Monday, July 7

Feel Free To Use "Thanks To The New York Times, I Got 35% More Lawn Care Done Sunday!" New York Times.

Zev Chafets, "Rush Limbaugh Is Just Getting Warmed Up."

Whatever Now Inhabits "Maureen Dowd," "An Ideal Husband."

[NOTE: I am about to type a simple declarative sentence, in English. It is fully formed in my head, but not actually laid out word-for-word, as a man my age, even the consummate thrill-seeker such as myself, cannot laugh in the face of The Risk of Debilitating Stroke. If you are reading this, and the first sentence of the next paragraph ends abruptly, or the rest of the page runs /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// all the way down, kindly dial 911. Okay:]

THERE is a column on the Op-Ed page of the Sunday Times which consists of Maureen Dowd dispensing the marriage advice of a Catholic Priest.

Whooo-ooo! Damn! That is, like, the keyboard equivalent of summitting K2 by the Polish Line.

There is nothing left to be said, really, except that climbing down off Maureen Dowd must be at least as treacherous as climbing on, should not be attempted without a belay, and one has to ask what sort of desperate thrill junkie would attempt it twice.

Well, there's the quote of kindly, crinkly, creepily fixated Call No Man Father Connor, who advises the connubially-minded young woman to check her mate's friends, and this advice is channeled through Dowd, who, if she had any friends, would have been forcibly prevented from getting anywhere near a typewriter for at least the last decade. We are now so far beyond asking why the Times kills trees for this shit that every concept attached to the idea has become a meaningless sound, like when you were a kid and repeated "bubblegum bubblegum" over and over and over until the ground melted away beneath you.

And here's the thing: in many respects the Limbaugh piece is worse. I don't say this because I don't like the man politically; I am, truth to tell, almost completely indifferent to him. The rather flaccid Left Internet scandals he's engendered have been singularly uninteresting, despite the fact that, like all right-wing blowhards, he simply can't help showing himself as a hypocritical asshole with religio-Daddy issues, stunted sexuality, and a barely-disguisable contempt for a bumptious audience he imagines himself smarter than. The only time I ever gave Limbaugh more than a moment's thought was when they announced his ESPN gig, which, on the one hand, I found outrageous, but which, on the other, aroused a certain curiosity, just not enough to actually watch an NFL pregame show. First, I wondered if Limbaugh could possibly really know football, as the hype insisted--this was answered almost immediately, and in the negative. Second, I wondered what th' fuck the man was thinking? If he didn't really know his shit, did he think he was going to bluff the sports audience the way he bluffs the dentition- and genetically-challenged AM burpfest aficionado? He apparently imagined he could, and, further, that he had a sort of crossover career in his headlights, like he was Amy Grant with blubber, the way Coulter would also imagine she did about eighteen months later, circa the Time cover. It is, after all, the same group of sycophants telling these witlings they're funny.

Anyway, I think Limbaugh was disabused of that notion rather quickly, and I think his McNabb comments were calculated to get him off the air, quickly, and with some small measure of PC Police Brutality mixed in so he could return to his audience trailing Clouds of Glory. The casual football fan knew McNabb was playing hurt, and had been since the previous season, knew the notoriously fickle, make that evil Iggles fans had turned on him for failure to win A Ring, and knew that he was being reassessed by the sometimes brutal and frequently brutally short-sighted sports media. And Limbaugh  knew exactly what was going to happen when he played the But What I Said Wasn't Racist card, which is the oldest card in the "conservative" deck, or at least the most dogeared.  He waved goodbye to The Rush Limbaugh Variety Hour, New! This Fall on NBC, and went back to Jethroville, and, apparently, back to work on his advertisers with a blowtorch and a pair of pliers.

Besides, Al Franken had already dealt Limbaugh out of the game, hadn't he? Wasn't there a sense in which, after the Chickenhawk Brigade and the pilonidal cyst, that Limbaugh was as dead as Mission Accomplished? Sure, he's still got an audience. Hell, millions of Americans would vote to repeal the 22nd Amendment so they could vote for Commander Codpiece again. Does that make him Not A Ghost? And Franken did it before the oxycontin business, which, if I may say so in the guise of something of an expert, is one of the really Who Gives A Fuck Limbaugh stories. I mean, oxycontin? We have entered the Elvis It Was Prescribed Medication Zone, which, for the benefit of any amateurs out there, is Extraordinarily Lame. Cosmically lame. Claiming you were sleeping with a pre-op transexual because you're afraid to show your dick to a real woman lame. This is drug abuse for people who don't even know what drugs are. At least Elvis was taking real drugs, even if he was in denial.   I don't know anyone who'd take oxycontin for kicks without washing it down with a frozen margarita or three, which you'd never do with real painkillers unless you had a four-inch-impacted-bolus-in-the-large-intestine tolerance built up. Oxycontin is the fuckin' sissy bike of the broad American pharmaceutical highway, and, furthermore, no one obtains and continues to feed an addiction to Prescription Drugs in post-Reagan America without trying. I feel about Rush's drug problem what Marx thought of Engles' mistress: I don't care about the hypocrisy, it's that it's so fucking common. (Though, of course, it fits the man, and his Reaganism, just like discovering cigars after they'd become a temporary craze, then running around acting like you're leading a parade.)

And this is the thing about the Chafets piece. It gets around to The Oxy Problem precisely as deep into the piece as you'd expect, and then praises Limbaugh for not ducking it, as though he would ever have agreed to the piece without realizing it was coming. It studiously avoids calling him on any of his public inanities or factually-challenged loutisms, tours the 24,000 square-foot main house at his apparently largely self-designed Graceland-by-the-Sea in Palm Springs without sniggering, allows him to explain away his Little Versailles salon by saying he's no Francophobe (musta been some other hillbilly pillhead on AM radio goin' on about "Jean" Kerry in the last election), lets him tapdance around racist attacks on Barack Obama without calling him on any he's already made, let alone his track record. A small tin can gets tied, briefly, to the tail of Big Ego in the person Sean Hannity's superior Obama baiting. It is, in short, precisely what one could predict of a Times Sunday Magazine piece on the Free Willy of American poshlust politics: a "mold-breaking" faux-fair profile notable for its having removed its dentures before sitting down.

Tell me, when do they actually write the liberal hit-pieces they're so famous for?

Two other points. One: Limbaugh's just getting warmed up? It would be nice to hear what that entails, and what he plans to do once he's really going again. He's actually allowed to say that George W. Bush isn't a real "conservative", which really, really, underlines how good an idea it would be to at least get these things fact-checked by someone familiar with the internet. The Republican party is a shambles. Isn't the stinking corpse of Rush Limbaugh lying on top of the drain? Two: how many times do I have to hear how funny Limbaugh is before someone coughs up an example? It's apparently more than the six or so Chafets uncorks, since the best he can come up with is the official Limbaugh show Black Guy Who's Permitted To Criticize Obama (stop! I can't breathe!), and the "tongue-in-cheek grandiosity" of his calling his empire "Excellence in Broadcasting". Correct me if I wrong, but when supposed self-deprecation is wholly indistinguishable from self-aggrandizement, it can be a tad difficult to spot the humor, no?

AFTERTHOUGHT: The piece also notes his Buckley connection, and the fact that a lot of the "college-educated" types currently at NatRev secretly listened to Rush as teenagers. Which explains a lot. Everything, in fact, except whatever happened to the "college-educated" part.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad I stopped reading The Times when they hired Kristolmeth. I do miss the crossword, though.

Buttermilk Sky

Scott C. said...

I remember feeling a little envious reading Franken's book, when I got to the part describing "The Easiest Job in America: Rush Limbaugh's Fact Checker."

And I think Limbaugh's vest pocket Xanadu ("Cost? No man can say...!") is in Palm Beach. At least, I hope so...Palm Springs is a mere 109 miles and one burned-out Stuckey's away from my front door.

The most interesting part of the OxyContin affair, at least to my mind, was the self-inflicted deafness. I remember he was all set to heroically soldier on with the show, using some sort of closed captioning, and I was (uncharitably, I admit) disappointed that it never came to that. Because I'm pretty sure it would have instantly -- and very entertainingly -- devolved into an aural mess, with Limbaugh and his callers talking over each other as the in-studio typist sweated to keep up. Eventually, the bulk of his embarrassed, frustrated listeners would have drifted away to other radio rage merchants, while Limbaugh slowly retreated into the perfect Blowhard Bubble, never confronting or entertaining a contrary argument, just blathering away, mesmerized by the vibration of his own voice.

R. Porrofatto said...

To me, one of the defining characteristics of "puff piece" is when the subject is given control of the content.

He found a radio job in Sacramento where, for the first time, he started airing his conservative opinions and really developing his bombastic, politically incorrect, El Rushbo persona. The show was a hit.

“In those days the mainstream liberals had a media monopoly,” he says. “All three TV networks, CNN, Time and Newsweek, and the newspapers. AM radio was considered a dying venue. Nobody did political talk, let alone conservative political talk.”

Neither the puffer nor the puffed bothered to mention that Limbaugh's predecessor (and progenitor in many ways) at KBFK in Sacramento was Morton Downey, Jr., whose show was so successful he abandoned it for television, a vacuum into which our Rush rushed.