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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of October 15 - 21, 2003

Opinion Columns

Pills not Limbaugh’s worst addiction

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 echelon.

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 of weakness.

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 man."



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