|Serving humanity... and its best friend. ~ Courtesy Fox Broadcasting Family Guy|
In the grand scheme of history, books on current events have never fared too well as far as permanency and future appeal. Whilst history does tend to repeat itself through human stupidity and historical ignorance, the worldviews and societal ills of one generation rarely correspond precisely with those of the generation directly preceding it or generations older still. Commentaries by Mark Levin and Ann Coulter will generally soar to the top of bestseller charts and hover there for a few weeks until they and their specified grievances fade into perceived social irrelevancy, so recognized by political junkies who must keep their pulse on the constantly shifting problems and debates of their day. So rare are the works of this genre which have lasted the test of time that I can only think of one outstanding example, viz. Thomas Paine’s Revolutionary advocacy pamphlet Common Sense. With this in mind, the most astounding thing about Rush Limbaugh’s duo of books from 1992 and ’93 is how little they’ve aged relative to the political atmosphere of today. The most unfortunate aspect of this phenomenon is that Rush’s media-spanning educational efforts have failed to significantly correct the United States’ self-destructive ‘Progressive’ direction, but the bright side to his books’ endurance is that readers can approach them as they would any contemporary political piece and unearth truths that apply equally to the present as to decades past.
Entitled The Way Things Ought to Be, the first of these books was written over the last year of George H.W. Bush’s presidency and concerns itself mostly with the shortcomings of liberalism, a Democrat-controlled Congress, and a moderate Republican willing to enact their agenda. However, Rush shrewdly chooses not to open his debut novel with a diatribe on politics, instead giving a detailed examination of his career and all the difficulties he faced in becoming the #1 talk radio host in the nation. Far from shooting straight to the top of his business, he had to inch his way to the position he holds currently with numerous small advances, starting as a DJ before getting a show on WABC, surviving the FCC’s “Fairness Doctrine”, and finally going nationwide with the EIB network. Rush argues using his own history and other statistics that the American Dream cannot be handed to anyone on a silver platter or acquired instantaneously but must be earned through hard work, self-reliance, and perseverance. From these opening chapters, the book segues from something unique into a more predictable Conservative Manifesto format, offering commentary on a smorgasbord of subjects contemporary to the 1990s, such as sexual harassment hysteria, Mikhail Gorbasms, animal “rights” and dolphin worship, man-haters/feminazis, condom distribution in government schools, homelessness advocacy, and Hollywood hypocrites, many of which persist to this day with only superficial changes. A lot of the controversies he dissects in the first book may seem outdated at first glance, as the flames of public opinion over Anita Hill, Rodney King, and the House Banking Scandal, for example, have diminished immensely over the past two decades, but in reality we see figures and outrages like these surface anew with every generation. Herman Cain is the Clarence Thomas of today, an intelligent and principled black conservative whose reputation was unjustly smeared and slandered by, in his case, faceless and cowardly Democrat operatives who proliferated unproven and ideologically motivated attacks on his character in order to ruin his eligibility for American politics. The Trayvon Martin racebaiting fiasco in the media also degenerated into something like the Rodney King coverage, wherein the news media edited and distorted material evidence in order to portray law-enforcement officers and not the true assailant as the perpetrators of crime. As a result of the media’s racially driven reporting on the Rodney King affair, the defendants were subjected to a long, expensive, and ultimately fruitless judicial frenzy that yielded justice for no one, aggravated racial animosity across the nation, and allowed the true offendor to escape judgement for his violence. Likewise, though we haven’t heard about representatives issuing fraudulent checks on so large a scale for a long time, Congress continues to put itself above the law, routinely exempting itself from the destructive legislation that it forces upon Americans and absorbing countless benefits and privileges denied to the people they rule.
If the first book recalls some isolated scandals that have despoiled politics in recent years, then the second, See, I Told You So, bears an even more striking resemblance to the Obama regime. Barack Obama is so nearly the spitting image of Bill Clinton as articulated by Rush’s documentation that the book has essentially developed a resounding message over his last 5 years of governing: those who don’t learn from history are bound to repeat it, and the power-hungry will always exploit that historical ignorance to advance their interests. Much like the current Messiah in chief, Clinton and his advisors devised a campaign strategy that in no way reflected his actual policy goals. Masquerading as a “moderate” and a “New Democrat” who would unite Americans of all political leanings, he took great care never to honestly come out of the liberal closet and indeed campaigned on fiscally conservative promises of ending wasteful programs and reducing taxes on themiddleclass, which obviously cannot be identified by any objective standard and which probably doesn’t pay any taxes in the first place, depending on how you define said class. Compare his statement in January of 1992 that “I want to make it very clear that this middle-class tax cut… is central to any attempt we’re going to make to have a short-term economic strategy” to his full reversal a year later: “From New Hampshire forward, for reasons that absolutely mystified me, the press thought the most important issue in the race was the middle-class tax cut. I never did meet any voter who thought that.” In fact, less than one month following his inauguration, Clinton was already peddling tax hikes on the very citizens he pledged to relieve of governmental oppression, all to pay for billions of dollars in new spending programs.
This is just one of many instances illuminated by Rush where Sick Willie knowingly lied to the people so as to curry favor. Clinton insisted also that he would reverse the Bush administration’s “immoral” “racial politics” towards Haitian refugees and take a more humane position on their plight, but this too was an abject lie that he retreated from immediately upon taking office, in the same exact way that Obama decried Bush for entering expensive conflicts in the Middle East, then turned around and beat war drums against Syria earlier this year. Clinton crony George Stephanopoulos lamented conservatives’ devotion to truth and consistency by saying, “We have become hostage to LEXIS/NEXIS. The problem is an excess of literalism.” Rush contends, on the other hand, that the problem is really a deficiency of literalism in the mainstream media and the public, which allow liberal politicians to escape rebuke for any falsehoods they sow or catastrophes they create. It’s this lack of accountability which enables Obama to claim that he “will cut the deficit by the end of his first term” and close Guantanamo Bay and also to say that, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.”
On this note, Rush emphasizes throughout both books that words mean things, that symbolism is inferior to substance, and that the preservation of liberty and legible speech requires us to speak with discretion, using words thoughtfully with a full understanding of what they indicate. To that end he often assumes the role of a modern-day Socrates, who implores his fellows to comprehend just what they believe and why, impeccably ripping into seemingly noble and unapproachable conceits like “raising awareness”, “the politics of meaning”, and Hillary Clinton’s “children’s rights”, defending such perceived crimes as “sexual harassment” and “discrimination”, and exposing the anti-American undertones of “hate crime”. Rush has a knack for stripping away the heroic and demonic connotations that society has ascribed to certain words and clearly explaining what those words actually mean. E.g., in chapter 18 of Book 2, he writes:
“… liberals couldn’t care less whether a crime is committed with hatred – unless the hatred is of a politically incorrect variety. If a murderer commits a crime based on his hatred of African Americans, Native Americans, homosexuals, probably even pornographers, he is committing a hate crime that is deserving of more severe punishment than if he murders because he hates white males or right-wing evangelists, for example…
As is clear from this selection, Rush writes very logically and his voice on paper is almost an unfiltered translation of his voice on the radio. This is both a good and a bad thing. One of the reasons Rush has ascended to the supreme throne of talk radio is that he’s very conversational, forthright, and plain-spoken. During any segment of his daily program, he gets straight to his point, whatever that may be, and presents it in a reasonable manner that any of his listeners can easily follow. As he himself acknowledges in the opening pages of The Way Things Ought To Be, the first draft of his book was compiled mostly from interviews he made with John Fund, a writer for The Wall Street Journal, and hence the book feels like a very faithful and certainly readable extension of the Rush we hear transmitted through the airwaves. The downside of Rush’s fidelity to his on-air schtick is that his charisma and force don’t really carry through to the written word, a fact that should already be clear to anyone who has tried reading transcripts of his shows online. Nor is his writing style all that satisfying or sophisticated compared to the works of his neighbor in the business, Mark Levin, who’s purely argument-oriented, eschews humor almost entirely, and uses citations extensively to prove his assertions, columnist and author Ann Coulter, whose books ooze with bitterness and exasperation at liberal buffoonery, most of which is justified if suitably inflammatory, or his arguably superior fill-in host Mark Steyn, who has such a command of the English language and so keen an eye for spotting the fundamental absurdity of political discourse that I wouldn’t hesitate to call him the modern Joseph Addison.
In contrast to these three writers, Rush doesn’t include any appendix of sources or footnotes of any sort, which is a darn shame given that many of the stories he analyzes, like Tom Cruise giving an Earth Day speech after accidentally driving over a flock of seagulls for a movie, Martin Sheen declaring Malibu a haven for displaced species upon becoming honorary mayor, or Project Dignity designing custom shopping carts for homeless people so that they wouldn’t have to “liberate” them from supermarkets, are so ridiculous that the reader is left begging for more details. Unfortunately, most of these stories are so old that they’re a pain to find and research even with the advent of Algore’s internet and its various search engines. Rush does reference a lot of data and tables from the CBO and Treasury in his chapters dealing with Reaganomics, free enterprise, and the failures of wealth redistribution, but the inclusion of a more traditional source list would definitely lend credibility to his arguments and appease readers desiring additional information.
Still, Rush’s books are a delight to read whether one experienced the early 90s and all its woes or not, particularly because the problems enumerated here are so reminiscent of today’s headlines. Fans of the Excellence in Broadcasting network will appreciate the many throwbacks to the program’s first days, from caller abortions (wherein Rush cut off guests with a roaring vacuum sound effect) to Dan’s Bake Sale, and those who, like me, were too young at the time to vividly recall the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton years will enjoy the immediacy and 1st-person perspective of Rush’s account. His new children’s novel Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims should arrive in my mailbox today, and I may promptly devour it just to get that nightmarish, white whale Moby Dick out of my head. More on that and the philosophical dimensions of the color white later…