David Frum writes:
Rush knows what he is doing. The worse conservatives do, the more important Rush becomes as leader of the ardent remnant. The better conservatives succeed, the more we become a broad national governing coalition, the more Rush will be sidelined.
But do the rest of us understand what we are doing to ourselves by accepting this leadership? Rush is to the Republicanism of the 2000s what Jesse Jackson was to the Democratic party in the 1980s. He plays an important role in our coalition, and of course he and his supporters have to be treated with respect. But he cannot be allowed to be the public face of the enterprise - and we have to find ways of assuring the public that he is just one Republican voice among many, and very far from the most important.
Whenever CNN manages to find two Democrats who disagree about where to go for lunch, it breaks out the "DEMS IN DISARRAY" chyron and goes wall-to-wall with the idea of the Democratic Party in turmoil.
During his CPAC speech, Rush Limbaugh said conservatives "believe that the preamble to the Constitution contains an inarguable truth that we are all endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life, Liberty, Freedom. And the pursuit of happiness."
Conservatives may believe that, but it just isn't so. The language Limbaugh was referring to actually appears (more or less; he made some changes) in the Declaration of Independence.
During his speech at CPAC, Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed: "Congressman [Barney] Frank's definition of affordable housing is you get a house that you don't have to pay for, that everybody else in the neighborhood will pay for. And why? Well, because it's unfair that some people can have a house and some people can't. See, it's just unfair." In fact, Frank has advocated for the expansion of affordable rental housing, rather than advocating for, as Limbaugh suggested, universal home ownership.
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Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed that taxes would increase on "most small businesses" if the Bush tax cuts on Americans making more than $250,000 expire in 2011. In fact, the Tax Policy Center stated that in 2007, about 2 percent of tax returns that reported small-business income are in the top two income tax brackets, which include all filers with taxable incomes of more than $250,000.
Rush Limbaugh falsely stated that President Obama said "that we all must learn to live within our means and not expect the values of our homes to go up 10, 20 percent over our lifetimes ever again," later adding, "This is what I mean by him talking down the economy." In fact, Obama said that we should "not assume that housing prices are going to go up 20, 30, 40 percent every year" [emphasis added].
Since Congress passed President Obama's economic recovery bill, several media figures have warned that Obama could suffer political consequences if the nation's economy does not improve substantially in a short amount of time. But Obama has consistently emphasized the long-term nature of economic recovery, repeatedly stating that the recovery "will likely be measured in terms of years and not months."
Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed that Democrats "have reformatted the [economic recovery] bill -- they've made it a PDF file when they posted it. ... And, so, you can read every page, but you cannot keyword search it. It's not a text file as legislation normally is as posted on these public websites. They don't want anybody knowing what's in this." In fact, as Adobe Systems notes of PDFs: "You can run a search using either the Search window or the Find toolbar. In either case, Reader searches the PDF body text, layers, form fields, and digital signatures."
Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed that a homeless woman at President Obama's Fort Myers town hall event asked Obama for a "car" and "a new kitchen." In fact, Henrietta Hughes was simply saying that she needs housing. She stated: "[W]e need something more than a vehicle and parks to go to. We need our own kitchen and our own bathroom. Please help."
Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh have repeatedly claimed that President Reagan's tax cuts were responsible for ending the recession in the early 1980s, suggesting that tax cuts, and not government spending, would be the best solution to the end the current recession. However, several economists have stated that while fiscal policy had some impact during that period, "[l]ower interest rates after mid-1982 permitted the recovery to begin," according to a 1983 CBO report. By contrast, a reduction in the federal funds interest rate is not available to the Federal Reserve today because the current rate is essentially zero.
The Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore and Fox News anchors Bill Hemmer and Megyn Kelly promoted the falsehood -- which first appeared in a Bloomberg "commentary" by Betsy McCaughey and was subsequently promoted by Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge -- that the economic recovery bill includes a provision that would, in Moore's words, "hav[e] the government essentially dictate treatments." Limbaugh later took credit for spreading this story.
A New York Times essay by Jason DeParle highlighted a resurgence of the use of the word "welfare" among conservatives, this time to attack President Obama's economy recovery plan. Indeed, while economists agree that provisions in the legislation targeting needy people are among the most economically stimulative, Media Matters documents below the pervasiveness of what DeParle called the "weaponiz[ation]" of the "very word, welfare," in the media, particularly, but not exclusively on Fox News, to denounce the stimulus bill.
Rush Limbaugh repeated a falsehood in a Bloomberg "commentary" by Betsy McCaughey that claimed that under a provision in the House-passed economic recovery bill, "[o]ne new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and 'guide' your doctor's decisions." In fact, the provisions McCaughey referenced address establishing an electronic records system such that doctors would have information about their patients "to help guide medical decisions at the time and place of care."