Rush has been discussing commentary to the effect that McCain "beat Limbaugh" in South Carolina, and supposes that a McCain win in Florida would result in more pundits claiming McCain "beat" him there. I think rather it is a result of Rush "beating-up on" Mike Huckabee.
Rush is framing these discussions of his influence in the race in the context of other pundits acting as if Rush himself is a candidate. Rush reminds people that he is "not on the ballot", but I (like some actually well known journalists and pundits) contend that he definitely is in the campaign. Rush has been acting as surrogate for Fiscal-First Conservatives Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson. (Let's try shortening that to Fi-Cons)
It may be debatable whether Rush has been promoting a single individual. I think an overall analysis of his commentary quite clearly shows his preferences were:
- Fred Thompson
- Mitt Romney
- Rudy Giuliani
Rush Limbaugh's primary method of attacking Huckabee has been to repeat spin, misdirection and outright lies that originated mainly from the Mitt Romney campaign and the open-borders, anti US-sovereignty group "Club for Growth." I contend that Rush's all-out assault on Huckabee caused legions of less than committed likely Huckabee voters to look for another candidate. These southern, mostly middle-class, voters were not about to get on board with obvious "blue-blood country club republican" Mitt Romney or Mr New York,Rudy Giuliani.
Rush's barbs (along with the fact that Fred finally "woke up" in the SC debate) did move some to Fred Thompson, which primarily helped McCain only by hurting Huckabee. Analysis of the "conservative" vote in SC showed Huckabee got much more of it than McCain, and adding any significant part of Thompson's vote to Huckabee would have put him in first place. But having a conservative focused on social and moral issues is the last thing Rush wanted. His statement's on possibly sitting out the election if a candidate not to his liking is nominated shows his dedication to the Fi-Con agenda.
Although Rush did spend some time pointing out McCain's lack of conservatism, he spent much less time hitting McCain than bashing Huckabee. he may have thought it so obvious that McCain was out in left-field that he didn't waste the time on him that he did repeating the anti-Huckabee Romney-isms. So along with legions of "independents"(too impatient to wait for the Democrat primary the following week), Rush had provided the final part of the perfect storm for a McCain surge.
While Limbaugh has usually been "friendly" to causes important to social/moral conservatives, it's become clear in recent months that Rush doesn't really see Reagan Conservatism as a "three-legged stool". He seems to treat the triumvirate of conservative causes more like a motorcycle with a side-car. Using that analogy, "Fiscal" and "Defense" would be the wheels of the motorcycle, while "Social" would be the wheel of the side-car; useful in providing balance and additional carrying capacity, but never seen as providing either driving force or guidance.
While I completely understand and agree with Rush's stated reasons for not wanting a McCain presidency, I question not only his conclusions but his motive when it comes to Mike Huckabee. If Rush were to spend any serious amount of time researching Huckabee's positions and history, he would quickly find the Romney/Club for Growth spin to be the pack of lies that they are.
I just don't think Rush can conceive of the possibility that one who believes Social/Moral Conservatism is more than the wheel of a side-car as a serious contender. He apparently believes that, beneath it all, the "blue blood country club" republicans are either still really in control of the Republican party, or they should be.
Now that Rudy Giuliani has apparently decided to drop out, a number of pundits are saying the Republican nomination is down to a two-man race. I suspect that, on the whole, they are following Rush's lead in now discounting Huckabee.
Unlike Rush, some of them have at least begun to recognize Mike Huckabee as a real conservative, supposing that Huckabee staying in the race is good for McCain. Their rationale is that McCain will have the "moderate" (meaning liberal) vote, while Romney and Huckabee will split the conservative vote.
Some are even making veiled suggestions that Huckabee should drop out to level the playing field and help prevent a RINO (Republican In Name Only, i.e. McCain) from getting the nomination. If anyone should think about heeding the suggestion to drop-out to help beat McCain it's Romney; who if truth be told doesn't have nearly as consistently conservative a record as does Mike Huckabee.
Rush, and many of the other pundits, keep expressing fears that Mike Huckabee would make too easy a target for the liberals as the "Christian" candidate; supposing wackos on the far-left could raise fears among Americans in general that Huckabee would bring some type of theocratic rule. Anyone listening to Huckabee can clearly tell this is nonsense. He upholds the true position of Christianity in this area, which is precisely how America's Founding Fathers saw it. He will neither back down from his Faith, nor impose it on anyone else by means of force in any form or fashion. And i have more faith in American voters than to think they would fall for this kind of humanistic fear-mongering.
What Rush and his ilk fail to understand is that we are more in danger of falling prey to the class-warfare of the left. Romney would be much easier prey for liberals, as an obvious target of their hatred for the multi-millionaire elite, than Huckabee could ever be painted as some sort of religious fanatic. Not only that, but Romney has a vast array of problems with the rank-and-file among Republican voters.
- To the elderly, when Romney bangs the drum on "ending entitlements" (without providing specifics), they wonder whether he means to cut off or cut-back the social security which they have been promised, and into which they paid all their working lives.
- To Social Conservatives, Romney has paper-thin credentials on the issues of Abortion and Government sanctions of homosexual practices. (not to mention gun-control etc) Is it possible to be on three sides of an issue?
- To Middle-Income voters, Romney simply (to paraphrase Mike Huckabee) reminds them more of the guy who laid them off than the guy they work with.
So when Rush and his legions continually pound voters with the twin lies of "Huckabee is a tax and spend liberal" and "Huckabee doesn't have a chance" in hopes that they head for Romney; voters (who fall for their spin) instead go past the obvious "country-clubber" Romney, for McCain. What too many voters don't seem to realize is that McCain, though not as obviously as Romney, is also a part of the "blue blood country club elite". Not to mention that he seems to have never met a tax cut he actually liked; at least when time to vote for it.
Hopefully voters will be able to see past the Rush/Romney spin, and through the McCain obfuscation to the real history of Mike Huckabee, and the experience and hope his candidacy brings. The real truth about Huckabee is that both his history and his current positions show a man who stands for:
- Pro-Life advocacy and real progress for recognizing the sanctity of every life as demonstrated by real reform in Arkansas
- Pro-Family Values and real progress demonstrated by Marriage amendments in Arkansas
- Tax restraint and economic growth, as demonstrated by lowering overall tax-rates in Arkansas; to the extent that the per-capita income in that state rose so much that it resulted in an increase in revenues, allowing further tax cuts at the end of Huckabee's final term as Governor
- Smaller Government, as demonstrated by the Arkansas budget having been cut by 11% under Huckabee
- Enforcing Border Security and a real No-Amnesty policy, as seen in Huckabee's "Secure America Plan" a 9-point plan for immigration enforcement and Border Security.
- Rational Health-care, controlled by the consumer through common sense and market forces (Huckabee proposed); rather than rationed health-care, controlled by either the government (Democrat proposed) or an employer-mandated insurance company (the common current system).
- Energy Independence, beginning with more domestic drilling/refining, and then providing incentives for developing new energy sources. Huckabee proposes we can reach this goal of energy independence within ten years.
As for Rush and his legions, they may not realize it; but I still contend that by dishonestly attacking Mike Huckabee, it is they who are responsible for the rising popularity of John "the RINO" McCain.