Rush Limbaugh: ‘I Don’t Say I Have Influence … I’m Not an Activist’
(The following is an excerpt from The Right Frequency.)
Just before the 1992 presidential election, Time magazine asked Rush Limbaugh, “You’re unabashedly for Bush and against Clinton. Given 13 million devoted listeners, why is your guy 15 points behind?”
Limbaugh’s answer: “I don’t say that I have influence. I was totally opposed to the 1990 budget deal, and it still happened. I’m not an activist. I do not give out congressional phone numbers. I do not urge behavior. No tea bags. This is entertainment. And in strict marketing terms, does it hurt me to be the only guy not making Dan Quayle jokes?”
Rush Limbaugh has no influence. Tell that to the Democrats in 1994 who lost their seats en masse in the Republican Revolution that was dubbed the Limbaugh Congress. Tell that to the new majority swept in that year that made Limbaugh an honorary member of their freshman class. Tell that to President Bill Clinton who had public fits during his administration over Limbaugh’s commentary.
For that matter, tell it to the Obama White House who made it their strategy in early 2009 to call Limbaugh the leader of the Republican Party, a strategy that did nothing to help Obama against the GOP (which was the intent) but tremendously boosted Limbaugh’s audience and influence.
To be sure, he does not have unlimited political power. His legions of “ditto-heads” are not mind numb robots marching in lockstep.
This is evident during the presidential primary season when callers, who insist they agree with Limbaugh 99 percent of the time, wanted to know why he is so down on Pat Buchanan (1996), John McCain (2000 and 2008), Mike Huckabee (2008) and Mitt Romney (2012) and other GOP hopefuls over the years. The “ditto-heads” are in fact folks who had long sought an advocate who would not mock the views they already held. They found that in Limbaugh.