Limbaugh vs Rove — the Tea Party is an Army of Davids with Hayek in the back pocket

Limbaugh Wednesday:

Now, meanwhile, there are Republican political operatives insulting Tea Party members of not being sophisticated, not having read Friedrich Von Hayek.  Wonderful, great people, but just not sophisticated.  Karl Rove said this, but he’s not alone.  I got a note today from a friend, “Why would Karl be saying this, Rush?  You know Karl.  Why would he be saying this?  Why doesn’t Karl learn to keep his mouth shut?”  I said, “Karl means to say this.  Mike Murphy, all these guys, they think this.”  It’s not easy for me to say here, folks, it really isn’t.  But it’s what ought to be a euphoric period still indicates that on the Republican side there are divisions and jealousies and egos and competition.  And the simplest explanation is that the Tea Party cannot be claimed as credit by anybody.  Nobody can say, “I am the Tea Party.”  Nobody can say, “I started the Tea Party.”  Nobody can say, “I saw the Tea Party coming, and I steered it.”  Nobody who makes a living generating political support, generating political donations, nobody in that business can point to the Tea Party and say, “I did it.”  So it’s a threat …

I also got an e-mail: “I don’t understand why you’re doing this.  These people you’re talking about, all they do, they never credit you with anything.  They always rip you to shreds on TV.  Why are you giving them all the credit?”  I’ll tell you why.  ‘Cause I’ve always assumed we’re all on the same team.  You know, I’ve always assumed conservatism is a team.  And, as you well know, I do not spend time criticizing other people who do this, particularly media people.  Success is what it is, and I’ve always thought we’re all on the same team.  But, I know, I know, there are territories, jealousy, envy, this kind of thing.  Even the New York Times a couple of months ago grudgingly reported that the Tea Party was amazingly educated.  By the way, I would say one thing to Karl Rove, and, you know, Karl and I are friends.  Karl was a guest at my wedding.  He’s been to my house for dinner.  I’ve been at the White House with Karl and George W. Bush.  One of the things Karl said, and it was to Der Spiegel or some foreign press when he talked about Tea Party people, great, great people, but they’re not sophisticated, they have not read Friedrich Von Hayek.

This audience has.  I can remember in the first two years of this program recommending two books by Von Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty and Road to Serfdom.  The people in this audience have heard of Von Hayek, and they have read Von Hayek and others.  Milton Friedman.  It’s not a surprise to any of us who have been talking to people for 22 years here that there is a level of sophistication out there.  What it boils down to is that there’s just nobody who can lay claim to it, who can say, “I did it. I saw it coming. I’m the organizer. I told my candidates the Tea Party was coming, you better listen,” nobody can say that.  I’m talking about no professional inside-the-Beltway political consultant or campaign specialist has said any of this.  Yet there’s a disconnect.

I should add that Limbaugh is not blowing smoke about his audience reading Hayek — I’ve been watching this stuff for decades, and when Limbaugh recommends Hayek you can see the numbers spike.  Limbaugh’s recommendation over the years has routinely pushed Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom into the Amazon’s list of the top 100 or to top 200 bestselling books in the country, and he’s frequently spikes the sales of The Constitution of Liberty as well.  And my hit counter here at little old “Taking Hayek Seriously” begins to spin when Limbaugh talks about Hayek and his work.

And I should also say that I stand corrected.  There are two people who have read their Hayek and who always refer to Hayek as “von Hayek” — George Will and Rush Limbaugh.  I believe Limbaugh learned it that way from Will, who picked up the expression in Britain in the  early 1960s and seems to like the formality and tradition of the title, which Hayek could not legally use in Austria (which banned all royal titles) and which Hayek did not use in Republican America, but which he sometimes used in Britain, a nation which has retained its tradition of royally granted titles and the monarchy.

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