I recently had the opportunity to interview nationally syndicated columnist and bestselling author David Limbaugh about his new book, The Great Destroyer: Barack Obama’s War on the Republic.
Bila: In The Great Destroyer, you chronicle Barack Obama’s war on America, on the economy and business, on state sovereignty when it is politically advantageous, on guns, on America’s national security, and more. What do you find to be the biggest and most dangerous war waged by the Obama administration on America thus far?
Limbaugh: His war on the economy and the financial stability of the United States are interconnected and present the greatest threat to the country. He took over as president in the middle of a financial crisis, which, along with the TARP monies expended to mitigate it, caused the federal deficit to be extraordinarily high. A sensible, responsible person would have said, “Our country has accumulated enormous debt and our current annual deficit just exceeded one trillion dollars. We can never allow that to happen again – not on my watch, anyway.” Instead, he used that deficit as an excuse to unleash his dream of turning the federal government into a liberal spending machine on steroids. Henceforth, he would spend as much as he could get away with and thereby gain more control of how that money would be distributed. It would have been bad enough had he been merely a die-hard Keynesian spender who believed that despite our debt, he had to spend nearly a trillion dollars on top of all other federal expenditures to “jump-start” the economy. But it was more than that. He didn’t use the “stimulus” as a funding mechanism for so-called “shovel-ready” jobs. He was even remarkably slow about getting all the money spent for a guy who claimed such expenditures were critical to economic recovery. Rather, he used it to fund a federal candy store, distributing the money corruptly and unaccountably and in favor of green energy projects that were destined to fail. He later laughed that there had been no shovel-ready jobs after all. He laughed over the incineration of money that would have to be repaid by future generations.
He also used the stimulus, as well as the omnibus spending bill and other federal initiatives, to write in long-term increases in categories of spending, making a mockery of any idea that the money was designed simply to jump-start the economy. The stimulus became a vehicle to set in place a grandiose scheme of redistribution that wholly sidestepped the democratic process, beyond an irresponsible Democratic Congress authorizing it in the first place. We now know what a farce was his (and his advisers’) promise that unemployment would not exceed 8% by the end of 2010 if the stimulus package were implemented. The stimulus led to the longest period of extended unemployment and the worst economic recovery in half a century – claims documented in the book. So we were left with the worst of both worlds: the stimulus not only didn’t stimulate the economy, and, in fact, harmed it in the long term by sucking the oxygen and capital out of the private sector, among other things, but it greatly exacerbated our federal debt.
Obama claims he is the most frugal president in sixty years, or some risible variation of that. His argument is that because he “inherited” a trillion dollar deficit he hasn’t greatly increased the rate of spending and deficits since he took office. Oh sure, use the extraordinary deficit year as a new base line and it’s pretty easy to say you haven’t been a big spender in relative terms. But President George W. Bush’s deficits were substantially lower, e.g., $161 billion in FY2007, and it wasn’t until the crisis – largely brought on by do-gooder liberal housing and banking policies – that led to the catastrophe, which led to the extraordinary final Bush fiscal year. (Besides, that final fiscal year was partially Obama’s anyway.)
But who caused our financial crisis and our current debt crisis is infinitely less important than what we’re going to do about it. We have one hundred trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities, which are growing at an alarming rate. Every day we delay reform, we are making it worse, because more people reach retirement age and begin receiving their benefits. Paul Ryan has stated that this is the most predictable, preventable national financial catastrophe in world history. We have a two to three year window to implement major structural reforms to our entitlement programs or we will end up like Greece – only probably worse, as there will be no one to bail us out. Obama has refused to participate in entitlement reform and, along with his unconscionably reckless Democratic cohorts in the Senate, which have not produced a budget for some three years, are obstructing Republican efforts at reform, all based on fear-mongering and class warfare. Obama opportunistically convened, then ignored the findings of, a bipartisan deficit commission. He has mocked, ridiculed and demonized Paul Ryan and Republicans for their reasonable, workable plan to reform entitlements and taxes and the economy, and has utterly refused to offer his own alternative plan. It is sheer madness. In addition, he serves up budgets that call for annual federal deficits in excess of one trillion dollars as far as the eye can see.
People can disagree that Obama is trying to harm America, but it’s hard to see how they can reasonably dispute that he is insisting on spending at a level that will destroy America and that he is obstructing the only possible remedies for saving it. We can speculate about his motives endlessly, but his unequivocal actions make such an inquiry moot. He must be defeated in November or our children will inherit a mere shadow of the America we’ve been blessed to enjoy.
Bila: You write about Obama’s proclivity toward the blame game, be it blaming American businesses, the American people, or President Bush, a trend that is not only condescending and oftentimes out of touch with reality, but also reflects his complete inability to accept blame for his own policy failures. Do you think the blame-game jig is almost up now that his first term is near complete, or will the 2012 Obama campaign continue to reek of the same deflection?
Limbaugh: When he ran in 2008, Obama had the luxury of running on abstract utopian themes of hope and change. The mainstream media, feckless Republicans, and many timid conservatives insisted on giving him a pass for his radical leftist record and his statements that telegraphed he would be the most radical president in our history. (He was, you will recall, named the most liberal senator in 2007 by the non-partisan National Journal). Now he has a record, and it is an abysmal record in every respect, and I mean every – unless a president can be favorably judged for being peerlessly egregious. I could meticulously substantiate this claim, but it would be much easier to refer your readers to my book, The Great Destroyer, and its predecessor, Crimes Against Liberty, both of which are heavy on footnote documentation. Because his record is so bad, Obama has limited options, all of which he will utilize. He will continue, preposterously, to blame George W. Bush. He will continue to downplay the state of the economy. He will continue to distort his record – telling us how many jobs he’s created or saved, and he will be lying, as I demonstrate in the book. He will continue to scapegoat the Republicans for obstructing his agenda, which despite the abject failure of every policy he’s tried, he somehow would have us believe would lead to miraculous economic results. Most despicably, he will continue to try to divide us by crass appeals to identity politics in a desperate effort to pull this election out of his hat. I do believe that his scapegoating strategies have worn thin with the American people and that he will not succeed in November with these arguments – or any others, for that matter.
Bila: In Chapter Two, you state that “Obama’s empowerment depends on maintaining a certain level of support among specific demographic and ethnic groups, to whom he presents himself as a protector against racist, malevolent Republicans.” It has become clear to me that our President intends to try to condescendingly divide the country into special interest groups, using fear tactics to turn each group — Hispanics, African-Americans, women, etc. — against the GOP. Will he be successful? And how should Romney respond in order to best combat that agenda?
Limbaugh: It appears that Obama is becoming painfully aware that the economy will not substantially recover in time to benefit him in November, and so he has made a calculated decision to put all of his re-election eggs in the identity politics basket. Obama has been deliberately dividing and polarizing Americans since early in his term. As I chronicle in the book, he was the most polarizing president in history at the end of his second year with 81% of Democrats supporting him and 13% of Republicans – a 68% gap. I might point out here in response to the anticipated liberal protest that George W. Bush was the most polarizing president — let liberals make that claim, but remember this: George W. Bush was only polarizing because liberals went ape demonizing him, based on his policies. In no way did Bush himself appeal to Americans based on groups and categories (he made a strong, sustained effort to reach across the aisle, including with hyper-partisan Ted Kennedy, who rebuffed him). In no way did he try to divide Americans along race, gender, sexual orientation, economic class or religious lines. Obama has deliberately tried to do so – and is continuing to do so, on steroids.
Just a few weeks ago, Obama lamented that he would like to implement changes to the immigration law through executive order and administratively because he couldn’t get Congress to pass his beloved Dream Act, or “comprehensive immigration reform.” Then he must have had an epiphany that Americans were no longer buying into his propaganda and excuses and that he was going to have to switch gears and change his course if he had any chance to be re-elected. So he issued an executive order to stop deportation for so-called “Dreamers” – as many as 800,000 illegal immigrants, and immediately demonized Republicans as bigots for forcing him to go around Congress. It has apparently become clear to him that his best chance of winning is to rev up his core constituencies, and this was just one way he went about doing it.
Not too many months before, he had done the same thing by finally coming out for same-sex marriage, which he had pretended to be against since his campaign, despite having been on record at least as early as 1996 as having supported it. You will also recall the bogus war on women he attempted to fabricate not long before that. And we’re all painfully familiar with his constant invocation of the race card, and his pernicious use of class warfare – always appealing to our baser human instincts. He needs to drive voter turnout of his base, and so we should expect to see other such tactics between now and November. I don’t believe his efforts will be successful and I think Mitt Romney, to counter them, should stay focused on Obama’s record – emphasizing not just the economy, but our imminent national financial crisis and Obama’s refusal to participate in its solution. But Romney also needs to articulate a positive, optimistic vision. He shouldn’t just tout his business credentials. He should also articulate an uplifting “rising tides lifts all boats” vision, and he should sharply contrast that vision with Obama’s record. He will win if he avoids the fecklessness that characterized John McCain’s 2008 campaign and if he will take the gloves off and be unafraid to tell the American people just how grave our current financial and economic situation is and how indescribably horrible Obama’s policies have been and will continue to be. He needs to be very clear that if Obama is re-elected, our kids and grandkids can kiss America good-bye – at least the America we have known.
Accuse me of hyperbole if you choose, but then the burden shifts to you to explain how Paul Ryan’s forecast is fallacious and how there is any reasonable likelihood that Obama, if re-elected, will do anything to avert that nightmare forecast. Quit being afraid to state the truth for fear that you’ll look like a wild-eyed extremist. The truth warrants such alarm – and passion in communicating it.
Bila: You do a fantastic job of breaking down Obama’s deceit with respect to claims of increased U.S. oil production on his watch. Can you expand upon that a bit, particularly with regard to federal versus state lands and what this President can and can’t legitimately take credit for. Also, should energy policy–linked to both our economy and national security–play a pivotal role in the 2012 election, and do you think it is important for Romney to bring that front and center?
Limbaugh: This is another elaborate deception. The record is clear – and also documented in my book. He has reduced drilling on federal land, over which he has some control, and it has only increased on private lands or in states, where he has no control. He has savagely attacked our domestic energy sources, from oil to natural gas to nuclear energy to coal – all meticulously documented in the book as well. And he has instead thrown away billions and billions of dollars at failed green energy projects, which have little to no chance of succeeding, now or in the foreseeable future. From his contrived deepwater drilling ban in the Gulf, which he re-implemented lawlessly after a federal judge had lifted it, and which his administration falsified a report to justify (overstating the environmental dangers of the spill and understating the economic harm that a ban would cause), to his draconian new regulations that made new permits impossibly difficult to obtain, to his torpedoing of the Keystone XL pipeline based on fraudulent economic concerns, to his shuttering the Yucca Mountain nuclear storage facility despite Congress having invested $12 billion to develop it and with no plans for an alternate site, to his obstruction of fracking to allow us to recover untold amounts of natural gas, to the spate of EPA rules that nearly double CAFÉ standards for passenger vehicles (that nearly cut in half emissions permitted from coal plants, which will effectively bankrupt the coal industry, and impose a new smog and soot rule that will cost some $90 billion a year). These things, among others, are breathtaking, really. Of course, Romney needs to point out all these horrible things.
Bila: You end The Great Destroyer on a note of mixed optimism: “It is still not too late to save America and restore her to a path of greatness, of robust liberty, and of economic prosperity. But I fear it is not hyperbole to suggest that it very well may be too late if we don’t end this madness in November 2012 by voting Barack Obama out of office.” Despite Obama’s consistently failing policies, polling suggests that he and Romney remain in a tight race. Does that concern you? And do you think the Supreme Court ruling to uphold Obamacare via taxing power will be a big problem for our President this election season? Or will he successfully spin that too?
Limbaugh: I believe Obama can be beaten and beaten very handily – perhaps even by a landslide. I am optimistic that will happen and that when it does, with the help of grassroots conservatives as watchdogs, the Republican Party will implement reforms critical to saving the Republic, from entitlement reform to repealing Obamacare to tax reforms to major, major spending cuts in the short term and long term. They will also need to rebuild our military at the same time, which is another subject we haven’t touched on, but it makes national financial reform that much more imperative.
I do believe Obamacare 2, i.e., Justice Roberts’ deplorable majority-led decision affirming Obamacare through specious reasoning and sophistry, will redound to the Republicans’ benefit. Governor Romney happens to be poorly situated, as candidates go, to capitalize on this issue because of his own record with Romneycare. But as he has firmly pledged to repeal Obamacare, there is no reason he can’t successfully capitalize on the Court’s decision. It was an abominable decision in expanding Congress’s power under the Constitution’s taxing authority. The bill was not presented as a tax bill, but involved a penalty – not a tax – for failure to comply with the mandate. But Obama’s lawyers pushed the alternative “tax” argument, and if you live by the sword, you must die by it. Therefore, Obama must be saddled now with Obamacare as a tax. The Court has spoken and it is a tax and it constitutes an enormous tax increase, including on the middle class. Obama owns this bill now as a tax. Romney must make him own it. If you’ll recall, Obamacare was the single greatest catalyst leading to the Tea Party. This decision has resurrected the issue in a major way and will help galvanize the conservative grassroots to defeat Obama.
This election is Romney’s to lose. He must not blow it. I respectfully urge Governor Romney to take a page out of Governor Walker’s playbook. As long as he does not allow himself to be intimidated by the propaganda and demonization, as long as he stands up to Obama’s bullying and takes the gloves off and lands hard blows – persistently, by showing just how dangerous Obama’s agenda is for America – and does it all with a spirit of restoring America’s greatness, he will win resoundingly in America, and we can begin the path to national restoration.