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Obama Administration vs. Rush Limbaugh

This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," March 2, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Impact" segment tonight: It is becoming clear that the Obama White House is positioning radio guy Rush Limbaugh as a stalwart inside the Republican Party. Over the weekend, Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel went down that road and Mr. Limbaugh replied.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAHM EMANUEL, OBAMA'S CHIEF OF STAFF: And it's our desire that the Republicans would work with us and try be constructive rather than adopt the philosophy of somebody like Rush Limbaugh who's praying for failure.

(SEPARATE CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: What is so strange about being honest in saying I want Barack Obama to fail if his mission is to restructure and reform this country so that capitalism and individual liberty are not its foundation? Why would I want that to succeed?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'REILLY: Joining us now from Miami, FOX News analyst Bernie Goldberg, author of the big best-seller, "A Slobbering Love Affair."

I'm not exactly sure what the Obama White House strategy is here. It's clear to me that Rahm Emanuel has a lot of power. And he goes on the Sunday show and says — and elevates Mr. Limbaugh to a very, very high position within the Republican Party. Why do you think he's doing that?

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BERNARD GOLDBERG, AUTHOR, "A SLOBBERING LOVE AFFAIR": Yeah, let me throw out my theory on why. If they could make Rush Limbaugh the voice of the Republican Party — he is the voice — the leader of the Republican Party, and then run a sound bite that only says I hope he fails without giving Rush's explanation for what he meant by that — and it's good that FOX just ran the entire sound bite where he explained what he meant by that — then all they have to do is run ads that say Rush Limbaugh is the voice of the party, and then they pop in the sound bite that says I hope he fails. And not savvy people, not people who are listening to us now, but the vast majority of the American people who are not politically savvy say, oh yeah, yeah, Rush Limbaugh knows Republicans want the president to fail.

O'REILLY: OK, but…

GOLDBERG: I don't like that. I think as a strategy it may work.

O'REILLY: This is usually done by surrogates. See, they usually go to NBC News and kick them over and say, you know, why don't do you this. And, indeed, in the beginning, in the beginning, after Mr. Limbaugh made his comments about success and failure of the Obama administration, that's the way it was played. They kicked out to their newspaper columnists, the reliable people who, you know, will print what the Democratic Party wants them to. They kicked it over to MSNBC, these people, and Air America on the radio, and they said, OK, demonize this guy.

But now it's inside the White House. Now it's to the chief of staff level. So I'm saying to myself, there has got to be more than Rush Limbaugh involved here. The man is very popular on the radio. But he's not to the level of, say, a John McCain or somebody within the — Mitch McConnell, the senator. He's not at that level. So, are they trying to divert attention away?

GOLDBERG: No.

O'REILLY: This is what I think it may be. The economy is so bad and so shaky, and the Obama vision has not worked at all. Zero. Now, again, it's only been six weeks, but it isn't working. I think they're trying to get a culture war going here to divert attention, you know? Start a little fire. Get that on there, and get out of the economic realm.

GOLDBERG: Yeah. I think, first of all, I disagree with you. I think Rush is bigger than Mitch McConnell and John McCain put together.

O'REILLY: Now define that though. If he's bigger within the Republican Party, are you saying…

GOLDBERG: Because people — Republicans…

O'REILLY: ...that he's defining policy?

GOLDBERG: No. I mean he's bigger in that most conservatives don't have any use for Republicans anymore. They have sold out. They are the reason conservatives and Republicans are behind the 8 ball now, because Republicans sold out. And every conservative listening to us right now knows I'm right about that.

O'REILLY: All right. Do you think though…

GOLDBERG: That's No. 1.

O'REILLY: Do you think…

GOLDBERG: But No. 2, Bill…

O'REILLY: Go ahead.

GOLDBERG: I don't think Rush is the target. I don't think Rush is the target. I think the target is if you make Rush the leader of the party, and then you — moderates are going to say well, I don't especially like Rush. I mean, conservatives, we love Rush. But moderates are going to say I don't like Rush. And what they're going to do is they're going to minimize the Republican Party.

O'REILLY: OK, so it's divide and conquer.

GOLDBERG: They're going to marginalize it.

O'REILLY: Split off the right from the moderate.

GOLDBERG: Yes.

O'REILLY: That's interesting. Now, do you believe that Rahm Emanuel and the other — and President Obama and the other guys in the White House see Limbaugh as a threat? See, Limbaugh from the jump has been anti-Obama. So, is he a threat to them? Or are they just using him as a pinata?

GOLDBERG: He may be a threat. And it's not the pinata argument. It's if you could make Rush Limbaugh the spokesman for the Republican Party — they know that Limbaugh and Rush knows this — he's a polarizing figure. You either love him or you hate him. And they figure there are enough people out there who are not politically savvy. Again, it's not the people who are watching us now who are going to buy this argument. And they're going to turn on Rush and by proxy turn on the Republican Party.

O'REILLY: OK. One quick question. In the magazine New Republic, a left-wing magazine, they say Bernie Goldberg is ruining the country, right?

GOLDBERG: They say FOX News and I and even liberal critics are creating a crisis of confidence in the crisis of authority in the mainstream media, and that's why newspapers are going under. Right?

O'REILLY: Who knew you had that much power?

GOLDBERG: Exactly. Exactly. I mean, if I had that much power, they would have gone under a long time ago. Here's the thing. On the last page of my book, on the last page, I predicted exactly this would happen. Instead of taking the blame and saying we're the reason we don't have credibility, we, the media, they're going to blame their critics. And nobody's going to buy it.

O'REILLY: All right.

GOLDBERG: The reason the media has no authority is because of the media, not because of you and not because of me.

O'REILLY: Thanks, as always.

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