Putting Rush Limbaugh into perspective

Rush Limbaugh wants President Barack Obama to fail, he has said more than once, and liberal commentators are aghast, either because they haven’t bothered to check out the context of his remarks or are hopelessly befogged by bias.

A couple of minutes of Google searches would inform the lazy ones that while Limbaugh may characteristically have found a provocative way to phrase his thoughts, he was actually saying he hoped Obama would fail to afflict the nation with horrendous policies. Not so outrageous, huh?

But if you are a liberal, this is your hour, you will tolerate no opposition, and if someone keeps popping your gaseous balloons, you will either attempt to quell that constitutionally guaranteed freedom through reimposition of the radio-regulating Fairness Doctrine or commit another act of political thuggery.

You will demonize the talk show host as a powerful, propagandistic hate-monger while making him seem the very embodiment of everything you aim to defeat. You will say, as Obama’s chief of staff did, that he is the "intellectual" wherewithal of the Republican Party, or you will call him the party’s leader, as we keep hearing from a rather silly, labor-financed group called Americans United for Change. Because polls show most Americans don’t like Limbaugh much, it’s a clever strategy.

Yet then again, there might be some who figure it can be just as clarifying to put the man himself in context as to put his words in context. They might start with the observation that his only power is the power of persuasion, ordinarily seen as a legitimate, even primary instrument for deciding issues in a democracy.

True, he reaches an impressive 13 million people a week, but they are self-selected, tuning him in because they want to. He doesn’t begin to reach as high a percentage of the population as Tom Paine did with his 18th century pamphlets urging Americans to support war against Britain. Given an adult population today of some 230 million, there are 217 million who aren’t listening regularly while in many cases accessing the near-limitless radio, cable and broadcast TV, newspaper, magazine and Internet voices offering other views.

Limbaugh is certainly not "propagandistic" in any strict sense of the word, and easily less so than many hurtling the charge, such as Al Gore, someone who recently had to change material in a climate-change slideshow because it misrepresented a study’s findings.

I do not doubt that Limbaugh has gone overboard at times, suffered lapses in taste and gotten some things wrong. Virtually everyone in the opinion business does the same to some extent or the other, and more of us would more of the time if we had to do what Limbaugh does on radio – gab almost three hours a day, five days a week.

A saving grace is that he is funny and fun, sometimes as much comedian as commentator. Maybe you won’t like it that, in a speech to the Conservative Political Action Committee in Washington, he said John Kerry would be completely colorless except for his varicose veins, but compare that to some of what we get from large numbers on the left-wing side, including from the columns of another radio personality, the likeable Garrison Keillor. When commenting on issues of the day, he routinely morphs into a verbal version of Vlad the Impaler.

Politically, Limbaugh is a limited-government guy who happens to believe more than anything in individual liberty. He says the GOP is in such a "sad-sack state" that he wouldn’t be its leader if asked, and at least some Republican spokesman have made it clear enough they want little to do with him, and that’s OK.

What will not be OK is a failure to stand up to horrendous Obama policies the president has lately told us he has in mind.

(Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado. He can be reached at SpeaktoJay(at)aol.com.)


  1. danders3

    Really neither Limbaugh or his suporters should be all that outraged when it comes to folks in the opposition taking what he says out of context. If one has listened long enough to his show, one will have heard many an example of “what that person means” as it relates to what people in the oppositional side have said. what goes around comes around, and both sides should get over it and grow up.

    While it would be nice if the childishmess part of partisanship would be toned down, all holding one’s breath will do in that case is make one turn a slight shade of blue and perhaps result in one passing out. It ain’t gonna happen.

    Dale Anderson

  2. Dionysis

    More diversionary, disingenuous twaddle from Jay Abrose. First of all, it’s not just “liberals” who are agast at the moronic rantings of that “gasesous balloon” Rush Limbaugh, it’s anyone with a modicum of civility, decorum and two brain cells to rub together (which excludes most Republicans).

    It’s a standard wingnut tactic to claim that comments were “taken out of context.” Nonsense. Listen to the self-described “entertainer” in full context and the claim falls apart. Your portly leader has repeatedly stated he hopes Obama fails, meaning the country suffers. There is no ambiguity there.

    As for the silly notion that Limbaugh has the “power of persuasion,” his audience is a bunch of characters who listen to him because he reaffirms their own looney biases; he could not objectively persuade a fly to land on sugar. That there are 13 million equally boneheaded cretins in a country this big is no revelation. It’s also telling that polls show that most Americans, including the ever important independent voters, see him for what he is: a buffoon and fool, who is primarily motivated by ego and self-aggrandizement.

    It’s pretty pathetic that the best Ambrose can come up with is to liken that clown to Garrison Keiller (it’s the old ‘someone of the left said something so leave our hate-monger alone’).

    And enough with the lie about Limbaugh caring about ‘freedom’. Not a peep out of his ample jowels about the constant attacks on the Constitution by the fascist Bush junta, the extent of which is becoming clearer everyday as the secret memos by un-American quislings like John Yoo are disclosed.

    Oh, and in case you missed it, the Obama administration has publicly came out against the Fairness Doctrine. Weak try. Perhaps Ambrose needs to pull his nose out of Rush’s posterior and avail himself of real news.

    The most horrendous policies this country has ever endured have come at the hands of the incompetent, authoritarian and criminal Bush junta. The hypocrisy expressed by Ambrose and his ilk is sickening. Fortunately, this kind of nonsense has been rejected by the majority in this country. That a relatively small bunch of dim bulbs fawn over his blather should be put “in context” as well.

  3. bryan mcclellan

    Limbaggowind is a Fabricator Provocateur, a fact flipping twister of truth to suit his own myopic view of how conservative politics should rule the Americas.

    His tools are that of derision and division with no regard for the consequences of the poisonous flatulent that he spews forth on a daily basis to the hapless 13 million ditto heads. Thank goodness there are only that number among us as just one is too many.

    In another time not so long ago Rush, Hannity, O’rielly, and their ilk would have been tried and hung for treason for undermining the Republic.

    Preaching their anarchistic views and dictatorial mantra shows they have no love for personal freedoms or liberties unless they can put their own rubber stamp on them.

    As with their hero G W Bush the nightmare they wish to perpetuate on the American people will be a haunting reality of stolen prosperity and innocent blood spilled for egomaniacs and corporate domination of our lives.

    You may want to give them a pass and call them entertainers Jay but the awful truth is that there is no humor whatsoever in a lie, especially when the future of our Nation is at stake. HACK!

  4. ChescoRes

    Don’t see what else I can add.

    I was ready to comment on the article but there’s NO WAY I could say it as well as Bryan and Dionysis.

    Well said folks.

  5. AustinRanter

    Dear Jay Ambrose,

    You made the following comment in your article:

    “Limbaugh is certainly not “propagandistic” in any strict sense of the word”

    Jay, you are a brainless moron. You have been struck down by the Almighty Hand of Idiocracy. You were surely slobbering on yourself as you dictated this article to a voice recognition program on your neighbor’s computer.

    What a slipshod jerk. I guess Jay, you don’t believe in the holocaust, the KKK, Al-Qaeda, …on and on and on.

    Were you in a car wreck…and experience brain damage? What the hell happened that would cause you to believe this grotesque fairtale perception of Rush, the liar, Limbaugh?

  6. RichardKanePA

    I find JAY AMBROSE extremely irritating. And I feel like condemning him. However, I am happy that CapitolHillBlue is one of the very few places on the internet, where different points of view are presented instead of a lot of similar material preaching to the choir.