In a hour-plus-long speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that was carried live, commercial-free, on CNN and Fox News, Rush Limbaugh directly attacked his rival for the role of titular leader of the conservative movement, Newt Gingrich. Gingrich had told the CPAC crowd that the GOP must offer new ideas and policies. “It’s not our job to be the opposition party. It’s our job to be the ‘better solutions party’,” he said. He was echoing a point he had made last year that the party needed to move forward: “The era of Reagan is over.” (Limbaugh attacked him for the statement at the time.)
Today, Limbaugh came out swinging, insisting that conservatives need not concern themselves with policy ideas whatsoever and slamming conservatives who want to move beyond Reagan.
Everybody asks me — and I’m sure it’s been a focal point of your convention — well, what do we do, as conservatives? What do we do? How do we overcome this? … One thing we can all do is stop assuming that the way to beat them is with better policy ideas. [...]
Our own movement has members trying to throw Reagan out while the Democrats know they can’t accomplish what they want unless they appeal to Reagan voters. We have got to stamp this out within this movement because it will tear us apart. It will guarantee we lose elections.
Gingrich has made his “American Solutions” the centerpiece of his campaign to be crowned heir apparent of the conservative movement. In a New York Times Magazine article to be published tomorrow, Gingrich — whom Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) calls “a total idea factory” — complains that the Republican party is “not entrepreneurial” and that Republicans are wary of new suggestions:
And it worries them to have ideas, because ideas have edges, and they’re not totally formed, and you’ve got to prove them, and they sound strange because they’re new, and if it’s new how do you know it’s any good, because, after all, it’s new and you’ve never heard it before.
It’s unclear whether Limbaugh is frightened by the newness of Gingrich’s ideas, however. The “new, bold idea” Gingrich has promoted to counter Obama’s economic agenda? Eliminating capital gains taxes — the same bold idea Gingrich has been pushing since 1997.
Besides swiping at his competition, Limbaugh sought to prove his leadership bonafides by reiterating his hope that President Obama “fails,” insisting that racism was a problem of the left and not the right, and calling liberalism a “psychosis” and liberals “deranged.”