Rush Limbaugh: Perhaps What America Needs Is A Military Coup

Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh wondered aloud if the United States military had contingency plans for overthrowing the President:

Are you aware of any military contingency plans for a president who might not be your prototypical pro-America president? Are there contingency plans to deal with a president who may not believe that the United States is the solution to the world’s problems?


Yea, that’s right, he went there. Rush Limbaugh is now at the point where he’s openly speculating about whether or not it would be a good idea for a military coup to displace a President he clearly doesn’t like at a visceral, some would say paranoid, level. It’s a crazy question, of course, and the fact that someone who would ask it is seen as a leader of the conservative movement today says as much about conservatives as it does about Rush Limbaugh. In a rational world, someone like this, or Glenn Beck, would be run out of town on a rail. Instead, they’re lauded and worshiped, and that’s just pathetic.

In case you’re wondering, no the military doesn’t have secret plans to overthrow the President:

The military’s contingency plans expressly do not contain any instructions for overthrowing the sitting president. Maybe some Stranglovian planner in the era of 24/7 continuous engagement exercises of the Strategic Air Command drew up something in case a POTUS didn’t have the cojones to turn the key, but after the Goldwater-Nichols Act reduced the power of the service chiefs and concentrated command and control authorities in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, such planners, disgruntled colonels — they’re always a colonel, right? — probably don’t exist.

The Presidential Succession Act of 1947 spells out a procedure. Let’s look at 3 USC 19, subsection “E.” We’re dealing with a situation where there is no President, no Vice President, no Speaker of the House and no President Pro Tempore. The law then appoints the Secretary of State as President until either the end of the current president’s term in office OR someone higher in the chain of command suddenly re-appears or recovers from injuries and is able to discharge the powers of office. (The Secretary of Defense is sixth in line, after the Secretary of the Treasury.)

This seems clear: If it’s not clear, after some sort of decapitation attack, whether the President, the Vice President or the two Congressional successors are alive, or if they’re all alive but disabled, then the Cabinet secretaries become acting President — until and unless a “prior entitled individual” is able to act.

Daniel Drezner, meanwhile, what we’d be able to do if the President suddenly became a zombie.

Incidentally, Limbaugh said today that his question about a military coup was just a “media tweak,” which is his standard excuse when he says something insane and outrageous:

Yea, sure it was Rush.

FILED UNDER: US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. tom p says:


  2. Ernieyeball says:

    Brush Lintoff is an insurrectionist and an enemy of the Constitution of the United States.

  3. Chris says:

    He asked a question to which he seems genuinely curious about the answer. The answer, as you detailed, is clearly “no”.

    To be more fair, he could’ve asked it in late 2008 as well as 2011, but whatever. A better historical parallel MIGHT BE Andrew Johnson’s impeachment after the Civil War.

    My advice to Mr. Macatonis is to let MMFA be the sensitive panty-waists.

  4. Jake says:

    Interestingly enough, my barber said the same thing yesterday about a coup. I just rolled my eyes and changed the subject.

    I’d stop going to him, but $10 for a shave and a haircut (and a damn good haircut) isn’t bad.

  5. Neil Hudelson says:

    Are there contingency plans to deal with a president who may not believe that the United States is the solution to the world’s problems?

    I did not realize this was a constitutional obligation.

  6. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    Yeah, it was a media tweak, just to see which media would pick it up. He does it all the time. He also plays montages of media clips where they use the same identical vocabulary on the same day, illustrating some degree of coordination between them. He pulls their chain all the time, it’s quite humorous.

  7. wr says:

    Oh, Patrick, you forgot the part of the standard Rush Limbaugh Fanboy Apologia Handbook where you need to lecture us on the necessity of listening to his show for three weeks before being allowed to have an opinion. But thanks for standing up for this treasonous slug, anyway, and proving there is absolutely nothing this clown can say that is so loathesome a certain type of myrmidon won’t leap at the chance to defend it.

  8. matt says:

    Like Patrick said it doesn’t matter how much of a hypocrit or a liar Rush is as long as he makes them libruls mad!!

  9. An Interested Party says:

    We would do well to remember all these apologies and excuses the next time that Michael Moore, Keith Olbermann, or someone like them makes a statement that causes the very same Limbaugh fluffers to go apoplectic…with Rush and Newt and The Donald and the ridiculous things they spout forth, the president must sleep easy every night thinking about his political oppostion…

  10. Tom says:

    This is the beauty of our political system: something a moron like Limbaugh is apparently ignorant of. A military coup is unnecessary in the US. The framers of the Constitution, in their infinite wisdom, realized that not everyone elected President of the US would be suitable for the job, so they gave us the ability to remove a treasonous and/or felonious President from Office: Impeachment. Limbaugh is just showing how little regard he actually has in our political system. Since this political system doesn’t give him everything he wants (thanks be to God), he’s looking for ways to get around it.