Over the lunch table yesterday afternoon my friend Tim and I talked about how liberals say they hate Rush Limbaugh even though they have never heard his show. Then, in the LA Times of all places, there is this:
Oh no, you haven't. Whenever I interrupt a liberal's anti-Limbaugh rant to point out that the ranter has never actually listened to the man, he always says the same thing: "I've heard him!"
On further questioning, it always turns out that by "heard him," he means he's heard the selected excerpts spoon-fed him by the distortion-mongers of the mainstream media. These excerpts are specifically designed to accomplish one thing: to make sure you never actually listen to Limbaugh's show, never actually give him a fair chance to speak his piece to you directly.
By lifting some typically Rushian piece of outrageous hilarity completely out of context, the distortion gang knows full well it can get you to widen your eyes and open your mouth in the universal sign of Liberal Outrage. Your scrawny chest swelling with a warm sense of completely unearned righteousness, you will turn to your second spouse and say, "I'm not a liberal, I'm a moderate, and I'm tolerant of a wide range of differing views -- but this goes too far!"
There is more untruthfulness in that statement than in a speech by President Obama. Even the commas are self-deceiving. You're not a moderate or you wouldn't be reading this newspaper. You're not tolerant of a wide range of views; you are tolerant of a narrow spectrum of variations on your views. And, whatever you claim, you still haven't listened to Rush Limbaugh.
Which leads to a question: Why not?
Let me guess at your answer. You don't need to listen to him. You've heard enough to know he's a) racist, b) hateful, c) stupid, d) merely an outrageous entertainer not to be taken seriously or e) all of the above.
Now let me tell you the real answer: You're a lowdown, yellow-bellied, lily-livered intellectual coward. You're terrified of finding out he makes more sense than you do.
This is a brilliant Op-Ed, and it's printed in exactly the right place—arguably the most liberal major newspaper in the country. Read the whole thing, and e-mail it to your liberal friends.
Update: Patterico notes this article, too, and takes the opportunity to clarify his record regarding El Rushbo. After Rush's CPAC speech this year, Pat criticized his formulation of the "I want Obama to fail" meme. Pat defended the point that Rush was trying to make (Rush wanted Obama to fail in implementing his radial policies, so that America would succeed) while lamenting the choice of words he used to express it. It was fair criticism, though I'm not sure I entirely agree with it (controversy has its palce, after all), and it was presented in the well reasoned manner that is the hallmark of Patterico's Pontifications.
Unfortunately, there are as many on the right as on the left who want their leaders to go unquestioned. Pat has experienced a backlash from these people, who think he doesn't show enough love for the big guy. They couldn't be more wrong.
Putting aside any quibbles about the meaning of Rush’s recent comments, I agree with Klavan that, if you’re going to criticize someone, you should do them the favor of listening to their actual words.
I thought about this recently when a reader wrote me and asked:
Patrick: Just what is it about Rush that you dislike? . . . [T]here seems to be something in his personae that just has gotten under your skin?
Not at all. How could someone ask me that, when I have a long history of defending this man on my site?
As someone who loves both Rush and Patterico, I encourage you to listen carefully to both of them. They agree on almost everything, you know. And I have heard Rush, on his radio show, sharing the love with Patterico.