were not smothered in the cradle, we woke up to find Dick Cheney in the White House.
Then we woke up to find the Party of Jefferson Davis had run the Stars-and-Bars up over Congress and had declared Total War on the first black President.
Then we woke up to find a lying, racist con man Russian puppet in the White House. A gibbering Birther imbecile whose only qualification for public office was his mastery of the 100-word Gingrich/Limbaugh slandernuking vocabulary of unfettered bile and bullshit, and who now has the entire Republican Party kneeling before him.
And now that our media is being overrun with paid professional Conservatives who are trafficking in nostalgia for the Fake Republican Good Old Days and barbering the shit out of their resumes to pretend they are shocked and mortified by the behavior of President Stupid and his Pet Congress, let all of us Libtard pariahs dare to remember what the Republican Party has really been like lo' these many decades.
Let us dare to remember that 25 years of the mainstream media drilling core samples into the reprogrammable meatbag Republican base looking for gold has taught us absolutely nothing that every Liberal in America didn't already know:
“The typical Limbaugh listener is a white male, suburbanite, conservative,” says Times-Mirror pollster Andrew Kohut. “Better-than-average job, but not really a great job. Frustrated with the system, with the way the world of Washington works. Frustrated by cultural change. Maybe threatened by women.”...If there is a quintessential Limbaugh listener, we found him in suburban Atlanta: a 33-year-old mortgage banker named B.J. Van Gundy. A graduate of Georgia Tech, a former bartender, Catholic, married, Van Gundy is a fiscal conservative who doesn’t want the Republican Party to get bogged down in battles over abortion or school prayer. He’s earnest, opinionated. He’s comfortable in his business suit, regularly whips out his cellular phone, and drives a Jeep Cherokee with a bumper sticker that reads: “Visualize No Liberals.”Like all dittoheads, Van Gundy grimaces at the notion that he is the member of a cult. “Do I look robotic to you?” he asks. Well, a bit stiff perhaps, but a robot, no. “I think most of us out here listening to Rush like what he says because we already think these things. He’s just incredible at saying it.”
Let us dare to remember that all of today's Sunshine Patriot #NeverTrump Republicans were only too happy to bend over and grab their ankles for Limbaugh and Gingrich back when opposing the rising tide of yahoo fascism in their party might actually have made a difference.
The transformation began in 1992 when the Bush campaign was shocked to learn how much political weight Limbaugh could throw around. In the New Hampshire primary, Rush endorsed Pat Buchanan, and the hard-line conservative scored 37 percent of the vote. The scared Bush team quickly invited Rush to spend the night at the White House and to join Marilyn Quayle in the vice president’s box at the GOP convention in Houston....
Even Rush could not save Bush. But after Clinton’s victory, when conservatives were dispirited and leaderless, Rush played a crucial role, offering an optimistic voice that promised a conservative backlash. “I’ll never forget those dreary, dark, depressing, despondent days after that defeat in 1992,” recalls Bush’s political director, Mary Matalin. “All we had to hold us together was Rush Limbaugh. And I can remember sitting in my apartment, by myself, day after day, for weeks on end, and [listening to Rush’s radio program] was a centerpiece of my day.” Matalin, who now hosts her own cable TV talk show, says Limbaugh was the “only voice in that huge defeat, in the arrogance of the Clintonistas rushing into town, that really kept us collected.”
William Buckley’s National Review proclaimed Rush “the leader of the opposition.” It wasn’t long before Newt Gingrich took notice, and he and Rush teamed up to become a heavyweight tag team body slamming the Democrats....
Let us dare to remember that Republicans obstructing and filibustering vital legislation for no reason other than to fuck over Liberals and kick the poor and powerless in the throat is nothing new at all:
As Mother Jones first reported, Newt conspired to crush Clinton’s lobby reform bill. At the 11th hour, Gingrich suddenly objected to language in the bill that he himself had added, declaring that it would muzzle grassroots activists. He then faxed Limbaugh, who dutifully warned his dittoheads that the lobby bill was a plot to stifle free speech. By the next morning, congressional phones were ringing off the hook. A Republican filibuster in the Senate finally killed the bill...
When the Clintons unveiled their health care plan and dispatched a bus tour across the country to rally support, Limbaugh and other conservative talk show hosts put their listeners on red alert...
Similarly, Rush ambushed the president’s crime bill, which had seemed a sure winner. When Limbaugh denounced it as “social pork,” Republican strategist Bill Kristol was delighted. He furiously faxed memos to congressional Republicans, urging them to create gridlock and deny the Democrats any legislative victories during the ’94 campaign.
“I don’t think in the old days we would have had much of a chance,” admits Kristol. “The president of the United States said it was a crime bill. A fair number of state and local officials liked it because they got money from it. But Rush Limbaugh and several others were able to label it as pork.”...
Let us dare to remember the past as it really was, and speak the truth about it however and whenever we can.
Behold, a Tip Jar!