We’re Watching What America Used to Be — Not What Our Politics Used to Be
RUSH: Rush Limbaugh here behind the Golden EIB Microphone, after taking the day off yesterday to go to Washington to attend the funeral of George H. W. Bush at the National Cathedral. My first time inside the National Cathedral. The place is huge. It’s longer than a football field. They got television monitors all down the aisles so that people there can actually see what’s going on, because if you’re not up close you have no idea what’s going on.
And it was a little tough to hear at times because of the acoustics of the place and the limitations of my cochlear implant. But it was a deeply meaningful ceremony in a lot of ways. And I want to try to capture something here today that may take me two or three stabs. You know, I don’t write things in advance. I find writing is very hard for me. I lose half my vocabulary when writing because I get distracted by typos I make. My hands can’t keep up with my brain and I forget — you know, I’ll come up with a brilliant point and I’ll forget it in 10 seconds, focused on what I’m trying to type.
But when I speak I have my full vocabulary, and I have my full mental faculties. It’s just the way I’ve developed. And with the great patience of you people in this audience, sometimes you give me two or three chances to nail it, to get it right. I had so many emotions and thoughts wafting through me yesterday, you know, driving in, flying in, attending, on the way out, the atmospherics. You would not have believed the number of uniformed military people inside the cathedral yesterday. And then to see the camera farms of all the media scattered outside, not inside. I think it’s a very important distinction. Not inside.
Now, there were cameras there televising, but I’m talking about individuals. We’re getting to a point where I think it isn’t gonna be long before the media is going to be the primary invited guests at funerals because of the coverage. And the media is gonna be there in the front row and the media is right behind the family. I think we’re trending in that direction.
But with this family that wasn’t gonna be the case. It’s not intended as a slight to the media. Don’t misunderstand. I’m just sharing with you observations that I had juxtaposed with the ruminations about our culture and society and where it’s been and where it’s headed.
And I’ll tell you what ignited — didn’t ignite. I had the thoughts yesterday as I was there, but what spurred me on to think about this today was a Daniel Henninger piece in the Wall Street Journal. And the headline is: “Trump Didn’t Kill the Bush Values – The opposition to traditional virtues was evident at the 1992 convention,” in Houston, a convention I attended, by the way. So I know what Henninger is talking about as I read his piece.
And what he’s getting at here is an observation many people have made that this death and the itinerant media coverage of it is serving primarily as a vehicle for the media to wallop Donald Trump. And in doing so, they are attempting to portray the past as perfect, the recent past, the distant past as perfect and then along came Trump to destroy it all.
And Henninger’s point is that — ’cause the media’s focusing on all of this civility that the Bush presidency, the Bush family exhibited. They never gave him credit for any of that when they were serving in office. George W. Bush was never credited for his civility and decency, and neither was George H. W. Bush. And, yeah, yeah, yeah, it happened so fast on Tuesday, I didn’t get a chance to tell you I was doing an interviewing with Shannon Bream. So we’ll have the video highlights of that ’cause it kind of dovetails with what I’m gonna try to say here.
What we are hearing is that we have lost an era of civility in our politics, and the Bush funeral and the accompanying ceremonies illustrate this loss, that our politics used to be far better, that our politics used to be far more friendly, that our politics used to be far more bipartisan back in the era of George H. W. Bush.
Which is why I kind of cracked with Shannon Bream. Where’s Obama in this? Wasn’t he civil? Didn’t he have a sharp crease in the slacks? Can you imagine how Obama feels listening to how civilized Bush was? “Hey, what about me? I kind of brought civility back, didn’t I?”
Nobody’s crediting Obama, which I find fascinating. What we saw yesterday at the National Cathedral and what we are seeing right now, there is another funeral for family and friends in Texas. It’s at College Station. Same players. Not the same eulogists, but it’s basically the Texas family and friends. James Baker had a tremendous eulogy, George W. Bush with yet another one today.
But what we saw yesterday — and I don’t think this is too fine a point. I don’t think it’s a microscopic differentiation. I think it’s big. What we saw yesterday was a family’s values. The Bush family values is what we saw yesterday and what we have seen all week and what we are seeing today. We’re not really watching what used to be a better political period in our past, because that better political period doesn’t really exist. It’s a media creation to bash the present.
George H. W. Bush was savaged like his son was savaged. Ann Richards (imitating Richards), “Poor George, he can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.” That’s at the Democrat National Convention. They were savagely attacking George W. Bush and George H. W. Bush. He was referred to as a lapdog. He was ripped and criticized constantly.
What we’re watching today — and I think the real key here, we are watching what a family’s values — the Bush family. But wait. Not just them. Hang on. We’re watching a family’s virtues and a family’s values. And you know what we’re reminded of today and yesterday? We’re not reminded what our politics was. Because it’s never been what they’re trying to tell you it is. What we are seeing, what we are being reminded of is how our entire culture used to be, how the entire American culture and society used to be.
What we are watching in this series of commemorations and funerals is a set of behavioral norms and virtues and culture and societal behavior that used to define the entire country’s society and culture, not a previous period in politics. Yes, the Bush family was political. They had their political lives. But before that they had family values. And I don’t mean to use this term as it’s been constantly used over the years politically.
The Bush family and the way they have conducted themselves and this funeral is a throwback to the way this country was in its normal state. And it is this set of values — call it what you will — this definition of human dignity or of civility or just behavior is what this country was. It’s what the distinct American culture was.
And it’s all of the virtues that went into making it and defining it. That is what has been lost. Not just in our politics but throughout our culture. And the wars that we’ve been in that have resulted in these changes have been raging for much longer than when George H. W. Bush was president. Now, Henninger is right that the Republican convention of 1992 did signal or herald a major, major point — and, in some people’s estimations, the beginning of the modern era culture war.
But I think what everybody is missing here is that the media wants you to think that what you’re looking at here is the way our politics used to be and that, “Oh, if it weren’t for Donald Trump, we could get back to it.” This is not what our politics used to be. This is what we used to be! This is what the United States used to be each and every day. These were the values and virtues that defined goodness, decency: Law-abiding, pursuing excellence, being the best you can be, family, friends, how you treat people.
And that bled into our politics, that informed our politics. But politics has never been a pure repository for whatever American culture was, and the reason for that is our politics has always had elements of communism in it. Our politics has always had elements of radical anti-Americanism in it. That’s not a criticism. It’s just an observation. The Communist Party has been attempting to infiltrate America through the political system, the education system for years — and because of that, our politics has always been, to one degree or another, corrupted.
What kept the communists at bay — what kept the militant leftists and the extremists and the Marxists at bay — was the virtuous dominance of the United States of America and its inherent, unique culture and society and its virtues, none of which are present in Marxism or communism. By definition, they’re not. But the Bush family was not communist or Marxist. The Bush family was representative.Some might say it exhibited leadership. The Bush family was representative, and we’re watching…
If you stop to think about, we’re watching what this country at large, in a vast majority, was. It didn’t matter what race you were, didn’t matter what religion you were. This was your culture. This was your set of values and your morality. This is how we defined decency and virtue, no matter who you were in the United States of America, and that’s what we’re seeing here. That’s the evidence that we’ve lost, the examples here that we’re seeing. This is what we’re reminded that we’ve lost — and, again, I’m not saying that the Bushes had anything to do with this.
I’m just saying they happen to… Because of the occasion of the death of the patriarch of their family and the way they have decided to memorialize and honor him, we are seeing the way the dominant American culture that those of us who have been alive long enough to remember it cherish and actively seek a return to, if I might be so bold. And this is what the left cannot possibly understand. They can’t understand. “You really want that? Well, you elect a guy like Trump.” They’ll never understand. To them, that’s one of the most gigantic contradictions.
“How can you think that a guy like Trump represents the values…?” Because he’s the only guy fighting you, and you people on the left are the reason we’ve lost our culture. You are the reason we have lost our sense of virtue and identity. Not Donald Trump. And it just hit me… I wouldn’t say like a slap in the face, because it’s kind of been a slow evolution as to what I’m watching here. We were not watching political bipartisanship yesterday.
That has never existed as it’s being discussed, by the way. Another series of media myths, that at one time our politics was just like what you’re saying in the Bush funeral yesterday. No! It’s never been that. Even in wartime, it’s never been that for longer than a week! You’re being misled. You’re being lied to. You’re having things presented to you in an obviously contradictory and confusing way because our politics has never been what we have watched on TV today and yesterday. That’s how our country used to be.
That is how our culture and society was. Day-to-day America is what we’re watching play out in the way the Bush family is honoring George H. W. Bush. The media politicizes everything. So this can’t be seen outside a political prism, as far as they’re concerned. And the way they look at this, they see a guy — a Republican — who was a one-term president and raised taxes one day, and that made him a good guy. And that made him worth honoring, and that’s the lesson that everybody needs to know. That Republicans do good things when they go against their own initiatives and join the other side.
That’s not what our politics has been. Our politics has never been filled with love and mutual respect and admiration. Oh, they want you to believe that. Even during Reagan, they love to tell… I’m sure you’ve heard the stories. Reagan and Tip O’Neill after a tough day of arguing about tax cuts, would nevertheless sit down over an Irish whisky and reminisce about great old days in Ireland. What a crock! What an ever-loving crock.
The guy that called Reagan “an amiable dunce,” supposedly loved him and got together with him and shot the breeze over Jameson or some beers or what have you? Never happened. Myth making. But our country was, at one time, like this. For the most part, the vast majority of our country had values, traditions, virtues like this — and if you’re honest with yourself, and if you watch this, and you feel reminiscent, you feel like we’re missing something that this reminds you of, that’s what it is, not that our politics used to be this, ’cause it’s never been that.
RUSH: You remember George H. W. Bush, 41? Remember one of his campaign slogans, “We need a kinder, gentler America”? You know what…? You remember what that was about? “We need a kinder, gentler America.” That was because the media was out trashing Ronald Reagan as a mean-spirited extremist who didn’t care about the poor, the thirsty, or the hungry. The story on Reagan was that he was sneaking over to the park across from the White House every night and stealing cans of pork ‘n’ beans from the homeless.
And he was going back to the White House and he’d heat ’em up and eat them and rejoice in the fact that he was taking food away from the homeless. This is how Reagan was reported on! So Bush, he wants to get elected; so he decides — following the media’s lead — that he will capitalize on what the media thinks and start talking about the need for a “kinder, gentler America,” implying that America under Reagan had not been kind or gentle, that it was mean-spirited and extreme.
And they’re trying to tell us that what we are watching is a return to a more civilized and friendly America, and we all got along with one another politics? That period has never existed. I know that many of you young people long for these beliefs that we can all just put everything that we disagree about aside, and we can come up with some common values like climate change and letting transgenders use whatever bathrooms they want.
We can all come together on these big issues of human rights and civil rights. Those days have never existed. Politics has always been a war — and properly so. Politics is about the seminal arguments of what kind of country we’re gonna have. Are we gonna have a free and open nation built upon the liberty of its citizens, or are we not gonna have that? That’s what our politics is about. Liberty and freedom or not. Guess which party represents the “not” side? And it’s never been otherwise.
RUSH: Imagine how much better America’s schools would be if they were not politicized. Imagine how much better late-night comedy would be if it wasn’t hostile to half of the country because of politics. Imagine how much better news broadcasts would be if they were not politicized with hate for half the population.
The NFL. The NFL, have you noticed, less politicized this year. Ratings are coming back. I don’t know about fans in the stands, I think they still got some problems there, but there isn’t any kneeling, there’s no disrespecting of the flag, and TV audiences are starting to return to the NFL as it is perceived that politics is not as front and center. There’s a time and place for politics. But it is sad that it’s become 24/7 in our society.
RUSH: The Daniel Henninger piece, let me reference some things in this, because it got me thinking today about what we’ve actually been watching. And to the extent that people are getting nostalgic about it, I think people need to, again, realize, we’re not watching the way our politics used to be. Even though the politics in your memory may have been less mean-spirited or less extreme.
I’m trying to tell you that in real terms, it isn’t any different today except for the visceral, personal hatred that is growing each day for Donald Trump, and by extension everybody that voted for him. But the animus and the hatred for conservatives and conservatism and Republicans has been front and center in our politics since I can remember. And certainly since the days of Ronaldus Magnus.
But Henninger’s piece is entitled, “Trump Didn’t Kill Bush Values – With the certainty of the tides, the media is awash with invidious comparisons between George H.W. Bush in death and Donald J. Trump in the White House. From the anti-Trump metronomes at the Washington Post there was this: ‘Trump’s time in office, by contrast, has been defined by a war against virtually all of the norms and institutions that Bush held dear.’”
Wrong! Wrong! Trump has nothing to do with the attack on the values and the traditions and the norms the Bush family holds dear! This is my point. Trump’s got nothing to do with it. Because this started, the modern era of the culture war, started in 1992 — actually, before that. It was ongoing when this program began in 1988. I can pinpoint it, at least in terms of the years of this program, I can give you the various stages of the culture war, what the original impetus was for it, if anybody cares and wants to go back that far. But the point is, Trump’s got nothing to do with this!
Henninger writes, “Recall that the same longing for a vanished era occurred when Barbara Bush died in April. By contrast with this week’s commentary, what she stood for was discussed without political recrimination or score-settling.” Remember that? When Barbara died, she was just as much a factor in the Bush family as President Bush was.
She wasn’t president of the United States, but she was president of the family. And yet after she died, there wasn’t any of this. There wasn’t any, “Oh, we long for the days of Barbara Bush. Oh, we long for the days of when this kind of civility –” There was none of that when Barbara Bush passed away. Why? Well, because she wasn’t in politics, and so there was no linkage from her to Trump. They couldn’t find any quotes from her where she had openly disparaged Trump, so they didn’t have a road map. But with George H. W. Bush having served in the same building as Donald Trump, well.
Henninger writes that “Barbara Bush’s private and public values, shared over a lifetime with her husband, were said to be rooted in New England traditions of comportment and belief originating far back in American history. Those Bush values are definable in words such as temperance, self-restraint, plain-speaking, honesty, duty, forbearance, humility, prudence, courage.
“There is nothing particularly unique to New England or even white Anglo-Saxon Protestanism about those values. These traits –” and again, they are temperance, self-restraint, plain speaking, honesty, duty, forbearance, humility, prudence, courage, “These traits emerged everywhere as generations of Americans turned the frontier into a civilized nation. They were necessary.”
Those traits, those virtues were necessary to build a country founded and descending from the United States’ Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. There’s nothing unique to New England or WASP about any of that.
“Most of the Bush values can be found on any list of what are called—or used to be called—virtues. It is telling that these same simple virtues are now being praised by a media that has done so much in the past 30 years to undermine them.”
And that’s what gets me, because that’s exactly what is going on here. The undermining of all these things distinctly American, and they’ve got nothing to do with Donald Trump. Donald Trump is attempting to restore them! Now, you go tell your average leftist that, and they’ll go bonkers. “You telling me that Trump’s trying to restore honesty and temperance and humility? Trump’s none of those things.” He represents it because he didn’t tear them down or rip them apart.
They used to be — this is my point — they used to be what defined American society, American culture. The Bush funeral revives all of this so that people can see it. It’s not what our politics used to be. It’s what we used to be. And it is an American left and a compliant media that has worked to undermine all of that and to replace all of that with values and traditions that we don’t recognize. And we’re told we must stand aside, that this is progress, that this is human rights and civil rights and basically all it is is majority America being told to punt. And we all know the reasons for this.
George H. W. Bush began his presidential term in 1989. And it was the Republican convention in 1992 where the whole idea of family values as a political identity got its first big national stage. There was the Pat Buchanan speech at the 1992 convention.