If Rush Limbaugh does nothing else for the Republican Party, he has earned his political immortality for the wake-up jolt he has applied to conservatives.
At the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, the beloved/despised talk-radio commentator strew enough pearls of conservative wisdom before his incredulous/admiring audience to keep apoplectic leftists and taken-aback moderates busy analyzing and refuting for a lifetime of election cycles.
It will be increasingly obvious that what Limbaugh unloaded for 90 minutes in front of viewers nationwide were more common-sense verities than this media-hornswoggled, politically jaded nation has heard in many a day.
Out of that Rushmorean treasure trove, one jewel sparkled above the rest: Core beliefs are what win elections, not contrived policies.
“Our beliefs are not the result of calculations and contrivances,” he said. “Our beliefs are our core. Our beliefs are our hearts.
“If we're going to convince the minds and hearts of the American people that what's about to happen to them is as disastrous as anything in their lives in peacetime, we're going to have to discuss philosophy with them. We are going to have to talk about principles.”
Then he took broadside aim at trimmers, tackers and toadies within the conservative movement for wanting more to be celebrated than respected:
“This is not about taking a policy or a process that the Democrats have put forward and fighting around the edges. The Constitution doesn't need to be redefined. The Declaration of Independence does not need to be redefined, and neither does conservatism. Conservatism is not something you can bend and shape.”
He paid his disrespect to conservative wannabes who would recreate conservatism around their own current likeness: “There will be different factions lining up to try to define what conservatism is. You don't check principles at the door.”
Then he got to the meat of his oration — conservative leadership, or its lack: “The American people may not all vote the way we wish them to, but more Americans now live their lives as conservatives in one degree or another. And they are waiting for leadership.
“We need conservative leadership. We can take this country back. All we need is to nominate the right candidate. It's no more complicated than that.”
What Rushmore calls “the drive-by media” seized upon that as his staking claim to the mantle. No surprise, for they are their most uncomfortable when pushed to discuss principles. And principles and core beliefs were his real topic.
There’s a lesson in Meredith Willson’s marvelous “The Music Man.” By sheer personality, con-man “professor” Harold Hill bamboozles tiny River City, Iowa. He convinces the town’s children they can play real instruments in a real band — if their parents would only buy the uniforms and instruments from him.
Who can forget the strutting Harold Hill, leading a jubilant students’ marching band clad in dazzling regalia and playing expensive instruments exquisitely? He had convinced them they could do it by giving them values worth believing in — although they hadn’t been able to play two notes together on key.
Perhaps Rush was saying America needs an honest Harold Hill directing 76 trombones, 110 cornets, a thousand reeds, copper-bottom tympani, double-bell euphoniums, big bassoons and clarinets of every size. More likely, he was saying conservative music to believe in counts more than any music man.
America desperately needs an authentic, conservative music man, or woman, to lead the next big parade. But first, those itching to lead the band had better be able, themselves, to march to the stirring music of conservative core values.
There may still be time for this. Rush Limbaugh has applied the paddles and shouted, “Clear!” Now it’s up to the patient to respond, or die on the gurney.
John L. Perry, a prize-winning newspaper editor and writer who served on White House staffs of two presidents, is a regular columnist for Newsmax.com. Read John Perry's columns here.
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