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Posted by on Feb 25, 2009 in Media | 25 comments

Rush Limbaugh Calls A Women’s Summit To Research His Gender Gap

First, here’s the information from Public Policy Polling. In addition to the gender gap discussed below, the poll indicates that few people think Rush Limbaugh should have much influence:

Even if voters are pretty split on whether they like Limbaugh or not, there’s more of a consensus on how much sway they think he should hold in American politics, which is not much. Only 23% of respondents said Limbaugh should have ‘a lot’ of influence and the most common answer, given by 42% of respondents, is that he should have no influence at all.

Even among Republicans only 39% think Limbaugh should have a lot of influence, an indication that some GOP elected officials have perhaps been more eager to stay on his good side than necessary in the early days of the Obama administration.

Now, from Limbaugh’s website re: the gender gap found by PPP:

“The gender gap is one of the largest [Public Policy Polling] has seen on any issue it’s polled in the last year, with [Rush] Limbaugh having a +19 (56/37) net favorability among men, but a -12 (37/49) with women.” I have a 37% approval with women, 49% disapproval.  “Thirty-one-point point gender gaps don’t come along all that often.” Now, ladies and gentlemen, this is an opportunity here, because this takes us to the age-old question: What do women want?  Not even Freud was ultimately able to answer the question.  Women generally, for the most part, can’t answer it, either.  But it has never stopped people from asking the question: What do women want?  Given this massive gender gap in my personal approval numbers, a 31-point gender gap, it seems reasonable for me to convene a summit.


We’ll have a summit of all the women in this audience — or as many of them as we can get into breakout groups — and perhaps devote an hour in an upcoming program to calls only from women who genuinely want to talk to me. They can be liberal, conservative. They could be non-audience members, could be audience members.  But I want some of these women to start telling me what it is I must do to close the gender gap — or, if not what it is I must do to close the gender gap, what it is I’ve done that has caused the gender gap; assuming the gender gap is true and that the poll is true.

Ummm, you know – the women, who aren’t listening – they’re the ones ya probably need to hear from the most, yah?


I don’t know if we’ll do it tomorrow because we got Obama’s big speech tonight, but we might.  So, you ladies be on standby. Be ready at any moment for me to declare the summit officially underway, and we will take calls only from women who want to seriously discuss the proposition of this giant gender gap that I have, and what I could do to close it.  In other words: What could I do to attract a higher favorability rating among more women in America?  I own the men, and what must I do now to own women?  And who better to ask than women?  Including some of those who may agree that that I’m unfavorable.

After the GOP response from Bobby Jindal last night – whom Rush says is the next Ronald Reagan (who was called The Great Communicator – that same Ronald Reagan?), I would like to hear from conservatives: Who are your leaders and icons right now? Who measures up?

Cross-posted from Writes Like She Talks.

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Copyright 2009 The Moderate Voice
  • greenschemes

    There are no GOP leaders. Yet.

    I always thought of Limbaugh as an entertainer. It was funny listening to him make fun of Liberals. You know. Like Democrats are making fun of the GOP “cry babies” now.

    Its fun. Both parties earned that distinction. However Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are doing more to harm the cause then they are to save it………but then we all know they are after money……..not trying to solve Americas problems.

  • Ok – I can work with that.

    What would a GOP leader look like, for you? The elements of who matched with what of who else? If you could build one from scratch?

  • greenschemes

    I really have no clue. A gop leader is not going to emerge from this party until they have something to hang their hat on.

    Right now the Democrats are new to office. Obama is popular and the economy is hurting and we are in two wars. Most of this is the fault of the GOP and the question is asked “so should the GOP be in power?”

    Not only NO but HELL no.

    Until the Democrats prove they can actually solve problems rather then create them or complain that they tried but the GOP just wont play. Until the Democrats actually start doing stuff and are in office long enough to establish a record that can be scrutinized then the GOP has nothing to point to and criticize and stir up the people to revolt against the Democrats. Oh yes they can refuse to cooperate with the Democrats which is a gamble in its own right but this is the Democrats time to shine.

    They are going to have to produce. National health care. Something. Anything. They are going to have to chop down one of those planks that have been in their platform for 50 years. They are going to have to produce results or we will all know what we should all have known. The Democrats and the Republicans play the public against each other while solving NOTHING to keep power.

    • That’s all well and good, truly, but I’m asking you – what are the qualities you want in a leader of conservative ideology? What do you want that person to be able to do, and how?

      Come on – I can’t ask this any more directly. Can you see I’m not taking “no clue” for an answer? 🙂

      Dream – I promise – I will not make fun of it- that’s not why I’m asking. Let’s figure it out. Dems obviously found someone kinda sorta like what they imagine they want.

      What would the GOP voters’ leader possess?

  • $199537

    I agree with greenschemes that right now the GOP does not have an effective leader, and Limbaugh, Hannity, etc all do more harm than good. There was a time where they galvanized what a lot of people were thinking but really didn’t have a public voice for, but unfortunately have become so rigid and out of touch that they offend not only the left, but also a lot of people in the middle who would otherwise be sympathetic to conservatism.

    I don’t think the lack of an effective leader is necessarily unique to the GOP though. With the exception of Obama the Democratic leaders of the last decade have not been exactly inspiring.

    What should a GOP leader look like – the easy answer would be like Obama in the sense that he/she should be a good orator. Beyond that though he has to come across as a reasonable person. Obama is really pretty liberal but comes across as a regular, reasonable middle-of-the-road guy. That’s the characteristic you need, and when you combine that with that communication skills you have a winner. You have to have someone who can present a controversial issue while avoiding sounding extreme.

    I don’t think gender and race are that important. Contrary to what many liberals think most conservatives are pragmatic and will vote for whoever represents their views the best and gives them the best chance to win.

    • Ok – I think those are all good:

      good orator
      comes across as reasonable person
      comes across as regular, reasonable middle of the road guy
      someone who can present a controversial issue while avoiding sounding extreme

      I would agree with all that!

      So – let me ask you, acknowledging that I come from a left of center place, from that place, it appears to me that the conservative base seems to actually LIKE at least some of the time to have their leaders or the individuals who seem to be most prominent (whether that’s a media thing or not – definitely possible) be and act and appear extreme. And I believe it’s that being or acting or appearing to be extreme that is what adds to a inability to garner enough support to win across the country.

      Would you agree with that? If not, please do say why but if you do to some measure, I would think the next question is, what do you do about that, if it’s the person who can present the controversial stuff without sounding extreme who will carry more voters or support?

  • CStanley

    Good answer, DaGoat.

    Despite Jindal’s awful debut, I still think he has promise if he can learn to communicate to the national audience as himself instead of the odd character he portrayed last night.

    I’m also keeping my eye on Cantor, and other governors like Huntsman, Daniels, and to a lesser extent Pawlenty and Sanford. One thing about the governors is that I think the party should probably flex its executive prowess and present that as a contrast to what I see as a potential shortfall in the Obama administration. The types of programs he’s going to be overseeing would be challenging for anyone to oversee, and since he has no experience with that kind of executive oversight I have concerns about how all of that ‘oversight’ is going to go (notwithstanding the oh-so-confidence inspiring move of putting Joe Biden in charge of the recovery plan.)

    I think these governors should focus on managing their states recovery funds, as well as their general state’s budgets, with exquisite finesse in order to be poised to have a shot at the WH in 4 or 8 years.

  • Silhouette

    Looks like Caribou Barbie has been texting Rush and telling him to be a kinder, gentler neocon extremist.

  • greenschemes

    Limbaugh is not a Neocon.

    I am a neocon.

  • CStanley

    Jill, really that problem is just the age old question of how to straddle between the hardcore base of a party and the middle. It is especially problematic right now for the GOP though for two reasons:
    1. The centrist voters have been schooled by media and bloggers to have a severe aversion to right wing extremism (esp social conservatives) even though there’s not the same disdain for the extreme leftwing. There’s a permissiveness that allowed Obama and all of the other Dem candidates to pay lip service to some of the pet causes of the far left and no one took it seriously (the Wright and Ayers associations came closest to blowing up on Obama but he was able to skate through) whereas McCain wasn’t allowed to mention an evangelical pastor without hyperventilation from even the center left.
    2. There’s internal friction in the GOP between social cons (they’re by and large the ones who are considered extremists who want to hear some smack talk) and the fiscal cons (who are embarrassed to be in the same party with the socons even though they’ve been happy enough to leverage votes off of them for quite some time now.)

    The first problem, I don’t really know how to solve but obviously picking someone like Palin who feeds the base with that kind of rhetoric didn’t work. I think someone needs to figure out how to change the key that that tune’s been sung in- appeal to the patriotic, cultural conservatives in a way that’s less of a turn off to the left. (I’m reminded of someone’s column today about Obama being Reaganesque because he’s using rhetoric that’s clearly left wing – for Reagan it was the opposite of course- but doing it without pissing people off.)

    As far as the second part, I think the two factions need to come to terms with the fact that they need each other (unless one or the other group thinks it can pull in new alliances from other parts of the spectrum, which I doubt.)

    There will have to be a grand bargain. I think that the fiscons need to stop being condescending and arrogant, and they need to figure out what minimum guarantees the socons need. They should seek out socially conservative leaders who are a bit more intellectual and work with them on schooling the movement on the need to abandon anti-intellectualism, and they in return should promise to support the most basic tenets of social conservatism, which would be to embrace a Burkean attitude toward social change and to push back against ultrasecular progressive attempts to put religion in a corner.

    Meanwhile, I think the GOP can rightly follow Obama’s lead to get out of the pastor traps in the future. If called out for associating with a controversial pastor, shrug it off and say that you see the good works this person is doing although you don’t agree with him on everything. If that still doesn’t work to silence the critics, call them out on their hypocrisy since they gave Obama a pass on Wright.

  • Jim_Satterfield

    Wow, CS, you actually can’t tell the difference between putting the social conservatives in power in the party and having attended a church with a particular pastor. Well, there’s a world of difference but I’m not surprised that a good Republican can’t tell. As far as the center having no aversion to the extreme left, the reason you don’t see it has nothing to do with the MSM and everything to do with how the extremely conservative Republican party has chosen to define anyone outside of their comfort zone as being of the extreme left. The truth is that the Republicans have chosen to label people as being extremists who the center looks at and doesn’t consider extremist. Every word you wrote shows which camp you sympathize with. All criticism goes towards the fiscal conservatives while never acknowledging the self righteousness of the religious right. There is some ultrasecular attempt to put religion in a corner but no attempt to push it into places that it doesn’t belong, like the science classroom. Somehow I just don’t see you being able to see any way to balance the internal demands of the GOP if they want to be politically relevant any time soon.

  • Manchester2

    The obvious answer to this question is Mike Huckabee. He has massive appeal to the middle, as evidenced by his very adept appearances on show like Jon Stewart’s. Stewart hit him hard on his social conservatism — opposition to gay nuptials, abortion — and Huckabee stood his ground while being agreeable about it, a smile on his face. As far as I know, he’s not beholden to Limbaugh, probably doesn’t have a lot of use for him. (Good riddance to that oxycontin popping oaf). I’ve predicted it before, I’ll predict it again: This country isn’t left of center, it’s right of center, and Mike Huckabee is the best poised GOP politician to play to that base. In 2012, we’ll be saying President Huckabee.

  • CStanley

    Every word you wrote shows which camp you sympathize with.

    Uh oh, the gig is up…I’ve been outted as a conservative Republican.

    When did I ever pretend to be other than that, Jim, and why shouldn’t this post reflect my views from that perspective when that was the whole point of Jill’s post (correct me if I’m wrong, Jill!)

    Wow, CS, you actually can’t tell the difference between putting the social conservatives in power in the party and having attended a church with a particular pastor. Well, there’s a world of difference

    OK, Jim, so if I’m the one who can’t tell the difference (rather than the way I see it, that the left and center left can’t tell the difference), then why was it unacceptable for McCain (whose religion is about as completely private as any candidate in recent times has been, much more so than Obama’s) to even accept any endorsements from pastors without being raked over the coals for it? Was there really any credible reason to think that a McCain administration was going to create a new cabinet post for a Department of Theology?

    And give me a break on the perceptions of anyone outside conservative comfort zone being painted as extreme left. Wright danced right along the edges of black separatism and antisemitism, and Ayers was a member of a group that promoted violence and anarchy. How much more extreme should we be willing to tolerate before someone is a wee bit too far left?

  • $199537

    I think the definition of extremist should be anybody who starts their comment with “Wow”.

  • $199537

    Anyway I didn’t really answer your second question Jill, namely if the GOP needs a reasonable spokesperson then why do they seem to follow the leaders that come across as extreme. CStanley said it well, but my answer would be that the GOP party is not being driven by a moderate wing, it’s being driven by the far-right base. It’s kind of like when the Democrats were all backing Howard Dean – the primaries were being driven by the MoveOn types and they liked a strong spokesman who said the things they agreed with and got them fired up. After a time moderating influences entered and Dean lost his popularity. Right now there is not a significant moderating influence in the GOP.

    I don’t know if I see this exactly the same as CStanley, but in my case I feel that the GOP kicked me out when it became clear they were just as happy to expand government to further their goals as Democrats are. Since I doubt I am alone in this feeling, I suspect the GOP lost many conservatives who might otherwise be able to provide a moderating presence.

    I think there are some GOP leaders that get this and you now hear them admitting they lost their way. So far though I don’t see that position really gaining a foothold. I go to conservative sites and discussion boards and there are still saying the same things they were saying 5 or 6 years ago.

    As an aside it’s always a little funny to categorize myself as a conservative since when I go to conservative sites I am often called a liberal. For purposes of this site I’m definitely on the conservative side though.

  • Jim_Satterfield

    Actually the camp I was referring to was the religious right as opposed to the conservative fiscal branch.

    Wright and Ayers are not members of Obama’s campaign or his staff. Ayers is not nearly so close to Obama as the Republicans keep claiming. The political center is bright enough to realize that so they don’t get outraged over them. Right wing extremists are highly influential in the Republican party and truly do affect policy. They see that truth too. Yet Republicans keep harping on two associations that are so different from their Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, John Hagee, Grover Norquist, etc.

    Any endorsements from any pastors? Proof, please. John Hagee’s endorsement was what got McCain in trouble and that notorious liberal, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League was one of Hagee’s most vocal critics. Not exactly the center left or left wing of American politics, is he?

  • I’ve not abandoned this thread, promise – but have been busy with updating news of Rush’s Female Summit! You can read the transcript and the highlights here.

  • elrod

    One of the problems here is that part of the appeal of the GOP to middle-of-the-road voters since the days of Richard Nixon was the way they channeled cultural “anti-elitism” and cultural resentment. Now, sometimes that anti-elitism goes overboard, as in the case of Sarah Palin or the people who burned Dixie Chicks albums. But when couched in very middle-of-the-road language, it is very effective. In fact, that’s what the Bushes did so well (father and son); they could cast whole cities like San Francisco and New York (before 9/11) as somehow un-American places. They drew from politicians in the 1920s who did the same thing. Of course, the real agenda of the Bushes and Reagan was not cultural but economic and military.

    In fact, harnessing the politics of cultural resentment is very difficult, mostly because it is, by definition, the politics of loss. Relishing in the good old days may get you elected, but it doesn’t actually bring back the good old days. And so there is inevitably the disappointment that flows to social conservatives; their cultural resentment against “elite liberalism” wins elections, but it doesn’t change society in any meaningful way. And then the frustration builds over time until it explodes in violent rage (like Jim Adkisson, the man who shot up my liberal church because he wanted to “kill liberals’), or implodes in parody like Sarah Palin.

    Read Rick Pearlstein’s “Nixonland” to get a grasp of this culture of resentment.

  • elrod

    BTW, that PPP poll doesn’t pass the smell test. 43% of African Americans have a favorable opinion of Rush Limbaugh? Remember, 97% of blacks voted for Obama. Yet 43% like Limbaugh. I’m not buying it.

  • CStanley

    The political center is bright enough to realize that so they don’t get outraged over them. Right wing extremists are highly influential in the Republican party and truly do affect policy.
    Show your work please. What policies have they actually influenced?

  • CStanley

    I don’t know if I see this exactly the same as CStanley, but in my case I feel that the GOP kicked me out when it became clear they were just as happy to expand government to further their goals as Democrats are. Since I doubt I am alone in this feeling, I suspect the GOP lost many conservatives who might otherwise be able to provide a moderating presence.

    DaGoat, I’d be interested to know what kind of moderating influence you mean. I don’t know much about your own political preferences, although I’ve agreed with some of your comments (but suspect I’m further to the right than you are in general.)

    Can you elaborate, on what issues you feel we need a moderating influence? Since you aren’t happy with the move toward big government Republicanism, I assume you’re not talking about compromise on fiscal policy but social. Other than rhetoric though, I don’t see where the party’s been so extreme on social policy so I don’t get why it’s such a problem.

  • $199537

    CStanley, I don’t want to project too much of my own experience on this issue or write a novel, but I think the problem is both fiscal and social. I think we’d mostly agree that the GOP dropped the ball on fiscal responsibility during the Bush administration.. Two examples would be the Medicare prescription drug program and the growth of earmarks, but spending in general ballooned under Bush. No the Democrats aren’t any better but this is an area where the GOP is supposed to be the responsible alternative. I did not see significant opposition to spending from the GOP under Bush.

    In the social area the third rail of GOP politics is abortion and this is where the Democrats have a very easy time turning many younger voters and independents against the GOP. Abortion isn’t going to go away and it’s not likely Roe v Wade will be overturned (Laura Bush actually said as much in public comments). This is where many GOP will disagree with me but I think abortion needs to be a minor issue, and the GOP platform needs to be changed to something on the order of “we don’t agree with it but we respect each other’s beliefs and privacy, and accept its existence”. A that point we can work on reasonable controls like partial-birth, parental notification, re-evaluating fetal viability, etc. I know that will be a major concession for social conservatives but as long as the GOP is known as the anti-abortion party the Democrats will successfully use it as a wedge issue, and it will work for them.

    A couple of other issues that turned me away from the GOP:

    Terri Schiavo – to me an overreach of the federal government into personal, local and state issues. I actually tried to be a moderating influence only to be called a murdering Nazi among other things. Unfortunately those comments weren’t coming from just the extreme right but from many of the conservatives I talked with.

    Patriot Act – yes much of it was necessary but the NSLs portion really bothered me. The debate deteriorated into another partisan all-or-nothing argument. It would have been helpful to acknowledge the risks to personal freedoms and address them rather than using it as just another political football.

    Anyway I could go on but that’s the sort of things I’m talking about.

  • CStanley

    OK, that’s pretty much what I expected. What confused me a bit though is that on fiscal policy, if I’m understanding you, you DON’T want more ‘moderate’ policy. I guess what I’m saying is that your previous comment was about how turned off you are due to a lack of moderate forces in the party (or a blacklisting of moderates) but on the fiscal part, you actually are criticizing those who’ve acted less fiscally conservative.

    On abortion, I disagree not only because I can’t agree with that on principle, but also because I think that’s much too defensive of a posture. The true center of the country on that issue is not nearly as far to the left as the Democratic party is, and there’s no reason that they should own the issue. If people could begin to see how the Democrats are the ones who refuse to do anything that would anger the most extreme pro-abortion coalition (the ones so extreme that they do not earn the right to be called pro-choice), then voters will realize who is more beholden to the fringe. I think there’s probably a fight over FOCA coming down the pike which may instigate the change in public perception toward that direction. The GOP would be well served to position itself as less extremist if we’re ready to become more serious about abortion prevention policies- including making some concessions on contraception.

    • $199537

      Good discussion, too bad we’re off the front page. Maybe I wasn’t clear, I am OK with deficits and spending to an extent. Wars need to be paid for and the government has to run. If I understand you correctly you feel that the increased GOP spending was in itself a moderate stance. My feeling is it went past moderate and was excessive. Even if I accept that as a moderation then where is the give-and-take? Were any other GOP positions changed? No – in fact the GOP became farther away from me socially. The social conservatives control the party now. Where was the moderation?

      • CStanley

        OK, I think I’m more clear on what you meant now. And no, I don’t think necessarily that increased spending is a moderate stance, but generally speaking the farther right opinion on spending would be to reduce it and the farther left (or toward center) opinion would be more permissive on spending levels.

        I’m probably pretty similar to you on the fiscal issues, but more conservative socially. I’m personally very conservative on those issues but I consider myself more pragmatic than most of the people who share the same personal convictions, because I do understand the need to separate religious values from secular law and the implications for a free and pluralistic society.

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