Saturday, February 7, 2009

Rush Limbaugh, the man who wants Obama to fail

Original Link:,features,rush-limbaugh-the-man-who-wants-obama-to-fail

By Charles Laurence

The right wing King of Talk Radio is in danger of martyring himself at the altar of America's new hero, says

It looks like Rush Limbaugh can teach us all a thing or two about re-branding to survive a slump. The growling voice of diehard conservatism, the King of Talk Radio, sang the only sour note on America's day of euphoria when Barack Obama was sworn in as President and Dubya Bush packed off to Texas. "I hope he fails," he said. "Somebody's gotta say it," he added.

For once it looked as if the blowhard of the airwaves, the fat man with the cigar who is credited with single-handedly reviving the dying medium of AM talk radio, once as American as apple pie, had overstepped the mark.

The nation was in love with its new barrier-busting First Family, and had giddily pinned its hopes of surviving its credit card bills on his calm, cool presence in the Oval Office. And this overpaid buffoon wants Obama to fail? The putz wants millions of Americans to lose their jobs, homes, health care and futures? Just to make things clear, Limbaugh went on: "What is unfair about my saying I hope Liberalism fails? Liberalism is what's gotten us dangerously close to the precipice here."

It is possible, given the scandal over Limbaugh's addiction to prescription opiates, scored through bent doctors, that the Bush years of illiberalism passed him by. But even so, it looked for a day or two that the Limbaugh rant might finally die of its own irrelevance.

The newly installed President himself could not resist a coup-de-grace: inviting Republican leaders to the White House for one of his cross-party sessions, he said: "You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done." Touche!

He says Obama meets the old American fantasy of ‘the Magic Negro’

Or maybe not. Limbaugh is a very odd man, as all three of his wives seem to have discovered before hasty departures. He has been mono-maniacally obsessed with radio since he was a boy, and began working at a radio station when he was 16. His mother noted that he couldn't be bothered with school, failed at university, and even flunked a class called Modern Ballroom Dance.

He has written a couple of opinionated bestsellers on the back of his celebrity, and once tried TV, but it is only in his little glass box with a microphone that he comes alive. He was a DJ and a sports commentator before President Reagan repealed the Fairness Act in broadcasting, allowing partisan spite to flow unchecked over the airwaves, and Limbaugh found his form. He got away, for instance, with saying that Obama's strength as a presidential candidate was no more than his meeting the old American fantasy of "the Magic Negro".

In his own way, Limbaugh has a genius for the form. That, at bottom, is why he has 13.4 million daily listeners, and beats even the TV anchors in terms of earnings, having signed a $50m a year contract for the next eight years.

It might be no coincidence that by his own admission he is "100 per cent totally deaf": it helps not to hear too much rational discourse. It is certainly no coincidence that he was born to a long line of lawyers and judges in small-town Missouri. He began in Jim Crow segregation, and grew up amid white fury at the progress of the Civil Rights era.

He is only 58, although he has always looked older. While his audience imagines him hobnobbing with the high and mighty, he actually lives an almost entirely isolated existence.

He works most of his waking hours, shuttling between his Florida mansion, where he lives alone but for the help, to his own studio building, with occasional forays to the golf course.

The conservative magazine the National Review anointed him 'The Leader of Conservative Principles' in a cover story in 1993. That was the year Bill Clinton took office, already tarred with extra-marital dalliances, and indeed it was Limbaugh's moment. However, that was then and this is now, and all but the cranks and the nitwits are rallying behind the new administration.

But it might not quite be the end of Rush Limbaugh. While he faces a slump in national demand for right-wing rant, the wily showman has come up with a ploy. He is complaining that President 'O' is trying to "marginalise" him so that he can shore up his dangerous regime of liberals and faint-heart conservatives.

Limbaugh pictures himself cast into the wilderness, a martyred prophet leading his dwindling band of faithful, who will one day say, to quote his own book-title: "I told you so."

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