Novoselic New Years 1995. Photo by Allen Draher.

The July 6th New York Times Magazine featured a story on Rush Limbaugh . I was surprised


Get Ready For More Nasty Political Punditry


Novoselic New Years 1995. Photo by Allen Draher.

The July 6th New York Times Magazine featured a story on Rush Limbaugh. I was surprised that Limbaugh would have anything to do with the Times. The NYT is considered by conservative spinsters as the flagship of the Liberal Media Elite that’s supposed to control information in this country. (Anyone with sense who has lived in the U.S. for the past eight years has to know this is not so.) The cover story on Limbaugh gives a rare look inside the life of AM talk radio’s biggest personality.

The NYT’s article comes on the heels of Limbaugh’s new multi-million-dollar contract. The deal is a good sign that Sen. Obama will win the election. The investors must know that Limbaugh will taunt President Obama on a daily basis for the next four to eight years.

Limbaugh is a radio success because he takes aim at politicians, an easy target that everyone loves to knock around.

Limbaugh seems to be everywhere. When I was looking for a good auto mechanic earlier this year, every shop waiting room -- OK, all three of them -- had the show on. On the show, there was a skit that made fun of Sen. John McCain and his position on global warming. The skit painted governmental action on climate change as only a field day for opportunistic attorneys and government agencies.

It’s in this perspective where I can see another of Limbaugh’s appeal to folks. These auto shops are independent businesses with hard working proprietors. Part of running the shop is managing the government regulations. And doing the books always has that tax component: another bill on the ledger. Limbaugh’s rhetoric offers relief in the form of comedy.

In 1994, I used to catch the late night TV version of the Rush Limbaugh show. When Kurt Cobain died, Limbaugh jumped into the media circus and went off on him. He called Kurt “human debris,” then made an appeal to youth about joining the conservative movement. But Limbaugh himself eventually got busted for manipulating Oxycontin prescriptions. Luckily a deferred prosecution induced him to seek treatment before addiction really caught up with him.

In November of 1994, Republicans were hurled into the majority in Congress. Rush Limbaugh was a big part of that successful election. It’s been 14 years since then and modern Conservatism -- as entrusted to the GOP -- is in shambles. Once in power, the Republican’s only implemented their version of special interest, pay-to-play politics. One of the GOP’s biggest liabilities this year is that they’re seen as unethical. Government regulations should level the playing field and not benefit those with influence. And Republicans are big spenders, except they borrow the money instead of asking for tax increases. Limbaugh’s attempt at appealing to youth was empty.

Criticism is necessary in democracy. We need to speak up about governmental policy that effects us all. But fierce, negative punditry is different. It has a lurid appeal. Almost like gossip, there’s a degree of separation. A radio announcer isn’t talking to people in person. There’s enough distance and anonymity to let the vitriol flow. This is why engaging in politics on the ground is important. With face to face interaction, you need to rely on the merits of what you’re trying to do. You can’t carelessly offend people. Others could throw things back at you, and it might be more than just words.

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