We've seen this before. In an effort to promote policies even many blacks oppose, black "leaders" are quick to tar anyone with the "racist" label should they fail to toe the liberal line. Many blacks in the 1970s opposed busing to achieve arbitrary racial "balance" because it meant sending their children out of the neighborhood over long distances. That the white politicians who supported busing could afford to send their children to private schools didn't matter, because their intentions were "noble." If you were white and opposed busing, you were branded a racist and silenced by the charge alone. Whether busing was good social policy (as it proved not to be) could not be debated at the time.
When Limbaugh emerged on the national scene, he provided a forum in which such ideas could not only be debated but certain liberal doctrines ridiculed. Conservative blacks frequently call the show and are treated with respect and admiration by Limbaugh. The callers tell him they oppose the politics of the liberal black establishment. Rarely are such voices heard in the mainstream media, whose guest bookers always seem to call the same people, such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.
I have listened to Rush Limbaugh for 10 years. He doesn't tell me what to think. He simply expresses what I and millions of Americans already believe. Limbaugh reflects views conservatives held before he came along. He has won their allegiance because he respects their ideas, unlike the mainstream media. And he is funny. He is also shy and, yes, humble. Anyone who regularly listens to the show knows of his gratitude for the success he has enjoyed. He worked hard to gain it. If he erred in judgment about prescription pain pills, that does not dilute (as so many liberals wish it would) the power of his arguments.
Just as soon as he is legally able, Limbaugh should come clean about whether or not he has a drug problem. If he does, he should admit it and seek help. That's often difficult for one at the top of his profession, but confession, healing and restoration are more satisfying than silence and a high-priced lawyer.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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