Rush at CPAC: A tale of two speeches, given once

The Washington Times Weekly - - Culture, Etc. -

The mood at the Omni Shore­ham Ho­tel on Feb. 28 was off the elec­tri­cal me­ter when Rush Lim­baugh took cen­ter stage at the Con­ser­va­tive Po­lit­i­cal Action Con­fer­ence (CPAC).

Hun­dreds of rev­el­ers packed the Re­gency Ball­room and hun­dreds more filled over­flow rooms, hall­ways and stair­ways to watch on wide-screen TVs. It was a rare and much-an­tic­i­pated pub­lic ap­pear­ance of the man so pow­er­ful that Pres­i­dent Obama sin­gled him out for de­struc­tion in his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s first days.

Con­ser­va­tive pun­dits, party leaders and move­ment big­wigs took spe­cial care to po­si­tion them­selves close by so they could hang on ev­ery word of the only per­son who ac­tu­ally could ac­com­plish what the three-day con­fer­ence was all about — jump-start­ing the flag­ging con­ser­va­tive cause.

Fox News joined C-SPAN in car­ry­ing the nearly hour-and-ahalf ex­pe­ri­ence, while CNN broke ranks with the “main­stream me­dia” and aired most of the speech as well.

It was an ad­dress that could have al­tered the elec­tion had it been de­liv­ered early last fall by any Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date.

About mid­way through Mr. Lim­baugh’s clear-headed, timely and some­times ram­bunc­tious call to ide­o­log­i­cal arms, my Black­Berry be­gan buzzing with elated text mes­sages from across the Omni and across the na­tion.

A friend in Los An­ge­les emailed a one-liner: “Best speech I have ever seen.”

My ur­bane fa­ther-in-law, the first per­son I knew who copped to lis­ten­ing to Mr. Lim­baugh and who has been wit­ness to most of the big events of the mod­ern age, called it the “most thrilling thing [he’s] seen on TV.”

Hugh He­witt sim­ply ti­tled his post-speech blog post “The Speech, 2009” and wrote: “Rush gave a speech [. . . ] that will be talked about for years and even decades.”

Spokes­peo­ple for CPAC said it was the best-re­ceived speech in the con­fer­ence’s 36 years. And that in­cluded Ron­ald Rea­gan, who, by the way, was no rhetor­i­cal slouch.

By any mea­sure, Mr. Lim­baugh hit the ball out of the park. He may have done so for the team that, th­ese days, many peo­ple are root­ing against. But the ball did land over the fence.

On the other hand, the “driveby me­dia” — as Mr. Lim­baugh aptly refers to his busi­ness com­pe­ti­tion and ide­o­log­i­cal foes — por­trayed a com­pletely dif­fer­ent event.

Clearly tak­ing their cues from Mr. Obama — as well as Demo­cratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid — the Fourth Es­tate, without the ben­e­fit of a Frank Luntz fo­cus group or an in­stant poll, im­me­di­ately la­beled the speech as “an­gry” and alien­at­ing to “moderate vot­ers.”

The net­roots, the main­stream me­dia’s de­vi­ous pro­tec­tor from its left flank (e.g., the Huff­in­g­ton Post, Me­dia Mat­ters and the Daily Kos) also opined as if they had wit­nessed a hate crime.

Anony­mous lib­eral com­men­ta­tors, the ra­bid pests of the new me­dia, sought out the most pop­u­lar con­ser­va­tive blogs to flood the zone with fa­mil­iar Rush Lim­baugh slan­ders. Their goal: To de­mor­al­ize the right with layer upon layer of me­dia dom­i­na­tion. Only talk ra­dio with its em­pha­sis on So­cratic de­bate over raw emo­tion­al­ism and with Mr. Lim­baugh in the driver’s seat has es­caped the left’s clutches of pure me­dia dom­i­nance.

For years, the ra­dio kin of th­ese un­der­handed on­line an­noy­ances — coined by Rush as “sem­i­nar callers” — have read their Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee-pro­duced scripts to muddy the po­lit­i­cal wa­ters. Talk-show call screen­ers were on dou­ble duty last week try­ing to keep off the air any­one who might try to tear down the post-speech unity and ela­tion.

For more than a gen­er­a­tion, the tra­di­tional me­dia has tried to build a wall around pub­lic sen­ti­ment to pro­tect the Demo­cratic Party from ar­tic­u­late crit­ics. Re­cent elec­tion cy­cles and the emer­gence of the In­ter­net have only ex­ac­er­bated the sit­u­a­tion. In the past year, me­dia bias has got­ten out of hand.

But it has not been able to stop that moun­tain we call Rush. He is much more than an en­ter­tainer or a per­son who can “mo­ti­vate the base” — as the me­dia re­peats like cheap talk­ing points.

He has the un­canny abil­ity to ex­pose the in­tri­cate web of bias to those who do not yet know that they should doubt the me­dia’s sin­cer­ity. Many in the Re­gency Ball- room on Feb. 28 were once dupes or elit­ists like me who were shown the light by a guy who didn’t even grad­u­ate col­lege.

With news­pa­pers long ago judged as far gone on the left and tele­vi­sion net­works turned off for good by en­raged cus­tomers, the me­dia has good rea­son to hate Mr. Lim­baugh.

Mr. Lim­baugh is the man who is most to blame for their demise. No won­der they bad-mouth him ev­ery chance they get.

An­drew Bre­it­bart is the founder of the news Web site www.bre­it­bart.com and is co-au­thor of “Hol­ly­wood In­ter­rupted: In­san­ity Chic in Baby­lon — the Case Against Celebrity.”

UNITED PRESS IN­TER­NA­TIONAL

That old-time con­ser­va­tive re­li­gion: Rush Lim­baugh at CPAC

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