Rush Limbaugh is back on the streets … er, radio … after about five weeks in rehab. Rush was a major-league pill-popper, and had been broadcasting for years under the influence of controlled substances.
I have no problem with Rush doing the illegal drugs of his choice. It’s his body — he owns it, not the Drug Enforcement Administration. The fact that he was able to show up for three hours a day for his radio show is further proof — not that any more is needed; Freud, for instance, was a serious cokehead — that it’s as possible to operate as normally on many controlled substances as it is on nicotine and caffeine. The main problem with drugs is their illegality.
Perversely, Rush has always been a drug warrior. In a Playboy interview, in December 1993, he said: “By legalizing drugs, all you’re going to do is define deviancy further downward.” The same month, on his radio show, he said: “I’m appalled at people who simply want to look at all this abhorrent behavior and say ‘People are going to do drugs anyway — let’s legalize it.’ It’s a dumb idea, a rotten idea. And those who are for it are purely, 100 percent selfish.” Rush has the gift of gab. But he’s never been either a clear thinker, or intellectually honest.
The discovery of Rush’s liking for opiates makes him a hypocrite, as well as an insufferable blowhard. He served a useful purpose (and was often quite funny) when Clinton was in office. But for the last three years, he’s been nothing but an unconscionable flack for the Republican Party, reflexively supporting anything they do or say. My guess, therefore, is that Rush won’t be arrested for buying and doing illegal narcotics, as if he were a black, or some white trailer-park trash. He’s entirely too well wired with the Republicans.
But the episode may cause him some moral introspection, in view of his having said: “… too many whites are getting away with drug use … The answer to this disparity is not to start letting people out of jail because we’re not putting others in jail who are breaking the law. The answer is to go out and find the ones who are getting away with it, convict them, and send them up the river too.” And, “If people are violating the law by doing drugs they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up.”
In my mind, the measure of Rush as a person in this matter will come with how he deals with the problem. He could say something like this:
Sure, drugs are a bad habit, like alcohol, nicotine and caffeine. While the opiates I like give me a nice … rush … I realize that they have damaged my hearing and resulted in chronic constipation. I would, objectively, perhaps, be better off without them. Even though they may, in part, have helped me become as successful as I am, putting in the long hours, and doing the creative parts of this show, under sometimes great stress. But I’m an adult, and I can afford the pleasure financially. It’s none of the damned government’s business what I choose to ingest. It’s my choice, and nobody else’s. I only regret having been a craven hypocrite all these years, and I want to apologize for that. But nothing else. So I’m going to do the hard, but intellectually honest, thing and recant my previous ill-advised views on drugs. And on a lot of other things. I can see that the government isn’t my friend … etc, etc.
Well, maybe he’ll say that. In my dreams.
More likely, Rush is going to turn over on his back and wet himself, begging forgiveness for breaking the law, blaming it on the addictive nature of drugs. He’ll say he’s a poster boy for why enforcement should be tougher yet, to save people like him from themselves. He could become as rabid as an ex-smoker around cigarettes.
I can’t wait to find out. The revelation of which way he’ll go is almost enough to get me to listen to his sorry show again.
November 25, 2003