Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Newsweek and the Problem of Pain

Apologies for the length of this post, but things need to be said about Newsweek’s hit piece on Rush Limbaugh that fails to veil Evan Thomas’s glee and the palpable disdain for Limbaugh and his 20 million listeners. I can’t resist highlighting Thomas’s east-coast boorishness and poor word-choice.

Limbaugh’s story owes more to the “Wizard of Oz” than “The Scarlet Letter.” The man behind the curtain is not the God of Family Values but a childless, twice-divorced, thrice-married schlub whose idea of a good time is to lie on his couch and watch football endlessly. When Rush Limbaugh declared to his radio audience that he was “your epitome of morality of virtue, a man you could totally trust with your wife, your daughter, and even your son in a Motel 6 overnight,” he was acting.

First, the Oxford English Dictionary defines "schlub" as something of a blockhead: a "worthless person, a ’jerk’, an oaf." For context, the OED provides this example: "When a man doesn’t know the facts and nobody will tell him and people keep throwing apples and unkind remarks at him, he has no choice but to look like a schlub." Characterizing Limbaugh as a schlub is the sort of Al Franken ad hominem that really ought to be above the standards of a national news magazine. But beyond that, it’s not even an accurate ad hominem description. The fact is Limbaugh makes his living discussing daily world and national events in law, politics and culture in a way that has captivated 20 million Americans every weekday for the past 15 years. But I’m sure any ol’ schlub could do that.

Second, Thomas’s assertion that Rush’s idea of a good time is related to a couch and football seems based on a quote from Maureen Dowd who claims that Rush told her that he works, watches the news, and the N.F.L. So? I fail to see how this makes Rush a schlub. The guy works, reads news incessantly, pays vigilant attention to world-events, analyzes speeches, editorials, and commentary, and yet his downtime watching football somehow detracts from his mental accumen? Even watching football turned into a brief stint on ESPN as a commentator!

Then, of course, there’s the obvious response: If Rush is such an idiot, why is Howard Dean running against him? Why do the Dems run against Rush every election year? Why do they lament the dominance of Rush and his dittoheads on talk radio? Why do they look for a liberal answer to the EIB Network? There is a strong sentiment among liberals that Rush may be the biggest, most powerful weapon the Right has in its arsenal (which is likely why the National Enquirer held this story for 2 years). Apparently, the Left has been out-smarted by a schlub. Pity.

But Thomas’s disdain is apparent throughout the piece, as he acknowledges: "Limbaugh’s act has won over, or fooled, a lot of people....he is the darling of Red State, Fly-Over America." Imagine us Red State folk being fooled by a schlub. But I repeat myself.

The kicker for Thomas’s piece though is the ending: "Limbaugh’s long-running act as a paragon of virtue is over. Now the question is whether he can make a virtue out of honesty." Make a virtue out of honesty? This is Limbaugh’s job? Perhaps after years in Washington covering the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal Thomas has forgotten that honesty is in fact still a virtue, and that by admitting his addiction, taking steps to overcome it, and cooperating with investigators, Limbaugh has already succeeded in following this very virtue. Whether he continues to act virtuously in this regard remains to be seen, but it’s certainly not Rush’s job to "make a virtue out of honesty." What does that even mean?

Discussions - 9 Comments

Nicely said!

I wonder if "Limbaugh Apologist" is a paid position???

Looooved the womanly shrieking about Al Franken, by the way. Nice to be reminded every now and then that Conservatives are STILL seething over Franken’s bitch-slapping of Limbaugh, Anne Coulter and Bill O’Reilly.

I find myself unable to respond to that last, insightful comment Starbuck; I’m on the ropes, reeling from its profundity.

The sad thing is that you aren’t kidding!

By the way, does anyone else find it funny that Stewart takes such offense at the use of the word "schlub?" This, in defense of a man who has made a career out of dishing out insults? Or is that that some other Rush Limbaugh who called 13 year-old Chelsea Clinton "a dog?"

"This, in defense of a man who has made a career out of dishing out insults? Or is that that some other Rush Limbaugh who called 13 year-old Chelsea Clinton "a dog?" "

Must be since the real Rush Limbaugh never did that.

Transcript from lexis nexis:

Copyright 1992 Multimedia Entertainment, Inc.
November 6, 1992, Friday 11:15 AM

LIMBAUGH: Thank you. This show’s era of dominant influence is just beginning. We are now the sole voice of sanity, the sole voice of reason. We are the sole voice of opposition on all television. This is the only place you can tune to to get the truth of the opposition of the one-party dictatorial government that now will soon run America. Oh, I mean, we are only beginning to enjoy dominance and prosperity. Most of these things on the in-out list are not even funny, but a couple of them--one of them in particular is.

David Hinckley of--of the New York Daily News wrote this, and what he has--he’s got--it’s very strange. He says, In: A cute kid in the White House. Out: Cute dog in the White House.’ Could--could we see the cute kid? Let’s take a look at--see who is the cute kid in the White House.

(A picture is shown of Millie the dog)

LIMBAUGH: (Voiceover) No, no, no. That’s not the kid.

(Picture shown of Chelsea Clinton)

LIMBAUGH: (Voiceover) That’s--that’s the kid. We’re trying to...

Rush Limbaugh never does anything without reason on his show and he knew exactly what he was doing when the picture of the kid went up in the place of the dog and so did his staff.

"Rush Limbaugh never does anything without reason on his show and he knew exactly what he was doing when the picture of the kid went up in the place of the dog and so did his staff."

Such a lie. It was an accident. They DO happen, you know. Even to a guy like Limbaugh. His show was brand new, low budget, and his brand new (tv) staff was wet behind the ears. It’s clear from the transcript that this was something that Rush was not expecting. It IS possible that the behind the scenes guy did it on purpose, but if that was the case, clearly he did it without Rush’s knowledge or permission. By the way, the guy was fired.

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