I hope that in spite of this post, you'll come back.
Because I am sick of Rush Limbaugh.
First things first: I probably agree with Limbaugh 70% of the time. That gives you an idea of where I stand politically. At times, he is surprisingly insightful, much more so than the babbling Sean Hannity, who I genuinely believe is an idiot.
And when President Obama took a shot at Limbaugh last week, I thought it outrageous that any elected official -- no less, the president of the United States -- would take the time out of solving the country's problems to attack a talk-radio host. Among others, the bumbling Harry Reid has developed an incomprehensible obsession with Limbaugh.
Finally, Limbaugh's sometimes-insightfulness was on display this morning in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. It's recommended reading, as Limbaugh was tremendously civil with his ideas.
But what really set me off was Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) falling at the Maha Rushie's feet yesterday, begging for forgiveness from his fellow Republicans. What did he apologize for? Comments critical of Limbaugh.
And why did he do it? Calls from angry Dittoheads poured into his congressional office, infuriated that their congressman would dare criticize the infallible one.
This is pathetic.
On Tuesday, Gingrey said the following, in response to Limbaugh's critique of the congressional Republican leadership (McConnell, Boehner, et al.): "I mean, it's easy if you're Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh ... to stand back and throw bricks. You don't have to try to do what's best for your people and your party. You know you're just on these talk shows and you're living well, and plus you stir up a bit of controversy and gin the base and that sort of thing."
You know what? On Tuesday, he was exactly right.
And on Wednesday, he exemplified so much of what is wrong with the Republican Party.
Get past the fact that many of you conservatives agree with Limbaugh on most issues.
Limbaugh almost single-handedly torpedoed the candidacy of John McCain in 2000, inexplicably backing the "compassionate conservatism" (see: incompetent, big-government, deficit-spending conservatism) peddled by George W. Bush. President McCain would have been a 180-degree opposite from Bush on a myriad of issues -- vetoing irresponsible spending bills (including the outrageous Medicare Part D), less focus on small-bore social issues, competence in the military arena, saving taxpayers tens of billions of dollars in pork-barrel projects, and actually outlining a plausible plan to solve our looming Social Security and energy crises (both of which, contrary to the thoughts of many on the far right, will require bipartisan support to pass).
Rush Limbaugh is the undisputed leader of the conservative movement. Many of our readers likely view him as an infallible pillar of conservatism whose opinions should go unchallenged.
But one question: Why did the Premiere Radio Networks pay Limbaugh a salary of $33 million in 2007?
Was it because they believed Limbaugh would help advance the conservative movement or the Republican Party?
Was it because they believed Limbaugh so tremendously insightful?
Was it because Limbaugh is so highly educated?
It's because he's an entertainer.
He's an unabashed defender of "family values," yet he's on his third marriage.
Conservatives view him as the intellectual icon of their movement, but he's been to exactly two semesters of college.
He's never worked in a White House. He's never worked on a political campaign. He's never held elected office. He's never worked in a congressional office. He's never served in the military.
Rush Limbaugh is an entertainer.
He was paid $33 million in 2007 because he entertains 20 million listeners a week.
The thing that perhaps bothers me most about Limbaugh is that this supposed intellectual icon has been the catalyst for stifling any sort of dissent within the Republican Party. He's spent a career crucifying John McCain (who, interestingly, has amassed a lifetime American Conservative Union rating of 82). He gave McCain's buddy from South Carolina the nickname "Lindsay Grahamnesty." He's called the likes of McCain, Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe, Chuck Hagel, et al. "RINOs" -- Republicans in name only -- in spite of their overall voting records.
According to Limbaugh, if you disagree with him -- no matter what the reason -- you're not sufficiently conservative, and you must be brought back into line.
This is exactly the approach that conservatives criticized the Democrats for vis-a-vis the Joe Lieberman/Ned Lamont debacle in 2006.
Limbaugh has spent his career pushing a scorched-earth approach to governance. (This of course despite the fact that he has never been elected to any office, at any level, at any point in his life.) However, in a two-party democratic republic where Republicans are often in the minority, sometimes reaching across the aisle to involve Democrats is necessary to solve problems.
Why does Limbaugh take this attitude?
Because it's entertaining to his listeners.
If Rush Limbaugh was given the choice between continuing to collect a $33 million annual paycheck for doing nothing, and sitting behind the microphone "advancing the conservative agenda" for free, you're kidding yourself if you think he wouldn't take the money and run.
Being an unabashed ideologue is fine if one's goal is to make money by telling people what they want to hear. But, as noted by Bruce Bartlett over at Politico this morning, it can be harmful to our political system and to the advancement of real solutions to our nations problems -- especially when this ideologue's disciples brow-beat an elected official into apologizing for levying critical comments to a talk-radio host.
Let's not confuse entertainment with substance.
He's paid so highly for the same reason that Oprah Winfrey, Howard Stern, et al. are -- because he entertains people.
It's time for Limbaugh's disciples to begin thinking for themselves.