Rush Limbaugh thinks Obama is the Messiah.

Or there’s an alternative at least as bad.

A few times philosophy actually makes things simpler.

Here are the reasons for the conclusion above.  Taken together, they establish that  it is  true, IF they are true AND Limbaugh believes what he says.  Hence, they do allow two alternatives and both are arguably as bad as  Limbaugh’s believing the Obama is the Messiah:  Limbaugh does not know what he is talking about OR he is lying in an attempt to turn the country against the president.

First Part of the Argument:

  1.  “Ought” implies “can” (and “ought to have” implies “could have”).
  2. Rush Limbaugh asserts Obama ought to have straightened out the economy in his 6 weeks as president, at least to the extent of stopping February’s job losses in the States.
  3. Knowing #1, Limbaugh believes Obama could have done it.
  4. Only a person who is a miracle working with divine powers (i.e., the Messiah) could clear up the economy in six week.
  5.  Limbaugh believes #4.

Therefore, Limbaugh believes Obama is a miracle worker with divine powers.

Of course, it is possible that Limbaugh does not know or believe #1 or #4 or both.  If this is the case, then one of the leading voices of the Republican Party lacks a grasp of basic features of moral thought or economic reality.  In a very profound way, he does not know what he is talking about.

And there’s another alternative. The argument moves from what Limbaugh asserts  to what he believes.  But perhaps Limbaugh does not believe what he asserts.  He may misrepresent what he thinks is true in order to turn the country against Obama.

No wonder the Democrats are thrilled to think Limbaugh is now the voice of the Republican Party.   In fact, we might have another fallacy.  It is the fallacy of muddling the problem by ignoring the implications of what one has said and simply emphasizing the emotion impact of the initial statement.  “Is this what you voted for?”  Limbaugh kept asking on Friday as the job figures became clear, as though having voted we are now entitled to make the guy in the job the target of our woes.

27 thoughts on “Rush Limbaugh thinks Obama is the Messiah.

  1. So imagine this: you are driving a 50 mile trip in a state that at least used to be so red that the radio has only one liberal talk show on, and on it right now is a colleague of yours giving his world view. I mean, ok, but if you have two cats in the back seat intent on making you feel really awful, it’s not enough. Especially if he’s a physicist, but more than that I will not say.

    But now we have a clear reason for listening to Rush with some interest and glee, since he’s emerging as the intellectual leader of the Republican Party. I mean, what an opportunity!

  2. You’ve never heard of sarcasm? Of course Rush doesn’t believe those things, and of course he tries to turn the country against Obama. Obama stands for everything conservatives disagree with, so how could Rush, as a conservative, not try to turn people against our new “President”?

  3. jj, this is brilliant! It occured to me that the democrats well knew that upon hearing that he’s being noticed by the white house, Rush would start getting delusions of grandeur, and of course, that’s exactly what he’s doing. His newfound delusions (of grandeur) lead him to actually PROJECT himself as the leader of the RNC, and thereby make the democrats’ assertions come true! It sounds to me that Obama and his team fully expected Rush to grab the mantle, so to speak. This makes them damn good psychologists!

  4. dcbarton, when Limbaugh implies Obama alone is responsible for Feb’s job loss, I don’t think he is being sarcastic. What I tried to do is to bring out what’s got to be going on if we think Limbaugh is being anything like truthful. The obvious conclusion I would draw is that he isn’t being even remotely truthful; he’s just manipulative. Is that the conservative mandate now? Lie to make the divisions as bad as possible? Or: win at any cost?

    Maybe that’s why they are losing. One hopes their strategy of confuse and divide doesn’t work.

  5. My impression is that a lot on the right seem to think that many Obama voters were motivated by an irrational, cult-like worship of him as a Messiah-like figure. So perhaps they think that such people will expect him to have instantly fixed things, and to now be ripe for feeling disappointed.

  6. Nice point, Jender. That strikes me as true of Rush.
    Bob Herbert, in Saturday’s NY Times has a different take; he seems to locate the cause in a genuine disappointment:

    Barack Obama has only been president for six weeks, but there is a surprising amount of ire, anger, even outrage that he hasn’t yet solved the problems of the U.S. economy, that he hasn’t saved us from the increasingly tragic devastation wrought by the clownish ideas of right-wing conservatives and the many long years of radical Republican misrule.
    This intense, impatient, often self-righteous, frequently wrongheaded and at times willfully destructive criticism has come in waves, and not just from the right. Mr. Obama is as legitimate a target for criticism as any president. But there is a weird hysterical quality to some of the recent attacks that suggests an underlying fear or barely suppressed rage. It’s a quality that seems not just unhelpful but unhealthy.

    I wonder if there is some racism behind this, supposing Herbert is right? He should be, in Rush’s words, a “magic negro”.

  7. or more charitably, jj, maybe everyone is just projecting their intense fears about the depression onto the most readily available responsible party. deciding that the depression is the fault of one particular person could make it less scary, in a way: it would mean that some other one person could potentially fix it; that the problem isn’t larger than anyone’s power to solve it; ie, that the problem might be solved.

  8. elp, I don’t think that’s going to quite work. the projecting would seem to go along party lines, so we’d still have to explain why one group projects and the other doesn’t. Overall, Obama has high approval ratings.

  9. jj, i was thinking about this line in your quoted: ‘willfully destructive criticism has come in waves, and not just from the right.’ it seems like we ought to be careful about attributing this to racism, esp since as you say, his overall approval ratings are high. republicans will be critical, well, because they’re republicans and their defeat is still pretty recent. and if there’s a plausible explanation for why some democrats are being critical on this one issue, and if they’re not being critical overall, then talking about race seems premature (or unnecessary, or something like that). i don’t know if i’ve expressed myself clearly, but yes, something like that is what i had in mind.

  10. I see what you’re saying.
    I don’t really know who the critical dems are, though I suppose some are unhappy with the somewhat clinton-esque cabinet.

    The thing that led me to think about racism is that it can be going on when one has exaggerated expectations, paradoxically enough. E.g., a dean at my university recently turned down an African American candidate for tenure (who was otherwise heavily supported by department and college committees) because he did’t have any single-authored papers. But such papers are extremely unusual in his field. So why was he asked to behave at such a high level in order to be considered acceptable? it’s a good bet racism is having a role.

    Maybe the underlying logic is something like this: this person is black and may be entirely incompetennt; so to alleviate this fear, they must perform very quickly and get something important done right now. Business as usual is not enough in this case to show they have merit, since the doubts are so serious.

  11. JJ, when Rush implies that Obama alone is responsible for February’s job loss he is only applying the same standard to Obama that Demos applied to Bush on January 23, 2001. Why get upset now? Don’t we all play by the same rules? IF it is good enough for the Republican President to be held responsible, it is good enough for the Democrat President as well.

  12. DCBarton, the Dems blamed Bush for a terrible economy the day after he was elected? But the economy wasn’t terrible.

    It would help if you could cite some sources.

  13. i see what you’re saying jj. maybe so. i just find it unsurprising that people would blame in silly ways when it comes to something scary like economic decline. seems like people get silly when they’re frightened. but for all i know, silly thinking like racist thinking may be exactly what’s ramped up in crisis. hmm, that’s an interesting question. is there research on what stress does to prejudice-based behavior? surely there is?

  14. @extendedlp

    problem is, they dont just get silly
    i have seen something similar in east germany after the reunification. it is to some degree related to what is going on in the US right now, the breakdown of a political ideology and economy with devastating effects on the people.

    Watts, M. (1996), Political Xenophobia in the Transition from Socialism: Threat, Racism and Ideology among East German Youth, International Society of Political Psychology, Vol. 17, No. 1 (March), pp. 97-126

    Ireland, P (1996), Socialism, Unification Policy and the Rise of Racism in Eastern Germany, International Migration Review, Vol. 31, No. 3 (Autumn, 1997), pp. 541-568

  15. elp, I remind myself that I don’t really have enough knowledge to argue against your account or for mine.

    It is true that stress does increase the inclination to draw on stereotypes, research suggests. That doesn’t really point to a particular diagnosis of this case, though.

  16. Trying to interpret a joke without understanding the joke can only lead to confusion. Rush’s humor is often based, as he describes it, on “illustrating absurdity with absurdity.” In this case, the basis is the MSM’s portrayal of Obama last year as a “lightworker”/Messiah/Jesus reincarnation who could do unimaginably powerful things. When Rush says that the Messiah should be able to fix the economy in 6 weeks, he is making fun of the MSM (“illustrating absurdity with absurdity”).

    If you don’t get the joke, that is fine. Humor is not universal. But, don’t let that be a basis for personal attacks.

  17. John, I’m sorry but RL was not joking. He was encouraging his callers in a we-should-despair-about-Obama trope. What I was pointing out, in effect, is that his blaming Obama and encouraging his audience to do so raises three possibilities: he is dead ignorant, he is lying or he buys into an absurd view of Obama.

    Let’s be clear about personal attacks. I was not employing the classic personal attack, the argument ad hominem, which attacks a person instead of their views and the reasons they have for the views. I pretty carefully dissected RL’s criticism of Obama; the implications are not to RL’s credit, but that’s a problem he has invited. I merely uncovered and named it. Anyone with a course in critical reasoning should be able to do the same thing. The really inevitable conclusion is that RL goes in for a lot of highly emotional rhetoric, and very sloppy thinking.

  18. JJ,

    “I’m sorry but RL was not joking”

    What makes you say that?

    His subtle humor is the reason that he attracts and holds a large audience.

    Regards,

    John

  19. Thanks for your calm response, John. I might have gotten a bit too one-sided here.

    RL’s agreement with his conservative callers’ complaints about Obama might just be a joke? Since these agreements are bound up with his espousal of conservative approaches to solving the current crisis, it doesn’t seem too plausible to think it’s all a joke. BUT the image of RL as really making fun of conservative approaches is certainly a fresh and intriguing take.

  20. JJ,

    When RL or a conservative caller makes a reference to Obama having (or failing to have) Messiah-like qualities, he is making a joke at the expense of last year’s MSM coverage of Obama (and Obama’s encouragement of that coverage).

    (I know that the humor is not obvious to non-conservatives).

    Similar references to Obama as Messiah or The One appear on many conservative blogs and make fun of media coverage of Obama. If you are interested, I can provide links to some of those ripe-for-satire MSM photos and stories.

    Regards,

    John

  21. John, RL wasn NOT saying that Obama has Messiah like qualities. He was saying that Obama should be blamed for not resolving the crisis. That’s very different.

    What I was maintaining is that someone who says Obama is to blame either (a) has no idea about what would be involved in resolving the crisis OR (2) understands that resolving it in 6 weeks would require divine powers OR (3) is really just trying to stir up negative emotions against Obama. I think (3) probably provides the best interpretation.

    What’s important is to realize that I was not saying that RL explicitly said Obama is the Messiah. What I did argue is that if he knows what he is talking about and really thinks Obama should have resolved the crisis, then he must think Obama is a genuine miracle worker. That’s because “he ought to have resolved the crisis” implies “he could have resolved the crisis.”

    My argument is really indirect. It is a bit like a lawyer’s argument at a trial. A lawyer with a client who seems to have an air tight alibi might say “If you think he did it, then you must think he can fly from one place to another.” The lawyer isn’t really supposing the jury thinks the person can fly; she’s just critiquing the claim “he did it.” Similarly, I was really trying to show up the problems with blaming Obama after only 6 weeks.

  22. JJ, I am 100% confident that Rush agrees with you: only the Messiah could fix the economy in 6 weeks.

    For a collection of left/liberal opinions in support of Obama as the Messiah, see:

    http://ObamaMessiah.blogspot.com/

    and keep scrolling down. What do you think?

    Regards,

    John

  23. Well, that’s high charisma for you. It was much the same with Kennedy. Beautiful (or at least elegant), brilliant and interested in serving other people. Wow! It’s very unclear, however, how many people are actually caught up in it. Young people, who made quite a difference, seemed less moved by his person and more by his ideas.

    In any case, people who care about the country need to locate the discussion of the current crisis in a different context.

  24. JJ, I’ll agree with that.

    Of course, this is the first time that supporters thought of political leaders as god-like: the Romans deified their emperors.

    Thanks for an interesting blog post and an interesting discussion.

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