OTR Interviews

A Teflon president exposed? Rush explains his 'Limbaugh Theorem' on Obama

Limbaugh 'On the Record,' Pt. 1: Iconic radio talk show host on why voters disapproved of Obama's policies, yet chose to re-elect him, why the president likes his 'phony scandals' and is still campaigning for ObamaCare and more


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," July 30, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I don't have anything in common with Obama policy-wise. Zilch. Zero. Nada.

Nine million jobs have been lost, partly since Obama took office, nine million! They're just gone! The country's hanging by a thread here. As founded, it's hanging by a thread. We're about to lose it! The Democrats are the people need to be defeated. Obama's about eliminating opposition, not working with it. But why should we help him? I think our ideas will trump Obama's ideas every day!


GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight, Rush Limbaugh goes "On the Record." In a rare interview, Rush tells us President Obama likes scandals. Now our one-hour interview with Rush Limbaugh.


VAN SUSTEREN: Talking about the scandals -- President Obama says the scandals are phony. Why do you think he says they're phony, because he believes it, or is there a strategy?

LIMBAUGH: No, there's a strategy. I've -- you know, I've -- I've been troubled by something with the Obama -- you know, I playfully call it the regime because I know it irritates them. And it is like a regime. And I've been troubled, I've been amazed.

Here is a man whose policies have done great damage to this country, policies have done great damage to the economy, have done great damage to the American culture, to the American psyche. I mean, there is a malaise. There's a -- there's a -- there's a sense of -- of -- of hopelessness and depression out there. And it's his policies that have done this.

And what has always amazed me is how he's not attached to any of it. He has an agenda. He's been implementing it. But the -- what I call the low-information voters, who voted for him and other Democrats, do not associate Obama's policies and agenda with the condition of the country, the economy or whatever. That's always befuddled me.

I've never, never known a president to be immune from economic circumstances at an election as he was in 2012. It all became clear to me -- there was a New York Times story, I think one of their blog posts on the Web back in February. And it basically said via poll data what I just said to you. It said most people disapprove of the Obama agenda. They don't like the direction the country's going. They like him and they think he's great for the country.

And I said, How can that be? Intellectually, how can a majority of people -- and you know they oppose "Obama care" by 55, 60 percent in a number of polls. They are worried about jobs. How in the world can they like him, reelect him and yet disapprove of everything he's doing?

And I came up -- I call it the Limbaugh Theorem. And you hear other people talking about it in the sense that he's a bystander president or he's outside Washington. The way he does this, he never appears to be governing. That's why he's constantly campaigning.

Why is there a campaign going on for "Obama care"? It's already the law of the land. Why is he out campaigning for all this stuff that's already law, it's already going to happen?

And my theory is that Obama has positioned himself as an outsider, not attached to anything that's happening. What he has made happen, he positions himself as opposed to it and against it and fighting for everybody else to overcome what he has done!

And that's one of the reasons why the constant campaign, so he doesn't appear to be governing, so he doesn't appear to be part of Washington, so there are -- he appears to have this mysterious, powerful bunch of forces that are opposing him and stopping him from creating jobs and stopping him from giving people proper health care and stopping him from making their home values go up. But he's constantly out there fighting it. And he does that by constantly campaigning and never seen to be -- to be governing.

So all of these scandals -- he calls them -- they're not distraction, they're real. But he likes them because they detract from the absolute reality of what has happened to this country as a result of his policies.

Now, let's take a look at selling "ObamaCare" because I mentioned that (INAUDIBLE) Why in the world are you on a campaign to sell "Obama care"? What -- I mean, it's the law. Yes, you got an effort by the Republicans, two or three of them, to defund it. But why the campaign?

Very simple. You go back to 2010, 2010 midterms, the Republicans, Tea Party created, cleaned the Democrats' clocks. If you go back and look at the 2010 midterms, that was one of the biggest shellackings the Democrat Party's had in a long time. The Republicans took back the House of Representatives, but the Democrats lost a total nationwide all the way down-ballot of over 600 seats. And it was because of "ObamaCare" and the rising debt and the fact that nobody was opposing it and nobody's stopping it.

Tea Party gets created. These people show up. Now, what Obama and the Democrats really want, what they're salivating about now is winning the House in 2014. If they get that, hold the Senate, there's no such thing as a lame duck second term. They won't even need a congress. All they are is going to be a rubber stamp. Whatever Obama wants to do the past two years, just signs it and does it and Congress rubber stamps it and we've got it going. He can't be stopped. That's why they want it.

But they remember 2010. So he's out there trying to change public opinion on health care so that it doesn't replicate in 2014 what happened in 2010 in the midterms. He cannot afford for a bunch of Tea Party people, a bunch of anti-Obama voters to show up in 2010, voting against him and holding the House for the Republicans and maybe winning the Senate for the Republicans. That's one reason he's campaigning.

The second reason he's campaigning for it is simply to continue this notion that he's not of Washington, that he's outside, fighting against these powerful forces, doing everything he can to stand up for the American people.

It's the most amazing thing I've ever seen! I've never seen a president get away with four-and-a-half years of not being seen as responsible for anything he's done when everything that's happened is because of him. He can't be stopped! The Republicans don't have any power. All they can do maybe, if they get the cojones, is stop things, but they can't make anything happen. The Republicans are totally powerless in terms of legislation and Washington. They have the House, but nothing in the Senate. They can't stop him anywhere.

So yet he's out acting like he's got to overcome all of this opposition and all of these mean people that ho want to prevent the American people from realizing their dreams, these dastardly Republicans! So the phony scandals is just another vehicle to continue the same modus operandi and, by the way, to continue to blame the Republicans for being cold-hearted, mean-spirited extremists, bigots, racist, sexist homophobes, war on women, all that stuff.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why do you think, though -- I mean, a lot of people are unhappy about the phony scandal, at least a lot of Republicans because a lot of people hate the IRS. In early May, he says this is a serious problem. Now it's phony. And it's just a campaign tactic? Is that what you're saying?

LIMBAUGH: Well, he's got a slavish media. He can say whatever he wants, and he's not going to be called on it by the media. He can do pretty much everything he wants.

I should add -- I should have added in -- with my previous answer to your question that -- that he couldn't get away with any of this without a slavish media, I mean, a media that doesn't question him or just -- in fact, that is on board with his agenda and is trying to help him advance it.

I've gotten to the point where what he says is irrelevant. So he's out there -- you -- I can give you quotes of what he said in 2002, 2005, 2007 about health care. I can give you quotes of what he said about global warming and all these things that they're irrelevant.

What you have to do is watch what he does. He's always going to tell you he's not doing what he's doing. He's always going to position himself as having nothing to do with what's happening. He's always going to position himself as, It's the Republicans. They're constantly complaining, whining. I fixed the IRS. I fired whoever did this. It's reprehensible. All he's got to do is talk about how reprehensible he thinks it is. Media reports, Obama thinks IRS scandal is horrible. And that's it.

The thing that you have to know is -- and everybody says, I wonder if there's a smoking gun memo, Obama and the -- there doesn't need to be one. He hires people, puts them in these places. He knows what they're going to do. They're all miniature Obamas. There won't be a smoking gun. There doesn't have to be a memo.

He doesn't have to give people that work for him instructions or a manual on how to screw the Republicans or stop conservatives. That's what they want to do themselves. Plus, they want to make him happy.

So I think it's incredible what's happening! I think it's out of the world incredible that we have somebody whose policies have led to the malaise and the destruction of the economy and the hijacking of the health care industry, and he's not held accountable for it! He tells people that health care premiums are going to go down $2,500, and they think that's true because he says it.

The truth is never presented in the mainstream media, where most of the low-information voters get what they think they know.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why does the media give him a pass on it, if it's as you say? Why do they not hold him accountable for things he's said before?

LIMBAUGH: They agree with him. They are him. They are -- I think they're all part of the elitist New York/Washington/Boston media academic corridor, and they think they are Obama. They think -- the same education, the same schools, same worldview.

But there's also, I think -- you know, I've been doing my radio show for 25 years, and it's gotten to the point now where things are starting to repeat. You start hearing the same things over and over about the same issues, and you realize that not a whole lot really changes.

And the interesting thing to me about Obama and the media -- I think, Greta, the explanation, the short answer to your question is in 1988, you had CNN, the three networks and the newspapers, and that was it. There was a media monopoly. My radio show starts in 1988. Even by 1995, I was still the only conservative national media voice, other than some magazines, National Review, and so forth.

It wasn't until '96, '97 that FOX came along and other radio talk shows and the blogosphere as the Internet blossomed, and so forth. And I think that the media is very worried. They've lost their monopoly, and now they're in a competitive situation. And I think they get as big a thrill, just as all Democrats do, of defeating conservatives as they do helping Obama.

I think we've never lived in a more partisan country. We've never -- the Civil War not included. That was bad. But maybe aside from that, I can't remember a time where it's been more partisan, more divisive and getting worse, and being done on purpose. The division happens on purpose. The media has aligned with Obama to defeat Republicans, to defeat conservatives. And Obama is all about that. That makes them his best friend, and vice versa.

VAN SUSTEREN: What happens in 2010? You mentioned 2010? I mean, not 2010, 2014.

LIMBAUGH: I have no idea because the -- if you look at 2010, that massive turnout and the vote, there wasn't a Republican on the ballot and there wasn't a singular Republican voice in electoral politics, I mean, that was articulating an agenda. There wasn't a potential presidential candidate that people were rallying around.

That 2010 vote was all anti-Obama. It was all anti-debt. It was all anti-health care. It was all anti-the Democrat Party. That's what's got them so bugged about what happened because there wasn't -- the people weren't voting for anything in 2010, they were simply saying, Ain't no way, no way, don't want any part of this. And so -- I expected that that same turnout would happen in 2012, and it didn't.


LIMBAUGH: It sat home.


LIMBAUGH: Well, that opens up a whole can of worms. That's -- that I think is illustrative of the problem the Republican Party that faces. The people that sat home, if you look at the polling data, it was mostly white Republican voters that stayed home, mostly conservative, dissatisfied with the Republican Party's rejection of conservatism, another nominee that they weren't excited about.

And it's amazing. Greta, you look at what happened in 2010, the Republican Party didn't even make an effort to capitalize on that! Here you have a national uprising in opposition to Barack Obama, and the Republicans acted like they didn't want any part of the Tea Party, either!

The consultants and the powers that be did everything they could to diminish the Tea Party. If I were the Republican Party, I would have embraced those people. I would have brought them into the fold and I would have done what I could to keep them as donors, as voters.

But the Republican Party had no desire. So -- and I think 2012 and the campaign -- some of those Republican voters felt that and saw it and said, OK, well, if you're not interested in our assistance and if you're not interested in what we think and our view of the country, we'll sit at home. To heck with it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, the Tea Party, if you actually talk to these Tea Party members, they're not kooks. I mean, they're airline pilots. They're shop keepers. They're family members. I mean, these are people with regular jobs, and yet they're demonized.

LIMBAUGH: Precisely! They're demonized because they don't understand the politics and they're not of Washington and they can't be controlled. They can't be nominated by the party.

Greta, There's a really unfortunate thing happening with the Republican Party. And it -- as a conservative, it appears to me the Republican Party is trying to push itself away from its conservative base on a number of issues.

And I -- it's been a very eye-opening thing for me. I always thought that, as Republicans, we oppose Democrats. We wanted to beat them. I don't see that. I don't see any pushback against anything Obama wants to do. The pushback's against the Tea Party. The pushback is against conservatives.

It's -- it's a stunning thing. The Republican Party has decided that capitulation with the Democrats seems to be the ongoing strategy. And by capitulation, I mean -- I had a guy call me yesterday, talking about this ongoing fight to defund "Obama care," continuing resolution fight, and so forth.

And he took -- this caller took the exact viewpoint of inside the Beltway Republicans, which is that might involve a government shutdown, and we can't shut down government because the country will hate us! And they cite 1995, and look what happened to Republicans after 1995. No, let's go ahead and let "Obama care" be fully implemented, and it will implode on itself and people will see how bad it is.

Well, that's not a strategy, that's capitulation! That's not even pushing back against it. Even if you don't have a chance to stop it, why not make a stand, tell people who you are, as Republicans, as conservatives? You've never had -- they've never had a greater chance to contrast who they are with liberal Democrats and what's happening now.

And instead of doing that, the Republican establishment seems to be going along with them -- "Obama care," immigration reform, amnesty, whatever it is. There's no disagreement. There's no pushback on it.

And I remember in 1992, people would tell me, Rush, let Clinton win. Let him win, and as people see how rotten the Democrats are and that will - - and I'm hearing the same thing now about "Obama care." Let this happen. The American people will -- we've never pulled an entitlement back once it's been implemented! Once it's there, it's there. And this is a huge one. This -- this changes the relationship -- "ObamaCare" does -- between citizen and government and state like nothing ever has.

Once they have this, health care is the way that they'll have legitimate -- (INAUDIBLE) it's constitutional -- control over every aspect of everybody's life because everything you do in your life has health care costs related to it! And it -- it -- they're going to be able to dictate what you eat, how you eat, where you eat, and what kind of health care you get or don't get as a result. I mean, that's the objective of it, is control, the elimination of individual liberty and freedom!

And there's no pushback on this! I'm just -- I'm sitting here stunned. Well -- and by the -- the government shutdown, argument two, is (INAUDIBLE) 1995, classic point. The Republicans won two seats in the Senate after the '95 budget shutdown and didn't lose that many seats in the House. In addition, because of the shutdown, they were able to set the table for policy that was good that came later, welfare reform that Clinton ultimately signed. The government shutdown was not a debacle for the Republicans in reality.

Now, it was on TV. It was in the media. The Republicans were accused of starving children. Remember that? Little kids in New Orleans are writing letters to Republicans, Please don't cut the school lunch program, I can't study if I'm hungry. Republicans -- there were no cuts in the school lunch program. There were actual increases. There were not just going to be increases as high, so they called it a cut.

VAN SUSTEREN: That's a Washington cut.

LIMBAUGH: It's a typical -- baseline budget cut. But the point is that the media portrayed this as a debacle and an absolute disaster for the Republicans, and Clinton cleaned Gingrich's clock. But in reality, the Republicans won two seats, set the stage for some pretty good things that happened policy-wise after that. It's not a debacle to shut down the government!

But here's the point. A majority of people oppose "ObamaCare," whatever poll you look at. Why does not the Republican Party want to embrace that? I mean, the Republican Party has got have a problem, right? They haven't won elections lately.

The majority of the American people don't want this. Why doesn't the Republican Party embrace them, bring them in and try to grow, have a -- at least come up with a way to reach out and attach themselves to these people, a majority of voters? Instead, they're capitulating with what the Democrats want, and not just on this but on -- on immigration, amnesty, whatever you want to call it.

And I swear, for the longest time, I didn't understand it because I was looking at it the wrong way.