by Rush Limbaugh in the Limbaugh Letter, December 2016
"The Limbaugh Letter editorial department made a plea for me to choose myself as this issue's interviewee. It was unanimous: I was the only person whose analysis thay wanted to hear after the election. Of course, the staff is always sucking up to me. And rightly so."
SNERDLEY: So The Limbaugh Letter is going to be fair, and we're not going to hit you with any "gotcha" questions. If you want to revise and extend any of your remarks, just let us know.
RUSH: What the heck is this? Are you implying there's usually trick questions?
SNERDLEY: No. [Laughter] But there are lots of questions about the election, as you can imagine. This Trump victory has been called "the greatest upset in the history of American politics." Do you see any evidence that the Republican establishment has learned anything from it?
RUSH: No. I don't think they want to, in terms of changing who they are, or adapting to become more understanding of the voters. I think an election like this steels their resolve to not change, and to all the more resist the change expressed by the voters. They see an election like this as the voters having a temper tantrum, exercising emotional immaturity and a lack of understanding of the way the world works. They will come up with ways of speaking publicly to make people think they "get it" and are responding to it, but privately it offends the heck out of them. It makes them mad. It tells them they have to do even more to lock down what they have, to keep people out of it, and away from it, and from overturning what they have. That is, their club.
SNERDLEY: The donors who wanted to win the election without the base.
RUSH: The Republican consultant class. There's just deep resentment. Their reaction will be, "This country is a bigger bunch of boobs than we thought, so we're going to have to revise the way we approach it, but we're not changing who we are and the way we operate to let them in. No way, no how, Jose." The Republican consultant class will remain as resistant to the base as they have always been.
SNERDLEY: Wait a minute. So you're saying they can't see the map that everyone else saw on election night, that big map that expanded the Republican states?
RUSH: They see it, but they're not interested in the democratic process. They're not. It's the same with Democrats. The Democratic Party is not going to change the way they are because they lost this election. They're not going to look at it and say, "Wow, are we ever out of touch." They're offended by it. They believe the voters are even stupider than they thought. They too, will have to come up with ways to resist this change while making everybody think they're adapting to it. But they're not going to change friends. The banks, Wall Street, corporate America are still going to be their friends. Cronyism is still going to be the game of the day.
SNERDLEY: How about on policy? Are the Republicans going to rethink the so-called "autopsy" after Romney's 2012 loss? "You can't win without the Hispanic vote. You have to have 'comprehensive immigration reform', amnesty."
RUSH: You watch -- they're not going to change. That's a great example. Despite this win, we will still continue to hear that if Republicans want to cement this victory, if they want to make it more than a one-off, they're going to listen to us and understand we've got to reach out to Hispanics, we have got to implement comprehensive immigration reform.
They won't change, because they're loyal to the people who give them money. The donors aren't going to change what they think because of this. It just makes them angrier. They'll be more motivated to win the next election without the base than they were this one.
SNERDLEY: Good grief.
RUSH: Now, they'll make people think they've seen the light. They may be less openly critical of the base. You won't see the next version of Jeb Bush say, "We're going to win this without the base." They'll say, "We love the base, we're going to do everything we can to win with the base," and they may even make it look like that. But they'll hate it all along. To this day, do they like Reagan?
RUSH: These people are not going to become big Trumpsters. They'll try to bask in the glow for as long as they can. Trump is still a threat to them. Look, one of the ways they get their power is by being appointed to cabinet posts, being placed in key positions in the regulatory agencies. They'll all want that, but primarily to make sure Trump doesn't get done what they think he wants to get done.
SNERDLEY: How about the Democrats? They saw what happened. This goes back to something you've talked about on the show a lot, the Thomas B. Edsall column, I think from 2012?
RUSH: 2011. In The New York Times, Edsall reported that the Democrats, the Obama campaign, decided that they were going to write off the white working class vote, and instead try to build a larger coalition of minorities.
SNERDLEY: So now the Democrats, as you said on the show, are at the lowest level of political power in Washington, D.C. since the 1920s. They've got the snot kicked out of them in state legislatures all around the country. Now those little blue dots have gotten even smaller on the county-by-county map. So in their come-to-Jesus meetings over the winter, what do they do?
RUSH: Blame it all on Hillary, not their ideas. Blame WikiLeaks. Blame it all on the fact that people found out what they're not supposed to know.
SNERDLEY: Wait, these are supposed to be political professionals --
SNERDLEY: -- who analyze the numbers. Seriously.
RUSH: What do you think, they're going to all of a sudden moderate their Liberalism and start making appeals to white working class voters, since they lost the bulk of them?
SNERDLEY: Well, how can they not? If they see the numbers and see that even their own blue cities aren't safe right now --
RUSH: It's called denial. They do not have the type of constitution that will ever let them honestly confront it. They'll say they misread the public, but when they get together to talk, it's distain for these people, it's anger at the people that didn't vote for them. Whatever they may say that sounds like a change in campaign approach, it's not sincere. They are who they are, they still resent the people they resent.
Go back to the midterms of 2002, because they were really stunned. That was the Wellstone Memorial, and they thought that was going to put them over the top. They ended up losing seats in a midterm with George Bush, who they were on the verge of getting everybody to hate. And in 2004 it turned out that "values voters" came out of nowhere. So they said, "Obviously we're going to have to do some serious thinking here about the values that we present."
That lasted two weeks. Where have they changed their values? They've gotten more corrupt, have embraced more abject immoral behavior, and tried to normalize it. Remember, it's all about money and pleasing donors. So to the extent that they modify or change anything, it's going to be based on that, not because they think they need to make inroads with a group of people who are no longer supporting them.
SNERDLEY: There's a map out there, like the red/blue maps, showing how the youngest demographic voted. It's a complete flip. Almost the entire nation would be blue, Democrat, with little spots of red. The comments I read underneath this map at one site were hysterical. Some of these kids were saying, "The old people are going to die soon, so their votes should mean less than ours." [Laughter]
RUSH: I think college campi are a sad indication of where we're heading culturally. You have professors canceling tests after the election because the little snowflakes could not handle the results. In one case the class had to be canceled because the teacher couldn't stop crying. The culture worries the hell out of me. I used to think it was going to bottom out from the weight of its own immorality and rebound, but it hasn't. It just keeps descending. And it keeps descending commensurate with the increases in participation in social media. The anonymity of social media brings out the absolute worst.
SNERDLEY: You have all these young Millennials, who don't know what it was like to have a booming economy like we had with Ronald Reagan. Millennials don't know what it's like to acctually have a common moral contract in the country, because we had that at one time. I don't care what diverse subset that you lived in, pretty much everyone had a shared view of what was right and wrong.
RUSH: That's gone. Now it's been replaced with, "You don't have the right to define right and wrong, you don't have the right to say what's moral and immoral for me." There's a huge disconnect. Millennials don't have the experience with America victorious in war. And the number of people between 18 and 39 who really believe we are destroying the planet, that it won't be habitable for human life by the time they're 65, would astound you. They have been taught nothing else. From the moment they started watching Saturday morning cartoons, they have just been propagandized and inculcated with this stuff, and they really believe it. In my little tech blogs, a major reason Trump is hated is his position on the environment.
SNERDLEY: Do you see a day, maybe even far in the future, when the tech bloggers, the Hollywood entertainers, sport celebrities, and so on, question their allegiance to Liberalism? If we do have a boom time in the economy, and they can see what a boom really is, and after another ten years they see the world hasn't imploded because the temperature went up, will they reconsider? These are smart people, many of them. Especially the tech ones. They have analytical skills. Will there be anything that makes them think, "Maybe I'm wrong"?
RUSH: No. I don't see them ever coming to the conclusion that they were wrong, substantively. They might end up telling themselves that they were wrong about when the destruction of the climate will happen, but not that it will happen. Take the Hollywood left. You can't have a bigger boom than we had in the last six years under Reagan, which continued into the 90s. And to this day, people who lived through it still don't attribute it to conservatism. They attribute it to Clinton getting control and raising taxes. It's confused as hell. You're really asking, "Will the definition of what's cool and what's hip ever change?"
SNERDLEY: Sometimes all it takes is a person. Sometimes all it takes is one celebrity. When you were a disc jockey, one record could come out and it changes everything. Like when Sly and the Family Stone first came out, or when the Beatles first hit, everything that went on before it changed.
RUSH: In high school, were you in the big clique? Have you ever been?
RUSH: Neither have I. I would never be allowed in, and I won't be.
SNERDLEY: But you own the bigger clique.
RUSH: No. In broadcasting, I'm an outlier, a freak. Consultants in radio are trying to get stations to drop me because of politics, because I'm not in the clique, I'm not in the club. I've not worked with them, I've not kissed their behinds. I didn't know who they were when I started this program in 1988 and I've never gone out of my way to meet them. I know them by name now because I know what they're trying to do. Ratings are almost at historical highs now and there are consultants trying to get stations to drop me.
RUSH: I never have been in a big pop-cultural clique. I'm a conservative and that disqualifies me. But as I say, aside from satisfying the business requirements, all I do is about educating enough people to defeat Liberalism.
SNERDLEY: Does this election pull the curtain on the Clintons as political entities? Are they done?
RUSH: I really hope so. All these people are out there thinking, "The Clintons are gone, will Rush have anything to say? This could be the end, because Rush wanted them to win so he can continue to get rich and have ratings." I was even going to do a routine based on, "Oh, my God, what's Rush going to talk about now?"
You know what? I hope all those donors from Qatar, and the Italian mob, and whoever it is that expected them to pay off in the White House, I hope they demand their money back.
RUSH: I hope there are investigations by the IRS into some of the tax avoidance that obviously has gone on. I just hope Clinton, Inc. falls apart. Why would anybody give the Clintons money, unless the Clintons can engage in some sort of reciprocity? What can they do for them now? If you're Goldman Sachs, why would you pay Hillary $300,000 to have her come and give a speech now?
SNERDLEY: You wouldn't.
RUSH: She's not going to run again. Wouldn't it be great if, say, in a month or so we start hearing feelers in the drive-by media about Chelsea Clinton running for office? I wouldn't be surprised. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Seven hours after Rush said this, The New York Post ran a story headlined: "Chelsea Clinton Being Groomed to Run for Congress."]
SNERDLEY: Oh, my.
RUSH: This is all these people know.
SNERDLEY: But according to WikiLeaks, apparently she's not the brightest bulb. At least the mother ran on the mythology that she was the smartest woman in the world. The daughter doesn't even have that one, if you believe John Podesta.
RUSH: In fact, WikiLeaks revealed that the Hillary Clinton campaign was talking about the young voter demographic as being a bunch of young demanding jerks. I didn't see WikiLeaks stuff about Chelsea, but you know her dad, Webb Hubble [laughter], is an order of fries short of a Happy Meal. [Laughter] Seriously, what purpose does the Clinton Family Foundation serve? That whole thing was put together to rebuild Clinton's image from Lewinsky, and then it was the way they could get rich. There's always this component that if you gave money you're going to get something back for it. Did you see Bill on stage with Hillary at her concession speech? His mouth was open.
SNERDLEY: He didn't look well
RUSH: I think his salad days are behind him. You were asking me earlier about the establishment. The one thing I think Democrats will assess and decide is that their future cannot include the Clintons. Those people have been an albatross ever since Bill left office. Remember how mad we were when 4 million people didn't show up for Romney?
RUSH: Six million Democrats did not show up in 2016.
SNERDLEY: What does that say about Obama? When the smoke clears, yes they can wave the flag, "We've got America's first black President," but when they look at the numbers, he has decimated their Party.
RUSH: Right. But they will never publicly distance themselves from Obama like they might Hillary. Privately they won't, either, because of the racial component. They just can't. No matter what happens, he has got to remain historic, vibrant, brilliant, one of the best-ever figures of the Democrat Party -- just to keep the minority base loyal. If they ever do assess their failures as directly linkable to Obama, they can't ever acknowledge that publicly. And privately they probably can't, either.
SNERDLEY: One of the things that teed me off this campaign season was a few of those supposedly conservative publications, many of which wouldn't be on the map if you had not mentioned their names from time to time, other than handouts from people that they go begging to for money. Some of these conservative publications came after you because you didn't, in their view, support their candidate enough. A lot of it was Cruz-based. They were ticked at you. You never react to these people. But they've been taking their little swipes. These people are part of the broader NeverTrump people. Now that the dust has settled, what happens to these NeverTrumpers? Have they written themselves out? And then there are bigger NeverTrumpers like George Will, who's just insulted half the people who followed him once upon a time. What happens to these guys?
RUSH: They bide their time. They hope that Trump bombs out, in ways they can demonstrate a conservative would not have bombed out. They've got too much invested in the idea that Trump is bad news for conservatism and the Republican Party. They invested their whole existence in that intellectual belief. They are never going to admit they got it wrong. I wouldn't even think they do any mea culpas. They will circle the wagons and wait and see.
And if Trump bombs out, is a major disappointment in ways they can say betrays conservatism, even if it's three years from now, they'll be back beating their chests saying, "We told you so." That's what they can't wait to do: "We told you so." Why did they adopt this anti-Trump position in the first place? If I may be so bold, and this will probably come back and bite me, but acknowledging your premise here that many of these people had their chance because of the success of this program --
SNERDLEY: They did.
RUSH: Okay. What is it about this program that they think made it successful and thus gave them an opportunity to open their blog, or their website ot their magazine? Conservatism.
RUSH: Therefore, if I, for example, don't denounce Trump, then I am betraying conservatism. They believe their audiences, their donors, their readers, subscribers -- which compared to this audience is a thimbleful of people -- are movement arch-conservatives, intolerant of any degree other than pure. And they have tied themselves to that group of people, so they have to maintain that position of "pure conservatism" in order to keep their subs up and their money coming in.
But the mistake they're making is conservatism is not what produces 20 million people a week. Conservatism is not what produces spot rates of $50,000 for an in-show 60-second spot. There's much, much more. It's not a non-factor, but they're not factoring the performance aspect, the whole way you connect to an audience outside of similar ideological beliefs. They think that conservatism is the reason why I succeeded and therefore that I'm playing with fire if they think I have abandoned it.
They would be shocked to see my audience has grown, that we haven't lost anybody. So I think that's the mistake that they've made. But now they're tied to it. They could be true believers themselves, too -- but I really do think that, to them, it's what they have to do to have an income. I'm not trying to impugn their sincerity in their belief in conservatism.
SNERDLEY: Well, no, but some of them were very snarky, and didn't mind trying to take shots at you.
RUSH: They're young. Part of being a Millennial, I think, no matter where you find them, is to be snarky, to be arrogant, to be a know-it-all. It could be about climate change, it could be anything. They are arrogant, condescending know-it-alls in many ways. But other people have to analyze this in terms of why they saw the need to bash me. My guess is they thought there was money in doing it, and as a way to distance themselves so they're not said to only exist because of me, that they're independent. And it could well be that they do think I was betraying the movement by not denouncing Trump. Look, we're dealing with human emotions here. You've got envy, jealousy, who knows what it is.
SNERDLEY: How do you think history will record your role in the Clinton and Obama eras?
RUSH: I have no idea. My instinctive take would be to say it depends when the history is written. If written by people alive today, I am going to be savaged. There's not going to be any accolades or acknowledgement. But I don't think about historical legacies. The only way I can answer is based on the way I'm covered in the mainstream media today, and even in the conservative media.
SNERDLEY: So let's use that for a second, because here's what I think. Eight years afterwards, the first thing that comes to people's minds is, "I hope he fails."
SNERDLEY: Eight years down the road, after everything else, the symbol of any opposition to the Obama Presidency has been Rush Limbaugh's "I hope he fails." That's the No. 1 thing they've got.
RUSH: In their minds it is.
SNERDLEY: And going back to the Clintons, there was nobady else then. You've got Clinton's take on it out of his own mouth, on KMOX, "That Limbaugh guy's got three hours, and all I've got is the little bitty Presidency."
RUSH: I know. Clinton and Obama both have me living rent-free in their brains.
SNERDLEY: So in the absence of any real governing opposition, I tend to think that when people look back at whether there was balance in history, it's going to be quite favorable to you. There was opposition, all over the radio.
RUSH: Oh, eventually. And every other guest on CNN will mention me, and on C-SPAN, and rake me over the coals. So you may be right about this. It could be that I will be tied in many ways to them by supposed "history writers" while we are still alive.
SNERDLEY: So if you had to give the incoming President-elect one piece of advice, what would it be.
RUSH: Don't change. I would say keep in mind why you got there. I constantly say that I'm "meeting and surpassing audience expectations." When I say "audience expectations", I don't think, "What specifically do they want to hear today?" What I mean is, if I bring up anything, I better know what I'm talking about, I better have something to say about it so that, "Oh, yeah," is the reaction. It's to meet the expectations that the audience has when they listen to the program.
By the same token, Trump has been very specific about what he's going to do, and his attitude is I think a central, key factor in his winning: that he's a no-nonsense guy, that he doesn't take BS from people, that he fights back when anybody attempts to slime him, to slander him. There's not one instance where he laid down. Whether it was the "Access Hollywood" video or anything else, he had a retort, he had a confidence, and his behavior was such that he gave comfort to his supporters, letting them know, "Don't worry about this, this is not going to affect me, I'm not going to let this take me off my game."
He's got to continue that. He's got to continue being the guy they elected. The worst thing that can happen is for Trump to say, "Now that I'm here, and now that I've looked at NAFTA, it's not going to be that easy just to rip it to shreds, there are some things in here that actually could be good." If in any way he tries to pull a Bill Clinton, "I didn't know how bad this economy was, I can't cut your taxes," if he does that, his support will be affected.
Clinton could get away with it because Liberals will allow whoever vanquishes us to thrive no matter what. But Trump was elected with specifics, and that's why I went on a tirade about this "unity" business. I don't know him well enough to know if all these demands to unify will be effective with him. That's why I spent so much time on it. I even called a couple people, "You have got to make sure that he keeps learning, for example, about how Hillary's campaign was paying for his rallies to be disrupted. He's got to stay on an upward learning curve on all this and understand that these protests are not organic -- yet not be affected by it, and in fact, look at it as evidence of his effectiveness and success." I don't know of anybody in recent electoral history who has been elected for more policy specificity than Donald Trump. Would you agree with that?
SNERDLEY: I would. Immigration, Obamacare, get the economy prosperous again.
RUSH: The Iran deal.
SNERDLEY: Get rid of that, that's right, and take care of ISIS. And lock her up. [Laughter]
RUSH: I don't think that's going to happen. But you know what? There damn well should be a Special Prosecutor to drain the swamp of the Department of Justice, because there is crap in there that needs to be rooted out. They have corrupted that. The EPA, a lot of these cabinet-level positions, they've got to get these career people out of there. They've got to be targeted and found if they are in opposition. Look, Trump runs the Executive Branch, it's his.
SNERDLEY: And he better not make the same mistake that Bush did by leaving --
RUSH: No, clear out these U.S. attorneys. And he'd better pick the the right judges -- not just Supreme Court Justices -- but on the federal court. He's got a huge task. Convicting Hillary would just provoke the wasps more than you need.
SNERDLEY: She's got her own punishment. She got beat.
RUSH: She does, and when the dust settles she'll get blamed by her own Party for this.
RUSH: Bernie Sanders, rigging that election. Anyway, he does have a lot of expectations. But he's not inaugurated yet, and that's when the stuff's going to hit the fan. And if it does, everything will be fine. Because it needs to hit the fan. This such a huge opportunity. Nobody anticipated it. This is so big, this Democrat defeat, it's so deep, it's so massive, they are so weak. The Republicans didn't do anything to deserve it.
SNERDLEY: Right, and now if they step on the snake's neck -- the Democrats -- that snake is gone for 30 years.
RUSH: If they do it.
SNERDLEY: If they have the onions.
RUSH: We know some of them don't.
SNERDLEY: Right, but Trump does.
RUSH: Trump does. But some of these people say, "We've got to be magnanimous in our victory." We don't. These are the people who were destroying our country. They were, little by little, eroding individual liberty and freedom. They were denying opportunity, they were swallowing up more and more of the private sector, which limits the size of the economic pie for everybody, and limits the American dream opportunity. They were slowly but surely transforming America into an authoritarian command-and-control socialist country and economy. And they were well on their way, with 94 million Americans unemployed, but eating.
This stuff has got to be stopped. We don't have anything to celebrate yet, really, in terms of achievement. Yes, we beat them back in the election, but too many people think, "This is it, we won. Party time." We need people who can actually pound them into the dust, like they try to do to us every day.
SNERDLEY: Now comes the hard part. Well, this has been fun.
RUSH: I don't know how much substance you've got out of this.
SNERDLEY: Are you kidding? This is great. Your audience learns a lot with these. Trust me. I learned a lot and I listen to you all the time.
RUSH: I will trust you. Thank you very much. We'll do it again soon.