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!