It is really hard to quantify how far the quality of Rush Limbaugh’s political analysis has fallen in the last 15 months or so. Rush has always been a little panglossian about the Republican nominee for President, but his analysis of Trump and the 2016 election has come completely untethered from any semblance of reality. Rush’s show is basically an audio version of Breitbart.com or Gateway Pundit these days.
Anyway, in the middle of yesterday’s discussion of Trump’s flip-flop on immigration, Rush went into one of these facially insane asides that have sadly become a daily hallmark of his show:
RUSH: Okay, so Trump is apparently softening his position on immigration. That’s what the Drive-Bys are saying. Trump is now saying, “Well, I don’t know about deportation. Well, we’re gonna talk about it. Well, some of these are really good people” And the Drive-Bys are just ecstatic ’cause they think Trump is totally reversing himself, and they think Trump is totally reversing himself on his number one issue, the only reason he has support, they think he’s committing suicide. So the Drive-Bys went out and they started doing man-on-the-street interviews with Trumpists. And they wanted to know, “How do you feel now that Donald Trump has sold you out? How do you feel that Trump is maybe not gonna build a wall, that Trump is maybe not gonna deport?” And they’re not finding anybody mad at him. They’re mad about that.
What they’re finding are Trumpists saying, “Well, you know, it’s not the primaries, it’s the general. Gotta make some modifications, gotta do some changes here, gotta reach out to a little bit more people, totally understandable he might have to modify his position.” Then the Drive-By, “You don’t think he lied to you, then?” “No, no, not at all, he’s doing what he has to do to get what he wants accomplished.” In other words, Trump’s supporters are not leaving him over this, at least here in the early stages of analysis.
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And I’m gonna tell you what one of them is. And if there are any of you in the Drive-Bys listening now who really want to learn and really want to understand, I mean, really want to know, I’m going to give you a hint. I don’t know what percentage of Trump supporters this applies to, but I know it’s big. Are you ready? I’m gonna say this very slowly so it has maximum impact.
Trump supporters don’t care what he does or what he says because there is no way they are going to do anything that helps elect Hillary Clinton. It’s no more complicated than that. There are many other reasons why Trump’s supporters support him, and I don’t know what percentage of the Trump support base represented by what I just said, but it’s a sizable number of Trump supporters.
And you Drive-Byers are looking for mass defections. You’re looking for people to be disappointed. You’re looking for people to think that Trump has sold ’em out, lied to them. You’re waiting for them to, in effect, come to Jesus and realize that they’ve been snookered from day one by Trump. You’re not gonna find it. Because this has been bigger than Trump, it’s about more than Trump. This movement that’s there, however big it is, existed before Trump came along. Trump happens to be the guy, whether by accident or by design, who connected with this movement. Again, unknown how big it is.
There are many reasons why Trump supporters support Trump. There are many reasons why Trump supporters are loyal. There are many reasons why people are gonna vote for Trump and are excited. There’s a lot of reasons why Trump draws huge crowds with lots of energy. One of the reasons why some of those people will never abandon Trump is because they’re not gonna do anything that in their minds would help Hillary Clinton get elected.
Now, part of what Rush is doing here is doubtless trying to convince the Trump supporters who listen to him to not abandon Trump in spite of what is an obvious flip flop on an issue that is in fact hugely important to Trump’s most loyal supporters. One of the things I noted this morning is that Trump’s most dedicated supporters are much, much more likely than Hillary’s to view immigration as their “most important” issue.
And of course, Rush is doing it by using the Trump supporters’ equivalent of using the force on the weak-minded: by saying that refusing to help Trump is equivalent to helping Hillary. So to the extent that this is what Rush is doing, it’s defensible, if you accept the premise that helping Trump win is or should be one of Rush’s goals.
But think about what he has to say, in order to reach that point. He has to actually make it a point of pride for Trump supporters that they don’t care when Trump lies to them. Paraphrased, what Rush is saying is: “You lamestream media people think we’re going to stop supporting Trump just because he’s a hypocrite who lied to us and used us? NICE TRY.”
I mean, there’s good evidence that Trump supporters behave and think in exactly this fashion, but I’ve never seen it actually put forth as a point of pride before. They don’t exactly make T-shirts that say I’M A SUCKER AND I’M PROUD OF IT, at least not yet. But if Trump has trouble selling his remaining allotment of MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN hats, he could certainly give that a try as an alternate slogan.