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It’s an undeniably satisfying feeling, watching a vainglorious icon fall from the good graces of his faithfully devoted. And when you’re talking about a particularly obnoxious public figure—one that preaches to millions daily—operating under the pretense of being a virtuous moral compass, it’s healthy to expose hypocrisy that has been denied for all too long. Now, in the wake of two consecutive—and very public—transgressions, even the most intractable of Rush Limbaugh fans has to do at least a little second guessing.
Limbaugh, the self-dubbed “epitome of morality of virtue,” recently resigned from his spot on ESPN after claiming that a football player’s success stemmed from his race rather than his talent. But the more condemning crime wouldn’t surface until a few days later, when Rush acknowledged an addiction to painkillers and lent credence to the claim that he’d illegally purchased some 30,000 pills from his maid—which involved covert operations featuring parking lots and cigar boxes full of cash.
Of course, I really don’t wish to make light of Rush’s addiction, as it is indeed quite sad when a man with a $285-million radio contract is forced to frequent parking lots because he’s popping pills. But there seems to be a trend among those who tout themselves as the personification of virtue—as we’ve seen with fallen televangelists who bamboozle millions into believing in their integrity only to suffer a tragic downfall when their indiscretions are exposed. Rush, like innumerable smooth-talking right wingers before him, is full of it.
But, of course, Rush apologists have already mobilized to defend the quick-to-condemn mogul who once ironically, or perhaps prophetically, charged: “Too many whites are getting away with drug use,” society should “send them up the river.” Even our own Harvard Salient—yet another bastion of morality—published an article in which the author cried that “enough is enough,” and invoked the generic plea that “because of his unwavering conservative stances, it seems the media cannot look past his mistakes.”
The idea that the “liberal media” is antagonizing Rush Limbaugh is of course the classic, cop-out response. You’d think that the media has run rampant with ad hominem attacks against Rush—and yes, one Al Franken and miscellaneous others prove exceptions as they relish his hypocrisy—but the character assassination territory is generally left to Limbaugh.
In doing a little Rush research, I decided to buy his book, The Way Things Ought to Be. In a cursory perusal—and I stress “cursory” because, though there may be some merit in reading such literary wit as “The poor in this country are the biggest piglets at the mother pig and her nipples,” I was unable to find it—I happened upon “Limbaugh’s Lexicon,” where he unsuccessfully attempts a humorous spin of his hateful dogma. It was in this section that Rush reiterates his notorious phrases and dubs environmentalists “Environmental Wackos,” and pro-choice feminists the “Feminazis”—symbolic of his trademark glossing-over of every substantive issue with harmful, but brainless, jargon.
I’m sure that Rush isn’t entirely bereft of any sense of compassion, though when he prints “I don’t have compassion for the poor,” and claims he’s “redefining greatness” on his daily program—which amounts to a mix of hysterics and grandiosity at a level rarely fathomable—it makes me think he overestimates his “talent on loan from God.” If there’s any truth behind Rush’s adamant stance against drug use, maybe he’ll send himself up the river while his listeners enjoy a much-needed hiatus from his blustery broadcasts.
—Morgan R. Grice is an editorial editor.
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