Felix on Rush, Part I

On his political blog, The Way I See It, Anyway, Felix wrote a post about Rush Limbaugh’s “I hope he fails” statement on President Obama (see Pitying Rush Limbaugh and his idiotic assertion). I’m going to respond to pieces of Felix’s post, but this isn’t exactly a point/counterpoint in every area. Felix discusses why he used to like Rush, and that got me thinking about why I like him. So here we go!

Felix’s statements are in italics.

I remember in 1992 when Bill Clinton was elected president, what I heard from then U.S. Senate Republican leader Bob Dole saying that, he wanted Bill Clinton “to succeed” in his presidency but somehow in 2009 we have another Republican leader (thankfully not an elected leader but one of the airwaves) who dogmatically asserts, “I hope he fails.” At least Bob Dole was (and I believe he still is) a gentleman in every sense of that word.

But what did Rush mean when he said he hopes Obama fails? I’ll include a link to the context of his remark so you can decide for yourself (see here), but my impression is that Rush isn’t praying that Obama will plunge America into a major depression. Rush says: “If I wanted Obama to succeed, I’d be happy the Republicans have laid down. And I would be encouraging Republicans to lay down and support him. Look, what he’s talking about is the absorption of as much of the private sector by the US government as possible, from the banking business, to the mortgage industry, the automobile business, to health care. I do not want the government in charge of all of these things…We’re talking about my country, the United States of America, my nieces, my nephews, your kids, your grandkids. Why in the world do we want to saddle them with more liberalism and socialism? Why would I want to do that?” Rush hopes Obama will fail to set up socialism in America.

But first, I should and need to make some serious confessions about myself in this post. My own mother a few days ago asked me a damn good question, “How is it that you were once a fan of Rush Limbaugh?” Trust me in my early 20’s I drove some people nuts of my fanship of Limbaugh (my dad was not even exempted, neither some people at the church I used to attend or people at my-then workplace at that time). Trust me, as I turn 39 today (yes the last of my thirties on my birthday)—I have grown up and have been through a lot of hard knocks. I think I am far, far wiser than the naive (but well-meaning) person as I was in my early 20’s. I also think that at time, Rush Limbaugh was filing a void. I was at that time a member of a fundamentalist sect (to be fair which was moderating in it’s hardline stances in which I am eternal grateful but that’s another topic), I was a college graduate but was unemployed for a while, scrimping at various jobs. He was articulating my dissent and anger at the excesses of the left wing which included radical feminism, radical environmentalism, the freewheeling lifestyles of Hollywood’s rich and famous and those who had little care for the traditonal family.

There’s a lot there! As Felix notes, Rush was really big in the early 1990’s. I listened to him because he helped me through my feelings of isolation and alienation–with his rants against elites and the establishment. But my problem in those days was that many of the elites in my small town high school actually liked Rush Limbaugh, almost to the point of never questioning him. I like Rush much more now when he’s not a big-time fad. Part of me still listens to Rush because I resent not fitting in. Academia can be a liberal arena, and it’s good to hear someone who can articulate my values and frustration. But I don’t feel compelled to agree with Rush on everything, as I take what I like and leave the rest.

I’m not a major dittohead, but I listen to him on-and-off. I like his broadcasting voice, his conversational style, his grasp of nuance, and the way he uses little-known articles from the mainstream press to undermine liberalism. When the mainstream press boldly feeds us some half-baked narrative and expects us to accept it on the strength of them being smarter than us, he has the audacity to question it, and I applaud him for that.

I guess one pet-peeve that I have with Rush is that he expects all of us to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. When a teacher called in to his program and said he had a hard time paying for health insurance, Rush told him it was his choice to become a teacher, so he should take responsibility for his own actions. I’m not going to say the teacher made a bad choice, but what I often get from Rush is, “You made your bed–now sleep in it! Get out, start a business, and go to work” (my paraphrase and interpretation). But we all make poor decisions every now and then. Not everyone has a keen business sense, and getting a high-paying job is not always easy. Should we have to suffer because of that? I once heard Rush say something like, “People complain about not having health insurance, and they want the government provide it. Have they ever thought about getting it for themselves?” Hey, I’m sure they would, if everyone had the ability to make loads of money. Not everyone does. I know I don’t right now.

When I listened to Rush as a youngster, the whole world looked like it was ahead of me. I couldn’t envision myself being out of work, or having a hard time paying for health insurance, food, or rent. I graduated seventh in my high school class, and summa cum laude from DePauw University! I went to Harvard! I was on my way to finding my niche, and it would be high-paying!

Now, I’ve learned that many with Asperger’s have difficulty finding, getting, and keeping jobs. I realize that, if my family didn’t help me out, I could be begging on the streets. All of a sudden, Rush’s song of “Ain’t got no home” doesn’t sound all that funny anymore. I now see that making one’s way in life is not exactly easy, and I’m not as eager to tell people to sleep in the bed they made just because they didn’t make the best decisions in life.

I think Rush does well to point out why socialism doesn’t work, and I don’t believe he’s an entirely uncaring person, since he gives a lot to charities. But the mantra of “personal responsibility” rings hollow to me these days. Sure, people should try to better themselves and contribute to society, but they shouldn’t fall through the cracks because they made some poor decisions in life.

I have to take a shower and leave for church within minutes, so this will have to be Part I of II. See you then!

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
This entry was posted in Asperger's, Autism, Current Events, Life, Political Philosophy, Politics, rush limbaugh, School. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Felix on Rush, Part I

  1. FT says:

    Your response to my post was compassionate and very humane. I thank you for it. Part II??? That will be interesting.


  2. FT says:

    I also believe that the Republicans need Obama and Obama needs the Republicans, so he can develop a fiscal responsible conscience as I also mentioned.


  3. James Pate says:

    Hi Felix! Yeah, I’ll get into some of that tomorrow. I would have today, but I had to leave almost immediately. Your post provokes a lot of thoughts!


  4. larry says:

    Sometimes financial success IS a matter of good luck, and sometimes financial problems are a matter of bad luck. I like Rush, but I don’t always agree with him, especially on issues like health care. I am certainly not a proponent of socialized medicine, but I am painfully and personally aware that many who do not have health insurance are uninsured through no fault of their own, and need a special break.


  5. Byker Bob says:

    I’ve gone through a number of opinions of Rush over the years. When I was first made aware of him, I was emerging from years of having my political opinions informed by the incisive articles in Rolling Stone Magazine. Fact is, I’d never even heard of Rush until sometime in 1992 or 3. Any talk radio that I’d listened to up until then was NPR.

    I actually did vote for Bill Clinton in ’92, and felt quite good about it. Rolling Stone betrayed me about that time by coming out in favor of gun control.
    My brother told me about Rush, and I first tuned in so I could find out who the dude was, and what he stood for. I guess I listened to him chiefly for entertainment at first, because he came off like an insufferable blowhard like Herbert W. Armstrong. But, some of the things he said did make sense. Like cutting taxes to stimulate the economy, and limiting government’s intrusion into our lives.

    At that time, I was agnostic, and Rush’s daliance with the religious right alarmed me. I saw them as having the potential to do to America what the Ayatollah Khomeini had done to Iran. Also, I had not been very impressed with what Ronald Reagan’s supply side economics had done for America, or for my own financial security. Rush was urging the continuation of Reagonomics.

    I guess what started to turn the tide for me was listening to the inane programs that the Clintons wanted to put into play at the beginning of that first term. Most of my adult life, we had had Republican presidents, Carter having been the lone exception, and I’d considered him to be somewhat of an anomaly. But, when I heard about Hillary’s national healthcare program, the Clinton’s loathing of the military, their plans for gun control, and other assorted programs, I began to understand for the first time what modern Democrats stand for. Fortunately (and you can see the hands of Rush and his friend Newt Gingrich here) Clinton’s hands were tied by a Republican congress, so he was forced to govern from a centrist position, a factor which limited otherwise certain damage.

    I had great hopes for Bush II. I have no idea where his presidency went wrong, but the country is certainly in a mess right now. Nobody with any common sense at all could deny that the war in Iraq has taken its toll on the mood of the country, and the economy. Deregulation (getting government off our back?) has certainly worked against the public interest with the banking industry, the airlines, and other areas. Somewhere along the line, you also have to blame the price of gasoline for the plight of the economy, and I understand that this is the spawn of the Enron mentality. The oil bubble acted like a defacto tax hike, only not subject to our opinions or vote.

    Anyhoo, that’s my take on the past several administrations. I think Rush has certainly had his moments, but I also see him as being somewhat of an alarmist and a fear monger. He became just a bit more compassionate after his substance abuse problems became public knowledge. Still, I prefer Michael Medved, of all conservative talk show hosts, as he does not deal in hyperbole, and does not come off like a demagogue.

    As for socialism, that has been a temporary tool, often employed to stabilize the economy, only to be diffused or gradually abandonned later. It is rarely a permanent condition here as what you might find in Scandinavia.



  6. James Pate says:

    Hi Larry,

    I agree with you that luck has a lot to do with it–luck, talent, determination, etc.

    Hi Byker Bob,

    I’ve heard people say that Reaganomics made them less secure, but what do you that means. Are they (or you) referring to outsourcing, or less unionization, or corporations feeling freer to fire people?


  7. Byker Bob says:

    No, it was that Reagan and his advisors were trying to do away with the entire fiscal safety net that had been created by FDR during the depression, and that had been augmented during the civil rights era. Reagan actually spoke out against Keynsian economics, which had been responsible for creating the American middle class, perhaps the largest and finest consumer group in the history of planet earth.

    The Yuppies bought into this as they worked hard to create what was later referred to as the “decade of greed”. Of course, they resented non collegiate, blue collar union types. They resented affirmative action, social programs, and anything else designed to help elevate people from the bottom of the socio-economic spectrum.

    I believe that this set the tone for all of the outsourcing which came along later. In the late eighties, I watched as companies became gutted. Layer after layer of mid management positions were elliminated from companies whose corporate culture had based on the lifetime career.



  8. James Pate says:

    I’ve heard also the the 60s were the decade of Keynsian economics. I’m curious as to how government spending created the middle class, but what’s interesting is that the Kennedy tax cuts so touted today by the right are also associated with the Keynsian spirit, in many circles.


  9. Byker Bob says:

    If I have my history correct, Maynard Keynes approached Henry Ford with the novel idea of paying the assembly line workers enough in terms of an hourly wage so that they could actually afford to purchase the cars they were manufacturing. Other manufacturers followed suit, and this is what was largely responsible for creating the middle class. This was responsible for boosting the standard of living of the USA to highest in the world.

    The UK around World War II and shortly thereafter had nothing near our own domestic standard of living. The British even today have a defacto caste system, one which rarely if ever allows upward mobility or changing one’s social position.

    There is some very old money, and moneyed families in the USA who have always resented Keynsian economics, and want to turn back the hands of time. These are often the same people who have taken their factories overseas, where it is still possible to take advantage of cheap labor, while avoiding environmental and safety regulations.

    Supply side economics favored the wealthy creators of job opportunities and venture capitalists. Social programs are funded by taxes levied on the upper and middle classes, in an effort to elevate the poor into the middle class. Minimum wage laws, often hated by entrepreneurs, are specifically designed to do this. Educational programs, free to the poor, are also part of this. I don’t know that Maynard Keynes ever envisioned the complexity of the social programs and engineering which exist today, but they do provide opportunities for those who would like to better themselves. I can see why some wealthy entrepreneurs would scream “socialism” since their taxes, both personal and corporate, fund the programs. Actually all of our taxes do. The trick is to keep it all in balance, and not have such social engineering be a bottomless pork barrel. As an example, I do not believe people who don’t pay any income taxes should qualify for rebate or stimulus checks.

    By the way, my posts on this topic are all heavily laced with my own personal opinions. I’m not stating any of it as gospel truth, just my own understanding. In ancient Israel, the wealthy landowners were commanded to leave the corners of their fields uncut for the gleaners, and in the Apocrypha, the value of alms is extolled. God had his ways of providing for the poor. Jesus, in the parable of the workers, had all being paid the same wage, regardless of how many hours each actually worked. I suppose some would refer to those examples as socialism, but to me they are examples of loving, sharing the wealth with the less fortunate, and a kindly society.



  10. James Pate says:

    What’s ironic, Byker Bob, is that Garner Ted Armstrong and right-wingers I know have used that parable to justify laissez-faire capitalism. “See, the owner says he can do what he wants with what’s his. Imagine if the UAW were to rewrite this parable!,” I’ve heard people say. But, yeah, it’s also possible to get something socialistic out of it.


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