Glenn Beck Vs. Limbaugh and Bennett On The Republican Party. I’m With Beck On This One.

I caught Glenn Beck’s speech at CPAC live and enjoyed it immensely. However, amongst other bloggers, the reviews were decidedly mixed. No big deal — to each his own.

But, there’s one particular criticism that has been aimed at Beck’s speech that I think is off the mark. First off, here’s what Beck said about Republicans that’s riling some people up:

I’m a — I’m a recovering alcoholic. I’m a recovering alcoholic, and um, I screwed up my life six ways to Sunday, and I believe in redemption. But the first step to getting redemption is you’ve got to admit you’ve got a problem. I have not heard people in the Republican Party yet admit that they have a problem. And when they do say they have a problem I don’t know if I believe them. I haven’t seen the come-to-Jesus moment of the Republican Party yet. I’ve voted Republicans almost every time in — every time I’ve gone. I — I don’t know what they even stand for any more. And they’ve got to recognize that they have a problem. Hello! My name is the Republican Party and I’ve got a problem. I’m addicted to spending and big government.

(applause)

I’d like one of them — I’d like one of them to just stand up and say that. I’d like that V-8 moment where they’re like, ah, crap, I get it now. I’m addicted to spending and I just don’t want to spend today. Good, keep coming back.

(laughter)

They need that moment. I don’t know if you saw Tiger Woods the other day, but some people don’t believe Tiger Woods, uh, that he was repentant. Some people are saying, well, he’s only sorry because he got caught. Well — yeah.

(laughter)

I mean, you know, if drinking wasn’t causing me a problem in my life I’d be drunk right now.

(applause)

I mean, geez, if you’re making it with a whole bunch of unbelievable babes and nobody has a problem with it — yeah. Yeah. Now let me ask this of the Republican Party. You got caught. Are you sorry? And better yet — you know, when people said to me yesterday, well, Tiger Woods is Tiger Woods, is he really going to — you know, is he going to change? I don’t know. It may not be his bottom. And if not, we’ll all see another small blonde woman with a golf club chasing him.

(laughter)

But that’s his life. We’ll know through his — well, we won’t know — but his wife will know through his actions. So, when the Republican Party says, wow, I’ve got a problem, please don’t say you’re just like me. Oh, and I’m just like you. No you’re not. Because I would never go to Washington. You will. You’re not just like me and you’re not just like the rest of us. You are somebody who has said, okay, I’ll represent you. Did you check your soul at the door? Make sure you hang on to your soul. Now if you are just like me — if you are just like the average, everyday person you won’t lose your soul along the way.

Now here’s some of what Bill Bennett had to say about it:

…For him to continue to say that he does not hear the Republican party admit its failings or problems is to ignore some of the loudest and brightest lights in the party. From Jim DeMint to Tom Coburn to Mike Pence to Paul Ryan, any number of Republicans have admitted the excesses of the party and done constructive and serious work to correct them and find and promote solutions. Even John McCain has said again and again that “the Republican party lost its way.” These leaders, and many others, have been offering real proposals, not ill-informed muttering diatribes that can’t distinguish between conservative and liberal, free enterprise and controlled markets, or night and day. Does Glenn truly believe there is no difference between a Tom Coburn, for example, and a Harry Reid or a Charles Schumer or a Barbara Boxer? Between a Paul Ryan or Michele Bachmann and a Nancy Pelosi or Barney Frank?

Here’s a piece of what Rush Limbaugh had to say:

The Republican Party has – because of you, because you let them hear from you – not gone bipartisan. They have not joined this failure. In fact, there are people in the House (from John Boehner to Mike Pence, to Eric Cantor, to Paul Ryan) who are doing everything that they can. Jim DeMint over in the Senate, Tom Coburn over in the Senate, these people, especially now don’t deserve to be bashed or lumped in a generalized way with all the bad apples in Washington because all of them there are not bad apples.” . . .

“The point at this stage is to support the conservatives in and outside public office. I certainly would not have ignored the other team on the field, the Democrats. They’re the only reason we’re in this mess. The Democrat Party is the only reason we are threatened with the things we’re threatened with. The Democrat Party. Solely. They own it. There’s no evidence I see of anybody colluding with the Democrats on this health care business. There’s not one Republican vote in the Senate for it. In the House there was one, I think, from the guy in Louisiana and he said he’s not going to do it a second time.”

I have tremendous respect for Bill Bennett, who I think is a brilliant man and Rush Limbaugh? Wow, he’s one of my heroes. In fact, one of the highlights of my life was having my blog mentioned on his show.

That being said, I think Beck’s right and they’re wrong on this.

Why?

It’s true that the GOP has done a very good job of holding together against Obama’s agenda for the last few months. They’re also saying all the right things. Furthermore, some people, like Jim DeMint, Mike Pence, and Tom Coburn deserve a lot of credit for their stalwart defense of the checkbooks of American taxpayers.

Here’s the issue though: Guys like DeMint, Pence, Coburn, and Ryan ARE NOT the average Republican in Congress. When guys like DeMint and Coburn were fighting spending during the Bush years, they were being excoriated behind closed doors by many of the same Republicans who are trying to sound just like them today.

Moreover, during the Bush years, I seem to remember the Democrats talking incessantly about deficit spending as well. Now of course, everyone with a brain in their head knew they didn’t mean a word of it — but, that’s the point. It was TO THEIR ADVANTAGE to talk about it back then, just like it’s TO THE ADVANTAGE of the GOP to talk about it today.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t a difference between the parties. Bush wasn’t nearly as big a spender as Obama. McConnell wasn’t as big a spender as Reid. Boehner wasn’t as big a spender as Pelosi. All that’s true. Here’s what else is true: They weren’t serious about cutting spending or restraining the growth of government when they were in charge of things.

Are they now? I don’t know — and that’s what Beck is saying. Do the Republicans in Congress realize that the only reason that they got by with their “big government lite” program for so long was because most conservatives were more concerned about the war at the time? Are they sorry for letting things get out of control? Have they learned a lesson from it? Do they realize that our country has no future if the GOP can’t behave like an adult party and rein in spending?

The honest answer to those questions is: “I don’t know.” That was what Beck was saying and I think it reflects what most conservatives think right now. I think it also has a lot to do with why so many people in the Tea Party movement don’t want to allow it to become identified with the GOP.

All we can do at this point is try to get the Republicans back into power and make sure that they understand that if they think they can go back to their big spending ways without causing an eruption, they have another think coming.

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