A president of the United States will be elected this year, but right now, public attention seems to be drawn to the legal problems of media and entertainment stars. So just for this week, let's wander away from the regular fare of this opinion column -- public surveys on politics and policy -- and look into the troubles of one star-crossed superstar.
I've made predictions on the eventual fates of Michael Jackson and others. But it's not my place to pass judgment on his or anyone else's legal problems. And that includes radio titan Rush Limbaugh. In fact, it's fair to ask why all this hoopla over Limbaugh's alleged "doctor shopping" for prescription pain pills. According to The Palm Beach Post newspaper in Limbaugh's home of south Florida, his alleged crime has seldom been prosecuted in that area. And to be fair, investigators say they have yet to take action against the conservative talk show host.
It's perfectly understandable for all those Democrats and "liberals" Limbaugh has taken on for so many years to give back to Rush a taste of his own. Limbaugh even believes politics is behind the potential legal case against him. That charge is unproven but would certainly be disappointing if true.
Less expected is to find that some who benefited from Limbaugh's trailblazing style -- which arguably launched a whole new world of conservative mega-media stars -- are either publicly or privately putting him down or, at minimum, abandoning him before the liberal onslaught.
Bill O'Reilly, one of Rush's fellow superstars, recently wrote a column that made no bones about denouncing those who are smearing Limbaugh. But at the same time, it categorized Rush as an "ideologue." The column hinted that "extremists" on both ends of the spectrum often meet sad endings. I certainly agree with O'Reilly when he cites surveys showing that most Americans consider themselves to be moderates or "in the middle." He's right, and many a Republican activist would do well to take note of his evaluation of the electorate. But that having been said, I'd like to present a slightly different take on Rush Limbaugh.
Can anyone even name a conservative talk show star before Rush? Probably not. From the late '60s through most of the '70s, the norm in the world of syndicated talk radio was liberal and maybe some moderate hosts. The presence of conservatives or libertarians was marginal at best.