Completing the Limbaugh Theorem

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The Limbaugh Theorem is Rush’s explanation of why, according to the polls, most Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction but don’t hold President Obama accountable for it. Even in the midst of scandals, his job approval rating remains relatively high. 

The theorem explains that people don’t associate Obama with the bad state of affairs because he’s always campaigning, fundraising, deflecting blame, feigning indignation, and talking about events in the Capitol as if he’s an outsider and not the man in charge. As a result, nothing sticks to him.

During his recent speech about terrorism at the National Defense University in Washington, Obama amazingly set himself in opposition to his own administration. He talked about a “perpetual war” that will prove to be “self-defeating, and alter our country in troubling ways,” as if he doesn’t have any control over the situation. He spoke about Guantanamo Bay, where “we are force-feeding detainees who are being held on a hunger strike.” But the “we” he mentioned doesn’t include himself. If he wanted to stop the force-feeding, he could do it with a simple phone call.

Clearly, Obama has portrayed himself as an uninvolved bystander, and low-information voters (who Rush says don’t know what’s going on outside of TMZ, SNL, and Entertainment Tonight) have fallen for it. They don’t fully understand the issues or how Washington works, so they believe Obama when he says he didn’t know about the IRS scandal until he read about it in the New York Times. They think it’s perfectly fine that the president was MIA when Americans were under attack in Benghazi. And they don’t think Obama should be held accountable for the Justice Department spying on the AP.

Rush is right. These factors certainly shed light on why people can approve of Obama’s job performance while at the same time believing the country is in decline. But not fully. Not everyone is a low-information voter, not everyone buys the campaign rhetoric, and many people will freely admit that Obama is deceptively positioning himself as if he’s above it all. Yet they still won’t hold him accountable.

There is an intransigent refusal on the part of most Americans to call Obama a failure, and the explanations given are not sufficient to explain this phenomenon. The Limbaugh Theorem is not complete. There’s another factor that needs to be added—a very powerful one, one more significant than Obama’s constant campaign strategy and the gullibility of the low-information voter.

It seems to me that the root cause of Americans not holding Obama responsible is the very same thing that got him elected: white guilt, something recognized not only by Rush after the 2008 election, but by writers and pundits from George Will to Ann Coulter.

“White guilt has produced mistake after mistake, including the 2008 election when more whites voted for Obama than voted for a Democrat for a decade,” Coulter said.

Lloyd Marcus, a writer at the American Thinker, agreed and pleaded with white Americans before the 2012 election “not to fall for the white-guilt thing … again!”

Shelby Steele, in his book “White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era,” called white guilt “perhaps the greatest source of political, social and cultural power in the late twentieth century.”

[I] know [white guilt] to be something very specific: the vacuum of moral authority that comes from simply knowing that one’s race is associated with racism. Whites (and American institutions) must acknowledge historical racism to show themselves redeemed of it, but once they acknowledge it they lose moral authority over everything having to do with race, equality, social justice, poverty, and so on. They step into a void of vulnerability. The authority they lose transfers to the “victims” of historical racism and becomes their great power in society. This is why white guilt is quite literally the same thing as black power.

The most striking irony of the age of white guilt is that racism suddenly became valuable to the people who had suffered it. Racism, in the age of racism, had only brought every variety of inhuman treatment, which is why the King generation felt that extinguishing it would bring equality. But in the age of white guilt, racism was also evidence of white wrongdoing and, therefore, evidence of white obligation to blacks.

If it is true that the primary causal factor in the Limbaugh Theorem is white guilt, then trying to pin anything on Obama by continually countering his campaign rhetoric or even trying to convince uninformed citizens that Obama, as the CEO and Commander-in-Chief, must be responsible for what goes on in Washington is useless. People, from low-information voters to high, just aren’t ready to abandon their guilt. They cling to it as a means of redemption, their perceptions informed by it, the truth shaded by it.

It’s time to accept the fact that when it comes to Obama, we won’t make a dent in America’s unwillingness or downright inability to accuse him of failure. Obama will never be held responsible because whites are lost in what Steele called “a void of vulnerability.”

Voters bound by white guilt have unwittingly forsaken any “moral authority” by which to judge Obama. He holds all the cards and carries all the power, not just because he is a clever man who avoids questions while on the campaign trail, or because people are ignorant, or even because he is a quintessential liberal adored by statists everywhere, but because he is, first and foremost, a “victim” of historical racism.

Given this fact, I believe it is futile to try to inform people that Obama is, indeed, responsible. Therefore, we should just stop talking about him. Marginalize him. Ignore him. Not that we give up the fight. Instead, we need to refocus it. Every time we’re tempted to say “Obama,” we need to insert “Democrats.”

The Democrats are responsible for the IRS scandal; the Democrats are behind the AP scandal; the Democrats left Americans to die in Benghazi; the Democrats are siphoning away our freedoms through the dreaded “Affordable” Care Act; the Democrats are responsible for inflation, failures in education, higher taxes, and unemployment.

Accusations of wrongdoing, of incompetence, of failure, will never stick to Obama. But they will stick to the Democrats. And let’s face it, they’re the ones we’ll be dealing with for years to come, not Barack Obama.

  1. Reckless Endangerment

    Well put. I would add that leveraging “white guilt” is part of a bully tactic the left uses on many so-called “social issues” such as gay marriage, abortion etc. The left calls these social issues, but they may as well call them “emotional issues” that have a moral equivalency associated with them. It is the whole post-modernism argument all over again.

    The left’s playbook for winning support on these issues for individuals not already part of their clientele groups on these issues (see Jay Cost’s fantastic Spoiled Rotten for a great overview of that historical phenomenon) is not to reason with individuals. Who has time to reason in between TMZ and People Magazine? It is to emotionally guilt trip folks and to make it seem like the investment of switching beliefs costs nothing to them but will mean the world to someone else. This is insidious and must be countered with an equally powerful emotional argument that dovetails with our more reasoned ones. Problem is, I haven’t heard it yet from our side

  2. Chris Appel

    I agree with Mr. McAllistar completely on this and offer as proof the vigor with which the press went after Herman Cain in the primary.  There is no way that they could tolerate a black candidate running against Obama–the neutralization of the “guilt” factor would have been too significant.

  3. Mike LaRoche
    Reckless Endangerment: Well put. I would add that leveraging “white guilt” is part of a bully tactic the left uses on many so-called “social issues” such as gay marriage, abortion etc. The left calls these social issues, but they may as well call them “emotional issues” that have a moral equivalency associated with them. It is the whole post-modernism argument all over again.

    That is the case with immigration as well, particularly in light of the Boston bombing.  The left says that if we don’t import more people from nations and cultures that hate us, said nations and cultures will hate us even more.

    Driven by white guilt all the way, and absolutely illogical and idiotic.

  4. D.C. McAllister
    C
    Chris Appel: I agree with Mr. McAllistar completely on this and offer as proof the vigor with which the press went after Herman Cain in the primary.  There is no way that they could tolerate a black candidate running against Obama–the neutralization of the “guilt” factor would have been too significant. · 4 minutes ago

    I agree. Conservative blacks who do not hold all whites accountable for racism undermine the left’s use of white guilt to maintain and increase their power. Conservative blacks who have moved beyond racism, beyond blame and guilt, are the greatest threat to blacks who manipulate white guilt for their own purposes. 

  5. Give Me Liberty

    I agree, whether it is black guilt or just the fact that Obama won’t be running again.  The left was able to create a long campaign of demonizing Bush so that running against him from about 2005 on was effective, they’re still doing it.  But the Republicans have had no such ability against Obama.  However, his policies are very unpopular and the Republicans should use them to bludgeon the Democrats who will be campaigning over the next four years.  “They said trust them with power and they would make life better, but what did they do?  They spied on you, they pilfered your tax dollars on big government schemes, they burdened your children and grandchildren with unfathomable debt, they ruined the US standing financially, economically, and in foreign affairs.  And time and time again they just flat out lied to you.”  sadly I don’t know if there are any Republicans that have the courage to take that tack.

  6. Casey

    I don’t buy the white guilt argument at this point. Nor the low-info voter argument. The problem is the limited-info voter. And that is almost everybody nowadays. Most everybody you meet is aware of news at the headline level. They go no deeper. So they either pick a side and blame the other for everything that is wrong or avoid picking a side because they fear revealing their ignorance (moderates). These people blame things like partisanship – which is a non-statement statement. So everything is wrong and everybody and nobody is to blame.

  7. raycon and lindacon

    As evidence of Denise’ argument, there is the 2010 election.  Divorced from Obama, the Democrats suffered mightily.  The Tea Party ran, for the most part, against the ‘government’, not Obama.  There will be tremendous ground gained again, if the battle is seen as ‘against the government Democrats’.

    Our prediction is that 2016 will be more of the same as 2012, IF the democrats run another black lefty.  Our prediction for candidate, which we have made before, is Susan Rice.  Black, articulate, attractive.  And female.  The female Barak Obama.  She has never held elective office.  Barry did… for a year before he was chosen as a candidate.

    Susan Rice is now National Security Adviser.  She is immunized from testimony, and therefore from the Benghazi scandal.  Her name is still associated with it, but the notoriously bad memory of the MSM frees her from that taint.

    Most importantly, she is the knife in the back of Hillary Clinton that the party statists need to separate themselves from the past, and associate themselves entirely with the progressive future.

    And, white guilt is further amplified.  

    How perfect.

  8. RedRules

    That is also part of the reason conservative women get such comparatively harsh treatment in the media. Women play a strong second-fiddle to blacks in the whole historical guilt thing.

    I dismissed specific opposition to Obama years ago. I knew white guilt would prevent most media from holding a black man accountable for anything he did in office. I’ve been talking up Democrat malfeasance the past 3 years. It’s still fun to mock Obama from time to time, but I just want us to get back the legislature. I was really shocked he got a second term. I was sure people would secretly hold him accountable in the voting booth and then brag publicly “I am so upset that Obama lost! I voted for him…” I blame *that* fiasco on selfishness and LIV more than anything else. People voted for the guy they thought most likely to give them some cash from his ‘stash’, or they only get their news from comedy central.

  9. Aaron Miller

    I agree with Casey that willful ignorance plays a bigger role. Afterall, white liberals who apologize for whites also apologize for America in general. 

    Part of it is social cowardice. It’s that situation of wanting to call out a person’s misdeeds but not being able to do it while looking in that person’s eyes. Many people are emotionally invested in Obama and see malice in a man who acts so nice. People who habitually demonize their opponents see no evil in the act when it’s directed at the appropriate targets.

    And then there’s peer pressure. Nobody wants to be the first to criticize their dear leader and risk a rift with friends. 

  10. Z in MT

    I think that America is at the edge of the cliff and these scandals may be the last chance to stop America from going over.  The long drawn out recession and recovery have created the situation that close to half of the people depend either directly or indirectly upon the government for a significant fraction of their livelihood.  Examples include a family with one member on unemployment or SSDI, elderly people on SS, local, state, and federal workers and people working directly on federal contracts such university researchers (such as myself) and much of the defense industry.  If we continue the path we are on now we will enter a period of national and individual pain like that being experienced in Greece right now.  If we turn around quickly, 2014 will indicate whether we have turned around or not, we will still need to fight the forces that want to jump off thinking that humans can fly.

  11. Black Prince

    I’ve talked about this before:

    [The goal of psychological subversion is] to change the perception of reality of every American to such an extent that despite the abundance of information no one is able to come to sensible conclusions in the interests of defending themselves, their families, their community and their country. It’s a great brainwashing process.

    Marxist/Leninist ideology is being pumped into the soft heads of at least three generations of American students without being challenged or counterbalanced by the basic values of Americanism or American patriotism.

    Exposure to true information does not matter anymore. A person who is demoralized is unable to assess true information—the facts tell nothing to him. Even if I shower him with information—with authentic proof, with documents, with pictures…even if I take him by force and show him the Soviet concentration camps—he will refuse to believe it until he is going to receive a kick in his fat bottom.  When the military boot crushes him then he will understand, but not before. That is the tragedy of the situation.

    —Yuri Bezmenov (1985)

    Our side doesn’t understand what’s happening and that’s why we are doomed.

  12. D.C. McAllister
    C
    Aaron Miller: I agree with Casey that willful ignorance plays a bigger role. Afterall, white liberals who apologize for whites also apologize for America in general. 

    Part of it is social cowardice. It’s that situation of wanting to call out a person’s misdeeds but not being able to do it while looking in that person’s eyes. Many people are emotionally invested in Obama and see malice in a man who acts so nice. …

    And then there’s peer pressure. Nobody wants to be the first to criticize their dear leader and risk a rift with friends.  

    They’re not just ignorant, but as you say “willfully” so. Why? They’re choosing to look the other way. The social cowardice comes from somewhere, not just lack of information or “liking” Obama. They are emotionally invested, as you say, for a reason. Some of it is they don’t want to admit they were wrong, but there’s more to it with Obama. You said it: “peer pressure.” They don’t want to criticize their leader. Yet they were perfectly willing to criticize their leaders in the past. White guilt is what you’re describing here.

  13. JavaMan

    I agree with the “white guilt” premise on the 2008 election, but I suspect that the Obama’s 2012 win was based more on people’s reluctance to admit that they’ve been conned. It’s only in the last week or so, with the revelations of the scale of the NSA tapping and abuse, that I’ve observed some of the liberals that I follow actually openly express betrayal. Prior to this they always comforted themselves with the “Bush started it and (insert Republican candidate here) would’ve carried on just like he did” rationalization.

    Secondly, and I must be careful here, it takes a very special sort of candidate to exploit white guilt on a national scale, so I would be surprised to see another pull it off in 2016. Does anyone think that “white guilt” would put an Al Sharpton on a national ticket, let alone in the Oval office? Obama, from his youth, cultivated an “above the fray” personna on issues of race, ruthlessly dispatching mentors and followers that threatened to pull him down into it (Example reverend Wright).

    Finally impeachment is a fool’s goal, remember who the backup is?  

  14. Yeah...ok.

    The schools have been teaching this (white guilt) since at least the 1960s.

    Diversity is the goal. White males have committed many crimes, sometimes the victims were not other white males.

    We used to teach Manifest Destiny. Say what you will about this concept, I prefer it our current approach. Rather than thank those white males for their part of making America, we pillory white males for their part in not making America perfect.

    Schools teach what to believe not how to think and reason.

    Universal suffrage…

  15. R. Craigen

    So…

    Obama is the Good Cop

    The Obama Admin is the Bad Cop?

  16. Black Prince
    Yeah…ok.: The schools have been teaching this (white guilt) since at least the 1960s.

    White guilt is just a symptom, not the underlying disease: The Origins of Political Correctness

    Yeah…ok.: Schools teach what to believe not how to think and reason.

    Agreed: The Ideological Subversion of America – Why We Are Doomed

  17. Black Prince
    R. Craigen: So…

    Obama is the Good Cop

    The Obama Admin is the Bad Cop?

    If only there were such a clear (albeit false) distinction.  American minds are in a fog of indecision and helplessness.  We do not possess the mental wherewithal to “come to sensible conclusions in the interests of defending ourselves, our families, our communities and our country.”

  18. T-Fiks

    I wonder what the precise relationship is between white guilt here in America, where the historical institution of slavery plays a role, and the cultural suicide we’re seeing in western Europe?

  19. D.C. McAllister
    C
    Casey: I don’t buy the white guilt argument at this point. Nor the low-info voter argument. The problem is the limited-info voter. And that is almost everybody nowadays. Most everybody you meet is aware of news at the headline level. They go no deeper. So they either pick a side and blame the other for everything that is wrong or avoid picking a side because they fear revealing their ignorance (moderates). These people blame things like partisanship – which is a non-statement statement. So everything is wrong and everybody and nobody is to blame. · 1 hour ago

    Would you agree that there are multiple causes and white guilt is one of them? I don’t disagree with Rush or you that these are all factors, but I think the white guilt dimension applied to Obama particularly makes convincing people that he is to blame for failures in Washington impossible. Guilt is very powerful and generates a great deal of fear.

  20. RightinChicago

    Excellent piece of writing. I like the D.C. McAllister moniker too. It makes you sound like a writer in addition to being a great writer. And congtats, this post has been linked at Powerline. Cheers!!! 20 years ago, in college, I used to have white guilt. Thankfully, I have since forgotten most of the dreck they tried to feed me. White Guilt-free living is the only life for me. Now I argue that the rest of the world should get on its worthless knees and kiss the feet of the Anglo-sphere for giving them the modern world.