I have friends who say they hate Rush Limbaugh with a passion, but often listen to him on the radio, nonetheless. More power to them. I can’t do that. Images of Limbaugh and that voice of his raise the hairs on the back of my neck. They turn my stomach into a knot. It’s because, I’ve realized over time, he has the body language and tone of a cruel schoolyard bully.
He’s a cheap thug, the kind who couldn’t defend himself if somebody stood up to him, physically, but would stutter, whimper and whine.
In my life, I’ve seen too many people intimidated and terrorized by people like him. It’s not the content of what he says, it’s the angry, aggressive style. His fan base, I presume, are impotent wanna-be bullies, themselves, who in their pathetic daily lives feel stronger internalizing and channeling Rush’s meanness.
Every ounce of my being stands against such a dynamic, whether it comes from a brutish football coach who gets in the grill of his players to berate them, and gets a raise for doing it, or a squat little frog like Limbaugh who discovered somewhere that he can say really ugly things to people’s faces, inflict psychological wounds and get away with it.
But one can take consolation in ironies, such as in the Limbaugh case this past week. His foul, sleazy wife-beater insults hurled over a series of days against a Georgetown University coed because she testified before Congress has finally set up not only his own destruction, but that of his national Republican Party, as well.
Behind the scenes, the people who are feverishly devising ways to shut Limbaugh up are fellow conservatives in the leadership of the GOP. He’s driving women away from their party in droves.
Psychologically dissecting what Limbaugh said about the coed reveals beneath his gruff, bombastic exterior a pathetic, tiny little shriveled up soul obsessed by a lack of sexual potency. His is the language of the porn-obsessed leering voyeur. That is the nature of his relationship to his own sexuality and the opposite sex.
The louder and angrier his rhetoric gets, the more he is railing against himself, against the fact he thinks he’s ugly and unworthy.
This is a man who has no clue what notions of virtue and chivalry mean. Even in times when the relative position of women in society was more servile than now, real men were expected to behave like gentlemen, to open doors for women, and to exhibit respect and valor, while reserving their beatings and brutality for very private settings.
It is true that ugly postmodernism has spawned a generation that finds Limbaugh’s rude contempt toward anyone he doesn’t like more routine.
If there is nothing but selfish self-interest in human behavior, as postmodernism contends, then only fools perform with virtue and valor, and pretend there is something like higher values that is real.
The postmodernist sees all humanity, beneath the exteriors, as pigs squealing and pushing at the troth, and with that internalized image, Limbaugh aspires to be among the bigger pigs.
But I am heartened by evidences that our culture is moving beyond this depraved world view. The push-back began when a nation of the young and disenfranchised suddenly decided that President Bush had gone too far, and tied higher aspirations for humanity to elect the nation’s first African-American president.
The Republicans have continued in the ways of the old postmodernism. The lack of basic dignity in the GOP primary process has left many of the party’s old guard shaking their heads in shame.
But music and the movies are often harbingers of a shift in the national ethos. In just a few years, the prevailing themes in film moved from the nihilism and gratuitous violence in “Kill Bill” and “No Country for Old Men”-type films to the lovely, compelling themes of a bygone era, of “The Artist,” “Hugo” and “Midnight in Paris.”
In music there is the newly discovered haunting purity of Adele and the retro charm of Bruno Mars, something that Susan Boyle helped to launch.
Compare these expressions of beauty and grace to Rush Limbaugh and, well, need I say more?