Years ago, I sat watching the tv, an early twenty-something sailor on leave in Oregon, sitting in the living-room of a shipmate’s uncle. I’d lived some: spent some time in college before dropping out, studied music in college, managed a pizza place, went off to a vocational program on Oregon (I lived on the Oregon coast when I joined the Navy). Yet I was still quite naive in my world view. Through an odd series of fateful twists, I am now back in Oregon in this Portland suburb.
On the television was Rush. I’d never seen nor heard of him to that point. Mesmerized, I digested the whole show. It resonated, but not uncertain exactly why. I had long felt a core of anger, perhaps he captured that. I knew there were problems in the world. Limbaugh pointed fault at “them”; whether those dreadful welfare moms, criminals or other nefarious destroyers of our way of life. Perhaps it was easy to follow along, these weren’t people I knew. Or at least realized I did. It’s easier to blame others than to look within when it comes to society’s ills. Of course, that’s a sign of weakness; even considering that any fault might lie within “us”: “liberal guilt”. It’s easier, I guess, to live within blameless denial.
Limbaugh’s hated for Bill Clinton legion, thus any one close to him was fair game. One show he stated that he had a picture of the ugliest resident of the White House. Then up he flashed a picture Chelsea Clinton, then junior high aged. He went on about how she was the ugliest White House resident, except for maybe Eleanor Roosevelt. I felt a strong sense of distaste, and I wondered why his moralizing fans weren’t at all bothered about his sense of offense that this junior high girl wasn’t sexy enough for her. For me, at least, this was the trigger. Combined with my meeting these dreaded “others”: welfare moms, gays, and other members of society that Limbaugh hates, discovering they’re not only human, not only decent human beings, not only living a more moral/righteous life, but that I actually admired them, any alignment with him died.
His treatment of Chelsea Clinton, all those years ago, makes me unsurprised at his attack of Sandra Fluke. That he would be nasty and abusive towards a young woman fits his mold completely. To be clear, I feel no rage. He and his adherents rage against the tide of change. Smug, clinging to absolution to any fault, no necessity of change.
Perhaps the question to be asked is what will be the long-term impact. Libaugh’s audience seems to entail three types of follks: 1) those who agree with him and share his views, 2) those who simply want to see what wacky/offensive thing he’s going to say next, and, lastly, 3) those who find him offensive and just can’t turn away. I doubt group 1) will ever leave him. Perhaps if his hypocrisy became too much. Perhaps. #2… they’re in it for the show. If he just became uncontroversial, they’d vanish. Then there’s #3. Will these folks turn away? That I doubt, too. Too many times have we come into this realm of offense, too often nobody’s departed. Thus, I doubt that he’ll be dropped, that he’ll vanish from the airwaves.
What to do about such a person? I don’t have an answer. For me, I find I have too much to do to worry about the rantings of a nasty, bitter old man. That’s my response. I don’t know if it’s better than anyone else’s. What do you think?