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Byron York: Rush Limbaugh’s enemies are eager to pounce
The Hill ^ | 10/15/03 | Byron York

Posted on 10/14/2003 5:59:09 PM PDT by Jean S

When the National Enquirer published its exposé of radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh’s drug use, the part-time comedian and full-time conservative-basher Al Frank-en said that if the allegations led to Limbaugh’s arrest, “I’m looking forward to the perp walk.”

“I’ll be switching channels to get it from every angle,” Franken told the New York Daily News. “My favorite part is when they push their heads to get them down into the car.”

Now it turns out that the stories were true, that Limbaugh is indeed addicted to prescription drugs.

For the most part, liberal commentators have shown more self-control than Franken; as much as they dislike the conservative radio star, they don’t want to be seen as kicking him when he’s down.

But some have been unable to hide their happiness.

“Phony Gucci-Shoed Populist Rush ‘Pigboy’ Limbaugh Admits He’s a Junkie,” read the headline of the popular left-wing website

Part of the reason some on the left are delighted by Limbaugh’s troubles is that they’re still angry over his relentless criticism of Bill Clinton.

They believe Limbaugh’s problems have revealed him for the hypocrite he’s always been.

They can’t be convinced otherwise. But just to remind them of the record, these are some of the things that Limbaugh has not done:

• He has not denied that he was addicted to prescription drugs.

• He has not attacked the former maid who sold her story to the National Enquirer.

• He has not claimed that prosecutors acted unethically or targeted him because of his politics.

• He has not formed an organized-crime-style joint defense agreement with his associates.

• He has not claimed novel and nonexistent legal privileges.

Whatever that says about Limbaugh, it certainly shows he has not taken the advice of anyone who served in the Clinton White House counsel’s office.

It is not clear what the legal consequences, if any, will be for Limbaugh. From what is publicly known, it appears unlikely he will go to jail; the criminal investigation in which he was entangled mostly focused on drug dealers, not users.

In addition, there are plenty of cases in which public figures who have engaged in extensive drug use did not go to jail.

Aaron Sorkin, the creator of television’s The West Wing, has long had a drug habit. Sorkin’s addiction, unlike Limbaugh’s, apparently began with recreational use.

But Sorkin has acknowledged his problem for years and in 1995 was treated at the Hazelden Institute in Minnesota.

In April 2001, Sorkin was arrested when authorities found crack cocaine in his luggage at the Burbank Airport. It was his first arrest for drugs.

In June of that year, he pleaded guilty to drug charges and was sentenced to treatment, not jail.

Even multiple offenses often do not result in time behind bars.

The actor Robert Downey Jr. messed up repeatedly — was caught several times with crack, heroin, other drugs, and, occasionally, a concealed gun — before being sent to jail. Once there, Downey won early release.

And then, out on parole, he was arrested again on drug charges and still didn’t have to go to jail.

So in Limbaugh’s case, Al Franken might well be disappointed. But Limbaugh is going to have to deal with a lot of criticism.

A couple of years ago, the New York Post’s John Podhoretz wrote of Sorkin’s preachy television show: “I don’t know about you, but I don’t need any lessons on theology, destiny, public service, job creation, pay equity or conservative ideology from a crack addict.”

Limbaugh can expect plenty of comments like that from the other side.

And then there’s Franken, who made a good deal of money with his book Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot.

On the day Limbaugh announced his addiction, Franken appeared on CNN to discuss the news.

Franken argued that Limbaugh cannot possibly recover from his drug addiction and still do his radio show.

“If he’s going to go into recovery, he’s got to work on a 12-step program,” Franken said. “Those programs are based on rigorous honesty. Then, I don’t think he’ll have a show.”

“Why?” asked host Aaron Brown.

“I don’t think he can do a show based on rigorous honesty, frankly,” Franken replied. “He won’t have anything to do.”

“You don’t think he can be, in his mind, honest, in his mind, and do the program that he’s been doing?”

“No,” said Franken. “He’s a dishonest demagogue.”

That’s rough stuff, but on the other hand, Franken called Limbaugh a dishonest demagogue before the drug business, too.

And besides, none of it will matter if Limbaugh can (1) beat his addiction, and (2) tell his listeners the truth about his problems.

If Limbaugh’s fans sense that he is leveling with them, they’ll keep tuning in. But if they believe that he is being evasive or legalistic — in other words, Clintonian — they’ll leave.

Most, no doubt, feel certain he’ll do the right thing.

TOPICS: Editorial; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: byronyork; rush

1 posted on 10/14/2003 5:59:09 PM PDT by Jean S
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To: JeanS
And he didn't murder his way to the top, like the clintons. He hasn't even pointed out the problems with Vince Foster's death explanation. Its time he did now.
2 posted on 10/14/2003 6:06:11 PM PDT by Samizdat
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3 posted on 10/14/2003 6:07:11 PM PDT by Support Free Republic (Your support keeps Free Republic going strong!)
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To: JeanS
The actor Robert Downey Jr. messed up repeatedly — was caught several times with crack, heroin, other drugs, and, occasionally, a concealed gun — before being sent to jail. Once there, Downey won early release.

And the left considered him a hero and a man of great courage. He got standing ovations for his drug use!

4 posted on 10/14/2003 6:09:28 PM PDT by ladyinred (Talk about a revolution, look at California!!! We dumped Davis!!!)
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To: JeanS
Franken calling Rush a dishonest demagogue? Talk about the pot callling the kettle black...
5 posted on 10/14/2003 6:10:10 PM PDT by WinOne4TheGipper (Shameless advertising time:
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To: b4its2late; Recovering_Democrat; Alissa; Pan_Yans Wife; LADY J; mathluv; browardchad; cardinal4; ...

6 posted on 10/14/2003 6:33:14 PM PDT by Born Conservative ("Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names" - John F. Kennedy)
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To: Born Conservative
The liberals don't understand that the more they attack Rush, the fiercer we'll all get.
7 posted on 10/14/2003 6:37:26 PM PDT by Hildy
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To: JeanS
8 posted on 10/14/2003 7:01:33 PM PDT by Ursus arctos horribilis ("It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!" Emiliano Zapata 1879-1919)
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To: JeanS
I just read a gloater with a confused definition of conservative. Quoted from

"If not destroyed, Limbaugh's life certainly seems to have been harmed, but not by the drugs. He is an otherwise upstanding citizen whose reputation is being ruined by the laws against drugs rather than the drugs themselves. At the moment, he looks like the poster boy for the legalization movement. Yet Limbaugh has specifically rejected that movement. Why? I suspect the explanation arises out of the central flaw in the thinking of all of these talk-show conservatives, their hatred for what they term 'elites' . . . Conservatism is by its very nature an elitist philosophy. A thinking conservative would be bothered not in the least by the idea that it's fine for a cultured and civilized citizen to indulge in an activity that might cause chaos when indulged in by his inferiors. If in fact these charges against Limbaugh are borne out, here's what I'd like to hear him say: 'Yeah, I do drugs. Mountains of them. But I don't bother anyone. I'm rich. I don't have to stick up 7-Elevens to pay for my habit. So it's none of the government's business.' " -- Paul Mulshine, Newhouse News Service

Can I do that, or does it need to be posted as a separate article?
Anyway, Mulshine is saying that Rush is a member of the class he (Rush) claims to detest and that this detestation is the central flaw in his thinking. Would Mulshine really gain any respect for Rush if Rush publicly embraced hypocrisy that way? What is he, a Nietzschean?

As a (now clean and sober) libertarian I understand being morally against drugs and their negative consequences, but I think the WOD is being done wrongly. I think people who are acting crazy, high or drunk AND endangering others (both) should be restrained until they sober up. If they actually harm someone, they should be prosecuted (emotional harm doesn't count as a reason to lock someone up; to reject them, yes). I don't believe this opinion is rare among conservatives. And nobody's saying you can't use evidence relating to drug abuse to find violent or property criminals.

But this "Conservatism is by its very nature an elitist philosophy"... It's like calling us Loyalists or something. That kind of conservative went out with the American Whig Party (whom I don't admire at all, I'm a Locke, Shaftesbury, Trenchard and Gordon guy).
It's true that there's a contradiction for a freedom fighter to support this war to keep people from getting high on some chemicals but not others. The ad hominem argument remains a fallacy; just because a guy is inconsistent or wrong in one area, does not prove he's wrong in others.
9 posted on 10/14/2003 7:06:14 PM PDT by Whig Brain (Philistine Shopkeepers for M'ing YOB (not intended personally to anybody).)
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To: JeanS
He has not claimed novel and nonexistent legal privileges.

Yep. Meantime, some on FR have stupidly implied Rush is guilty because he hired a lawyer.

10 posted on 10/14/2003 7:11:45 PM PDT by k2blader (Haruspex, beware.)
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To: Samizdat
Bumping Up for Rush Limbaugh!
11 posted on 10/14/2003 8:34:43 PM PDT by harpo11 (Rush, He Ain't Heavy, He's Our Brother..Counting Day 4...26 to Go! Best Wishes, Rush!)
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To: JeanS
Prayers for Rush
12 posted on 10/14/2003 11:47:51 PM PDT by Dajjal
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