This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," January 21, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: At the same time a breathless media continues to ramp up expectations for the new administration using the word "historic" at every opportunity. And it's against this background that I spoke exclusively with the one and only Rush Limbaugh.
HANNITY: So we have a new president now. Abraham Lincoln or FDR or Barack Obama, obviously. First of all, what are your general thoughts about him as a person?
LIMBAUGH: Well, I — this is — this is really tough, you know, because I've never met him. I don't know him except how and what I've seen on television. And I'm suspicious. When I see the media and the entire establishment on the left lay down and become cult-like and not examine who he is, what he's done, and not really examine what he says, but just praise him because of how he says it, my antenna go up.
I'll tell you, you know, a lot of people right now just — they're absorbed in the historical nature of this, first black president and so forth. Well, that is wonderful. That's great. But I got over that months ago after he won the election.
I mean, Sean, he is our president now. And he's not black, he's not from Mars, he's not — he's our president, he's a human being. We're a country comprised of human beings that the Democrat Party and the left have attempted to arrange into groups of victims, and that's who he appeals to, and the victims are the people waiting around for some grievance to be resolved.
They're waiting around for something to happen for them, and he is parlaying that. I think the fact that he's African-American, his father was black, to me it's irrelevant. This is the greatest country on earth. We want to keep it that way. It is that way for specific reasons.
Now I look at the things that he has said, and I'm very much concerned that our greatness is going to be redefined in such a way that it won't be great, that we're just going to become average. You cannot have this large of government role in the private sector with so many people thinking that just because they're Americans they're entitled to things, that this guy is going to pass them out and keep this country great and innovative, full of entrepreneurs, and — these things concern me.
Now my critics, and yours, when they hear me say things like this, they — have knee-jerk reactions. They're not listening or parsing my words, either. They're just, Limbaugh is not with the program. Limbaugh doesn't get it. Limbaugh is not sensible.
I — president of the United States. Doesn't matter to me what his race is, what his ethnicity is. What matters to me are his policies and what his plans, and I only know what he has said he's going to do based — and what he has done and how he's voted, and in terms of what I would use to define the greatness of the country, he's not it.
HANNITY: All right. Let's take that a step further here because all throughout the election, we all talked about the Chicago way, his radical friends, associates, et cetera.
HANNITY: His past voting record. By the way, I brought it up a lot, you brought it up a lot, we all talked about it.
What — do you think he really is that and people either ignored it, people don't care, or is he just somebody who is politically expedient? That's what he had to do in Chicago?
LIMBAUGH: We don't know. See, this is the thing. Now normally we would have — a mainstream media would have vetted this guy and we would know this. We don't know what he is. That's the whole point. And people don't care what he is. They don't care who he is.
They care that he's black. They care that he's historic. They care that — they think he's an intellectual because of the way he speaks. And it's all about how he speaks. And I look at some of the facial expressions of people when they're watching the guy, and it's frightening.
But I'm a thinker. A lot of people, I guess, aren't. People are emotional and they react emotionally to things, and if he makes them feel good, especially in economic bad times, then that's all they're really going to care about.
I have — I have to assume that he is who he is and his radical associations are certainly things that have defined him. If you look at the executive orders that he's promised to issue, he's going to overturn the — abortion law that has guided who we fund overseas in terms of family planning, and that's been a roller coaster.
You know, Clinton imposed it, Bush rescinded it, Obama's going to re- impose it and so forth. He's going to issue an executive order to close Guantanamo Bay, but it ain't going to happen for four years.
I think he just wasn't — he plays both sides. He's going to placate the far left Fringe Kook base, his Web site people, and OK, he's going to close Guantanamo, but he's not going to close Guantanamo, because he — and he's not going to get out of Iraq in 16 months, he's going to say so, but he's not going to saddle himself with defeat of forces in Iraq or Afghanistan, and he's certainly not — I can't believe that he's — he will willingly release people at Guantanamo who will come back and revisit terrorist acts in this country.
Not on his watch. They would have loved for that to have happened during Bush. They would love surrender in Iraq when it's on Bush's shoulders, but I don't think he's going to do it, and I think — but he's got to say things that make his Fringe Kook base think that he is being true to his campaign promises.
HANNITY: All right, let — so then this raises this question. You're the leading voice of opposition, conservative, and have defined conservatives for over two decades. You celebrated you r20 years on the air, by the way, nationally syndicated, congratulations.
LIMBAUGH: Thank you.
HANNITY: Coming off record-ratings year for you, but you — you are a passionate conservative. You've defined conservatives for many people in this country for years. He represents the antithesis in terms of his world view.
So then the question becomes, do you want him to succeed?
LIMBAUGH: Now — this — I am so glad that he asked me that question. That you asked me this question.
HANNITY: I'm glad to.
LIMBAUGH: I'll tell you why. I am hearing many Republicans say that — well, we want him to succeed and prominent Republicans. Yes, we wanted — they have laid down. They have totally — they're drinking the Kool- Aid, too. They have no guts to stand up for what their beliefs are because they're afraid of criticism, they're afraid of being called racists, they're afraid of not having gotten with the program.
Now success can be defined two ways. I said earlier I don't know about this guy. I really don't. I've got my — I've got my suspicions, and they're pretty close to convictions, but we're going to have to wait to see what he does. Now if he turns out to be a Reagan, if he adds Reagan to his recipe of FDR and Lincoln, and if he does cut some taxes.
LIMBAUGH: If he does not eliminate the Bush tax cuts, I would call that success. So yes, I would hope he would succeed if he acts like Reagan, but if he's going to do FDR, if he's going to do the new, new deal all over which we will call here the raw deal, why would I want him to succeed?
Look, he's my president. The fact that he is historic is irrelevant to me now. It matters not at all. I — if he is going to implement a far left — look it. I think it's already decided. $2 trillion in stimulus? The growth of government. I think the intent here is to create as many dependant Americans as possible looking to government for their hope and salvation.
If he gets nationalized health care, I mean, it's over, Sean. We're never going to roll that back. That's the end of America as we have known it because that's then going to set the stage for everything being government owned, operated, or provided.
Why would I want that to succeed? I don't believe in that. I know that's not how this country is going to be great in the future, it's not what made this country great.
So I shamelessly say, no, I want him to fail, if his agenda is a far- left collectivism, some people say socialism, as a conservative heartfelt, deeply, why would I want socialism to succeed?
HANNITY: And coming up more of my exclusive interview with Rush Limbaugh, and just ahead, there's no love between Jimmy Carter and the Clintons, but who snubbed who? We have the tape in "Hannity's America."
And then Timothy Geithner tries to move past his tax problems into the post of Treasury Secretary. Mitt Romney will be here with reaction to that and the economy, straight ahead.
HANNITY: Your Treasury secretary nominee got grilled by senators of both parties by his inability to properly understand the tax code. Now that might be a useful thing to grasp since he's going to be running the IRS, right? Tim Geithner does the Potomac two-step and proves that he can understand the new administration's talking points. He gets the "Lib-er-al Translation" treatment tonight.
And former Governor Mitt Romney, he responds plus more of my exclusive interview with Rush Limbaugh, straight ahead.
HANNITY: And continuing now with my exclusive interview with nationally syndicated radio talk show host, Rush Limbaugh.
HANNITY: You want your country to succeed, and you believe that his views implemented represent failure, predictable failure, and conservatism would — represent predictable success.
LIMBAUGH: Well, I don't know where what he wants to try has worked. It didn't work in the Soviet Union. It hasn't worked in China. They're having to become like us in China in order to survive. It hasn't worked in Cuba. It hasn't worked — it didn't work when the pilgrims arrived. They tried socialism. Remember, they had a plot of ground, they shared what they produced, and the slackers figured out they didn't have to produce anything to get goodies.
And so — you know, William Bradford said the heck with this, and he said OK, you get to keep everything you produce, and you're not sharing it. So everybody had to work — really giving thanks to God for the less — socialism failed.
I — it has never worked. The new deal didn't work. You know, Hoover was president through the depression for one year. FDR prolonged the new deal for seven or eight years, and yet he's given credit for ending the depression. Didn't happen. World War II ended it. The new deal didn't work.
This is new, new deal. It doesn't work. If it works, it will be the first time that it works, but it never has, and I don't think this is going to be the record breaker.
HANNITY: So I'm guessing you didn't get your Obama commemorative dinner plates, Rush.
HANNITY: It's gotten so bad. Did you notice they had the commemorative Obama thong? I mean — what do you make of the — you talk about a cult-like personality or you use the term messiah, the anointed one, he descended from the heavens at Invesco Field. What do you make of this Obama worship syndrome, Obama-mania?
LIMBAUGH: Well, I don't — I — you know, it is cult like depending on the people you're talking about, but let's examine the drive-bye. The media.
HANNITY: You've got to explain drive-by. Maybe one or two people didn't — have not heard it.
LIMBAUGH: Drive-by media, it's a (INAUDIBLE) drive by shooter except the microphones are the guns.
LIMBAUGH: And they're driving the groups of people they report a bunch of totally wrong libelous stuff about people, they create a giant mess, sometimes people get really harmed, they go out and try to destroy people's career. Then they get in the convertible, head on down the road, and do it all over again while people like you and me are left to clean up the mess with the truth.
So I call them the drive-by media.
LIMBAUGH: While they are praising Obama at that — at that Grant Park acceptance night, they're out in Denver when he accepted the nomination. I've got — I listened to Jon Meacham and somebody else at "Newsweek" say, you know, this is creepy. It's creepy. It's like he ascends after the speech and watches us.
LIMBAUGH: They call him creepy for a few brief moments, but yet at the same time he's the second coming. Charlie Rose and Tom Brokaw one night on Charlie Rose's show, I think in preparation for the fact that they don't know what he's going to do either, got into a long discussion about how neither one of them know him.
Well, I don't know who he is, Tom said. I don't know what books he's read. I really don't know who his role models are. But — Charlie Rose is (INAUDIBLE), I'm shouting to TV, Tom, you're at NBC, dispatch a reporter, it's your job, find out who he is.
They didn't. They only cared — see, Sean, they've got an investment. He's too big to fail. They wanted him elected because they wanted to reassert their power, the media here, in being able to sway public opinion to the result that they wanted, so they were going to cover up the Jeremiah Wright and all these things that give indication of radicalism of Obama, cover that up, portray him as he wants to be portrayed, somebody who's not to be questioned, somebody who's not to be doubted, we're just supposed to accept and trust because most of these guys came alive and came of age in the civil rights battles of the 60's.
It defined who they are. They've trained the young drive-bys to look at events through the same prism. You know racism in this country is the exclusive problems of the left. We're witnessing racism all this week that led up to the inauguration. We are being told that we have to hope he succeeds, that we have to bend over, grab the ankles, bend over forward, backward, whichever, because his father was black, because this is the first black president.
We — we've got to accept this. The racism that — everybody thinks exists on our side of the aisle has been on full display throughout their primary campaign. So I think they've done a great job, the media has, of covering up his deficiencies. They — he's too big to fail, and so whatever goes wrong, blame it on Bush, blame it on — I mean MSNBC's new life will be criticizing you and me because they can't criticize him.
HANNITY: But you're really saying here is you're in the "I want America to succeed, I want the right policies for America." It's not about the messiah or the anointed one or any one individual. Any wrong handed policies that's going to take America off — a course of success which is what we've been on, and this is something you've talked about for years, individual responsibility, liberty, freedom.
You know, we all have choices in America. It's the antithesis of where we're headed.
LIMBAUGH: And the freedom is important to understand in the founding of our country, but it's individual, not group. You're — exactly right. I'm not — I'm 58 years old now. And I don't devote — I don't have hero worship. You know I have my idols, but even they had flaws that I recognized, and I didn't agree with them hands down no matter what, but I'm not into hero worship.
I — that's what's happening here with Obama. I do care about the country. I care about what made it great. I want it to remain great and continue to be great for people that follow after me, nephews and nieces, I don't have any kids. But you know, we've inherited a country with a great opportunity for ourselves.
We want that to be passed on. The country is bigger than any one human being, any one presidency and so forth. I think a lot of people have put that aside or else they have assumed that this is the new direction that we're going to go that's going to get everybody fixed and solve everybody's problem, and there will be no more pain, there will be no more suffering, there'll just be contentment and utopia and happiness.
HANNITY: Now tomorrow night, we'll have part two of my exclusive interview with Rush on the future of the conservative movement.
Watch "Hannity" weeknights at 9 p.m. ET!
Content and Programming Copyright 2009 FOX News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2009 CQ Transcriptions, LLC, which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon FOX News Network, LLC'S and CQ Transcriptions, LLC's copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.