The Atlantic

How Rush Limbaugh Learned to Love Character Flaws

An illustration of the right’s self-conscious turn away from long-held values
Source: Micah Walter / Reuters

Conservatives who spent their career decrying moral relativism are now openly embracing it. That’s the argument Jonathan Chait recently made, flagging articles by Roger Kimball and Henry Olsen as examples.

Days later, Rush Limbaugh offered a more naked illustration of the trend. In the erstwhile conservative’s telling, Mitt Romney, who criticized President Donald Trump’s character in The Washington Post, embodies an “out of touch” Republican establishment that is “unable to adapt.” They still think character matters. Limbaugh says he used to be like them:

I remember the 1992 campaign. I myself engaged in this. It was thought that if people would just learn about the massive character defects of Bill Clinton, that no way would they elect him president, because, at the time, it was widely believed that character was the most important qualification. I remember reading to you from , James Madison describing exactly why character was paramount in a president, in a chief executive of the United States. Without character and without the required morality

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