Limbaugh misguided, but a force to be reckoned with
Progressives can't dismiss his influence
I first started listening to the Rush Limbaugh program during the Clinton Administration, or as Rush liked to call it “America Held Hostage.” Regardless of what you may think of his political views, you must admit that the guy can be funny and charismatic in a way that Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity are not. He didn’t rise to the top of the broadcasting world by being an unlikable sort. Always popular with conservatives, Limbaugh is continually derided by liberals, most of who have never listened to one broadcast, as some sort of right-wing nut job who wraps himself in the Confederate Flag before turning in for the evening. Such ill-informed notions are of course nonsense. Unfortunately, there is a tendency among some of my fellow liberals to dismiss and demean conservative commentators without actually having listened to the substance of their opinions. Now, with Limbaugh’s fresh rise to new heights of prominence in the American conservative movement, liberals would do well to actually sit down and analyze where he and those he speaks to are coming from.
Recently, Rush addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) with a long-winded speech illustrating his differences with the Obama administration. Here is the link to the speech, for those of you who may not be familiar with his comments (http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/daily/site_030209/content/01125106.guest.html). Read it. Now I would like to address a few points that Limbaugh mentions in his presentation. Invoking Horatio Alger, Limbaugh toes the line that where liberals see groups and victims, conservatives see only individuals who can succeed or not depending on their own reserves of moxie and determination. He claims, incredulously, that conservatives “resist efforts to make us all the same.” I must have missed that plank in the Obama platform. Regardless of what Limbaugh may hollowly claim in public, (Republicans are not “racist, sexist, bigoted or homophobes), the reality is quite the opposite, and Limbaugh would be perfectly happy if the entire country was white, Lutheran, straight, with a subservient woman in the kitchen and the coloreds and homos confined to their parts of town, like in dem good ole, days, Clete. He holds up the Democratic convention of 2008 (the most all-inclusive gathering in American politics, ever) as an example of racism. Not bad. 5 minutes into the speech and he’s already off the rails. His take on the Democratic philosophy is that of the simpleton – “You really can't do that, you don't have what it takes, besides you're a minority or you're a woman and there are too many people that want to discriminate against you. You can't get anywhere. You need to depend on us.”
There are in fact a lot of people who want to discriminate against people who don’t look and think the way they do. Pretty much everybody in attendance at the CPAC convention, in fact. Last time I checked, Obama hadn’t offered to pay my mortgage or medical costs or get me a job. Those things are still up to the individual. Democrats do have a quaint idea that maybe the playing field could be leveled a bit to help people succeed, though. Crazy, I know. America is changing for the better, moving toward a more diverse, fair, and accepting society, and this just scares the shit out of Limbaugh and his fans as they see the grand old traditions being swept away. Conservatives got their ass handed to them for a reason. Their thought processes are derelict, they are out of ideas, they are on the ropes, and they know it. It is true that a cornered animal can be a dangerous foe, and so we now see this ludicrous attempt by the Conservative movement to rebrand itself. Unfortunately, when Limbaugh is sent forth as your standard-bearer, you are bigger trouble than you thought.
There follows a lot of nothing in Limbaughs speech, but then he attacks Obama as a nattering nabob, scaring the nation and the world with negative comments about things are bad and they are going to get worse. No kidding. Is Limbaugh playing the ostrich and suggesting things are otherwise? 8 years of Republican policy will do that to an economy and nation. Obama is merely being the adult in the room, examining the wreckage wrought by by Bush’s puppeteers and trying to propose some solutions.
I’ve been through the speech twice now, and aside from broad, misleading generalizations portraying conservatives in the exact opposite of reality, there really isn’t much of substance in the text. Must have been in the delivery. As I mentioned before, however, Limbaugh is an amiable, funny, and well-spoken fellow, and he has the ear of a lot of people. Liberals would do well not to dismiss his influence.