So liberals have finally found a drug addict they don't like. And unlike the Lackawanna Six – those high-spirited young lads innocently seeking adventure in an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan – liberals could find no excuses for Rush Limbaugh.
After years of the mainstream media assuring us that Rush was a has-been, a nobody, yesterday's news – the Rush painkiller story was front-page news last week. (Would anyone care if Howell Raines committed murder?) The airwaves and print media were on red alert with Rush's admission that, after an unsuccessful spinal operation a few years ago, he became addicted to powerful prescription painkillers.
Rush Limbaugh's misfortune is apparently a bigger story than his nearly $300 million radio contract signed two years ago. That was the biggest radio contract in broadcasting history. Yet there are only 12 documents on LexisNexis that reported it. The New York Times didn't take notice of Rush's $300 million radio contract, but a few weeks later, put Bill Clinton's comparatively measly $10 million book contract on its front page. Meanwhile, in the past week alone, LexisNexis has accumulated more than 50 documents with the words "Rush Limbaugh and hypocrisy." That should make up for the 12 documents on his $300 million radio contract.
The reason any conservative's failing is always major news is that it allows liberals to engage in their very favorite taunt: Hypocrisy! Hypocrisy is the only sin that really inflames them. Inasmuch as liberals have no morals, they can sit back and criticize other people for failing to meet the standards that liberals simply renounce. It's an intriguing strategy. By openly admitting to being philanderers, draft dodgers, liars, weasels and cowards, liberals avoid ever being hypocrites.
At least Rush wasn't walking into church carrying a 10-pound Bible before rushing back to the Oval Office for sodomy with Monica Lewinsky. He wasn't enforcing absurd sexual harassment guidelines while dropping his pants in front of a half-dozen subordinates. (Evidently, Clinton wasn't a hypocrite because no one was supposed to take seriously the notion that he respected women or believed in God.)
Rush has hardly been the anti-drug crusader liberals suggest. Indeed, Rush hasn't had much to say about drugs at all since that spinal operation. The Rush Limbaugh quote that has been endlessly recited in the last week to prove Rush's rank "hypocrisy" is this, made eight years ago: "Drug use, some might say, is destroying this country. And we have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs. ... And so if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up."
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.