What precisely are liberals proposing that Rush should have said to avoid their indignant squeals of "hypocrisy"? Announce his support for the wide and legal availability of a prescription painkiller that may have caused him to go deaf and nearly ruined his career and wrecked his life? I believe that would have been both evil and hypocritical.
Or is it simply that Rush should not have become addicted to painkillers in the first place? Well, no, I suppose not. You've caught us: Rush has a flaw. And yet, the wily hypocrite does not support flaws!
When a conservative can be the biggest thing in talk radio, earning $30 million a year and attracting 20 million devoted listeners every week – all while addicted to drugs – I'll admit liberals have reason to believe that conservatives are some sort of super-race, incorruptible by original sin. But the only perfect man hasn't walked the Earth for 2,000 years. In liberals' worldview, any conservative who is not Jesus Christ is ipso facto a "hypocrite" for not publicly embracing dissolute behavior the way liberals do.
In fact, Rush's behavior was not all that dissolute. There is a fundamental difference between taking any drug – legal, illegal, prescription, protected by the 21st Amendment or banned by Michael Bloomberg – for kicks and taking a painkiller for pain.
There is a difference morally and a difference legally. While slamming Rush, Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz recently told Wolf Blitzer, "Generally, people who illegally buy prescription drugs are not prosecuted, whereas people who illegally buy cocaine and heroin are prosecuted." What would the point be? Just say no to back surgery?
I haven't checked with any Harvard Law professors, but I'm pretty sure that, generally, adulterous drunks who drive off bridges and kill girls are prosecuted. Ah, but Teddy Kennedy supports adultery and public drunkenness – so at least you can't call him a hypocrite! That must provide great consolation to Mary Jo Kopechne's parents.
I have a rule about not feeling sorry for people worth $300 million, but I'm feeling sentimental. Evan Thomas wrote a cover story on Rush for Newsweek this week that was so vicious it read like conservative satire. Thomas called Rush a "schlub," "socially ill at ease," an Elmer Gantry, an actor whose "act has won over, or fooled, a lot of people." He compared Rush to the phony TV evangelist Jim Bakker and recommended that Rush start to "make a virtue out of honesty." (Liberals can lie under oath in legal proceedings and it's a "personal matter." Conservatives must scream their every failing from the rooftops or they are "liars.")
As is standard procedure for profiles of conservatives, Newsweek gathered quotes on Rush from liberals, ex-wives and dumped dates. Covering himself, Thomas ruefully remarked that "it's hard to find many people who really know him." Well, there was me, Evan! But I guess Newsweek didn't have room for the quotes I promptly sent back to the Newsweek researchers. I could have even corrected Newsweek's absurd account of how Rush met his current wife. (It's kind of cute, too: She was a fan who began arguing with him about something he said on air.)
Thomas also made the astute observation that "Rush Limbaugh has always had far more followers than friends." Needless to say, this floored those of us who were shocked to discover that Rush does not have 20 million friends.
So the guy I really feel sorry for is Evan Thomas. How would little Evan fare in any competitive media? Any followers? Any fans? Any readers at all? And he's not even addicted to painkillers! This week, Rush proved his motto: He really can beat liberals with half his brain tied behind his back.
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