Rush Limbaugh wrong about Jeb Bush, GOP's future

June 16, 2013|By Robin Abcarian
  • Rush Limbaugh has something to say about Jeb Bush's recent speech to conservatives at the Freedom and Faith Coalition.
Rush Limbaugh has something to say about Jeb Bush's recent speech… (Associated Press )

I thought I might weigh in on Rush Limbaugh’s overheated critique of Jeb Bush’s accusation Friday that the GOP brand has become tarnished because the party is perceived as “reactionary.”

Instead, I got distracted by Bush’s accidental detour into reproductive terminology. On Friday, in his speech to conservatives at the Freedom and Faith Coalition’s hopefully named “Road to Majority” in Washington, D.C., the former Florida governor and possible 2016 presidential candidate used the wrong word for the right idea.

As he urged the Republican Party to do more to embrace immigrants, Bush noted that "Immigrants create far more businesses than native-born Americans. Immigrants are more fertile, and they love families, and they have more intact families, and they bring a younger population. Immigrants create an engine of economic prosperity."

Immigrants are more fertile?

Bush obviously meant to say that immigrants have higher birth rates, which is true.  (To gauge whether immigrants are more fertile, you’d have to get pretty invasive.)

U.S. immigration law: Decades of debate

But he’s been making the same point for awhile now: The GOP must learn to welcome immigrants, particularly Latinos, or it will continue to face demographic doom in presidential races.

In April, in a speech to the Hispanic Leadership Network in Miami, Bush tried to explain why the GOP has practically repelled the Latino vote in recent contests: “If you send a signal — ‘Yeah, yeah, we want your vote. Of course we want your vote, everybody wants your vote, but you can’t be part of our team, you can’t join our club, you’re not who I am.’ You think people are going to embrace that attitude? That’s exactly what we’ve done in about six election cycles in a row. So it should be no surprise that we have the result we have.”

His take exactly mirrors what the Republican National Committee said in its self-flagellating report, issued after the party’s disastrous showing last November.

“The Republican Party needs to stop talking to itself,” the report said. “We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue. Instead of driving around in circles on an ideological cul-de-sac, we need a Party whose brand of conservatism invites and inspires new people to visit us. We need to remain America’s conservative alternative to big-government, redistribution-to-extremes liberalism, while building a route into our Party that a non-traditional Republican will want to travel. Our standard should not be universal purity; it should be a more welcoming conservatism.”

Looking at the sheer numbers, it’s hard to disagree.

But Limbaugh insisted Friday that voters rejected the GOP in November because it has strayed from its principles.

“We didn’t lose because the brand is perceived to be tarnished because it’s reactionary,” Limbaugh said, according to Politico. “We lost precisely because the party is considered wishy-washy and mushy and doesn’t stand for conservatism anymore.”

That is a willful misreading of 2012. But then again, Limbaugh’s just in charge of making waves, not winning elections.


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