David Limbaugh’s new book, BankruptThe Intellectual and Moral Bankruptcy of Today’s Democratic Party, has just been released. In it, he argues that the Democratic party is purposefully undermining this nation, especially when it comes to issues of national security, for the sake of advancing their liberal agenda — an agenda that a majority of Americans oppose. Here, NRO Editor Kathryn Lopez asks him some questions about the Democratic party, the war on terror, and the upcoming elections.
Kathryn Jean Lopez: Did Ken Mehlman pay you to write this book? The timing is just right for a last-ditch save-the-GOP move. Payoffs aside, is that what you’re going for?
david limbaugh:No, this isn’t a Mehlman commission, but I hope he promotes it vigorously. It’s the least he could do for a fellow warrior here in the trenches.
But seriously, I will concede that the timing of the book is not entirely accidental. My publisher and I believed it would have greater impact (and market success, frankly) if it was released before the election. The book convincingly — in my opinion — establishes why the Democratic party simply cannot be entrusted with America’s national security, and would be a disaster in most other areas of governance as well.
I do not view this argument cynically, as a move in some partisan chess game. We are at a crossroads in our nation’s history, and we can’t afford to cede control of the reins of government to a systemically corrupt political party that has repeatedly demonstrated its willingness to subordinate the national interest to its own partisan interests. So I take this very seriously. It’s not that I believe the book will have some dramatic impact — though one can always dream — but it is designed to prove how dangerous and reckless it would be to allow the Democrats to regain control. And, as you will see when reading my book, they have made the case against themselves, with their own words and actions.
Lopez:If the Democratic party is so bankrupt, why do their prospects look so good for this Election Day?
limbaugh:At the risk of cutting against the conventional wisdom, I’m not sure I buy all this hype about an imminent Democratic sweep in November.
But predictions aside, I will admit that in all likelihood they’ll perform much better than they ought to. We are in an unpopular war. Democrats have been badmouthing the war to their constituencies almost since it began. They have been slandering President Bush with unconscionable allegations and repeating their lies so often that a significant portion of the American people actually believes them.
It is unfathomable to me how the absurdly false allegation that the president lied us into war has wormed its way into the national psyche. The charge is demonstrably baseless, and its authors are obviously deceitful. The Democrats are the ones who have lied about Iraqi WMDs — by mischaracterizing the president’s position and their own. And they have lied just as egregiously in making the claim that President Bush asserted that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11. Bush explicitly said otherwise, but he did allege there was a connection between Saddam and Osama — a relationship that has been irrefutably documented since. The Bush Doctrine is very clear that we will treat as enemies not just terrorists, but those nation states that sponsor and enable them. Saddam’s Iraq was one such state and only those with a vested interest in proving Iraq is not part of the war on terror are blind — or dishonest — enough to claim otherwise.
Nevertheless, the loud Democratic chorus, railing for three years against this president and this war, has had an impact on his popularity. Coupled with the effects of an unpopular war, the majority party has been dealt a bit of a handicap going into the election. Adding to this is that President Bush and Republicans in general have not been particularly effective at getting their message across, though the president has been making inroads lately. To be sure, it is hard to compete with the relentless perpetual motion machine that is the Democrat’s propaganda megaphone. Republicans have to worry about governing the country, while the Dems are free of that responsibility and may engage solely in recreational destruction. Regardless, now Republicans have to commit themselves to a sustained, unrelenting effort to communicate their message and make their case for why we can’t afford to cede control to the Democrats.
Lopez:When did all this bankruptcy start?
limbaugh:I’m glad you ask, because I believed that question to be important enough to devote an entire chapter to addressing it. In fact, the full third (and final) section of the book is called, “Tracing the Roots of the Bankruptcy.” In chapter 13, “Hypocrisy and Sour Grapes,” I explore the underlying reasons for the party’s implosion. It’s hard to pinpoint an exact date, but I think the party sold its soul during the Clinton years, when it circled the wagons around a felonious president instead of doing the honorable thing. It embraced, rather than repudiated, a thoroughly corrupt president in exchange for holding on to political power. It seems that the party’s electoral successes were tied to Clinton’s cult of personality. He was able to keep them afloat temporarily, but ultimately it was their dependence on him that sunk the Democrats.
The party is not about the centrism Clinton pretended to champion. It is about advancing a far-left agenda. Poll after poll reveals that liberalism is a minority position in this country today — not the equal portion of a 50/50 nation that liberals still pray it is. As I discuss in the closing pages of my book, even James Carville has virtually reconciled himself to the reality that for now, at least, the Democratic party is a minority party.
Herein lies the key to answering your question. The party’s unmitigated angst is largely tied to its loss of power. It simply cannot abide having lost control of the legislative branch it ruthlessly dominated for four decades. But even more, it cannot accept consistently losing the executive branch, especially after Clinton’s eight years gave them reason for such optimism. Their conviction of their majority status and their entitlement to the executive branch gave way to collective shock and disbelief after the 2000 election results. How could they possibly have lost given Clinton’s reputed record of peace and prosperity?
The Democrats rejected the loss in 2000 and put the country through hell trying to manufacture reasons to discredit the results in Florida, and thus the national results. In the process, which I meticulously document, they further debased themselves. In their utter failure to steal the 2000 election and to vindicate themselves finally in 2004, they have become completely embittered. Today they are driven not by an alternative policy agenda, but on a singular, myopic hatred for George W. Bush. I have retraced the unfolding of these events, including highlights of their unforgivable behavior in 2000, not to refight old battles, but to provide some insight into what has driven this party to utter distraction and aimlessness when it comes to policy.
Lopez: You write of Democrats on Iraq: “It was almost as if they were rooting for America’s defeat.” Is that fair or right? To say that because they (now) disagree with the president on Iraq, they’re “rooting for America’s defeat”? Maybe they just want to get us out before there is an inevitable defeat?
limbaugh: I say “almost” because even I have difficulty believing one of the two major political parties actually behaves the way it does in constantly working against our nation at war. But rather than getting bogged down in whether liberals are “unpatriotic,” I would prefer to examine their conduct and statements concerning the war effort and President Bush — our commander in chief. I address this question in my book, showing how Democrats downplay every bit of good news in Iraq and exaggerate the bad news. They couldn’t even bring themselves to rejoice when millions of Iraqis went to the polls in January 2005 to formalize a transitional government, or when, in elections later that year to ratify the constitution, Iraqis voted at great personal risk to themselves and their families. Indeed, the Democratic leadership viewed that demonstrable success as a partisan defeat. Nancy Pelosi actually convened her “troops” to figure out how to respond to this watershed event, as if it was some kind of setback for the Democratic party of the United States. What does that tell you about the party’s mindset?
In addition, the party opposes President Bush every step in the way in the war on terror, from opposing the NSA surveillance program and mischaracterizing it as “domestic” spying, to opposing extension of the Patriot Act, to exaggerating isolated cases of prisoner abuse at Gitmo and mislabeling them “torture,” to opposing the tracking of terrorists’ finances and phone database records. The party reflexively sides with the United Nations and the nations of Old Europe, who wrongfully and shamefully oppose our effort in Iraq. The Democrats routinely understate the nature and scope of the terrorist threat, preferring to treat it more as a law enforcement issue than a war, and seeing it as a narrow and small enemy led by Osama bin Laden rather than a global band of international terrorists sponsored by a host of nation states. They say we have caused terrorists to hate us and to war against us by attacking Iraq, conveniently forgetting that “shock and awe” in Baghdad postdated 9/11 by almost two years. The party’s ex-presidents and ex-vice presidents gleefully denounce America on foreign soil, and the party elevates radicals like the antiwar Howard Dean to leadership positions and glorifies antiwar loons like Michael Moore. They seem opposed to American exceptionalism and genuinely do possess a blame-America-first mentality, as clichéd as that might sound. The worst thing they’ve done, as already noted, is to tell the world for three years running that our commander in chief lied us into war. They are telling the world, in effect, that we are a corrupt nation, governed by a corrupt man who is driving a neoconservative, imperialistic presidency for his own, and America’s, nefarious ends. They do all this, no less, while complaining that Republicans are the ones harming America’s image in the world. There is so much more I chronicle in the book, but suffice it to say that they make the case against themselves, more than I make it against them. I’m just recording what they’ve said.
Lopez:In a world with an un-Bankrupt Democratic party, I presume John Bolton wouldn’t have had to be recess appointed. What would his hearings have looked like? What opposition from Dems would have been acceptable?
limbaugh:There is nothing wrong with Democrats opposing John Bolton for substantive reasons. But as usual, they didn’t limit their opposition to substantive policy differences or to criticisms of Bolton’s fitness for the job. They attempted to smear him and assassinate his character, to portray him as a bully and as a person who couldn’t be trusted in this position. I’m all for Democrats, however, showing their true colors in opposing John Bolton precisely because he is a fierce, vigorous advocate for America’s interests, rather than some appeasement-oriented pushover who will kowtow to a corrupt bunch of America-hating partisans at the U.N. Someone needed to shake things up at that corrupt body, and Bolton was just the guy to do it — and his record so far vindicates President Bush’s decision to appoint him. Democrats, though, refused to play fair and give Bolton a real hearing on the merits, which, as you say, forced President Bush to recess appoint him. This is another example of the party subordinating the national interests to their partisan interests during a time of war. To answer your question, in a world with a responsible opposition party we would have had a legitimate, spirited debate on the merits and on America’s proper approach to foreign policy and the United Nations and on Bolton’s fitness for the job.
Lopez: The cover of your book has Al Gore, John Kerry, John Edwards, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Al Sharpton, and Howard Dean. Why those guys in particular?
limbaugh:Little did these guys know that they were posing for my book cover, but I do want to thank them for the choice and fitting facial expressions showcasing their individual and collective buffoonery. It is too bad Hillary wasn’t in the picture (we had the integrity not to Photoshop her in), but her absence, I think, is symbolic. After all, Hillary has made a concentrated effort to distance herself from other leaders in her party, recognizing early on that their unmitigated antiwar liberalism doesn’t sell well in national elections (though this upcoming election could be an exception). We chose this picture because it contained the exact right mix of characters to make a fitting statement of the current posture of the Democratic party and its leadership.
Lopez:Is the specter of a Speaker Pelosi really all that bad? Speak to the average change-is-good voter.
limbaugh:The specter of a Speaker Pelosi is not just bad, it’s horrifying. I know we have a great number of disgruntled conservatives and libertarians threatening to sit this election out, but that would be a grave mistake. We must not and cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good. While President Bush and Republicans have fallen short on a number of important issues — immigration, campaign finance, education, domestic spending. They’ve begun to improve on a few of these, and, regardless, there is no comparison between the parties even on these issues. The book makes clear what is at stake in these elections and the likely consequences of a change in control — and it isn’t pretty.
Lopez:Will there be a Speaker Pelosi? If you had to put money on it today.
limbaugh:No, and if gambling were one of my vices, I would put money on it with confidence. As we get closer to the election, the Democrats’ absence of an alternative agenda will be exposed for even the disengaged to see. And if it isn’t, Republicans deserve to lose. But that’s not the issue; we cannot allow Republican ineptitude at campaigning to keep them from winning this election.
Lopez:Does the bankruptcy of the Democratic party extend to the overwhelmingly liberal media?
limbaugh:There is no question that the mainstream media acts in concert, by design or not, with the Democratic party. They are both dedicated to the advancement of the liberal agenda. I document in case after case how the leftist media has done the Democrats’ bidding, how they have undermined President Bush and the war on terror and how they have acted at cross purposes with the national interest, such as in the New York Times’s defiant exposure of the SWIFT program tracking terrorists’ financing. Neither the liberalism nor the influence of the Old Media should be underestimated. While they no longer have a monopoly on the dissemination of the news, they are still a very powerful force which is itself bankrupt.
Lopez:Does Hillary help or hurt the bankruptcy?
limbaugh:Like I said, Hillary has tried to distance herself from the party, but in the end she is a liberal through and through. Her pretenses of centrism are purely calculated to make herself electable. She adds to the bankruptcy because she offers the party a credible chance to regain control of the executive branch. It would be one thing if she would then govern as a hawk or a conservative, but that’s not going to happen. Hillary is pragmatic, but, in her heart of hearts, she is probably as liberal as the liberal fringe of the party’s malcontent base. Whereas it took husband Bill three chances before he signed the welfare-reform bill, she might have resisted it seven times, while she converted one seventh of our economy into a nationalized health care system. The consequences of a Hillary presidency should not be lost on those naïve enough to believe she’s had a genuine conversion.
Lopez: Who could un-bankrupt the Democratic party? Is there anyone on the scene now making positive, substantive investment in the Democratic party’s future? Besides Joe Lieberman, that is, who the party’s obviously not on the best terms with.
limbaugh:Zell Miller, bless his heart. Sadly, I don’t see any Democrat on the national scene even trying to bring the party back to reality other than Zell and Lieberman. And Lieberman, we must remember, is not a walk in the park either, despite his admirable stance on the war. He has otherwise been a reliable liberal — proudly joining Al Gore on the 2000 ticket. This is not to detract from Joe’s honor, but merely to emphasize that even the few rays of light that exist in the party’s leadership don’t offer us much to be sanguine about in terms of a responsible opposition party.
Lopez:Will there be a break moment for the Democrats that could turn everything around?
limbaugh: Unfortunately, and I say that sincerely, I do not envision any scenario in which the Democrats will have a transformative, redemptive event. I remember being surprised and genuinely disappointed when so few rank-and-file Democrats broke ranks with Clinton during his scandals, and when Gore tried to steal the 2000 election. I think the Democratic base is decidedly liberal and decidedly combative, and that the leadership is a reflection of the base — not entirely, but substantially. I see the Democrats’ problems as inherent. They are liberals in a nation whose majority is, in the words of Karl Rove, “center-right.” That puts them in a position of being dishonest about who they are — i.e., their liberalism — and they end up demonizing Republicans since they know they can’t win by presenting an alternative policy agenda. So, frankly, no, I don’t see any transformation in the near future to end the party’s bankruptcy.