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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.