By Kate Conway
There's nothing like a little self-congratulation to kick off your show, and Rush caves to the urge by telling us that he called it: Just as he predicted, the Associated Press has put out an analysis contrasting Obama's response to the earthquake in Haiti to Bush's response to Katrina. This is foreshadowing of Rush's defensive obsession with the media's coverage of Haiti that will persist throughout the first hour of his show.
Briefly, Rush turns to the Massachusetts Senate race, gleefully noting a Washington Examiner column by Byron York that reports Martha Coakley trailing Scott Brown in the polls.
Rush calls for paternalistic programs to alter the culture in Haiti
Returning to the topic of Haiti, Rush responds to the allegation that he discouraged donations to the stricken country, saying that he only meant to discourage people from donating through the government. However, the White House website is providing links to organizations like the Red Cross, not taking donations itself. Then, from the comfy monogrammed chair in his studio, Rush goes on to blast the slow pace at which aid is reaching Haiti:
LIMBAUGH: Sorry, folks, it already is. It's worse. The aid hasn't yet been distributed. Seventy-two hours, they said -- by the way, they were lying. Seventy-two hours, Bush dithered, didn't do anything. It's been 72 hours. If you were watching Sky News -- I was watching Sky News streaming video. It is an utter catastrophe. Sky News discussing Haiti as utter pandemonium. Sky News showing people screaming, at the top of the hour, “We need help. We're getting nothing. We're going to die.” People were not even buried under concrete in New Orleans.
Seventy-two hours is the benchmark. So, if they're going to say Bush dithered for 72 hours, Obama certainly has made a lot of speeches, he's made a lot of comments, and we've seen pictures of airplanes landing and so forth. We've seen a lot of pictures of the media standing around down there, but in terms of the aid being distributed, you can't tell that it's happened yet. And not that it won't. But I'm just saying keep this in context here. They're building a case that Bush screwed around and dithered and Obama is on the case.
His primary point, which he harps on throughout the show, is that the media coverage of Haiti is being distorted into an unfair comparison to Bush's response to Katrina. To this end, he claims that federal response to Katrina was not, in fact, botched, and that “local Democrats” were responsible for preventing federal aid from reaching those in New Orleans. To support his conclusion of media bias, he reads extensively from the AP article, headlined “Analysis: Obama heeding lessons of Katrina.”
While he's on the topic, Rush finds time to throw in a falsehood, saying that Obama wants to eliminate the tax-deductible status of donations and predicting that this will decrease the amount of donations. He then suggests that Obama's response to Haiti is “about domestic U.S. politics” and calls the U.S. military “Meals on Wheels” :
LIMBAUGH: So, President Obama was quick to claim that it cost U.S. taxpayers a billion dollars for every 1,000 soldiers sent to Afghanistan, remember this? And he has yet to mention how much it costs to send a soldier to Haiti. He has not -- he didn't fact-- it didn't even matter to him. But it was a factor in sending soldiers to Afghanistan. That's about U.S. national security.
This is about domestic U.S. politics. Haiti is about domestic U.S. politics, in addition to the humanitarian effort that is behind this. By the -- of course, we are not suggesting that we shouldn't send soldiers to Haiti. Do not misunderstand. But why is there no concern about the cost from the White House, when there was so much concern about Afghanistan? After all, isn't the job of the U.S. military, first and foremost, to protect the national security and interests of the United States? No, it's not. The U.S. military is now Meals on Wheels. It always is with Democrat presidents.
As evidence that Haiti is being politicized, Rush repeatedly reads a number of gruesome headlines about the destruction there before returning to the subject of donations. He reads from a New York Times column by David Brooks, which he claims says “the same thing” he said about the inefficiencies of making donations to Haiti. The piece draws a comparison between sending aid to Haiti and our domestic war on poverty. Rush takes this and runs with it, suggesting that the money we put toward ending poverty is largely ineffective and that our back pockets are being “looted” for the purpose of redistribution of wealth. Echoing the column, Rush says that the only way to end poverty is through intrusive paternalistic programs that forcibly change cultural factors that keep a population in dire straits.
Closing out the hour on a hiatus from Haiti, Rush levels some familiar attacks against Obama and the Democrats, accusing Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid of radicalizing the party with the objective of creating a permanent welfare state. He compares Bush's failed initiative to reform Social Security to health care reform, saying that similarly low rates of approval on those two efforts mean that the country has essentially voted on health care and that Obama should “drop his ego” and apologize.
Rush's media tweak of the day: A discussion of whether to euthanize Haitians
To kick off hour two, Rush reports Obama has been asked to write a cover story on Haiti for Newsweek on Haiti, to which Rush responds, “Separation of church and state, anybody?” He returns to this later in the third hour, asking why Newsweek didn't ask Obama to weigh in on a story they had been working about on Google in China and then slinging another accusation that Obama is using the earthquake to “burnish” his image.
Continuing to attack Obama but shifting focus, Rush reads from a report by Charlie Cook saying that Obama made a “colossal miscalculation” by focusing on health care instead of the economy. Contrasting Obama's performance to Clinton's 1992 campaign promise to focus on the economy “like a laser beam,” Rush snarkily says that what Obama has done is screwed up the economy like a laser beam. He goes on to explain to us that Obama has failed on the economy and unemployment as well as on health care ,which, confusingly, seems to be what Rush wanted:
LIMBAUGH: I wanted him to fail implementing his agenda so this would not happen. And everybody at the time knew what I meant. I wanted him to fail. I want him to fail on health care, 'cause I want the health care system to remain the best in the world.
On the subject of the proposed excise tax on health insurance plans, which he refers to as the unions' “Cadillac” tax, Rush misleads his listeners. He notes that collective bargaining contracts are exempt from the tax until 2018 but ignores reports that the extension is to allow unions and businesses that have multiyear collective-bargaining agreements time to renegotiate their health care agreements. He goes on to claim that at the end of this period, the exemption will be extended once again, and then suggests that the purpose of this tax is to get employers to quit offering insurance to drive everyone to the public option.
Rush returns to Haiti and to his complaints that Obama isn't getting aid to the Haitians, all the while defensively claiming that he's not criticizing Obama; rather, he's simply responding to media reports. Reading from an article posted on Sphere.com about Haitians waiting desperately for aid, he claims that he just wants to combat the perception that Obama is doing better with Haiti than Bush did with Katrina.
At this point in the broadcast, Rush delivers his “media tweak of the day,” which appears to be a mechanism whereby he says something upsetting or offensive and then claims that it's not upsetting or offensive because his primary purpose is to irritate the media. This time, Rush decides it's appropriate to joke about euthanizing victims in Haiti for the stated purpose of irritating the media.
LIMBAUGH: And, yes, I meant to say it. Will somebody ask Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, who is Rahm's brother and one of the lead White House people on health care, whether they're planning cost-benefit considerations for each Haiti victim? Will they consider age, potential contribution to society, all the other factors that we are assured are not death-panel guidelines in our own health care system? And this rescue, however compassionate, should have at least the same transparency that Obama promised for our health care.
And remember, he told a woman about her 93-year-old mother, “No, no, we probably wouldn't give her a pacemaker. Give 'em a pill.” How many Haitians will we decide to give a pill? A legitimate question.
Limbaugh: Calling Colin Powell “Benedict Powell” is “apt”
Rush turns his attentions the Republican Party and finds a convenient opportunity to pat himself on the back. Recalling that a year ago, some were saying that the best way for the Republican Party to survive was to become moderate, Rush praises his own insistence that the GOP get back to basics, reassert conservative principles, and push back against moderate Republicans. Arguing against the idea that there is no difference between Republicans and Democrats, Rush points out that Republicans consistently voted against health care reform and insists that this is evidence of the ascendency of conservatism.
Forgetting earlier right-wing outrage over a MoveOn.org ad calling Gen. David Petraeus “General Betray Us,” Rush closes out the hour by referring to a caller's comparison between Gen. Colin Powell and Benedict Arnold as “an apt comparison” :
LIMBAUGH: “Benedict Powell” did you say? Did I hear that correctly?
CALLER: Yes, sir.
LIMBAUGH: As in Benedict Arnold?
CALLER: Yes, sir. The same --
LIMBAUGH: That's because -- voting and endorsing Obama, you mean?
CALLER: Yes, sir.
LIMBAUGH: As the quintessential Republican we should all model ourselves after.
CALLER: Well, just like Benedict Arnold was a hero until he didn't get enough attention, and then he switched sides.
LIMBAUGH: Ooh. That's exactly right. And an apt comparison.
Rush compares taxing the wealthy to punishing a child for getting good grades
Bringing to a head his earlier obsessing over whether Obama will go to Massachusetts, Rush returns to the topic with vigor in the third hour. He muses over Obama's “failures,” noting in particular Obama's trip to Copenhagen to support the U.S. Olympic bid, and speculates that if Obama goes to Massachusetts, it will be to mobilize the black or urban vote.
Bringing up the proposed tax on the biggest banks, Rush again advances a dubious claim that the tax will increase ATM fees.
Continuing to rail against taxation in general, Rush compares taxing the wealthy to punishing a child for getting good grades:
LIMBAUGH: There are ways out of this, but everyone seems just to be waiting for it all to collapse, like they've given up. There are ways out of this, and new taxes are not the answer. Here comes conservatism again in its ascendancy. Cut taxes, spur job growth -- revenue will soar. Cut taxes, incentivize investment. Don't punish achievement. Reward it.
Would you punish your kid for getting a good grade? Saying it's not fair you got an A and our neighbor's kid got a C, so you're both gonna get Bs. Would you do that? Would you punish your own kid? Why do we sit by and let successful people get punished because they've succeeded? Reward it. Incentivize it. And then get out of the way for all the jobs created and all the revenue flowing into federal, state, and city coffers, because tax revenue will be up.
Forgetting that correlation does not imply causation, Rush reports on a study posted at American Thinker that connects high rates of cancer to votes for Al Gore. I don't think we need to point out the obvious flaws in this study. Neither did Rush.
Rush closes out the show by warning us to watch out for The Boston Globe, which he predicts will publish a weekend hit piece on Brown.
Zachary Pleat and Michael Timberlake contributed to this edition of the Limbaugh Wire.