In the wake of this week’s Republican victories in Congress, Rush Limbaugh – one of America’s most influential political voices – is proclaiming the Democratic Party to be in total chaos, and advises it to drop failed strategies if members wish to see political gains in the future.
“They’re a party in total disarray, total collapse, total chaos,” the conservative radio talk-show host said during post-election analysis. “I’ve been sensing this for the past couple months, and it came true.”
His remarks came in the wake of a stunning break with U.S. political tradition, as a sitting president was able to gain, rather than lose congressional seats in the midterm election.
The GOP retained its majority in the House of Representatives, and surprised some observers by winning back control of the Senate from Democrats, who had controlled the chamber since Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont left the GOP to become an Independent.
A Democrat voter phoning into Limbaugh’s show called Tuesday’s results “quite a kick in the pants,” but was hopeful that some of the wins in governorships could help the party in 2004.
“We need to begin from scratch,” said Ray in Pittsburgh. “We need to get rid of [party chairman Terry] McAuliffe. We need to get the name-calling gone and just start with clean campaigns and talk about ourselves and not the others.”
While the Democrats did make some gains in governorships, Limbaugh said he was shocked when Democrat Roy Barnes – who had a stated interest in a future White House run – lost to the GOP’s Sonny Perdue in the traditional Democratic stronghold of Georgia.
“I was [like] Linda Blair in ‘The Exorcist,'” said Limbaugh, “I was doing 360s there, and it didn’t even hurt.”
A Republican voter called Limbaugh to suggest Democrats would not understand the message Americans were sending.
“They still don’t get it,” said Phil from New Jersey. “They don’t understand that last night was all about character and trust. And they’re gonna misinterpret our victory as meaning that they didn’t differentiate themselves enough from us. I think this is gonna move them farther to the left.”
Limbaugh also had face time on television during Election Night, explaining to Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert of NBC News why the Republicans were doing so well.
“The Democrats’ success in the past has been to demonize the Republican figurehead who was the leader,” he said. “They got away with that with Newt Gingrich, but they can’t demonize George Bush – he has no character deficiencies. He’s an honest man, the people love him, he seems to have a very decent way about him. And so all of these threats that the Democrats were promising people, nobody believed them this time around. …
“I think in the Democratic cloakrooms behind closed doors, there’s gonna be some serious discussion about who’s gonna lead this party, ‘Where we gonna go from this day forward?’ because this does not bode well for them in 2004.”
He continued the commentary during his radio show, delving into what he feels is the main driving force among current party leadership.
“Their reasons for winning were nothing more than vengeance. They wanted revenge for 2000. They are still obsessed with the notion that George W. Bush is illegitimate, that he is not a legitimate president even after this. They targeted his brother in Florida. They sent Bill Clinton, and did you notice, my friends, that everywhere Bill Clinton was sent, the Republicans triumphed in almost double-digit fashion? Everywhere except for Hawaii.”
And while he suggested fresher faces to lead the party, he expects to see plenty of former President Clinton, since his wife Hillary is a senator from New York.
“Hillary is now his meal ticket,” Limbaugh said. “[The Democrats] can’t get rid of him. The single thing they need to do is get rid of him but they can’t because she’s there. …
“Their playbook is old, there’s nothing new in this playbook in years and years and years. It’s because their whole ‘strategery’ is oriented toward fear and getting people to vote against Republicans, rather than voting for Democrats. And they’re in quite a quandary because they don’t know how to change this; and it’s just part of the Clintonization of the party.”
The commentator, whose radio show is the most-listened-to program in the nation, said it was a big mistake for Democrats to attack Bush even when he was going along with some of their agenda, specifically the education and farm bills.
“They still tried to portray him as the enemy of people – the enemy of old folks, the enemy of the sick, the enemy of the gays, the enemy of young, the enemy of everybody. These people are obsessed. …
“Certain people in the leadership realm of this party anyway are just filled with hatred, and they’re even more so today, and that is going to continue to cause this downward spiral for them.
“I don’t mind telling them this, I have been telling them what’s wrong all year and they’re not listening to me, and they’re not gonna start listening to me now … they’re never gonna take advice from me.”
He said the strong Republican showing came at an important time in history, with America on the verge of possible military action in the Persian Gulf.
“This message last night to Iraq, the U.N., the EU, France, Russia, the rest of the world, [is that] the American people stand behind their commander in chief. …
“They can hand out peace prizes to Jimmy Carter all they want. They can slobber all over Bill Clinton when he comes calling. But the American people stand not with Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton but with George W. Bush, their commander in chief, and the world knows it now. This is power.”
Limbaugh’s analysis stands diametrically opposed to post-election comments from Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, who said “not much has changed” since the election of 2000.
”Folks, Democrats are in good shape, and we look forward to the upcoming cycle,” McAuliffe said.
”Now we get ready for 2004. We need to make sure we’re out there with our message as we head toward 2004, and the president now has to deliver. No more blame game. No more nonsense about a dysfunctional Senate. This is his sputtering economy – he must take responsibility for it.”
Meanwhile Limbaugh, who has long been critical of the mainstream media for what he says is an overt liberal bias, took a moment to poke fun at some of the TV newscasters who were analyzing the election results.
“[It was] fun to see the long faces at some of the networks,” he said. “Some people got that shot of Botox just in time to cover the wrinkles and tears that were no doubt streaming down cheeks.”
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