WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Very few things ever surprised the recently deceased editor of The Wall Street Journal, Bob Bartley. However, I know of one firsthand. When the First Amendment rights of The American Spectator were trampled by the Clinton administration, specifically via a melodramatic grand jury investigation, almost no one from the press paid any attention.
That surprised Bob. He believed that legions of civil libertarians would hasten to the magazine's defense, not only from the media but also from the First Amendment "Watch Dog" groups that sempiternally pat themselves on the back for their fearless idealism and their direct lineage to Thomas Jefferson.
Bob told me to call upon Floyd Abrams, the Moses of First Amendment law in these United States. I hope Floyd will not consider it libelous of me to report that he took no interest -- facts are facts. Later, when I asked the great man why he had shown no interest in the Spectator's trials, he explained, "Because you don't listen." He had just delivered a very stirring sermonic on -- what else? -- free speech.
Well, OK so the First Amendment is not extended to the hard of hearing. I guess that explains why the guardians of the First Amendment have been so slow to defend Rush Limbaugh from the prosecutorial excess besetting him in progressive West Palm Beach.
Rush is hard of hearing. He has had a cochlear implant to improve his hearing. That and chronic spinal pain got him hooked on prescription painkillers. Now, after admitting to his addiction and undergoing rehab, he is being exposed to prosecutorial harassment that no Hollywoodian with a coke habit or any other confessed user of recreational drugs is likely to experience. But Limbaugh is known to the public for the political and philosophical positions he espouses, not the leading roles he plays in film or on stage. So in the spirit of encouraging Diversity, the West Palm Beach government is going to nail him. The only support he has gotten from the civil liberties strutters is from the American Civil Liberties Union. Bravo the ACLU, and shame on the phonies.
In a finely illuminating piece in the May issue of The American Spectator, my friend Sam Dealey lays out the Florida prosecutor's hypocrisy. When last fall the prosecutor -- he will be remembered by the enlightened everywhere as Barry Krischer -- was asked by Limbaugh's lawyer how he planned to deal with claims about Rush's addiction made by a crook and his shady wife in the National Enquirer, the prosecutor was reassuring. Krischer claimed his office had already been aware of Limbaugh's reliance on painkillers.