Commentary by Pat Murphy
Hooked on painkillers isn’t the worst addiction of Rush Limbaugh, the
bombastic, self-absorbed talk radio showman regarded by political conservatives
as the conscience, if not the very soul, of the Republican Party’s far right
Far worse is Limbaugh’s addiction to the opiates of power (20 million
listeners per week) and mega wealth (he broadcasts from his walled $30 million
oceanfront Palm Beach mansion).
Words are Limbaugh’s currency of success—not the words that most of us use in
civil discourse. Limbaugh is addicted to excessive, abusive language. He insults
women as "Femanazis." Those concerned about the environment are "wackos." The
United Nations is filled with "thugs." Black quarterback Donovan McNabb of the
Philadelphia Eagles is merely a coddled and overrated concoction of fawning
media. Global warming is a myth spun by hysterical liberals.
The more wealth Limbaugh acquired and the more influence he wielded over his
flock, the more Limbaugh regarded himself seriously as he describes himself on
the air, a "talent on loan from God," and thus worthy of the grand lifestyle of
luxury private jets and limousines, while dictating his lessers to practice
Limbaugh dogma in macho, often patronizing language.
Even his studio mike bespeaks Limbaugh’s regal self-perception: the
microphone is gold.
But now Limbaugh has been unmasked as a fraud.
Sure, he could demand $31.6 million in a new nine-year contract and, sure,
he’s skilled at moving listeners to swallow his beliefs. But Limbaugh lacked the
personal guts to deal with his dependence on illegal, feel-good painkillers.
Furthermore, he leaned on his salaried household maid to do what he lacked
courage to do—hit the streets, break laws and run errands of buying illegal
medications in the dark nether world of illicit drug traffic. She delivered them
surreptitiously to Limbaugh’s mansion to protect the dark Mr. Hyde side of
Limbaugh’s split Dr. Jekyll personality.
So, impatient with personal weakness in desperate down-and-outers seeking
help for their failings, Limbaugh all the while was living his own atrocious lie
He broke the law while denouncing lawbreakers. He demanded strength in others
but indulged in his own frailty of character.
Limbaugh’s pompous on-air bravado now seems likely to have been the
bi-product of pill-popping.
Limbaugh’s gaggle of "dittoheads" will remain steadfast while he endures
tough-love withdrawal in drug rehab for the next month. But they probably are
developing a newfound, liberal (gasp!) compassion for personal weakness in drug
addicts, now that their Pied Piper has been exposed as one. Down deep, however,
some must wonder if all this time they’ve been taken in by a two-faced blowhard
who willingly hammers others mercilessly for their failings.
As the conservative editorial page of The Wall Street Journal commented after
Limbaugh admitted his drug addiction: "It strikes us that what people are really
waiting to see is whether he will take the consequences of his actions like a