People don’t believe me when I tell them that I once was true-red conservative. I voted party line Republican. One day back in the Dark Ages that were the 1990s a conservative friend suggested I listen to Rush Limbaugh. Since I worked during the day I couldn’t listen to his radio show so I caught a couple of his short-lived syndicated TV episodes showing in the wee hours of the morning. Quite frankly, I was appalled by his populist demagoguery.
But what really was the last straw on the camel’s back was Rush race-baiting during a particular episode. I can’t recall much of the details but, I believe, his schtick centered around using monkeys at a drive-through zoo attacking tourists’ cars as a metaphor for rioting blacks. During a subsequent show he proudly waved a small newspaper clipping of the NAACP demanding an apology. Of course, the NAACP’s reaction was exactly what Rush was looking for. Gleefully he re-ran the clip. I think he did his usual routine of carefully parsing what he said with a wink and a nod to prove nothing he said was remotely racist.
True story and what started me down the road to liberalism. More accurately, I was washed down the road by a tidal wave of right-wing populism which endures to this very day.
Rush Limbaugh propelled to the top of the dung heap of conservative talk radio by taking on politically taboo subjects. I know several conservatives who listened intently to him in his early days because they were privately upset at minorities over affirmative action which they viewed as a serious career threat. Rush was their champion. He took the topic head on with a take-no-prisoners head of steam.
These memories and more flooded through my brain as I stumbled upon a cache of Media Matters clips of Rush Limbaugh’s trademark race-baiting on his radio show. The folks I used to know who listened to his crap long ago tossed in their dittohead towels. I have no idea who listens to his vile vomit today but I suspect they’ll be all around me at my polling station when I vote in 2012.
The only thing you’ll learn from Rush Limbaugh is contempt which is why, in my own inadequate way, I feel compelled to mock Mr. Limbaugh with a little bit of my own satire. Jon Stewart remains secure in a job but I had to do it.