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Limbaugh Can Dish It Out...

The right is in a holy froth because President Obama laughed at a joke by Wanda Sykes saying she hoped Rush Limbaugh’s kidneys would fail. Drudge immediately picked up the story, and within hours the wackosphere was abuzz. And now it’s been blown up into an international incident, with Drudge linking across the pond to the U.K. Telegraph. Check your World Nut Daily feed–I imagine a column from Chuck Norris threatening to “kick Sykes ass” won’t be far behind. 

Here’s the actual Sykes quote:

Rush Limbaugh said he hopes this administration fails, so you’re saying, ‘I hope America fails’, you’re, like, ‘I dont care about people losing their homes, their jobs, our soldiers in Iraq’. He just wants the country to fail. To me, that’s treason.

He’s not saying anything differently than what Osama bin Laden is saying. You know, you might want to look into this, sir, because I think Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker. But he was just so strung out on OxyContin he missed his flight.

Rush Limbaugh, ‘I hope the country fails,’ I hope his kidneys fail, how about that? He needs a good waterboarding, that’s what he needs.

Honestly, it would probably be better if both sides calmed down. The sad part is comments like this will do more to boost Limbaugh’s popularity than anything else. But after being on national radio for over 20 years, during which time he has slammed just about everyone to the left of Rick Santorum, maybe some perspective is in order. And a little attention to context.

The White House correspondents’ dinner is often edgy and no stranger to controversy. In 2006, comedian Stephen Colbert bitterly insulted President Bush to his face on national television. Bush was visibly upset, but still took it like a gentleman.

In this case, Sykes routine was clearly comedic and I don’t think even the wackiest of the wackaloons actually would say–if pressed–that Sykes really wants Limbaugh dead. Or to waterboard him. It’s a joke, a figure of speech, like you might say to a good friend, “if you take my food again out of the fridge without asking, I’m going to have to kill you.” No one would mistake that for a death wish.

But provocateur Limbaugh waddles to his bully pulpit every day, and gets paid a fortune to spout the worst possible distortions, lies and insults, and that’s ‘free speech.’ He delivers his daily dose of dumb to the slobbering populist masses–or should I say asses? If he could, he’d destroy the careers of every progressive politician in the nation, including the President. He’d turn them out in the streets. He’s spent thousands of hours ranting in support of military adventurism, total inaction on the environment, a corporate free-for-all, social conservatism (while being an admitted Oxycontin addict), and he’d quite likely support a theocracy.

What Limbaugh wants–and what he has devoted his life to–is the continuation of an unchecked and rapacious agenda for enriching and empowering the already powerful. This is far from a joke and is clearly an actual death wish for the nation and eventually the world. Even Republican party chairman Michael Steele called his rhetoric “incendiary and ugly.” Steele later retracted the statement under pressure, but you get the point. If the “mean-factor” could be tallied in dollars, Limbaugh would be richer than Bill Gates. And in actual dollars, he’s not that far behind, worth nearly $1 billion, having parlayed his populist pandering into high political art.

One possibly-over-the-line comedic comment from the left isn’t going to even make a dent in this blowhard. But you can bet that he’ll still milk the President’s laughter for all it’s worth.

Finally, maybe I’m splitting hairs, but Sykes didn’t really wish him dead. After all, you can survive without kidneys. You just have to go in for dialysis six hours a day–which would make it awfully hard for the gasbag to do his hate-filled radio show.


Comments (5 comments)

Legal Marketing / May 11th, 2009, 8:59 pm / #1

LOL Wanda Sykes made a joke– and it was quite funny ;) I think people need to calm down about the whole thing too

Scotty_Roberts / May 12th, 2009, 11:41 am / #2

Jokes are jokes – even ascerbic, politically-motivated ones – and, as you've noted above, Limbaugh has used his own brand of "extreme comedy" over the years, so I find no foul in this all. If you can dish it out, you should be able to take it in stride. It will be interesting to see Limbaugh's response on his show – he may surprise us all and tell everyone to shut the f*** up.

However, his statement, "I hope Obama fails," has been one of the most bitterly maligned, misconstrued, misinterpreted lines Limbaugh has ever uttered. If you have listened to his commentaries, rants and diatribes on the topic [and I'm sure you have, as your site represents clear-headed thinking] you would know that he has said over and over again that his comment simply means this: he cannot wish that the president's policies will succeed, because he believes they will take this Constitutionally Limited Republic closer to a Socialistic State than it has ever been in it's history. He believes that if this administrations' policies succeed in an overall way, that they will bring the country to financial ruin. And he backs up his statements with the entire content of his show – at least from his political viewpoint.

So, to be fair to Limbaugh, he never intended his remarks to be held as a personal attack, but rather as a statement of political philosophy. Ask yourself if you have ever wished a certain president or political figure's policies would fail? If so, you are no different than Limbaugh when it comes to his wishing the Obama Adminstration will fail at what he believes to be their implementation of socialistic policy. He hopes they will fail at what they are attempting, because he believes it will destroy the country, not because he is making some cruel, petulant attack against the president. Limbaugh never said nor even implied he hoped the "Country" would fail.

Just as with Sykes comments, it all has to be put in context to the intent behind the words.

BlackSun / May 12th, 2009, 8:35 pm / #3

Scotty,

The argument is not between the free-market and socialism. It should be focused on answering the question, "what are the rules of the game?" That means how do you adjust policy to live in a resource-constrained world with an exponentially growing population.

Free marketers don't recognize the concept of externalities (unpaid costs associated with any transaction). Increasingly as we run up against natural limits, we need to adjust policy to decouple growth from consumption of finite resources. The only way to do this is through closed-loop processes and renewable energy. Corporations will not do this on their own, they are designed (and rightly so) to maximize shareholder profits. So it's important to establish a regulatory function to set the rules of the game for a sustainable economy.

With regard to government involvement in private industries such as banks, insurance companies, etc., it's again a question of reliable service delivery. Nearly all essential services have already been regulated for decades. Private health insurance companies are subject to all sorts of government rules. So what's the real difference between a heavily regulated health insurance system provided by a few huge companies, and one provided by the government itself? Not much. What's important again is to set the rules. Some kind of check and balance is essential. Profits are a good thing, but we need to be sure that in their pursuit, money is not effectively stolen out of other people's pockets. That's where a whole new economic science of identifying externalities needs to be and is being developed.

The ignorant cries of "socialism" are really cries to preserve the status quo. Which is in no way anything close to a "free-market." There are many groups, chief among them the fossil industries and old unsustainable manufactuing who stand to lose when society takes a long, hard look at true costs. This is where the debate needs to happen: "What is important to our society, and what industries and practices make sense in the 21st century?" That conversation is long overdue, and people like Limbaugh just want to shout it down.

Liquid Egg Product / May 13th, 2009, 3:57 pm / #4

If the joke didn't involve 9/11, there's less of a target there. It's not just about Limbaugh.

A president laughing at a joke involving that disaster? Not so diplomatic.

BlackSun / May 13th, 2009, 6:19 pm / #5

LEP, agreed.

But Obama distanced himself from that part of the joke. The right didn't even mention that until later.

Just goes to show how much of a tightrope comedians walk. Look what happened to Bill Maher after 9/11.

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