Rushing to Limbaugh's Defense

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I have a soft spot for Rush Limbaugh.

We're both fat guys (I know he's currently lost the weight, that's not what I mean - I mean...I remember watching Colin Quinn do stand up on Letterman '96...he had been gone for a couple of years and he was significantly heavier than the last time we had seen him; he recognized this, clearly, as early in his act he made some sort of reference to his weight and said "I'm just passing through".  What he was saying is "I'm a thin guy; I know I'm fat today, but that's not who I am; I'm still the guy who nailed Kari Wuhrer; this is just a bad snapshot."  Rush and I are fat guys; today, he's down and I'm up - a year ago, it was reversed - but I know for me, and I assume for Limbaugh too, that inside, no matter what the scale says, we feel all double chinned and unlovable; I know at least some of the ways that sort of psychosis has infected the various areas of my life, and I don't think it's too much projection that every time I've ever heard one of his diabolical rants, my disgust has been mitigated by my seeing Rush largely as a sad fat kid, finding acceptance in any way possible, bathing in the dirty hate fueled love of his primordial fanbase) and we're childhood sports fans who compensated for a lack of motor skills by developing a facility with the spoken word.  Limbaugh worked in the Royals' PR department, I think after dropping out of college; which plays well with an audience that tends to distrust book learnin'.  I've never spent even a second reading biographical information about Rush, but I'm thinking he spent most of his young life wanting to be a sports announcer; he probably spent an unhealthy percentage of his childhood alone in his room with his baseball cards, broadcasting fictional games to an invisible audience.  Limbaugh and I agree on nothing politically, but I'd bet we would share a favorite baseball novel, a 40 year old Robert Coover book about a lonely man unable to escape his own head.  We would have been friends, I think; had we been the same age in the same place at the same time; and (and I recognize how this sounds, I do, but in the spirit of this blog, I'm going to sacrifice modesty for revelation) he would have looked up to me a little bit.  Because I was a brighter kid than Rush, and more successful too; I wasn''s twisty to untangle...but while it would be a mistake to call me, in any way, "popular" in high school - I knew even then, and see more clearly in hindsight, that there was a type of kid (an outsider, marginalized in some way, usually physically awkward, maybe emotionally stunted, with the desire to both be accepted but also keep hold of some degree of individuality) who saw me with a level of aspiration.  I don't think that's too much to say.  I wasn't the quarterback.  I wasn't a golden god.  I wasn't an untouchable cheerleader captain, but I had ideas that others did not, and I was willing to express those ideas even when they were disapproved by authority, and despite a not inconsiderable level of constant social anxiety, I was able to succeed at high levels in a handful of mainstream ways (and I had my own pirate radio station and was totally sleeping with Samantha Mathis while Concrete Blonde played in the background)  And there was a type of kid, and I've known that type of kid my whole life (even today as an increasingly distant college instructor, just beaten down by the painful weight of years of overly heavy course loads, I can still spot them in class) who sees a degree of kinship in me and looks for some sort of connection. 

Rush would have been one of those guys.

Or maybe not.  'Cause dude's got hundreds of millions of dollars and I've got literally nothing at all.

He's got that money because he sells a philosophy uncluttered by intellectual nuance.  A philosophy that regular, decent, hard working people are getting screwed by minorities and immigrants and gays and the godless.  A philosophy that America went wrong in the 1960s, when all the good and decent institutions of the US were buried under a cascade of long haired hippy love and that under the leadership of the glorious Reagan we've spent the past thirty years in a constant struggle between good (corporate America, Jesus, straight white men and women willing to rub their shoulders and make them pancakes) and evil (everyone else).

How much of it he believes and how much of it is just selling what people want to buy is irrelevant; the debate over "is Limbaugh actually a racist or is this just an act" - is foolish.  Limbaugh's got a record on race (and a high profile drug conviction) that makes his candidacy to own the St. Louis Rams a non-starter.

Oh, maybe you hadn't heard - Rush Limbaugh was (past tense) part of a group looking into buying the St. Louis Rams.

He won't be buying the Rams; not any chance in the world; and it's not because, as he claimed this week:

 This is not about the NFL, it's not about the St. Louis Rams, it's not about me. This is about the ongoing effort by the left in this country, wherever you find them, in the media, the Democrat Party, or wherever, to destroy conservatism, to prevent the mainstreaming of anyone who is prominent as a conservative.

It's not the media or the Democrats who determines who gets to own a team in the NFL - its a few dozen white dudes, whose conservative political leanings are also part of public record (the Chargers, who have never won a Super Bowl, have given more money to the Republicans by a significant factor than any other team has given to either party; the team which, by percentage, has given the most to Democrats - the Rams, coincidentally enough).  They don't have an ideological axe to grind with Limbaugh; they just don't want the hassle.

Which is really all it is.  They all share a money tree.  If you had a money tree, your goal would be to make tomorrow look a lot like today.  'Cause today was a day when you had yourself a money tree. It's not ideology or even a specific cost/benefit analysis that they've done - me, as mentioned, I dislike the entire corporate ethos of the No Fun League - the penalties for celebrations, the uniform police dispatched to each game, the personal conduct suspensions - all part of a systematized policy designed to weed out as much individuality from the NFL as possible while still allowing for video game sales; "respecting the shield", to use the language from the pregame shows, means deifying the logo, the corporate brand name above all.  Anything that might in any way pull focus from the league is no good - and that's what Rush Limbaugh does. 

Now, me, I'd like to see him own the Rams.  Hell, he can be the starting quarterback as far as I'm concerned; they can remake Heaven Can Wait with Limbaugh in the Warren Beatty role.  Member a couple of weeks ago when he talked about the thing on the school bus and said something to the effect of - in Obama's America, white kids get beaten up on the school bus and black kids cheer - Limbaugh as quarterback would be sort of the ultimate expression of that. 

I'd like to see him own the Rams because I don't give a damn about the shield.  I like noise.  I'd like to see which ballplayers would (as a handful admirably said ) refuse to play for a Limbaugh owned team.  Notice that Rush didn't go after the black players who came out early this week to slap down the idea of working for him.  It wasn't the media who said "I wouldn't play for him."  It was Bart Scott.  It wasn't the Democrats who said "I don't want anything to do with a team that he has any part of" it was Mathias Kiwanuka.  It wasn't...wherever...who said "I won't be in St. Louis anytime soon."  It was Donovan McNabb. 

I'd love to see politically engaged athletes, using their power to vote with their feet.  African-americans are hugely disproportionate supporters of the Democratic Party; and big time professional athletes (70% of the players in the NFL) are hugely disproportionately African American.  I'd love a sports landscape where athletes used their not inconsiderable leverage to push for social changes both within the leagues in which they compete and the communities whose names are on their jerseys.  I'd love to see Rush Limbaugh join the NFL because it would be an issue (sort of like the way abortion is for the right) that would just keep on giving; the athlete mobilization wouldn't end with "I don't want to play in St Louis" - it would manifest itself in all manner of ways which I would find both productive and entertaining.

And I'm a Niner fan.  Our biggest historical rival is the Rams.  Their move east and our collective crappiness has really taken all the steam out of that rivalry.  But I could really get behind a hatred for the DittoRams.

But I don't live under a money tree.  What I want, for each Sunday to be an ideological discussion about the ways in which the black athlete can engender social change, is not what the handful of white guys who own NFL teams and largely contribute to the Republican party wants.  They want still waters and blue skies.  Calm, quiet, non-political athletes who just work the soil to cultivate that tree.

They don't want you Rush. And it's not the left.  Not Obama.  It's the jocks.  They still don't want you, all these years later.   But it's okay. You don't need to eat cream cheese frosting in a shame spiral.  You aren't a lonely fat kid playing with your baseball cards anymore.  You're good enough and smart enough and doggone it, people like you.  Not good people.  Not the people you want.  But people.  And at least that's something.

(you want an example of big, evil government intruding on our lives - it's right here)


Alexis said...

Speaking of race and stuff; the front page of today's Times Picayune has a wonderful juxtaposition: picture of Obama (racially mixed, I believe, as is Mrs. O) and an article about a LA JP who refuses to issue marriage licenses to racially mixed couples 'out of concern for the children' although he has 'piles of black friends'. One wonders if that's piles, as in stacks of dead bodies?

Anonymous said...

Never mind all that, where's our Balloon Boy blog?

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