Patterico's Pontifications

3/7/2009

Poll on Limbaugh’s Meaning

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:57 pm

I asked this in yesterday’s thread, but it got lost amongst a lot of other words. I want to bring it front and center because it lies at the heart of the Rush Limbaugh controversy, and it’s an issue being ignored by too many people.

I’m not a leftist and I don’t think Rush Limbaugh wants to see Americans suffer. I know he doesn’t want Obama’s policies enacted because he thinks they are bad for the country. I completely agree with him on that.

However, when he says “I want Obama to fail,” what did he mean? His line could have meant one of two things:

  • 1. Rush opposes President Obama’s policies, and feels that they are likely to lead to more suffering. He hopes Obama’s policies are never enacted to begin with. However, if they are enacted, as seems likely, he wants to see them succeed. He wants the economy to do well. He doesn’t want Americans out of work.
  • 2. Rush opposes President Obama’s policies, and feels that they are likely to lead to more suffering. So, even if the policies do get enacted, Rush still wants them to fail. This is not because Rush wants more suffering for the American people. But he feels that, in the long run, the quick and dramatic failure of the policies might lead to Rush’s own proposed policies being adopted: namely, spending less and employing the free market. In the long run, this would be best for America.

#1 is a no-brainer for conservatives. And at times I have assumed that’s all he meant. But when I go back and read his words, I’m not so sure. People argue that he has been crystal clear about what he meant, but I don’t think he has clearly said whether he means #1 or #2.

So which is it? Does he merely want to see Obama’s policies blocked from being implemented? Or is he going further, and saying that, even if Obama’s policies are passed and implemented, that he hopes they fail and that the economy continues to spiral downward in the immediate future — so that we can all see the failure of socialism, and eventually revert to capitalism as our governing economic principle?

I want to make a rule for this thread. The first time you comment, you must say which of the above things Limbaugh means: #1 or #2. I know some of you answered this question yesterday; if you could just remind us (ideally with a link or a quote or both), that would be great.

I’ll see if I can write about something else today as well in a different post. But for this post, any comment that fails to observe the above rule will be deleted. Your first sentence should say “I think he meant #1″ or “I think he meant #2″ in some form — or I’ll just delete it.

UPDATE: Put another way, Point A is the point where the policy is either enacted or not. Point B is the point where the policy, which has already been enacted, either fails or not. We all know he wants the policy to “fail” at point A and not be enacted. But what does he “hope” at point B?

Quite a few commenters are saying (in comments I’m deleting) that Rush is so confident that the policies will fail that he isn’t even expressing a hope one way or another. He is expressing a certainty.

OK, fair enough. There’s nothing courageous about that at all, but maybe that’s what he means.

In that case, he phrased his comments poorly — because a lot of people think he meant #2. Not just the drive-by media; not just idiot Americans who didn’t listen to him; but a lot of you. Plenty of commenters chose option #2. So don’t tell me that people are dishonestly distorting his comments by reading them as saying #2. Because a lot of you did.

Final point. Read the comments below. Here are some of the responses:

“It was #1, and no doubt about it.”

“Patterico, I think it is very clear that Mr. Limbaugh means #2″

“#1 obviously.”

Of course Limbaugh meant #2.”

And I’m supposed to refrain from criticizing Limbaugh for communicating his ideas poorly? I’m supposed to know that what he said was crystal clear?

OK, say what you like now. I’m going to stop deleting comments.

UPDATE x2: Not only am I going to stop deleting comments, I’m going to go back and approve the comments I deleted.


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