Ultra conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh got his own stimulus package recently, signing an eight-year radio deal worth a reported $400 million. That is pretty good for a syndicated talker who attracts millions of listeners five days a week. I admit I once listened to Rush, even found him humorous at times. Once in awhile he even made sense. You knew he was being funny, but you also knew he believed his basic points and made an occasionally decent argument.

Well Limbaugh should be happy that he has President Obama in the White House because now he has exactly what he needs to keep his show lively for another eight years, assuming Obama is re-elected in 2012. And President Obama gave Rush just what he needed, if the New York Post got it right, when he said to Republican leaders, "You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh." If he really said this one wonders why.

Limbaugh has already declared that he wants Obama to fail if he pushes his "socialist" solutions to the economic problems that we face. It seems Rush thinks almost everything President Obama wants is socialism. Some conservatives have even expressed great reservations about Rush but he has pressed on in insisting that most of what Obama desires is bad for the country.

Columnist Clarence Page, writing in the Thursday Chicago Tribune, said "Limbaugh sounds like he cares more about preserving conservative ideological purity than he cares about saving the economy, or the country." Strong words, but likely not far from the truth. The problem is that President Obama defies the typical labels and stereotypes and some conservatives already see this and applaud it. Call him a "pragmatic liberal" or a "progressive" of a new sort, he is not the liberal of the far left that we have known the past thirty years or so. Obama, adds Clarence Page, has less angst about conservatism than he does about strong ideology. (By the way, this was demonstrated by Obama's leadership of the Harvard Law Review.)

The truth is that the stimulus package the president sought this week had far more tax cuts in it than the Congress will likely give him. My fear is that an over-aggressive Congress, just dying to spend more money, will harm us much more than President Obama. What I do fear about the president is that he will sign what congress gives him even though he promised to cut pork and waste. Time will tell. I think the majority of Americans believe government has a role in solving this problem but many of us fear the government will make things worse by creating a much bigger debt that will potentially ruin those who make up the next generation.

Roskam and JHA
Peter Roskam, my own congressman, wrote in a Thursday edition of our suburban newspaper: "The politics of change has come to Washington, rhetorically, but we have yet to see Democratic leaders in the House and Senate follow through on this promise. It's not too late but the clock is ticking." Peter Roskam is right.
(By the way, Roskam and Obama like one another personally. They know each other from their days in the Illinois Senate!)

It is estimated that it will cost the taxpayers $235,000 per job to create new jobs under the stimulus proposal. The private sector could do this a lot better and thus would call this plan, adds Roskam, "a bad investment." I agree. "The government," concludes Congressman Roskam, "calls it business as usual."

I think President Obama may not be our primary problem in the coming years. I think the Democrats in the House and Senate may use these years to spend money in ways that will in-debt us beyond repair. I hope I am wrong. But I am not about to support Rush Limbaugh's approach for how to address the problem. I much prefer the insights and political good sense of thinkers like George Will, David Brooks, Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer and Fred Barnes to the silliness of people like Rush Limbaugh. Rush makes a serious argument look clownish and the end result is not one that helps the civil and social well-being of our nation. We can do much better in mounting serious alternatives to gross over-spending.

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  1. jls February 2, 2009 at 7:48 am

    Hi John.
    You wrote, “…President Obama defies the typical labels and stereotypes and some conservatives already see this and applaud it.” I’d like to believe this. I’ve been looking for evidence that this is true. I pray that it will be true. But I honestly haven’t seen it yet. The current “stimulus” bill is a reckless piece of legislation, and it’s advancing under Obama’s watch, with his full support. At this point–and I admit, it may just be too early to tell–the evidence suggests to me that (a) Obama’s new kind of progressivism is more stylistic than substantial, or (b) he’s too weak to buck the special interests and old-school liberals in his own party. I guess this underscores the need for us to pray for our president and national leaders.
    God bless you.

  2. k. darrell February 3, 2009 at 12:46 am

    good point, jls.
    After reading “the american myth of religious freedom”, I am no longer convinced that anyone is “neutral” or not an “ideologue”. In fact, I think Obama is the most dangerous sort of ideologue, b/c he seeks to engulf all others under his paradigm. Gay bishops? We have room for that. Anti-Gay Bishops? Yup, room for them too. As long as they recognize me and submit to my plans and agenda, then all are welcome at the table.
    At least Rush, although misguided at points, understands the antithesis b/t the two camps. Why can’t Rush believe that “conservative ideology” is the best for the economy and the country? I realize Schaeffer is wrong at points, but he would be aghast at the amount of “synthesis” that missional evangelicals allow in their thinking.
    P.S. I am not neutral on this matter as the Lord was pleased to use Rush Limbaugh as a pawn in his strategy to bring me to repentance. Rush showed me the need for “absolutes” and the 10 Commandments showed me that I was a slave to sin – in the house of slavery.

  3. Gene Redlin February 3, 2009 at 10:37 am

    I agree with your in total on this one. I can’t take too much Rush in a week, but the drift away from core essentials in the missional evangelical church expression today will be the death of those fellowships.
    I go toe to toe with them sometimes, don’t always win, mostly not, but once in a great while I am able to help blow a little wind of the spirit into the sail that directs them.
    Keep up the fight. The soul of the once great evangelical movement is being sacrificed on the altar of acceptance by the world.
    The reaction of many evangelicals to the election of Obama reveals much I wish it didn’t.

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