Rush Limbaugh's On-Again, Off-Again Relationship with Mitt Romney

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In 2008 he endorsed the Massachusetts governor as a true conservative. Now the talk radio host has changed his mind.

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Before Mitt Romney spent the last several years pandering to the conservative movement, during Election 2008, Rush Limbaugh declared the former Massachusetts governor an official conservative:

I think now, based on the way the campaign has shaken out, that there probably is a candidate on our side who does embody all three legs of the conservative stool, and that's Romney. The three stools or the three legs of the stool are national security/foreign policy, the social conservatives, and the fiscal conservatives. The social conservatives are the cultural people. The fiscal conservatives are the economic crowd: low taxes, smaller government, get out of the way.

Then came the aforementioned three years of pandering to the conservative movement. And here's what Limbaugh says now:

I've met Romney. I've not played golf with him but I've met him, and I like all of these people. This isn't personal, not with what country faces and so forth. I like him very much. I've spent some social time with him. He's a fine guy. He's very nice gentleman. He is a gentleman. But he's not a conservative -- and if you disagree, I'm open. The telephone lines are yours. Call and tell me what you think it is that makes him a principled conservative, what exactly is it. Is there something that he has said that shows conservative, principled leadership? What did he say? I'm open to it. Now, we're told that governors are better than legislators when looking for presidents for a host of reasons.

Legislators are filled with ego, they sit around and by "yes" men, they're not executives, and they're one of many, and the buck never really stops with them. Governors, it's just the exact opposite. But when we look at the record, and we bring up Romneycare, we're told, "Well, that's been he was a governor, but as president he wouldn't do any such thing." What? What do you mean he wouldn't do any such thing? He did it is the point. He has positions as governor that make it obvious he believes in the concept of man-made global warming. "Yeah, but that was as governor, Rush. It's a liberal state. He had to do things to get elected." Um, there's gonna be a lot of liberal pressure on whoever our president is: Media, Democrat members of Congress that the media's gonna fawn all over.

The lesson here, for the small percentage of Americans who haven't learned it yet, is that Limbaugh is a phony whose pronouncements on who is and isn't conservative are driven by ratings or even mere mood more than an earnest attempt to comment truthfully on Republican politics.

Who can even tell when he's carrying water anymore?

Image credit: Reuters

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Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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