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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Lessons From Limbaugh

The other day, in response to the controversial NY Times article, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh said that it served as a learning opportunity for John McCain.

The important question for John McCain today is, is he going to learn the right lesson from this, and what is the lesson? The lesson is liberals are to be defeated. You cannot walk across the aisle with them. You cannot reach across the aisle. ... They are snakes. If the right lesson is not learned from this, then it will have proved to be of no value. link
I know many people think highly of Rush Limbaugh, including my colleague on this blog. However, I have long believed Limbaugh to be a cancer on our society and uniquely responsible for the much of the hatred, partisanship and decline of America. Even looking at this brief statement we see how Limbaugh condemns cooperation and labels fellow Americans in unfair and unwarranted ways. Sadly, this has always been the case with him.

Rush Limbaugh changed America by doing something that tyrants and dictators have long done; dehumanize others and create false enemies. Prior to the rise of Limbaugh and the right wing, people held opinions. I might hold mostly liberal positions while you may have mostly conservative opinions and someone else might mix and match their ideas. With Limbaugh and the right wing it is not opinions that are liberal or conservative - it is people. I am not an American with opinions to be considered, I am a liberal .... and liberals are snakes (one of the kinder things he has called us non-ditto heads over the years).

That division and distinction between types of people is critical to the survival of Rush Limbaugh and the strain of conservatism that has recently taken hold in this country. Through the years any person who disagreed with Limbaugh or the right wing was labeled a "liberal" (again the person is a liberal not just the policies they believe are best for the country). To this day, some on the right still feel the need to test politicians and pundits for "conservative purity" lest some of that bad blood get mixed with the good. After all, they are not merely people who hold conservative opinions, they are a superior type of person - "A Conservative!"

Rush Limbaugh doesn't believe in Reaching Across The Aisle because his mentality can't survive the light of day. There is a reason why Limbaugh does his show alone and never engages in a real debate with those who hold different opinions. Frankly, it's because his logic and arguments don't hold water. This being the case, he long ago chose not so much to debate politics on a policy level but instead on a personal one. It is easy to build up enemies to hate but much more difficult to defend a set of ideas with a record of almost universal failure.

So for Rush to remain a viable force on the radio and in Republican politics he has demonize his opponents and try to generate real hatred between Americans with different opinions. It's really tragic that a man with so many natural communication skills made that choice but in the USA that's his prerogative. But to me it's a sign of ultimate weakness to dismiss cooperation and generate animus between good and sincere people. In my opinion, it takes a real man to Reach Across The Aisle. That's the lesson I've learned. Thanks Rush!

1 comment:

Big Daddy Jeff said...

Interesting point about "opinions" vs "people." Probably fair game to call Rush out on that. He does and so does much of conservative talk radio. But it's also a big part of what makes him successful. With his bully pulpit, it's natural that he take positions and fight for them with a take-no-prisoners mentality. Afterall, he's merely a commentator not a member of government. I'd expect nothing less from pundits on the left.

However, switching to someone often linked to Rush Limbaugh, I recently heard Newt Gingrich advocate a moderate platform of 10 reforms that could pass Congress immediately with overwhelming bipartisan support. And while they wouldn't solve all life's problems, they would help make government better. So I would argue there is still plenty of room for compromise even on the right. An example is the earmark openness reform championed recently by Senators Coburn and Obama. Complete opposite ends of the spectrum there. But the bill was pure common sense and passed easily.

So I see your point about Rush. But Rush probably justifies his entrenchment to his positions in that so many elements in the mainstream media do the exact same thing from the left. The McCain story in the NYT seems an example of that. At least Rush doesn't hide his agenda.

And as for how Rush labels people, ever listen to how the left labels those who are pro-life or anti-illegal immigration or against gay marriage? Needless to say, it is usually done with a tone that rivals Rush any day of the week.