On Monday, January 9th, Rush Limbaugh boldly proclaimed the demise of the Obama reign. “Of this I am as confident as anything,” he said. “I know it’s not reflected anywhere else in the media and it’s not reflected too many other places in conservative media, but I’m telling you he’s toast. Just as Jimmy Carter was toast, and nobody knew it until election night.” His idea of a victory? A 5-7 point spread in favor of the Republican.
Now, dear reader, I am obviously no Rush Limbaugh. I’ve been listening to his program regularly since about six months after it went national (more than twenty years ago). When it comes to conservative politics, Limbaugh almost always has his finger on the pulse of the American heartland. His oversized ego grates on me, but when it comes to politics he knows his business. Still, I think he’s overlooking something important, and making the same mistake as most of the GOP establishment players.
To understand his error, we need to review his show a few days later. On Friday, he revisted the same theme in a conversation with a caller from New Jersey. Any of the “potential” Republican nominees can handily beat Obama, he insisted. The caller, a man named Peter, was quick on his feet. “Oh, yeah … Ron Paul beats President Obama in a landslide?” Limbaugh’s response echoes the Republican establishment attitude: “You want to stick to the list of potential nominees?”
That’s his error. This is not 1980. Mitt Romney is no Ronald Reagan.
Limbaugh goes on to talk in depth about the level of dissatisfaction that pervades the electorate when it comes to President Obama. He is correct. He is also correct in stating that Congressman Ron Paul will not be the Republican nominee. Ideologically, Limbaugh is now standing with the majority of GOP leadership who still don’t recognize the volatile fault line that runs right through the Republican party.
Whether it’s Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, or even Palin, Limbaugh predicts a “landslide victory” for the Republican. To my mind, Romney will undoubtedly take the nomination. He’ll choose a vice-presidential nominee based upon his need to solidify party support. We’ll have to watch the primaries over the next few weeks to see who that choice is likely to be. If it’s not Ron Paul (and the establishment won’t allow it to be so), I believe we’re going to see a third-party candidate in the general election in November. The Ron Paul tide is growing beyond its numbers from 2008.
Why am I so confident? Well, maybe I’m not as confident as Limbaugh is about his prediction, but his comments this week show a lack of understanding for the dilemma faced by genuine conservatives–constitutional conservatives. For many of us this feels like 2008 all over again, and Mitt Romney feels like John McCain. Hey, GOP, we did this already. Did we learn anything?
God knows we desire an end to the disaster known as the Obama presidency, but a Romney presidency will not sufficiently put the brakes on excessive government and irresponsible monetary policy. To use a metaphor, the United States is racing toward an economic cliff. Romney will slow the pace but he won’t change direction. Heartland voters understand this. Ron Paul promises a drastic change, yet his foreign policy worries the heartland. What to do?
Will conservatives vote for Romney and pray that he gets it when it comes to economics and overreaching government? Or will they vote for Paul on a third-party ticket and pray that he gets it when it comes to Iran?
If Limbaugh is right and the victory is to be had by 5-7 points in a two-way race, such a choice will guarantee a victory for Barack Obama. Unable to seek a third term, and not needing to present himself as a moderate, Obama would then become a socialist-democratic nightmare, held back only by what is expected to be a Republican victory in both houses of Congress.
If the Ron Paul tsunami continues to grow in the primaries, there may be a great deal of old-style politics to be washed away in the tide.