You won't believe what Rush Limbaugh just said. He accused President Obama of intentionally trying to wreck the economy, saying that Obama wants to put more people on welfare and food stamps, and implying that he wants to redistribute the country's wealth to Black people.1
This is not just an ugly attack on President Obama from Rush Limbaugh -- these are words from the man who is being held up as the face of the Republican Party. Virtually no Republican leaders have been willing to denounce his divisive rhetoric, or even disagree with him.2 Instead, they say he's an important part of their party, and a friend.
When Republican leaders refuse to denounce this kind of race-baiting from someone they call a leader, the message they send is that they embrace it. It's time to force Republican officials to say where they stand.
Here's what Rush said about President Obama's economic policies:
"The objective is unemployment. The objective is more food stamp benefits. The objective is more unemployment benefits. The objective is an expanding welfare state. And the objective is to take the nation's wealth and return to it to the nation's quote, "rightful owners." Think reparations. Think forced reparations here if you want to understand what actually is going on."3
It's a direct appeal to racial fear and paranoia, and it's deeply insulting to the President, to Black people, and to anyone who cares about the future of this country. We've seen this kind of thing from Rush before.4,5 But now, Republican politicians are refusing to denounce what he says, or even disagree with him. When they do, they usually take it back the next day, begging Rush to forgive them.6
Colin Powell is perhaps the only prominent Republican who has consistently stood up to Limbaugh and urged other Republicans to turn away from his divisive rhetoric. Powell recently said this: "I think what Rush does as an entertainer diminishes the party and intrudes or inserts into our public life a kind of nastiness that we would be better to do without."7
The response from Limbaugh and other Republicans? Rush repeated an old attack on Powell, accusing him of supporting Obama during the election solely based on race.8 Meanwhile, Dick Cheney took to the airwaves to attack Powell and make it clear that he stands with Rush Limbaugh when it comes to the future of the Republican Party.9
Rush speaks. Republicans in government do the work.
You might think Rush and Cheney merely represent the party's extremes, but that misses the larger context. The Republican Party has made it clear that they don't want Obama to succeed--even if it means further damage to the economy and to the lives of everyday Americans. It's evident in the 'no' votes Republican members of Congress cast against Obama's budget, the refusal of Republican governors to allow stimulus dollars to flow into their states, and their leadership's refusal to denounce the rhetoric coming from Rush and others. Rush has said clearly that he wants Obama to fail, and Republican elected officials have been clear in their actions.
Please join us in demanding that Republican leaders say publicly where they stand. Do they reject Rush Limbaugh's divisive fear-mongering, or do they stand with him? If they refuse to denounce what Rush said, they'll be making it perfectly clear what the Republican Party stands for. And we'll do our best to make sure the media tells the story.
1. "Rush Limbaugh: 'The Niggers Are Coming for Their Reparations! '" Jack and Jill Politics, 05-13-09
2. "The Man Who Ate the G.O.P." Vanity Fair, May 2009
3. See reference 1.
4. "Limbaugh on Obama: 'Halfrican American'," Media Matters, 01-24-07
http://mediamatters .org/research/ 200701240010
5. The Today Show, NBC News, 05-21-07
6. "Forgive Me Rush, For I have Sinned," Talking Points Memo,
7. "Cheney backs Limbaugh over Powell on GOP future," Associated Press, 05-10-09
8. See reference 7.
9. See reference 7.