A show on TV two weeks ago was so ghastly, I’m still having nightmares. And I’m not referring to Jason dumping on Melissa on “The Bachelor.” (Frankly, I’m embarrassed I even know that.)
It was Rush Limbaugh speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). He was wearing a black sport coat over an open black shirt that exposed his flabby chest. In all black, Rush looked like a cross between a pimp and a water buffalo.
Limbaugh has gotten so obese lately, as Al Franken quips, “He’s too fat even for radio.” Perhaps it’s a Pinocchio effect. When he lies, instead of Rush’s nose getting bigger it’s his belly.
To rev up the CPAC wing nuts (who actually need revving down), Rush inexplicably began jumping up and down. (It’s sexist, but why couldn’t it at least have been Sarah Palin?) Rush’s gyrations caused his giant man breasts to shake like vats of Jell-O. Borrowing from “Apocalypse Now,” “The horror, the horror.”
Rush calls himself a patriot but, of course, he didn’t serve in Vietnam. He had a “pilonidal cyst” i.e. boils on his butt. Yuck! He criticizes the morality of others but has three failed marriages (one to a college student half his age, another to an aerobics instructor). And yet, somehow this bully radio host, who earns $45 million a year but “identifies with the common man,” currently calls the shots for the conservative movement in America. William Buckley must be spinning in his grave.
This power struggle crystallized when Rush boasted that he hoped Obama fails. Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele said Rush’s comments were “ugly and incendiary.” Rush, and his ditto-head listeners, blasted Steele, who was soon apologizing and kissing Rush’s humongous butt.
Newt Gingrich has called Rush’s boast “irrational.” And former Bush speech writer David Frumm (coined “Axis of Evil”) labels Rush “aggressive and bombastic.” (And those were the nicer adjectives.) Given Michael Steele’s example, Gingrich and Frumm might want to practice up on their puckering skills.
Among Rush’s more shameful moments (so many to chose from) was when the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia’s died. Rush said callously, “He’s just another dead hippie to me.” Of course when Limbaugh confessed he was an OxyContin addict (bought over 10,000 pills) he tearfully asked for understanding. (He used his maid to score the drugs. How classy was that?) Rush was so strung-out that he literally went deaf from abusing OxyContin and now wears a cochlear implant.
Then there was the time, during the 2006 campaign, when Rush mocked Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s disease. Imitating Fox, Rush flailed his arms wildly, as he accused the actor of faking his illness to gain sympathy for stem cell research. Much of the country was aghast. Pundits said Rush’s sick antics cost the Republicans the Senate. Like a spoiled schoolyard kid, Rush pouted and said he was “through carrying water for the Republicans.”
A few days ago Rush even joked about Ted Kennedy’s cancer. Hilarious, huh? He said the health care reform legislation may be called the “Ted Kennedy Memorial Healthcare Bill.” Years ago, Rush basically accused Hillary Clinton of murdering Vince Foster, the White House lawyer who committed suicide. How low can Rush sink? I don’t think there’s a bottom.
Similarly, I’m reminded of George W. Bush as reported by conservative pundit Tucker Carlson. In 1998 Karla Faye Tucker, a born-again Christian, was the first woman executed in Texas since the Civil War. Carlson asked Bush if he had listened to people from all over the world who had pleaded for mercy. The dispirit group included Bianca Jagger, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and Pope John Paul II. W said defiantly, “Why should I?” Having seen Karla Faye on Larry King he thought it amusing to mimic her. “Please,” Bush whimpered, his lips pursed in mock desperation, “don’t kill me.” Hilarious, huh?
In the 1957 classic movie, “A Face in the Crowd,” a con artist named Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes, played brilliantly by Andy Griffith, rises to great success on radio via his supposed connection with the common man. Fortunately, he’s finally undone by his thirst for power. As Joe McCarthy ended up disgraced in the U.S. Senate, so does Rhodes. I keep waiting for it to happen to Rush, Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter and the rest who spread hate at a time when we desperately need unity.
In his first 50 days as president, Obama reached across the political aisle more than George (My Way or the Highway) Bush did in eight years. And yet Rush continues to spew venom. Colin Powell recently warned fellow Republicans that Limbaugh appeals to their lesser instincts, asking, “Is this really the kind of party we want?” I’m not a Republican, but after seeing Rush at CPAC, I’d settle for his never jumping up and down again.
Jack can be reached at Jackneworth@yahoo.com.