When Rush Limbaugh said he wanted Barack Obama to fail, the clanging of the stupidity meter roused me to action.
Usually, I have the stupidity meter set to mute when it comes to the Vesuvius of Vacuity because everything he says is bound to set off the alarm and the dog can’t sleep with all the stupid racket.
But, for some reason, this statement tripped the alarm and I felt bound to investigate.
At first I thought I could suggest he join Al-Qaeda because of their common interest: The terrorists want America under President Obama to fail, too. But I suppose even terrorists have their standards and it’s not enough just to be a large sack of resentments posing as a receptacle for wisdom and jokes.
Much to my disappointment, it turned out to be a false alarm. Worse yet, as he has explained himself, the Great Bloviator was merely making the point that he believes Obama’s "socialism" will be bad for the nation and in that sense he wants the president to fail.
This is a perfectly legitimate point of view, despite it being ridiculous.
After all, it is the polar opposite of what some of us believed about the last president as he instituted one fool policy after another to please the right-wing crank community. Those were years when I had to buy extra batteries for the stupidity meter and the dog took to sleeping with his paws over his ears.
But in researching what the Rushman said, I discovered something more bizarre — but this from the mouth of Sean Hannity, one of the leading propagandists at Fox News.
Sean Hannity hosted Rush on his show last week to talk about the alleged controversy and he set the national indoor record for fawning over his guest, but, of course, this was hushed up by the liberal media. He said that Rush has defined conservatives for many people in this country for years.
Can this amazing statement be true? Rush is the infallible pope of pontification for conservatives? Rush did not deny it. I am sure this flattering suggestion filled him with pride in his every last fiber.
When I saw this, I was filled with a profound sadness for my conservative friends. I could feel their shame, to paraphrase a certain liberal false prophet.
If Rush Limbaugh defines conservatism, then it is beyond pathetic. Just think: a great intellectual tradition in the hands of this guy. Bozo the Clown must not be available.
I would have thought that conservatives would have someone with a bit of intellectual heft as their defining figure, along the lines of Adam Smith, who first discerned "the invisible hand of the market," which is currently gripping our necks and throttling the prosperity out of us. Where are the William Safires of today? Heck, I suppose it could be worse: Bill O’Reilly or Glenn Beck or Michael Savage might be the resentful Moses leading the stiff-necked conservatives out of the desert and defining conservatism along the way.
It used to be that guys fell off the turnip truck and they didn’t end up on radio or television defining anything, but the modern world has no standards.
I can only assume that Rush-defined conservatives must hate their parents who scrimped and saved their pennies to send them off to college, only for the grown-up kids to hand their brains over to the talk show blather-fest, where knees jerk more than a polka dancing competition.
But the question is not whether we want Barack Obama to fail — no sensible American would — but whether we want Rush Limbaugh to succeed.
In terms of ratings, he’s on track to have a marvelous four years, and with luck, a great eight — because he can play offense as long as President Obama is in the White House.
No Fairness Doctrine for me. Let him talk and talk. As long as Rush Limbaugh defines conservatism, he can’t help but give a long-term boost to the liberal cause. I say: Let an obvious boob be the titular head of conservatives.
As always, aggrieved right-wingers will rail against the mainstream media — yawn, ho hum! — but their real problem will be right there on the dial in the grand personage of the one who defines conservatism for the younger generation as a dyspeptic philosophy which greets conciliation, optimism and hope as a vampire greets the dawn.
No, in that important task, I hope Rush succeeds, even if the stupidity meter will sometime set the old dog to howling.
(Reg Henry is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. E-mail rhenry(at)post-gazette.com. For more stories visit scrippsnews.com)