I find the attacks on Rush from the right mostly stupid, cringe-inducing, and wrong. (Andy flagged this particularly nasty and personal post by David Frum.) Rush is a huge benefit to the Right, and if we didn’t have him, we’d have to try to invent him (and probably fail, because so much of his success is a product of his natural, can’t-be-reproduced talent.) That said, I disagree with this line in his CPAC speech about not needing “better policy ideas right now.” I disagree with this as a matter of short-term tactics (as Rush seems to have meant it from the context) and long-term strategy. In the short term, while Republicans are saying “no” to Obama, it’s important that they offer alternatives—among other things, it makes their opposition more effective. And in the long term we need new and better policies, because the world never sits still and we always have to apply our enduring principles to new circumstances. It’s impossible to imagine Reagan or Buckley endorsing policy stasis as representing true conservatism. Even if we were to try to perfectly replicate Reagan, which one would we choose–the Reagan who wouldn’t talk to the Soviets or the Reagan who did, etc.? Only in meeting the challenges of our time can we hope to preserve our principles.
I’m a big fan of Rush, even though i don’t necessarily agree with him all the time. That said, I thought the same thing you did when he said we don’t need to worry about policy but it’s all about principles. I was thinking about it later on that day and it made sense to me that in what he could have been saying was that: it is when you stick to your principles that good policy will flow out. That would make sense and my reasoning was confirmed when i tuned in today and he actually made that exact point (I don’t have the audio, I tune in at work). I also think that another point to be taking out of that is that it doesn’t really matter what Republicans offer, they have so little power it won’t pass. But I guess offering something and getting turned down is better than just saying no, right?
… One quick nuance: from Rush’s speech, and amplified by his other discussions, your specific quote “we don’t need better policy ideas right now” does not capture the context.
Rush was absolutely and provably arguing for clear, articulated conservative policies based on principle. He was arguing against (maybe even begging) the party to avoid “fine tuning” Obama’s policies and objectives in the hope of making the train wreck less destructive at the cost of confusing the American people.
Rush is correct. The greatest danger to the Nation is that the loyal opposition (us) will not present a clear alternative.
For example, we cannot and must not ask the Democrats for capital gains tax concessions on a bill nationalizing health care, and let Obama have the photo op of “bipartisan nationalization” and then expect the American people to separate us from the Democrats as the consequences of that policy become clear.
So you are right and Rush is right. You both actually agree…