The orientation for incoming freshman Republican members of the 104th Congress culminated Saturday night with an oratorical dance by the man they said helped get them to Washington: conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh.
In a remarkable display of appreciation and loyalty, they first made him an honorary member of the House of Representatives and declared themselves part of the “Limbaugh Congress,” saying he had given the Republicans “the courage to take back our country.” He responded by suggesting that after they change the country, they might want to “leave some liberals alive.”
“So you will never forget what these people were like . . . keep one Marxist and two liberals on the staff of every university so you can show your children . . . living fossils. Living fossils.”
Limbaugh also had a message for the press: “This country is conservative and it always has been. Get used to it. You tried to change it and you failed, and tonight proves it.”
Dining on red meat and apple pie in the luxury box section of Camden Yards, the freshmen came as much to honor Limbaugh as to listen to him.
Dick Chrysler, elected from Michigan, presented him with a congressional freshman pin and declared him on behalf of the class an honorary member of the House. He called Limbaugh “the majority maker, for surely he helped make us the majority.”
In his introduction of Limbaugh, Vin Weber, co-chairman of the conservative think tank Empower America, said: “Rush Limbaugh is really as responsible for what has happened as any individual in America. Talk radio, with you in the lead, is what turned the tide” in last month’s elections.
Limbaugh appears on 659 radio and 225 television stations, and “in any 15 minutes, more women listen to him in California alone than the entire membership of the National Organization for Women,” Weber added.
Limbaugh in turn downplayed his role, saying: “What happens in talk radio is we validate what is in people’s heads already. . . . You are the ones who engaged the opposition.”
Limbaugh said he had been asked by the press before dinner whether he thought combative Georgian Newt Gingrich would moderate his stance as the next Speaker of the House. “Better not,” Limbaugh said to cheers.
Limbaugh’s speech concluded three days of sessions that were called an orientation but amounted more to a grounding in conservative ideology. Among the seminars was one on “conservative governance.” A session on “Real Welfare Reform” featured Charles Murray, co-author of the “The Bell Curve,” a controversial book which argues that African Americans are genetically less intelligent than members of other races.
Two of the 12 new Democrats in the next Congress had registered for orientation, which traditionally had been at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. But they did not to come.
Limbaugh advised the congressional newcomers to resist the temptation to moderate their views to please the Establishment, including the media, in Washington. “We all want to be liked, we all want to be loved, and we want to avoid hostile environments. Inside the Beltway for people like us, that is not possible.”
The incoming lawmakers and roughly 150 staff members and spouses delighted in his passion, which, as Weber put it, had given them “all the courage to take back our country.”