Rush Limbaugh met the brick wall of reality today as a liberal caller to his radio show asked him why Ronald Reagan, who negotiated with terrorist, raised taxes, granted amnesty to illegal aliens, and cut and ran from Lebanon, is a hero to conservatives. Limbaugh could not answer the question, but he did claim that Reagan never raised taxes and that he was the former president was misunderstood.
Here is the audio from Media Matters:
A liberal caller asked Limbaugh why Ronald Reagan is a hero to conservatives when he raised taxes, cut and ran from Lebanon, granted amnesty to illegal immigrants, and negotiated with terrorists. Limbaugh answered by claiming that the caller didn’t understand Reagan, “Why is a Reagan a hero to conservatives. Given what you said, and I am not trying to avoid the question, I don’t think you’d understand it.”
The caller repeated his question again, and told Limbaugh that he didn’t think he understood why conservatives love Reagan. Rush replied it, “No, I do, most assuredly I do. I don’t think you understand it. Where did you get this silly notion that Reagan raised taxes on Social Security? What websites do you read? Where did you pick that up?” The caller told Rush to look up the Greenspan Commission. It’s a matter of history and that it is general knowledge.
Limbaugh blamed Media Matters, and said that the caller’s understanding of Reagan is flawed, “Well, because you understand Reagan in a way that is flawed. Your call is actually kind of interesting because you represent the impossibility of bridging the gap. Somebody like you just has to be defeated.”
When confronted with the reality of Ronald Reagan’s legacy, Rush Limbaugh went into duck and dodge mode, with a dash of lying. The truth is that Ronald Reagan did raise taxes, especially the payroll tax in 1983. Reagan first raised taxes by $17 billion in 1982. His 1983 increase of the payroll tax virtually wiped out his 1981 tax cut, and for good measure Reagan raised taxes in 1984 in an attempt to combat the exploding budget deficit courtesy of Reaganomics, and concerns about inflation. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 cut tax breaks and shelters, which would qualify it in today’s Republican terms as a tax increase.
According to CNN, tax receipts as a percentage of GDP were 18.2% under Reagan, which was right in line with the numbers under Jimmy Carter and the 40 year average of 18.1%. Limbaugh evaded all the other correct points that the caller made about Reagan’s legacy, and in typical conservative fashion, he ignored the historical record, and tried to blame the liberal media for facts. Since conservatives can’t handle the truth about Ronald Reagan, they have created their own mythology. Ronald Reagan is their laissez faire Jesus. The facts are ignored as a personification of an ideology is worshiped.
The liberal caller destroyed the myth of St. Ronnie of Tax Cut with one simple question that Rush Limbaugh could not answer. The truth is that conservatives don’t worship Ronald Reagan. They worship what they believe Ronald Reagan to be. The reason why the caller couldn’t understand it is because he was using facts, and the facts have no place in conservative’s discussion of Ronald Reagan.
Trying to understand the conservative worship with facts is like trying to explain the facts about Jesus to an extreme Christian. In both cases for the believer their views are a matter of faith, not a statement of fact. When confronted with shattering reality of Ronald Reagan, Rush Limbaugh did what believers do. He blamed the questioner, attacked the information, and retreated to his faith. Conservatives can’t handle the truth about Ronald Reagan, and one liberal managed to shatter Rush Limbaugh’s delusions of Reaganness simply by trying to bring him back to reality, but as we all know, reality is no friend to Rush Limbaugh and the conservative movement.