Sunday, June 27, 2004

The Limbaugh Defense

From the "Instapunk" comes this long mulling over of Ronald Reagan, Rush Limbaugh, Fahrenheit 911, David Edelstein, chickenhawks, anti-war liberals, hazing, discipline, psychiatry, optimism, and recurring arguments.
As it happens, I've been mulling this curious fact for quite a while now. A month or two ago, I read a little personal essay in Salon magazine by a woman who was mortified to learn that her psychiatrist was a Limbaugh listener. Her friends told her to get a new therapist immediately. Her own reaction was bafflement and confrontation. She couldn't believe that this woman who had understood her, helped her, and led her to better decisions in her life could possibly see Limbaugh as anything but a detestable idiot. She revealed to the psychiatrist that she knew this dirty secret about her. She was further confounded when the psychiatrist admitted the truth of the charge and remained calmly unapologetic about her vice. Ultimately, the writer of the essay acknowledged that she was still seeing the same therapist but felt profoundly mystified by this flaw in her being.

I suspect that we were supposed to share the woman's mystification. Yet I found in her words the beginning of an unraveling of mystery. I realized that the hysterical character of the writer would never have allowed her to listen to Limbaugh, such was her horror of this Evil Eye of the Radio (oxymoron intended). She would have felt herself violated and traumatized by the experience. Her knowledge of Limbaugh was a vicarious phenomenon. She loathes Limbaugh because of what other right-thinking liberals have told her about him.

Those of us who have listened to him at some length generally find it hard to reconcile the standard description of Limbaugh with the reality. He is accused of being rude, mean, arrogant, hateful, racist, deliberately dishonest, and wild-eyed in manner. His audience is supposed to consist of automaton followers, who are so obedient to his every whim that they call themselves ditto-heads, so ignorant that they aren't even aware of their status as mindless rubber stamps.

The only problem with all this is that it's not true.
That's but a tiny sample. Read the whole thing.

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