Jonah Goldberg

Rush Limbaugh should be ashamed of himself. And you know what? He probably is.

Proud and successful people who end up going into rehab under a cloud of scandal pretty much always feel shame. That Rush Limbaugh has condemned drug use over the years and called for the punishment of illegal drug users probably makes Limbaugh feel even worse. Handing your enemies the noose is never a pick-me-up.

And, it's certainly true that Limbaugh's detractors are having a grand time at his expense. Garrison Keillor noted that Limbaugh's addiction explains how the talk show host could manage to listen to himself all these years. Don Imus, a former cocaine addict, declared with characteristic nuance, "Rush is a fat, pill-popping loser." Imus continued: "Suck it up, fatso, and stop taking 100 pills a day or whatever ... and employ some discipline in your life."

Democrats are already wearing out the treads on the joke that not all of us have Rush Limbaugh's maid to give us prescription drug coverage.

Har, har, har. Yuck, yuck, yuck.

I don't think any of this stuff is very funny. But it's certainly revealing that it comes from folks who normally talk about how addiction is a disease. Compassion comes easily when it's for people you like.

But look: Rush Limbaugh never pulled any punches either. I may agree with many of his views and I may even subscribe to his hard-hitting style from time to time, but I can't muster a huge amount of sympathy or surprise when it comes to the beating he's receiving.

Yes, I think the gloating at the man's misfortune is tacky. Yes, I think getting addicted to pain medication after being prescribed it is different from going out and scoring some heroin (or are all of these anti-Limbaugh titterers going to start denouncing JFK as a "junkie" too? After all, he was hopped-up on all sorts of drugs while playing nuclear chicken with Moscow). But Limbaugh is a big boy and getting grief from your enemies comes with the territory.

Where I do have sympathy for Limbaugh is the ordeal he's about to go through. Taking shots from liberal gadflies, he's used to. What lies ahead of him is new and terrifying territory.

He's off to a good start. His statement last Friday was humane, mature, humble and pitch-perfect. He's right: he's not a role model for seeking help and he's not a victim either. He made at least a few terrible mistakes and he's now trying to rectify them.

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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