In the early eighties, before he was cleaned up and suited up, Rush Limbaugh worked for the same company I did, McClatchy Broadcasting. Back then, before Limbaugh’s show was picked up for syndication, his pants hung too low and there were buttons missing from his stained shirt. He was a typical not-ready-for-TV radio personality and his arrogance was palpable, but nowhere near the bombastic proportions he displays today.
Talk radio loves the outrageous, and Limbaugh’s show, which preceded a groundswell of right-wing programs delivered after the FCC’s 1987 repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, delivered heftily. His “dittoheads”, those unthinking, knee-jerk dogmatists of political Christianity (not to be confused with actual Christianity) knighted Limbaugh their authoritative godhead. A popular personality was born, sharply dressed and looking dapper in colorful, now-signature ties.
Buoyed by a band of thick-skulled conservatives, who conveniently ignored their own stated sociopoltical agendas to wave their hero through two additional divorces and a drug scandal, Limbaugh has thrived by finely polishing the muck of conservatism to a we-can-do-no-wrong shine. It’s the kind of anemic but hyperbolic gloss that appeals to the same type of blind-faith crowd that followed Oral Roberts and really believed he would die if they didn’t send him eight million dollars. Roberts received 9.1 million. Limbaugh signed an eight-year $250 million dollar contract in 2001 and received a $35 million dollar hiring bonus. The blind faith of the dittoheads and the corporate world that panders to them is staggering.
On September 26, 2007 Limbaugh blasted soldiers who want American forces out of Iraq as “phony soldiers“. Limbaugh, who dropped out of college after less than three semesters due to failing grades, avoided serving his country by being 4-F’ed for a pilonidal cyst – otherwise known as an often-hairy boil just above or inside the butt crack.
A man who never served his country, and who has no children in the war zone, or children whose futures he has to worry about, daring to call any soldier “phony” is a hypocrite of the worst kind. A man who never withstood the 110 degree heat of Iraq while lugging around seventy pounds of gear, waiting for the next order or the next assault, never knowing if today would be his last day of life, is not a man who should be referring to anyone in the military as “phony.”
The picture in the header for this story is my daughter, Staff Sergeant Elisabeth Devin, a flight medic and reservist, who volunteered to go to Iraq – not because she wanted to kill people, not because she believes Bush’s war is just – but because she wanted to help her fellow soldiers who were wounded at war. She wanted to help bring them to hospitals so that those who lived could eventually come home.
Phony? Ask Elisabeth the story of the critically wounded African man fighting for American forces, who couldn’t get into a German hospital due to red tape. Ask her about the brave and limbless young men she carried on stretchers and comforted as they realized that the future they planned was not going to be the future they lived. Ask her about the flags they flew, and the tears they cried, and the sheets they pulled over the faces of the young men who didn’t survive.
Ask me, or any parent or loved one of a soldier, about the sleepless nights, the fear, and the anxious wait for letters and calls. I was very fortunate. My wait ended with my daughter safe and at home. Thousands of parents, spouses, partners, children and other loved ones were not as lucky.
As usual, Limbaugh spins the story and creates a scenario in which he did no wrong and meant no offense – he was taken out of context, he cries – it’s all a smear job by MSNBC, the “liberal media”, and those shadowy leftists who are always out to get him. However, his own words – the unedited version that he denied his own listeners access to while launching his weak defense – tell the truth.
Rush Limbaugh should be ashamed, but shame is not a part of his gig. And $250M can’t buy a conscience where none exists.
intentional deception resulting in injury to another person
imposter: a person who makes deceitful pretenses
something intended to deceive; deliberate trickery intended to gain an advantage